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'Dexter' Season 5 Finale Recap

by Sandie Angulo Chen, posted Dec 13th 2010 10:15AM

Dexter['Dexter' - 'The Big One']

Well, this is it, folks. Another season of 'Dexter' comes to a close, but instead of a heart-stopping bloodbath like last season, we're left with a bittersweet birthday party, a sense of closure, and even -- dare I say -- a dose of optimism.

Sure, there was the Jordan Chase murder, but that was a) completely expected and b) a tad anti-climactic... until Deb showed up. The real oomph of the episode was the fantastic scene when Deb, confirmed in her belief that the killers were indeed a "vigilante couple," spares Dexter and Lumen.

That sequence coupled with Dexter's decision to spare Quinn (who looked perfectly positioned to take the fall for Liddy) after talking to Debra, and the necessary Lumen/Dexter breakup, were the emotional centerpieces of the episode.

Kudos to the readers who precisely predicted that neither Lumen nor Quinn would get killed. It was refreshing that the writers didn't have Quinn go the way of Doakes or Lumen murdered, a la Rita. That would've been lazy and beneath them, frankly. Both of them survived the season, which means there are two people in the world who know (or at the very least strongly suspect) the truth about Dexter.

Michael C. Hall, who once again deserves an Emmy nomination for his performance, and Jennifer Carpenter were especially extraordinary this season finale.

In a series known for its very special guest stars, Carpenter is underrated (and for the most part overlooked come awards season) but continues to deliver pitch-perfect performances. She's funny (her laughable attempt at Spanish infused the episode with much-needed levity) and vulnerable and one of the best supporting characters on primetime.

As Quinn said last week, she's almost like a guy; she's tough, swears like a sailor, sleeps with whomever she wants, and doesn't put up with B.S. But she's also vulnerable and kind; it's a shame there aren't more female characters like her on TV.

As for Hall, he's simply amazing. To go from five seasons as an openly gay funeral director ('Six Feet Under') to five seasons as a closeted serial killer would be a tough transition for a lesser actor to pull off, but Hall manages to make a psychopathic murderer not just mesmerizing but actually beloved. By comparison, as much as I loved 'The Sopranos,' it never bothered me to believe Tony would get whacked one day, but Dexter is such a wounded soul, it's impossible for me not to root for him.

The special guests Julia Stiles and Jonny Lee Miller were both brilliant last night. Not many of Dexter's chosen victims get to deliver monologues from the table, but Miller's motivational speaker was compelling (and eerily right in many ways -- especially regarding Lumen's transformation) until the instant Lumen plunged the knife in his chest.

Lumen, in the end, changed Dexter for the better, even though she broke his heart. Dexter was positively gutted when Lumen explained that she had to leave. He was much more devastated than he looked after Rita's death. Dexter's response, sitting on his kitchen floor, was award worthy. His touching promise, "Don't be sorry your darkness is gone. I'll carry it for you always. I'll keep it with mine," was poetic and even made my eyes get watery.

As much as transformation was a major theme of this season, things have gone back to status quo with this ultimately hopeful episode: LaGuerta and Batista are giving it another go at their marriage; Deb and Quinn are stronger than ever; Masuka is, well, enjoying the company of a busty date; and Astor and Cody will spend the summer with Dexter and Harrison (and super-nanny Sonia). What's more, Dexter for the very first time believes that there's a possibility his Dark Passenger could possibly vanish one day, just like Lumen's.

Burning questions:

-- It's obvious why Lumen was allowed to live; she could never implicate Dexter without coming out as a victim/accomplice/murderer herself. Not to mention that she clearly loves Dexter. But what about Quinn. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Dexter saved him for Deb, but who's to say Quinn and Deb will stay together? Quinn has to suspect Dexter even more now, and one day he could start following him around again.

