Warning: This review
contains spoilers for the first three seasons.
After watching the first couple of episodes from Dexter
Season 4, I thought the show had run its course and started to repeat
itself. Don't get me wrong, it was still
interesting, but the Miami PD chasing another serial killer? Been there, done that. I
should have given the creators more credit
though. They managed to pull some pretty
startling surprises over the course of the season and it soon became
that this wasn't just a retread of earlier story lines.
Just as engrossing as always, this fourth set
is just as good as the earlier seasons.
Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, Six Feet Under) is a
blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police
Department. He examines murder scenes
and determines where the victim and perpetrator where standing and
movements based on the drops of blood that are left.
Dexter has a secret though; he's a serial
Adopted when he was three after he saw his mother butchered
with a chainsaw and then left trapped with her body for days, Dexter
all the early signs of a psychopath. He
had trouble relating to other people's feelings or even feeling
himself, and killed small animals. His
adopted father, Harry (James Remar), was a Miami police officer and
what was wrong with Dexter. Rather than
trying to change Dexter's personality, something that probably wasn't
Harry decided to channel his son's anti-social (to say the least)
tendencies. He showed him how to blend
in with other people, how to fake being normal so that no one would
what he really is. Harry also instilled
a moral code in the immoral child. He
convinced him that he has to resist his urges to kill and only let
people who deserve it: murderers who are
beyond the law. Harry also trained
Dexter in criminal investigative procedure so that he would know how to
without leaving evidence and to stay off of the police's radar.
It worked well. Dexter appears to be a
normal, if somewhat
quiet guy. Not event those closest to
him, his step-sister Debra (Hall's real-life wife Jennifer Carpenter),
Rita (Julie Benz), or his co-workers commanding officer Lt. Maria
Vélez), Detective Angel Batista (David Zayas), and lab tech
Vince Masuka (C.S.
Lee), suspect that Dexter loves to kill people and cut up their bodies.
With Dexter married now married and living with his wife,
her two kids, and their baby together, Harrison, live has become
complicated. Not only is Harrison not sleeping through the night, but
Dexter to come home right after work and spend time with her and the
kids. That makes it a bit hard for Dex to
his extracurricular activities, namely chopping killers into little
Things get interesting when FBI Agent Frank Lundy (Keith
Carradine), last seen in season two, arrives in town.
He's retired now but still working on a
case: the Trinity Killer.
He's discovered a pattern of three murders:
young woman bleeding to death in a bathtub, a mother of two falls to
in an apparent suicide, and a bludgeoning of a man outside of a bar. This pattern has been repeated taken place
over a series of days all over the country for the last 15 years. Lundy has returned to Miami since he heard about the death
young woman in a bathtub. Just about
everyone in Homicide thinks he's crazy, and his bosses at the FBI
same thing. Even when a woman jumps from
an abandoned building just as Lundy predicted.
Debra is convinced though, and not just because Lundy is an old
flame. She starts looking into the
"Trinity Killer" case, and the more she discovers the more she's
he's on to something. Of course her boss
doesn't want her wasting time chasing phantoms.
There's a guy robbing tourists and when one of them is killed,
becomes homicide's top priority.
Dexter is convinced that the Trinity Killer is real
too. But he wants this guy for himself
and isn't pleased that he has to race his sister to the murderer. He's able to stay one step ahead, but he
discovers something that makes things more difficult and causes him to
I don't want to give away any of the shocks or surprises in
this season, so I'll have to keep the synopsis rather brief. Suffice to say that this season isn't just
and the police looking for a serial killer, there's a lot more there. (Not the least of these is the interesting
subplot about Rita wanting Dexter to open up to her more, something
incapable of doing.)
As was mentioned earlier, this season starts off with a
rather familiar tone to those who have seen the first three seasons,
are a lot of parallels that can be drawn. The
area where the program shines however is
how they take a fairly limited premise, a Miami based serial killer,
up with new ways to examine his life and problems.
The season-long story shows Dexter evolving
in his thinking. The way he considers Rita
has dramatically changed since the first season. At
first she was just cover, someone to
divert attention away from Dexter so that he won't look like a loner. By the time this set of shows ends, she's much
more than that.
The regular case did a great job, as always, and this season
also sees a few new reoccurring characters.
Courtney Ford played an ambitious reporter, Christine Hill, who
dating Debra's partner. She plays the
role wonderfully, and viewers will be guessing all season as to what
motivations are. Is she really in love
with the cop, or is she just trying to get information for her paper?
Last season featured Jimmy Smits as the season-long villain
and it must have been hard to find someone to fill that slot. I was a little surprised that John Lithgow
was selected, after all he's probably best known for his comedy series 3rd Rock from the Sun, and
though he did a great job as a small town preacher in Footloose,
I wasn't sure how he'd fare in his role here. I
was very impressed with his performance. He's
able to play a down to Earth family man well,
while also giving just a hint of what's underneath.
This role has a wide range, and Lithgow does
a great job throughout.
The 12 episodes that make up the fourth season of Dexter
come on three Blu-ray discs
contained in a single-width case. A page
in the middle holds two discs (one on each side of the page so they
overlapping) while the third is attached to the right side.
Presented with a 1.78:1 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded image, this
set looks very good, just as good as season one. There
is a lot of detail in the picture, and
many times the image just leaps off the screen, especially in the
exterior scenes. The colors are
outstanding, reproducing the lush greens of the Miami setting as well as the deep red
splatters that Dexter analyses with great care.
Some of the darker scenes do have a bit of grain in them, but
this was a
The show comes with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that works
well for the show. Being mainly dialog
based, there aren't a lot of fancy audio effects but the show does
sound to the rears, mainly background music.
There are also some unexpected sound effects positioned nicely
the room, a doorbell ringing behind you for example, that are spare but
As with the earlier seasons, fans of the show are going to be
disappointed with the very, very meager bonuses. This
time all of the extras that are
'included' have to be accessed via Blu-ray Live, so if you don't have a
2.0 player or if it's not hooked up to the Internet, you're screwed. Also, I have to wonder how long the content
will be available. I have DVDs that are
going on ten years old that I still enjoy.
In a decade is Showtime still going to be hosting these on-line
extras? I don't think so. The
Blu-ray Live downloadable features include
episodes of three other Showtime programs, Californation (2 episodes), The
Tudors (two episodes), and Episodes
(the first episode only.) With a
show this good that has a substantial following, there really should be
bonus content. It's a real
disappointment, but not very surprising.
I was a little worried that Dexter had jumped the shark
after watching the first couple of episodes, but that wasn't the case
all. The season tells a nicely plotted
suspenseful story that has some nice twists and turns.
A great program on a great set of Blu-ray
discs, this comes Highly Recommended.
images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not
represent the image quality on the disc.