'Dexter' Mid-Season Pulse Check and Spoilers: It's About to Get Intense
'Dexter' Mid-Season Pulse Check and Spoilers: It's About to Get Intense
Meghan Carlson
Meghan Carlson
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
After a death, time can seem to stand still. It takes a while to get back into the swing of normalcy, whatever that is. And the more major the death, the more significant the person was in your life, the longer it takes.

Dexter Morgan isn't usually in the business of dealing with that side of the death equation. He's typically more involved in the front-end. The murder end. In a hands-on sort of way. But, intentionally or not, the first few episodes of Dexter season 5 have served as a fitting metaphor for the healing process. Since Rita died, it's not so much Dexter whose life has stalled, but the show's--at least according to fans who relished the intense Trinity storyline last season and have critiqued this season's more slow-burning approach. No Big Bad (yet). Very little murdering. A whole lot of talking about romantic and family drama. Cut out the Boyd/Lumen story and the gruesome Santa Muerte scenes, and early season 5 Dexter could possibly pass for a (really well made) cop soap opera.

Looking back the first four episodes after watching last night's fifth installment, "First Blood," it's clear that this season's beginning actually managed a pretty incredible feat: Under the guise of standing fairly still, it's set enough plates spinning to sustain the rest of the season in a familiar yet uncharted direction, and brought forth more than a few candidates for his coveted Last Kill of the Season spot.

And there's still good news for those Dexter fans who haven't felt completely satisfied so far: As an early viewer of episodes 6 and 7, I can tell you that it's about to get intense again. At least as far as Dexter and Lumen are concerned. I have no defense for the LaGuerta and Batista drama, except that the next two weeks are mercifully lacking in it.

Having seen what came before and now what comes after, "First Blood" feels aptly named, serving as the crux for the season, which has finally worked up enough momentum to propel toward the explosive conclusion we hope for and expect from Dexter. And next week's episode is even more enticingly, and aptly, titled: "Everything is Illumenated."

Where we've been:
  • While killing who he thought was a solo serial killer of young blonds, Dexter found Lumen, Boyd Fowler's latest victim, alive and fully traumatized. After nursing her back to health and slowly teaching her to trust him, Dexter found out from Lumen that there were other men with Boyd who raped and hurt her.
  • Meanwhile, Deb has been investigating the mysterious Santa Muerte murders (as well as the inside of Quinn's bed).
  • Angel and Maria are letting their marital troubles leak into their work troubles, and vice versa.
  • After his own investigation landed him on suspension, Quinn hired a dirty cop (Peter Weller) to tail Dexter, whom he still suspects is Kyle Butler/Rita's killer.

What happened in "First Blood":
  • Lumen's ready for vengeance. When Dexter won't help her track down Boyd's accomplices and kill them, she decides to take the act upon herself--but almost kills the wrong guy, Boyd's former cellmate.
  • Dexter almost kills him too, until he discovers the man's ankle bracelet--proof he didn't leave his parole area--once again showing that when his life gets complicated, Dexter's more prone to mistakes.
  • He's also riding a confusing line between genuinely caring about Lumen's well being and trying to cover his own ass when he convinces her that murder isn't the answer and tries to put her on a plane to Minneapolis. After a beautifully executed pat-down scene in the TSA line, Lumen's trauma comes rushing back, and she rushes back to Miami. We knew Dexter wouldn't be rid of her so easily.
  • The Santa Muerte killings are still leading us ... somewhere, apparently a night club. It's unclear where this increasingly complicated story is going (sidenote: holy maggots!), and whether it will turn out to be related to Boyd (seems unlikely, but that would make the connection even better) but it's clear that the cops are closing in, and a confrontation with the killers is imminent.
  • All the while, Dexter worries that Harrison might be "born in blood," just like him and Lumen. But I think we, like his angelic Irish nurse, are meant to see that Dexter's just being paranoid (another word for "paternal," at times), and there's nothing wrong with Harrison. At least not until Dexter screws up the kid himself, which could happen if he keeps showing Harrison criminal databases and confiding in him about murders.

dexter_506_0147.jpgLumen's with Dexter, and he's got the black gloves on. You know what that means ...

What's to come? (Spoilers ahead!)

  • "Compartmentalization began as an architectural theory. Divide buildings into sections which can be closed off to prevent a fire from spreading." I bet you can guess why Dexter's thinking about keeping separate the different, fire-prone areas of his life ... and why it isn't so simple for him anymore. Later, he says "compartmentalization is a joke." And he's not kidding. As was hinted in last night's "coming up on Dexter" preview, next week's episode is a comedy of (murder) errors. Seriously, I LOL'ed. It's some black comedy at its finest.
  • We'll also finally get to hear more about Lumen's backstory, from her own mouth. It may not be as exciting or traumatic (pre-Miami) as you expect.
  • The return of the Chief. And, oh-so-Chief-life, he's back to making LaGuerta worried about her job and aggravating the chip on Deb's shoulder.
  • Stan Liddy: He's the (Robo)cop hired to tail Dexter (played by Peter Weller), and what he lacks in mature good looks, he makes up for in ample stocks of creepiness.
  • Harrison's going to say his first word. And it's going to crack you up.
  • Remember when Dexter crashed his car back in the season 4 premiere and couldn't remember where his victim's body parts went? Somebody else is about to be able to relate.
  • Jordan Chase: The "Take It Now!" motivational speaker played by Jonny Lee Miller (whom the late Boyd was so fond of) will make his debut, as will his brooding head of security Cole (Chris Vance). Remember how Trinity made his debut in Dexter's workspace? I don't think it's a coincidence that this is the first good look we get at Jordan and Cole:


I won't and shouldn't give too much else away, because so much of the upcoming episodes of Dexter legitimately surprised me--and you deserve to experience those delicious twists for yourself. You've put in the time, and those early investments will soon start paying dividends. So keep going! (As if you had a choice. You know you're addicted to this show the way Dexter is addicted to the kill, right? Please say it's not just me.)

(Images courtesy of Showtime)