America’s favorite serial killer is back — only this time, he’s inherited a shadow. Now, seeing as how I realize that not everybody out there is truly 100% caught up on Showtime’s hit series, Dexter, I’ll try to make any references to previous seasons as vague as possible. First off, the character of Dexter’s wife, Rita — as previously portrayed by actress Julie Benz — is no longer in the picture, owing to a minor case of lifelessness. Was that too much? Well, it really doesn’t matter: Rita was about as irritating as could be. And so, what do Dexter’s writers do now that they have removed the show’s biggest weak link? They bring in another, more annoying character.
Dexter: The Fifth Season starts out all fine and dandy-like, with our antihero, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, who also serves as executive producer), struggling to find himself amid the dust storm of confusing emotions that have rolled onto the horizon since Rita was taken from him. A few episodes into this season, however, Hall goes and ruins everything by bringing actress Julia Stiles into the fray as Lumen: an unlucky lass who is accidentally freed from a secret group of serial rapists/murderers when Dexter kills one of them. From thereon in, Dexter begins to help young Lumen seek revenge.
Sadly, it’s from that moment on that the writing and acting (particularly that of Ms. Stiles, who uses her patented pouty face here like she always does — ugh) goes downhill.
Numerous holes are dug, but rarely filled in. One of Lumen’s former captors uses his final moments on Earth to alert his cronies, but neither Dexter nor Lumen ever think to check his mobile phone to discover the identities of the rest of the sadistic strangers: instead, they go about it the hard way. And that’s not the least of this season’s worries. Dexter’s homicide detective of a step-sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) eliminates one half of a deadly duo, but the second half disappears completely, as does the young policewoman (April Hernandez Castillo) who brings the whole case to her attention. There was also a completely missed opportunity with Michael C. Hall at a mortuary; a scene that should have rightfully featured a guest appearance by Peter Krause.
I’m not saying that such a moment would have made Dexter: The Fifth Season any better, but it would have most certainly added a few points to the Season Five End Tally. There are additional, often more-noticeable plot holes to boot, but I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about Dexter: The Fifth Season — because, despite it being poorer in quality compared to the previous seasons, I still enjoyed it. Although I would have enjoyed it more had Julia Stiles not been written into the whole equation altogether. There was a whole lot of hullabaloo about Stiles having an affair with Hall — whose marriage to co-star Jennifer Carpenter began to dissolve around the time they were filming these episodes — and it’s easy to see why people were suspecting that once you see the weird chemistry they have onscreen together.
It would also serve as the only logical explanation as to why anyone would cast Julia Stiles in the first place.
OK, I’m done complaining now. Honest. Let’s focus on the positives, here, like some of the other guest stars in this round of episodes. English actor Jonny Lee Miller adopts his best American accent as a powerful self-help sage (and who is just as evil as you’d expect a greedy guidance guru to be), while the great Peter Weller pops up in a memorable bit as the sleazy, corrupt cop who investigates Dexter at the behest of Detective Quinn (Desmond Harrington, the new John Philip Law) — who, in-turn, winds up being the latest romantic entanglement of Debra’s. I mean, hell, somebody has to show Dexter’s step-sibling some affection, right? Especially since Dexter’s off running around with Julia Stiles.