Showtime's hit series Dexter is back - and Season 7 promises to be the most talked-about yet. Here's a look at what's ahead as well as an examination of the recently-released Season 6 Blu-Ray edition. SPOILER ALERT!
The new season picks up after the previous one's explosive cliffhanger, and we find out through flashbacks exactly what happened after Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) discovered Dex (Michael C. Hall) killing Travis Marshall. Fans have been waiting for her to catch on from the very beginning of the series, and the scene more than lives up to those high expectations, with fantastic work by both Carpenter and Hall. By the end of the premiere, Deb knows that her brother is a serial killer, and in episode two she learns some of his resume. That's not the point of the season - it's the "now what?"
In other developments, a supporting character is murdered early in the premiere episode, giving Dexter a fresh target while the detectives of Miami Metro conduct their own search for the killer. Batista (David Zayas) goes head-to-head with a strip club boss (Jason Gedrick). leaving Quinn (Desmond Harrington) to play the "good cop" - as much as he can manage to, anyway. It's not long before he's asking a dancer at the club out on a date - starting the same general story he went through in season four and season six. We also learn more about the dark side of Louis the Intern, while Chuck star Yvonne Strahovski makes her first appearance as Hannah Mackay in episode three, albeit briefly. There's a lot more that could be done with the cops and criminals than is seen in the first three episodes, and hopefully they'll develop as the season progresses.
Yet the ensemble cast are essentially supporting players. This is Hall and Carpenter's show, and it's still easy to see why he's won awards for his work, and still baffling why she hasn't yet. While Dexter tries to control himself out of concern for what will happen to Deb, she goes through a variety of emotions including fear, anger and a desperation to understand what makes her brother tick. The majority of their scenes are strictly between the two of them, and each one challenges the bond between the pair that's become the foundation of the series. These are two strong actors working on material that's been years in the making, and they're excellent with it.
While Season 7 has room for improvement, it gets the Dexter story to a place it needed to go, and watching Hall and Carpenter alone is worth the hour of your time every Sunday.
As is usual, the previous season of the show arrived on Blu-Ray and DVD just before the new one was set to premiere. If you missed it, Season 6 of Dexter seemed to be a 'love it or hate it' year - mostly because of its ending. However, that's not the only reason it's the show's weakest season so far. The antagonists that Dexter faces just don't have the fear factor that previous villains did; you'll be uncomfortable watching what they do, but you'll never be afraid of them. Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks have both done better work in Battlestar Galactica and The Good Guys respectively, and the major plot twist concerning Olmos' character is obvious well before it's revealed.
The season also does a fair job destroying all the character development that Quinn got in Season 5. In fairly short order, he's getting drunk, sleeping with a witness, and generally being even more insufferable than he was when he was first introduced. Quinn may not be a beloved character, but Season 5 showed he had the potential to be an interesting one, and Harrington is a terribly underrated actor who goes totally to waste in Season 6. The whole ensemble does the best they can, but the material just isn't there. The highlight of the season is that Deb finally learns her brother's big secret - but that long-awaited moment is undercut by the cringe-worthy personal revelation she has right before that.
So is it worth your money to pick up these Blu-Rays? That depends on how much you love Dexter - because while the season is lacking, the Blu-Ray presentation is phenomenal. It officially pushes the show into "do not watch this before going to bed" territory. Colors are bright and bold, particularly all the blood, and the sound is so crisp that you can hear every slice. There's no other series with content so perfectly complemented by the Blu-Ray format.
My one significant gripe with the Season 6 Blu-Rays is the one I've mentioned about Dexter when reviewing previous seasons: the lack of real extras. A handful of cast interviews are the only bonus relevant to the show; the others are episodes of other Showtime series including Californication and House of Lies. The interviews are worth a watch but do not have a lot of replay value, so unless you're curious about other Showtime programs, you're essentially spending anywhere from $30-60 just to get the episodes.
If you're a hardcore Dexter fan or a completist who already has the first five sets, then Season 6 is a must buy, because you'll never see the series look better than this. However, there's still plenty that can be done with the Dexter season sets, or even a complete series after Season 8.
Dexter Season 6 is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now; Season 7 premieres on Showtime tonight at 9 PM ET/PT.