-- Dexter cleared Quinn's bloody shoe, but isn't Quinn still the prime suspect? His fingerprints are on the van; his (fake) signature on the surveillance-equipment requisitions; and the phone records implicate him too (even if Quinn did lie about letting the calls go to voice-mail). It doesn't make sense that he'd all of a sudden be free and clear of suspicion.

-- What purpose did the multi-episode Santa Muerte case serve other than to set up Deb and LaGuerta as foils? Who else found it an ultimately unsatisfying case and plot device?

Memorable lines:
--"Lumen sees me for what I really am, and she hasn't turned away from me. She hasn't turned against me. She's someone I can share my life with. I will not let her die." -- Dexter to Harry

--"It must be terrible going through this again. Losing your wife -- the woman you loved -- and now Lumen, I imagine it seems to you like some sort of terrible curse." --Jordan to Dexter

--"I understand what these women went through... I know what it's like to be taken by some sick bastard... to know you're going to die." --Deb to Dexter

--"I' fucking swear I'm taking Spanish after this." --Deb

'Dexter' season 6 premieres some time in 2011 on Showtime. I know I'll be watching.

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Celia Gallegos

This is exactly what i thought when i watched the season finale.

March 25 2012 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I realize that I'm a little late in posting, but I felt inclined to reply to some of the posts that didn't like this season because Dexter became too unwound and forgot his code. First, considering the changes he'd been through in a short time, I would expect him to act on his primal first instinct instead of relying on his training. Sometimes losing someone can cause you to forget simple things you knew before and when you're acting on instinct, this can be compounded. In fact, I'd be disappointed if he'd kept his head during the season considering they didn't really touch on his reaction to Rita's death quite as much as I expected when I saw the trailer for this season.

Second, I think people are forgetting the optimistic and obvious sense of the story looping back to its beginnings at the end of the last episode. Dexter finally learned how to juggle family, job, and killing - and his problems with Quinn seem to be relatively fixed for now. The narrative at the end of the show sounded like the old Dexter, the one in the first episodes of the series.

It's true that the show is no longer relying on flashbacks or the appearance of Harry to constantly remind Dexter of the code. However, I think this has a lot to do with character evolution. Harry probably didn't imaging Dexter would be in contact with his biological brother, or that he would get married and have a child of his own. These are normal aspects of life that even Dexter didn't realize were in his future. It makes sense that his journey through the various relationships he's formed in the series would pull him away from the seclusive lifestyle Harry trained him for.

December 17 2010 at 5:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

extremely disappointing. You now have dexter completely violating the code, killing police officers, and also have the miami police department assisting him. Quinn knows he killed the cop, didn't say anything. Deb had them cornered, knew they had committed murder, and let them go. The pretext for it? To make the audience root for the killer(s).

The premise way back when was him exacting revenge on those the system didn't get. Now it's become him getting revenge on people before the system even has a chance to take care of them. And innocent people are getting murdered by him along the way.

This ex-cop, the photographer, and frankly doakes too was dexter's fault. And before you say dexter was justified in going after the ex cop because that cop had kidnapped him, then think about the fact that dexter did the same thing to doakes!

The whole show has now become ridiculous, and this was the end of it for me.

I won't be following it in season 6, it's just become too unbelievable...

December 17 2010 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to steve's comment

Very well said. The viewers here seem to forget how much of the show revolved around Dexter's training, and how the show was tightly written with a great plotline.

This season, on the other hand, was all over the place. I can't understand why real Dexter fans (vs. the casual viewers) are so accepting of this change. I know we can't have a grand slam every season, but the show's production has really changed for the worse.

I personally like this show, but not this season. I'm still hopeful that next season will be great. And I still think Michael C. Hall is one of the best dramatic (and sometimes comedic) actors in the business.

December 17 2010 at 5:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mb's comment

You have to remember that Dexter's wife died, so of course its going to be all over the place.
I'm a huge fan of this show, this is my least favorite season, but I can still see why all of this happened

I'm very excited for season 6.

