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Dexter: The Seventh Season(TV) (2012)
Dexter returns, with the added burden of the innocent who knows his secret. Unsure of what to do or how to proceed, the Miami serial killer's number might just be up.
For more about Dexter: The Seventh Season and the Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray release, see Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Julie Benz, James Remar, Yvonne Strahovski
Directors: John Dahl, Steve Shill, Keith Gordon, Marcos Siega, Ernest R. Dickerson, Romeo Tirone
» See full cast & crew
Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray Review
A welcome return to form...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, May 10, 2013
When last we left darkly dreaming Showtime fan-favorite Dexter, the meticulously clever serial series was badly, perhaps even fatally wounded. Desperate and often predictable, it spent eleven increasingly painful sixth season episodes hobbling, then limping, then crawling towards a hastily manufactured endgame. I worried it would bleed out before reaching the finale. At one point, I feared dear Dexter dead. But then, against all odds, it pulled itself off the floor -- beaten, battered and bloody -- and delivered a razor-edged finale with a killer cliffhanger. Like its titular avenging angel, the series' future was uncertain but, suddenly and thankfully, full of possibilities. Season Seven picks up right where Season Six left off, with Miami's most brutally efficient vigilante in a shocking predicament, his future more uncertain than ever. Within minutes, though, it becomes apparent Dexter is on the mend; injured but deadlier than ever. Three rapidfire episodes later, it's clear the show is back with a vengeance. And by the end of the series' gripping seventh season, all is as it should be.
It almost goes without saying, but... Season Six spoilers ahead. Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) knows her brother's secret, and soon after, knows far more than she wishes she ever did. Her first response: treat Dexter (Michael C. Hall) as a drug addict. Detox the dark passenger out of him. But Deb can't babysit Dex 24-hours a day, and even if she could, it becomes more and more obvious that "treatment" isn't the answer. And Dexter has enough on his plate as it is, namely a pair of killers that just might meet all the requirements of Harry's code. The first being Isaak Sirko (Ray Stevenson), a Ukrainian mafia heavy hitter on the hunt for the man who murdered one of his top captains; the second being Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), a woman with a complicated past, a suspicious M.O. and a story that doesn't quite add up. Working to ensnare Isaak, uncover Hannah's secrets, honor a promise to his sister, repress his urges, and keep his true identity from going public, Dexter struggles to reconcile the conflicting demands of his day job, family ties and extracurricular activities. The intense attraction he develops for Hannah doesn't help either.
Dexter isn't the only one struggling. Deb is dragged to the edge of sanity and the delusion of salvation, unsure of where her loyalties lie. The further she delves into Dexter's world, the more it frightens and, to her further horror, begins to change her. Captain LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) finds a fresh blood slide at a crime scene that confirms her long-burning suspicion that James Doakes (Erik King) wasn't the Bay Harbor Butcher; a revelation that drives her to privately reopen the investigation, department reputation be damned. Detective Quinn (Desmond Harrington) falls for a stripper named Nadia (Katia Winter) in Sirko's outer circle, and quickly realizes her low-life manager, George (Jason Gedrick), wants the formerly corrupt police officer in his pocket. Batista (David Zayas) begins to sense Quinn might be on the take, all while eying retirement and the chance at a life outside of the department. Louis (Josh Cooke) finds forcing Dexter's hand to be more difficult than he anticipated, and encounters fierce resistance, from Dexter and an unintended target. And Harry (James Remar), hallucination or no, is systematically dismissed and ignored as Dexter tries to adapt to the new rules of the serial killer game.
What works? What is it about Season Seven that represents such a welcome return to form? Most notably the Morgan siblings and their relationship which, after several seasons of leftovers, has some fresh meat to chew on. The shark-jump twist of Season Six -- Deb's affections -- has wisely been downgraded from jarring, hyper-accelerated right turn to yet another ease around the bend, one the writers explore to satisfaction without ever exploiting it for shock value. Morgan and Carpenter handle each scene and encounter magnificently, lending endless depth to their individual characters, their tangled relationship and what it spells for the upcoming eighth and final season of the show. The seventh season also offers proper and properly complex villains. Not eerie, Trinity-esque maniacs, mind you, in which evil is a certainty and sickness is at play. But two wholly unique and all too human fiends who aren't the soulless killing machines and monsters Dexter initially assumes. Stevenson is terrific as the icy, near-invincible Sirko, and even more fascinating as the vulnerable man at the heart of the beast. Strahovski is as unpredictable a Dexter antagonist as any before her, and even pulls off a series first. She could just as soon cut Dex's throat as settle down and have his babies. And it's that constant unknown that makes Hannah and Strahovski the penultimate season's greatest assets.
