Dexter season 5 episode 5 review: First Blood

Julia Stiles continues to excel in the latest episode of Dexter, as the tension continues to mount...

5.5 First Blood

In the last two seasons there have been episodes of Dexter that I described as an intake of breath. And in some respects, First Blood is that story this year.

It moves on a number of threads, combining the more palatable parts of Dexter’s life with those he’d rather keep secret, while moving like a short order chef to keep the pan warm on both Debra’s decapitation case and the increasingly taut Angel/Maria relationship.

But there are two stand-out parts that really grabbed my attention here, and the first was the excellent work of Julia Stiles as the irreparably-damaged Lumen.

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The track record of the show is now to bring very high quality actors into the playpen (Lithgow last year – awesome) and let them loose, and that is exactly what’s going on with Stiles.

Her need for revenge isn’t addressed by Dexter, and that looks destined to come back to bite him. But the fine irony of his and Lumen’s connection is that she’s the only woman he can confide in, and can remotely understand his dark passenger. Their emotionally touching separation at the airport has deep undercurrents. Dexter needs her more than she needs him, perhaps. The fact she never takes that flight, ultimately, is a relief for us, as she’s an entirely unpredictable component that can take the plot off at a tangent.

Stiles is so good, in fact, I’m curious why she’s not been offered a TV show of her own, because she’s a very watchable actress who can deliver interesting characters.

But the other evocative element that Dexter threw us this week was the appearance of Peter ‘RoboCop‘ Weller, as a gnarled ex-cop whom Joey Quinn has set on the trail of Dexter. This plotline reminds me that the writers of this show like to give Dexter two different challenges, the ones he can see, yet aren’t easy to resolve, and those that stalk him unseen. He’s, so far, pretty much unaware of Quinn’s interest in the true identity of Kyle Butler, but that’s got to change at some point soon.

In terms of the lighter content, there was a lovely sideline about the aggressiveness of Baby Harrison, full of cute lines and vivid playtime imagery. And, Vince Masuka is always full-on entertainment, and more was revealed about his distinctly odd personality with a visit to his personal tattoo artist.

These additions, while not vital to the overall plot, add a texture to the world of Dexter that other shows lack, and I think most people appreciate the creative effort involved.

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Overall, First Blood, was more connectivity than a thematic story, but it moved things along to a more interesting place from where the season will meet the halfway point.

The trailer for episode six explores just how wrong Lumen can go, if this week wasn’t a big enough hint.

While we’ve not really reached the traversing a razor’s edge tension that season four brought, season five is simmering nicely, I’d say.