Just as the goosebumps, onset from last year’s shocking season four finale, have finally subsided, Dexter returns tonight, with its seemingly sadistic play on the psyches of not only one troubled serial killer, but with us innocent viewers as well. It’s the emotional roller coaster that’s impossible to get off and the Season 5 bow, “My Bad,” finally comes as a fresh drink to quench the thirst Dexter fans have had for the past nine months.
With a season closer like that, where can you possibly begin? Without skipping ahead, of course. The writers did viewers a huge favor and continued the narrative right at ground zero; Rita (Julie Benz) lies dead in the tub, while son Harrison cries in a pool of his mother’s blood. As Dexter walks around in an unresponsive stupor, his colleagues and federal agents swarm this unlikely crime scene. In obvious shock by the disastrous turn of events, Dexter states, “It was me” to policemen on his front lawn.
The rest of the episode sets Dexter on a path to somewhat surface from this catatonic state and all of it is truly excruciating to watch. As troubling as it is to see Rita carried off the scene in a bodybag, it pales in comparison to seeing Dexter inform her kids, Astor and Cody, that they’re mom was killed by ‘some man.’ His hollow “I’m sorry for your loss” sounds about as fabricated and cold as possible. Of course, since the writers have a sick sense of humor, Dexter tells them this whilst donning Mickey Mouse ears from the kids’ trip to DisneyWorld.
Season 5 looks to be an expository of Dexter’s guilt, or lack thereof. Michael C. Hall, having (finally) garnered a Golden Globe for the role, continues his brilliance. With the gravity of this horrendous event weighing down upon Dexter, Hall perfectly strikes the balance of the hybrid the character has become: an emotionless monster attempting to be a normal human being. It’s no easy task to plan the funeral of a loved one, but Dexter has a harder time appearing to grieve like every one else. His inability to naturally feel these emotions causes him to reflect on all his machinations over the years, including all the deceit he’s engaged in at the expense of his now dead wife. However, by Rita’s funeral, Dexter finds away to pull it all together and deliver a heartfelt eulogy to his erstwhile lover.
This dozen episodes will also give Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) a chance to shine as she not only reacts to the death of her sister-in-law, but steps in to help her brother out with the children. Deb has obviously been through her fair share of grief, though Rita’s death looks like it will have profound effects on her character. This season will truly test her character and Carpenter seems ready to rise to the challenge.
It also comes as no surprise that Quinn (Desmond Harrington) has picked up Dexter’s scent as the show has been grooming him as the next Doakes for a whole season. He’s the only one that at Miami Metro who finds Rita’s death, and more importantly, Dexter’s reaction to be a bit curious. As he picks at the innocent facade that Dexter has put up, expect others in Dexter’s inner circle to begin seeing the light as well.
Following up the amazing fourth season will be no easy feat, but “My Bad” is a great start to this very pivotal fifth chapter. Usually shows that are this far into their run have somewhat semi-cemented their legacy and the path of their protagonist. This is NOT the case with Dexter. The powers that be decided to completely break the mold of the show, taking it well off the beaten path, and that’s saying a lot for a show about a serial killer who takes justice into his own hands.
What remains to be seen is if Rita’s death was concocted to truly drive the story ahead or was implemented all in the name of shock value. Many shows have offed a major character, leaving fans to lament said transgressions in the off season. More importantly, the developments over the next 12 episodes will, in many ways, define who this guy that we’re rooting for is. Relatable and curable justice avenger? Or murderous psychopath? Hall has gone on record to say that Dexter now has a thirst for vengeance that cannot be quenched, given that Trinity bested him in their faceoff (and this new impetuousness is on full display towards the end of the first episode). But how long can that last? As Dexter wallows and attempts to find his path to normal human emotions, we will see if he really is a hero truly worthy of our adoration. Or just another killer.