Along with seasons six through eight, Dexter’s fifth season recently became available on Netflix. The Showtime series about murderer murdering sociopath Dexter Morgan took quite the turn at the end of the fourth season with the killing of Dexter’s wife, Rita, and season five has been dealing with the repercussions of that event. Having binged on the first four seasons in the Fall of 2013, I found the show compelling, but not as high quality a series as I was led to believe. To me the “Dexter has a new serial killer mentor/mentee” routine was getting kind of repetitive. And Jennifer Carpenter has to be one of worst actresses in the world. Never for a minute do I believe her as a homicide detective. Jimmy Smits run as Miguel Prado in season three was also less than impressive and even though John Lithgow as Arthur Mitchell raised the acting bar considerably for the series, with exception of Rita’s demise, season four didn't really break any new ground.
The fifth season has tried to shake up the formula somewhat, based on what I've seen so far. The focus of Dexter’s homicidal impulses has been a single group of men who committed a series of savage torture/rape/murders. Dexter becomes aware of this crime after killing one of the men and freeing the last of their captives, Lumen Pierce (Julia Stiles). There is a subplot involving a Latin American murder cult that features decapitation and the removal of people’s eyes and tongues. (Hey, if you don’t want to watch a story about horrible things happening to people, why are you watching Dexter?) Yes, Dexter’s relationship with Lumen does take on the same mentor characteristics seen in the first four seasons, but at least there is an element of righteous vindication in her actions. Julia Stiles also gives one of the series best performances. The name Lumen is a bit heavy handed, and I’m not sure what they are trying to say about darkness or Dexter’s dark passenger by essentially naming his latest associate ‘light’. As of this posting, Season Five has proven to be at least as good as the preceding three, if not quite as good as the first. But of course, a poor ending can ruin any story, and that remains to be seen.