The show's second stringers earn their keep too. In another series first, one I am willing to spoil, LaGuerta is actually palatable. I can't remember the last time Vélez had something of substance to work with, or the last time her María brought something interesting, other than slithering and snapping, to the table. (A fault of the writers' room, not Vélez or her efforts.) And yet here we are: LaGuerta lends power to the story and punch to all that unfolds, especially as the series hurtles towards completion. Zayas and King turn in fine performances as well, even though Angel and Quinn are stuck in a bit of a rut, and the rest of the cast -- C. S. Lee, always hilarious as Masuka; Remar, ever reliable; Gedrick, sleazy is as sleazy does; Aimee Garcia, more than a pretty face as Angel's sister, Jamie; and Cooke, stealing another handful of scenes -- up their game in response. Only Winter, as Joey's hooker with a heart of gold, and Dana L. Wilson, as detective Angie Miller, are flat and one-dimensional, but neither to detrimental ends. (Again, blame falls at the writers' room door, not the actresses' feet.)
But the most devilishly delicious thing about Season Seven is that I can't dissect the story at any length -- not even the opening episode -- without giving far too much away. Had Season Five ended on the same note as Season Six's finale, bypassing the first eleven episodes of the sixth season altogether, Dexter would have been better for it. If you enjoyed Season Six, don't worry. I've no desire to belittle or dismiss that experience. I'm happy you're happy. But what do you remember about last season? Chances are, not a whole lot, because that's exactly what happened: not a whole lot. The seventh season is a different animal entirely, with a confidence and command of the overarching story backed by vision and direction. Season Six was filler. Season Seven is essential stuff, and it's handled masterfully. No, it isn't perfect. Stevenson and Strahovski are strong, but not enough to dethrone John Lithgow. Dexter's tale has momentum, but Season Seven still feels a bit more like a prelude to Season Eight than a fully realized entry in the series canon. The scripts and cinematography are absorbing and visceral, but still not quite as compelling or unsettling as they were in Dexter's prime. And the Miami Metro Homicide supporting characters aren't nearly as interesting as Dexter, Deb or the killers all around. Here's hoping the series' final season is as good as Season Seven and, if the stars align, even better.
Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dexter: The Seventh Season features a crisp, source-accurate 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation that, for the most part, is comparable to previous series releases. The image is occasionally a bit softer, with less vibrant contrast and more problematic nighttime and low-lit scenes, but it strikes me as a product of small differences in the show's photography, not necessarily an encoding issue. I did notice a slight -- slight -- increase in banding, noise and crush, but none of it is cause for any serious concern. Colors are striking, primaries are strong, skintones are nicely saturated, black levels are satisfying and the searing Miami sun and dense shadows don't lead to too much detail loss. Edge definition is refined and clean, and textures are quite revealing, particularly in sunbathed closeups. And there aren't any significant anomalies to report, artifacting and aliasing included. Ultimately, what little affects Dexter's presentation barely registers. Fans of the show will be pleased.
Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, The Seventh Season's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track is a lot like its predecessors: polished, proficient and primed for Dexter's next kill. Dialogue is clear and intelligible, prioritization carefully balances Hall's narration with the rest of the soundscape, and shots, slashes, hacks and stabs are as pulpy and gristly as ever. LFE support isn't overly aggressive but shepherds anything that comes its way with a firm hand. Rear speaker activity, though restrained, is quite enveloping, with a penchant for subtle ambience and convincing (albeit understated) directional effects. Ironically, the more Dexter or his sister's life falls apart, the more the seventh season's lossless track comes together, or rather makes its most lasting impressions. All in all, I doubt Dexter's penultimate season could sound much better than it does here.
Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extra (of sorts) included with Dexter: The Seventh Season is an UltraViolet Copy of the pilot episode of Showtime's new upcoming drama, Ray Donovan. Nothing more, nothing less. The DVD version of The Seventh Season, on the other hand, includes the Ray Donovan pilot, the first two episodes of The Borgias: Season Two, the first two episodes of House of Lies: Season One, and cast/character biographies. Granted, there still isn't an actual Dexter special feature in the bunch -- which remains a disappointment across all seven of the hit series' home video releases -- but it's at least more than what Blu-ray consumers have been handed.
Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The end is near, with Dexter poised to go out on a high note. Live or die, imprisoned or free, Season Seven sets the stage for Dexter Morgan's final days, and does so with such a keen awareness of what the story needs and where it needs to go that the series can only benefit from its contributions. It isn't the best season the show has given fans (most agree on that honor going to Season Four), but it leaves Season Six in a crumpled heap on the floor. Hopefully, Dexter's eighth and final season delivers on everything the series' latest twelve episodes promise. Paramount's Blu-ray release is quite good too, with an excellent video presentation and solid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track. The Seventh Season somehow offers fewer supplements than the near-barebones releases of previous seasons, but that's a sting to which fans should be well accustomed by now. Now it's just a matter of patiently waiting for Season Eight to arrive.
Dexter: Other Seasons
Blu-ray bundles with Dexter: The Seventh Season (3 bundles)
Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Dexter: The Seventh Season Blu-ray - February 20, 2013
Paramount Home Entertainment is bringing Dexter: The Seventh Season to Blu-ray. The latest season of the acclaimed Showtime serial killer drama stars Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, David Zayas, Desmond Harrington, Yvonne Strahovski and Ray Stevenson, ...
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