The Showtime Original Series Dexter™ is back with an all-new season, and this time America's favorite serial killer has gone from freewheeling bachelor to responsible husband and doting dad. Maintaining an average-guy facade while satisfying his need to kill has never been easy. But now, with wife and kids in tow, Dexter's got more to lose then ever, as he gets drawn into a deadly game with a killer every bit as dangerous — and conflicted — as he is.
When executive producer/showrunner Clyde Phillips exited Dexter at the end of the fourth season, he left the remaining cast and crew with a puzzle worthy of a cackling supervillain: not only find a way to top John Lithgow's stunning performance as a Big Bad, but also somehow rebuild the main character's life after the season finale's devastating ending. While this subsequent season definitely shows some signs of early fumbling, it sports more than enough twisted drama to keep viewers firmly on (or behind) the couch. Picking up scant seconds after the previous episode, the story arc follows the conflicted sociopath Dexter (Michael C. Hall) as he struggles to uphold his newly amplified role as a family man, while fending off his increasingly demanding killer urges. Salvation, of sorts, comes in the form of a brutalized female victim (Julia Stiles), who enlists him to take down her tormenters. As the duo circle in on their targets, Dexter's sister (Jennifer Carpenter) investigates a gruesome string of ritualized murders and starts an awkward romance with a fellow homicide detective (Desmond Harrington), who has some growing suspicions about how Dexter spends his off hours. Fans of the morally ambivalent tones of the first two seasons may have difficulties with the increasingly human tendencies of the main character (unlike Lithgow's disorienting charisma, the bad guys are so over-the-top evil here that it's difficult not to root outright for their gory demise), but Hall's beautifully subtle performance makes the leap. While his character's situation has definitely changed over the course of the show, Hall still chillingly manages to illuminate his central inability to connect, especially when paired with Stiles, who does a terrific job of balancing vulnerability and righteous bloodlust. Dexter can be a frustrating show to follow at times--especially when dealing with the increasingly flat antics of the supporting cast--but when Hall and Stiles are onscreen, the possibilities seem freakishly infinite. --Andrew Wright