Most helpful critical review
Far from the best, but still good viewing.
on 23 March 2015
A duo of holy-rolling end-time killers are staging elaborate murder scenes to presage the coming apocalypse. Dexter, meanwhile, is having some close brushes with faith and religion himself and is considering his place in the world in relation to God (or not). Debbie, a pawn in a political game, finds herself promoted and isolated, Quinn struggles with rejection and Batista struggles with Quinn.
While far from the best of Dexter, this still proves compelling viewing and, despite fairly regular head-slapping, I was hooked until the end. I watched this season after the series itself had ended, and by all accounts it has provided a sterling lesson in how NOT to wrap a series up.
So, yes, you can see the wheels start to come off in this, and flaws that were becoming evident back in season 4 have bloomed here like weeds: the implausibilities, the inconsistencies, the sheer size of the plot holes. For instance, it appears that Miami is a major city without any CCTV at all, anywhere, and the murderers of this season are able to stage their amazingly convoluted tableaux which are only seen when dramatically convenient: Remarkably, nobody ever works out where these horses mounted with mannequins and body parts have actually come from, or even what direction.
Dexter, meanwhile, has transformed into a super-sleuth the likes of Sherlock Holmes, and has taken to solving crimes the moment he steps through the door with a handful of observations, while the rest of the Miami Metro police force stand by open-mouthed. He's also pretty indestructible, and performs one of those "and in one bound he was free" escapes from certain death the likes of which haven't been seen since 1930s Republican programmers bit the dust.
I actually liked Colin Hanks in his role, but - yes - I could see the twist coming, and when it did I felt he could have worked a bit more at showing the inner conflict , especially when some of the murders are so close to home. The blandness that worked so well early on tended to undermine the character once the proverbial cat comes out of the bag.
The thing that really bothers me, however, is the behaviour of Dexter himself. The recklessness and tunnel-visioned selfishness that he displayed in Season 4, denying justice so that he could have his own kill, continues here, with him deliberately obstructing the police investigation strictly so that he can get there first. As a result of this, more people die than need to, just so he can get his kill (and, as in Season 4, it turns out he's woefully misguided, and here others pay for his arrogance with their lives). So we seem to have gone from the original concept, of Dexter filling in the vaccum where justice failed to Dexter actually creating the vacuum just to give himself something to do. It's a subversion of the original theme that I'm uncomfortable with, especially as he doesn't seem to even question the fact that his ego is sending people to their unnecessary deaths.
Still, there are some good things here: the theme of faith, with Dexter's relationship with Brother Sam and his son's attendance at a Catholic school strikes a nice balance to the looney-tune end-times killers, and I felt it was handled well. I liked Debbie's conflict with LaGuerta and the in-fighting and isolation that she felt ran true, although I could have done without her feelings for Dexter coming to the surface. The emergence of a possible new baddie in Louis the computer nerd is also an interesting development, although I'm puzzled as to where the whole Ice Truck Killer hand thing is going (I'm assuming this is picked up next season, but will be both pissed off and unsurprised if it's not, as Dexter has form for plot threads falling through seasonal cracks). As I say, though, the story rattles along and, despite the nagging plot inconsistencies (and sometimes outright stupidity) I found myself hooked. While I may have shrugged or thrown up my hands in despair, I kept watching, which counts for something, but I do wish the writers would take more care and remember what made this show so great to begin with.