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Dexter – Season Five – Episode Five: “First Blood” Review

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Written by : published Wednesday 20th July 2011

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Dexter’s attempts to persuade Lumen to return home are met with granite-like resistance from the troubled young woman, but her presence in Miami is a distraction Dexter can do without and her departure becomes his top priority.

 

When we see Lumen (Julia Stiles) again in First Blood, she is a far cry from the grubby, blood-soaked girl we met a week ago. Looking fresh and sprightly, her appearance betrays the deeper psychological problems mounting inside. She doesn’t wish to return home yet, not without enacting brutal revenge on the men who tortured her and murdered the barrel girls, and she wants Dexter to help her. Nervous and twitchy, Lumen is persistent in trying to recruit Dexter but the killer of killers is reluctant and only wishes for her to go home, and out of his life. 

 

Refusing to leave and angered by Dexter’s refusal to help her, Lumen goes on a vigilante mission of her own. She breaks into Boyd Fowler’s house and discovers a letter from Fowler’s old cellmate who’s getting released and will be in Miami to pay the road-kill remover a visit. Lumen decides that this man is a member of the group responsible for her rape and goes after him, gun in hand. Dexter anticipates her actions and stops her at the last minute, telling her that she would have killed an innocent man had she pulled the trigger.

 

First Blood delves deeper into the mind of Lumen Ann Pierce. The airport scene as she prepares to leave Miami is uncomfortable viewing. Watching her being frisked and leered at isn’t pleasant and Julia Stiles does a commendable job in portraying Lumen’s anxieties. These images are trippy and hazy and are successfully employed in providing viewers with a sense of Lumen’s suffering.

 

After the incident at the airport, Lumen jumps in a taxi and heads back to Miami central. Her objective is clear now: if she is to obtain closer on the horrific incident at Boyd’s, she has to bring about the deaths of the despicable monsters who abused her.

 

Dexter has always used the earlier episodes of its seasons like building blocks, each one helping to construct the foundations for an exciting finale. Season five has so far followed suit, and we now find ourselves with a real plot on our hands, not just Dexter dealing with the aftermath of Rita’s death. It will be interesting to uncover who Boyd’s accomplices are and in what way Lumen, with or without Dexter’s assistance, will get her revenge.

 

Elsewhere, tensions in Batista (David Zayas) and LeGuerta’s (Lauren Velez) relationship come to a head in First Blood. Unbeknown to Batista, Maria has been partaking in an undercover sting operation to bring down a corrupt police officer. In doing this, she hopes to clear Angel’s name in the IAD case against him. Batista interprets Maria’s secrecy as a sign that she’s having an affair and bursts in on the operation just as things are being wrapped up. In distrusting Maria, Angel has exposed the flaws in their relationship and now faces an uphill battle to save his failing marriage. The series also uses this event to introduce us to a new character: corrupt narcotics cop Stan Liddy (Peter Weller).

 

Best known for his role as the mechanically-enhanced law-keeper Alex Murphy in the RoboCop films, Weller’s Liddy is a much nastier creature than his robotic counterpart. Vulgar, dirty and bent, this guy enjoys nothing more than drinking tequila, wearing bad Hawaiian shirts and bad mouthing his former bosses, including LeGuerta, the bitch who set him up. It wasn’t surprisingly to find Quinn (Desmond Warrington) hanging out with this lowlife, but Quinn putting Liddy on Dexter’s tail was certainly surprising. This is a smart move on Quinn’s part: he knows he can’t pursue Dexter himself anymore and Liddy, his reputation in tatters and in need of some easy money, is an approachable candidate for the job. Weller impressed critics recently with his portrayal of a scientist driven to extreme lengths in the fantastic Fringe episode White Tulip so his turn as Stan Liddy should prove to be a highlight.  

 

The Homicide Department’s case this season is nothing special. The Santa Muerte Killings are nowhere near as enjoyable as season three’s Skinner case, or even season one’s Carlos Guerrero arch. The killings are gruesome, there’s no doubt about that, but gruesome to an almost distracting degree, as if the writers hope the imagery will blind our realisation that the actual case is a bore. This storyline has to improve quickly before it becomes lost in the more exciting elements of season five.

 

The most worrying thing is that the Santa Muerte Killings look like they’re going to be Deborah’s main focus this season. With most viewers hoping she will finally expose Dexter’s secret this season, it looks like disappointment may loom. How the writers can disregard last season’s reveal that Debs knows Dexter’s brother was the Ice Truck Killer is beyond rational thought. Rita’s death obviously blocked any immediate discussion Dexter and Deborah would have on the subject, but it seems like that piece of crucial information has been dropped altogether.

 

As with last week’s Beauty and the Beast, First Blood was another building block episode, but with hints of better things to come, viewers can rest assured that season five is ready to explode out of the traps.

 

7/10

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