February 26 2011 at 6:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

You can measure a great show/movie by how intense you feel as you watch it. No matter how many holes there were in the plot I never relaxed or lost interest for a second. I am sure all those who wrote something negative about the show feel the same way. The story/writers keep you wanting more, what else can you ask from a TV show. Can't wait for next season.

December 16 2010 at 10:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love this show! Last season was intense and this season had highs and lows. I did not like or believe the Lumen character. If a woman had been sexually tortured as she was, there is no way she would have gotten involved as quickly as she did with Dexter. No way. And, to walk around in a hotel in the open where she might encounter her abductors? no way.
I think the Nanny is really perceptive and sees a little too much of the real Dexter.
Also, when does Dexter really work? He is out runnning around and chasing suspects, does the guy sleep?

December 16 2010 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dexter is what happens when we get in the same mix great writing and awsome actors. As long as both "ingredients" stay together, I expect Dexter to keep entertained for a looooooooooooong time.

December 14 2010 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Speaking of plot holes, what happened to Dexter's turned over and crashed car? Deb would have had to see it, right? How did they get rid of it and the body in under an hour? Just turned it over and drove off? No one noticed his car was ruined? HUM.

December 14 2010 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to natalie's comment

Worst season of Dexter, but still entertaining.

I can't believe nobody is furious at the gaping plot hole of Deb being contratulated for closing/solving the Barrel Girls case when she never found Jordan Chase. I assumed when she told the "vigilantes" that she'd give them an hour to get out of there, and then call it in, that she would actually call it in and that "it" was the dead body of Chase. That she got credit for closing the case implies that she called it in and the police found Chase's dead body and thus the barrel girls case was closed. But Dexter and Lumen took and disposed of Chase's body. How could that be possible, and why would they even bother, since Deb already saw it? Also "closing the case" due to Jordan's dead body means confirmation of Deb's vigilante theory and that means a new case would be opened by Miami Metro Homicide. Even though Deb was confident that Chase was the last conspirator and thus the last person the victim/vigilantes would kill, the police still have to investigate all these murders, deserved or not... especially someone as high-profile as Jordan Chase. Do the police know that Jordan Chase was murdered? If so, where is the body? See, it makes no damn sense. She couldn't have closed the Barrel Girls case without catching Jordan Chase or confirming he had been murdered. All the other cops knew about deb's vigilante theory and her prediction that Jordan would be murdered next (he was the last one alive), so the dead body of Jordan Chase would confirm her theory was right. But there was no dead body of Jordan Chase because somehow, for some unknown and illogical reason, Dexter and Lumen took the body and dumped it. But deb somehow got credit for closing the case anyway.

Plot holes like this are unacceptable.

December 14 2010 at 5:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bruce's comment


I was pretty upset that the "botched" bloodwork exonerated Quinn, when all evidence in that van points to Quinn being involved in Liddy's murder. But the barrel girls thing appears to be an even BIGGER plot hole.

I think I would take out LaGuerta's praising of Deb for breaking the case, and I'd add in an interesting convo between Dexter and Quinn where they mutually acknowledge that they have damning evidence of each other.

December 14 2010 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it was always going to be difficult for Dexter S05 to top Dexter S04 (or even S03 for that matter). So I understand the 'disappointment' with the season among some.

But judged by itself, this season was really strong. Once again, great casting and writing. Pacing was good. Just the right ending, although I was hoping for something more climactic.

I hope the last few seasons are as strong. Here's an idea (if the producers are reading TVSquad): cast Martin Sheen for S06. I think he could really bring something terrific and dark and interesting. Maybe even out-Lithgow John Lithgow, if that were possible.

December 13 2010 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Overall, I liked this season (I know A LOT of people didn't). It was more existential and not so dark, which I'm sure alienated the nihilists. I felt all along they were alluding to the epigraph of E.M Forsters' Howards End, "Only Connect". A lot of fans wanted to have Deb uncover Dex's "secret life", but the curtain separating them at the camp was RIDICULOUSLY symbolic.

December 13 2010 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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