Dexter Review: Are You a Serial Killer?

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Let's face it: over the last couple seasons, Dexter had grown stale. Each set of episodes followed a basic pattern:

Dexter would question his capacity for humanity, his ability to permanently shut the door on his Dark Passenger, only to realize this could never come to fruition. He'd conclude the season by accepting the monster inside of him and putting the latest Big Bad on a table.

Rinse, stab, repeat.

Dexter Season 7 PRemiere Photo

But the Dexter Season 7 premiere offered up a fresh, fascinating twist on this cycle: What if Dexter is the Big Bad?

Season 6 was atrocious. The Doomsday Killer was more comical than dastardly, with the supposed twist of Travis hallucinating his mentor more transparent than Miami Beach water on a hot summer day. It concluded on an even more contrived, ridiculous premise: Deb somehow falling in love with her brother.

But that final scene provided promise, and it would be nearly impossible for any long-time fan to avoid tuning in for the this episode in order to see how the show would depict the only real card remaining its deck: The truth. Revealed. To Deb.

After one utterly gripping hour, the answer is an emphatic: very, very, very well indeed.

From the opening confrontation to the shocking final few seconds, I may have taken two breaths. This was pure tension from beginning to end. Dexter is at its best NOT when the main character is questioning who he is... but scrambling because of who he is.

We've seen it in the past - from Doakes to Trinity - the series makes for suspenseful television when Dexter must work to stay one step ahead of whoever is closing in on his secret. But the stakes are raised infinitely higher now: that someone is Deb, and she isn't closing in. She's already figured it out.

Deb knows Dexter is a serial killer. And I legitimately have no clue what will happen next.

Yes, there were some holes in the details: I don't know why Deb would call Dexter's apartment line instead of the cell phone we've seen her dial a million times before; it seemed WAY too easy for Dexter to drug that Ukrainian mobster in the middle of an airport; and why would LaGuerta be secretive about the slide instead of simply ordering Masuka to run it?

But those are quibbles when compared to the big picture. Michael C. Hall was his usual brilliant self on the premiere, oscillating from an angry Dexter to a scared Dexter to an emotionless Dexter so well that it was difficult to tell when he was acting and when he was acting as DEXTER acting.

And Jennifer Carpenter was equally mesmerizing. The callbacks to her time on Brian's table and even the flashbacks to the siblings as children were both executed perfectly, adding to the story instead of distracting from it.

Just a terrific premiere all around, enough to help me forget all about Professor Gellar and Deb's psychologist-based epiphanies of love and even those six seconds when Batista and LaGuerta were married. The following bears repeating because it changes everything we know about Dexter, mixing up its formula and setting the stage for an epic run of episodes...

Deb knows Dexter is a serial killer. And I legitimately have no clue what will happen next.

Are You... Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (167 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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