The Letdown: A Review of the Fifth Season of Dexter

By: Brandon Ford
Have you ever been excited for something, only to be let down in the end? That is exactly how I felt after viewing the season finale of the fifth season of the critically acclaimed show, Dexter. For those not in the loop, Dexter is about a serial killer named Dexter Morgan (Portrayed by Michael C. Hall) who works as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department. What sets him apart from other serial killers is a code that he learned from his adoptive father, Harry Morgan. Harry taught Dexter to only kill people who deserved it (other serial killers) and this code prevented Dexter from becoming like the people who he hunts down.
Coming into season five, the expectations were high. Season four ended with a cliff hanger with Dexter’s wife, Rita Morgan (portrayed by Julie Benz), being found dead in the bathtub, the final victim of the Trinity Killer (portrayed by John Lithgow) before Dexter eventually killed him. You would expect that season five would focus around Dexter attempting to get over his wife’s death and struggle with the fact that it’s mainly because of him that his wife is dead (In Season Four, Dexter had many chances to kill Trinity since he became “friends” with him but instead of killing him, he decided to try to learn from Trinity on how he can be a serial killer and still maintain a family). Instead, they dropped the entire story of Rita’s death in two episodes and what made it worse was that they introduced a NEW love interest for Dexter in Lumen Pierce (portrayed by Julia Stiles).
The debut of Lumen’s character seriously hampered the show. It’s not the fact that Lumen was an awful character; it’s the fact that her arrival ruined anything that could have been done with Rita’s death, story wise. Dexter goes from grieving for the first time in his life in one episode to completely forgetting about her death two episodes later. Lumen should have been saved for season six, if used at all. Lumen seemed like a character that an obsessed female fan would write into a Dexter Fan Fiction story, with her being portrayed as Dexter’s girlfriend and kill partner. If I knew that we would get Lumen after Rita’s death, I would prefer Rita to survive, since she was essential to Dexter’s life and that should have showed, instead of being forgotten about.
One positive that came out of the season was the antagonist for this season in Jordan Chase, who was portrayed by Johnny Lee Miller. Miller portrays a motivational speaker who is famous around the world for his seminars and the author of the book “Take it Now”. However, he is also involved in a group that tortures and murders young women, including Lumen Pierce. The Group included Jordan Chase, Cole Harmon (Chase’s Head of Security), Dan Mondale, Alex Tilden and Boyd Fowler. They came together at a summer camp when they were all teenagers and that is when they “took” their first victim in Emily Birch, a camp counselor. All the members of the group took part in the torture except for Jordan Chase, who was the one the other men looked to for approval and who shouted orders. They would continue this for over twenty years, having twelve victims in total not including Lumen.
Another positive that came out of this season was another antagonist in Stan Liddy, who was portrayed by Peter Weller. Liddy was hired by Joseph Quinn (portrayed by Desmond Harrington) to privately investigate Dexter, whom Quinn suspected of murdering Rita. Within a couple episodes, Quinn tells Liddy to “back off” of Dexter since Quinn doesn’t want his investigation of Dexter to interfere with his relationship with Dexter’s sister, Debra Morgan (portrayed by Jennifer Carpenter). Liddy’s growing obsession with Dexter doesn’t allow him to give up and instead continues his investigation with Dexter even after Quinn tells him to back off. Liddy eventually gains evidence of Dexter and Lumen loading Dexter’s boat with trash bags, which contained the body of Jordan Chase’s head of security, Cole Harmon. Liddy also sets up cameras in Dexter’s apartment and gets footage of Dexter showing Lumen how to stab someone. Liddy eventually kidnaps Dexter and tries to get a forced confession out of him but Dexter escapes and ends up killing Liddy by stabbing him in the heart after a struggle. Liddy’s role in this season was very entertaining and was better than Jordan Chase’s character, who I felt was portrayed well in this season, even if he character didn’t get as much development as the other main antagonists in past seasons.
Personally, I felt that Dexter Vs Jordan Chase would have been much better than Dexter/Lumen Vs Jordan Chase. Granted, Lumen’s involvement gave Dexter a personal reason to want to kill Chase but Lumen being Dexter’s kill buddy was a really, really bad decision. The payoff in the end was even worse with her telling Dexter the morning after killing Jordan Chase that she didn’t feel the urge to kill anymore. That would make sense since she only wanted revenge and wasn’t an actual killer like Dexter, but she completely left Dexter after he helped her kill her attackers. Why would they even bring her in, have her be a main part in Dexter’s life for most of the season, only for her to leave at season’s end? It made little sense, and makes you wonder why the writers put her in at all. Dexter would have been better off taking on The Group alone since he already took one of them out (Boyd Fowler) before he even discovered Lumen in Fowler’s house.
Overall, this season ending up falling flat on its face compared to the previous four seasons. Everybody knew that this wasn’t going to be as good as season four but they could have at least made the effort. Season five ended up being more of a love story between Dexter and Lumen rather than crime drama like the previous four seasons. The great performance of Michael C. Hall (once again) and the characters of Jordan Chase and Stan Liddy were the bright spots of this season, while the Lumen character and the overall story were the main negatives. This season was easily the worst, just behind season three, which also involved Dexter gaining a kill buddy in Miguel Prado. Hopefully Season six ends up being better than this season now that Lumen is gone, and Dexter can go back to being himself. With season six being quite possibly the final season, I really hope it gets back on track because a show that has been of great quality the previous four seasons, deserves a great sendoff.