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on 17 December 2012
*It's very hard to review this season without spoilers as such mild spoilers akin to what's been in trailers will be included but if you'd rather go in with no knowledge best to avoid.
Following the blood soaked finale of season 4 Dexter has had a lot to live up to, five fell short of this, six even more so with a lacklustre main villain and inconsequential stories, Dexter was showing signs of wear, maybe a season too far? However season 7 becomes a blazing return to from for the show, not perfect but a huge improvement and the most engaging the show has been since Trinity.
Picking up where season 6 ends (which should have been end of 5) Dexter faces the consequences for the murder of Travis before his sister's eyes but soon finds himself with bigger problems, a key figure of the kashca brotherhood targets him for vengeance and he finds himself a new love interest in the guise of the damaged and possibly dangerous Hannah.
Season 7 smartly decides to recognise its past; Dexter as a show has a tendency to hit the reset button at the end of a season with the exception of Rita, each season acts as a separate story rather than acknowledging what came before. Season 7 finally picks up on the rich tapestry the show has weaved for itself, connecting the dots right back to the start and how they play into present day, it's a smart move, one the gives the show new and exciting direction.
Dexter's revelation to Deb finally gives the two something new to do together and gives Jennifer Carpenter a real chance to shine, as the emotional toil takes hold of her, confused and conflicted about what to do next, a big improvement over the caricature she has become the last couple of seasons, pouting off potty mouthed one liners. Indeed the relationship between the adopted siblings takes centre stage this season and easily the most interesting thread, as what to do following Dexter's crime becomes a bigger and bigger weight, it will be a turbulent season for the pair and by the finale big changes will come.
Ray Stevenson of HBO's Rome turns up at this year's big bad and is easily one of the best. Rather than being all out nuts or irredeemable of any good qualities, Issak is a much more human character equally dangerous but charismatic and interesting, indeed Dexter and Issak's exchanges superbly written and acted by the pair are very resonant, the parallels between the two stronger than either would care to admit. Chuck alum Yvonne Strahovski also joins as the intriguing Hannah, as well as being rather nice to look at she brings a layered performance to the damaged Hannah, her relationship with Dexter neither enabling or disabling and a fresh take on Dexter's hidden/exposed relationships of the past.
The minor bad points, Quinn's side-story is poor, very poor, like taking a cliché from every cop show and rolling them into one, strippers with hearts of gold, money bribes, trying to go straight, undermining investigations, you name it, it's there and a distraction from the main season story. The character of Louis introduced in last season is handled very poorly, his motivations for his fascination with Dexter thin to say the least but thankfully his story is rounded off quickly.
The last few episodes see Dexter in serious danger of loosing it, and some real changes for the character down to his very core, and the finale delivers a shocking conclusion, easily the best since season 4, as Dexter again sees the price of what his need has cost those around him.
This season has restored my faith in Dexter and with the final season next year I'll definitely been tuning in.