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Featured TV on DVD Review: Dexter: Season Seven

May 13th, 2013

Dexter: Season Seven - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

During the first five seasons of Dexter, there was only one season that I didn't think was amazing. Season four had the best John Lithgow guest star in the show's run. Season five shook things up, as the main guest star wasn't the big bad for the season. As a result, expectations for season six were incredibly high. The season didn't live up to them. In fact, I thought season six was the weakest season in the show's run so far. The only part that really worked was the cliffhanger finale. Because of this, expectations for season seven are mixed. Will the show live up to the cliffhanger ending? Or is the show on a downward slope in terms of quality?

The Show

As usual, there are a few main storylines this season. There is a plot thread involving the Big Bad for the season. There is a plot thread involving someone potentially learning about Dexter's dark side. Finally, there's a plot thread involving Dexter's personal life. There's the first hint that I wasn't overly enthralled by. I started this review with, "As usual..." The series is starting to show its age and patterns are becoming a little too apparent. To discuss the details of these three plot threads, I will have to give away some spoilers for previous seasons. You have been warned.

The big spoiler is for season six. While in the process of killing off the Big Bad, Dexter is caught by Debra in the act. He is able to convince Debra it isn't what it looks like and convinces her to help him get rid of the body. Of course, Debra's a smart cop and quickly realizes Dexter didn't just snap and has been killing for years. She's not sure how to react to this. And of course, any details enter too deep into spoiler territory.

There's also a spoiler for season two we have to deal with. In that season, the Big Bad was the Bay Harbor Butcher, but in a twist, the Bay Harbor Butcher was really Dexter. In the end, a fellow cop, James Doakes (Erik King) is accidentally framed for these murders. (It's hard to explain how someone is accidentally framed, but that's what happened.) However, María LaGuerta never accepted that explanation, as she and Doakes were in a relationship and she can't believe he could have been a serial killer without her figuring it out. In season seven, she finds evidence that the Bay Harbor Butcher isn't dead, which means Doakes was framed. As a result, she continues to investigate the killings hoping to clear Doakes' name.

The third major plot thread involves Hannah McKay. Hannah was sent to juvie when she was 15 after her boyfriend went on a killing spree with her along for the ride. She claimed she didn't participate in any of the murders, which is why she wasn't tried for murder. Since then, a lot of people she knew have died under mysterious circumstances. She seems to fit the criteria Dexter needs; however, and this is a major spoiler, instead of killing her, he begins a relationship with her. Clearly this will have major ramifications for the entire season.

There are a couple other killers during the season, but the Big Bad is Isaak Sirko, one of the leaders of the Koshka Brotherhood, the Ukrainian mafia. In the beginning of the season, Viktor Baskov, a high-ranking member of the Brotherhood killed a cop and tried to flee the country, but Dexter got to him first. Isaak arrives to figure out why Viktor disappeared. When the evidence points to murder, with Dexter being the killer, he starts a vendetta against Dexter, one that goes beyond the usual organized crime rules.

Season seven is certainly a step up from season six; however, it is one of the weaker outings. Too much of what transpires feels like a retread from previous seasons. I should have been drawn into LaGuerta's investigation of the Bay Harbor Butcher, but I wasn't. I can't pinpoint the exact reason I didn't find it compelling, but I didn't. I guess since I knew that season eight is on its way, there was no way Dexter would be exposed to the world. Part of the Dexter / Hannah works, enough that it was an asset overall, but there were elements that seemed pulled from other relationships Dexter has had over the seasons. This is not the first time he's had a confidant, nor is it the first time he's teamed up with someone that had a dark side like he has. The Big Bad was a mafia boss, which is a little mundane for the show. That said, Ray Stevenson did an excellent job and his character was more interesting that the rest of the Brotherhood story was. I also liked the return of Astor (Christina Robinson) and Cody. Dexter getting in touch with his family side usually results in a good episode. Not all of the supporting characters got interesting subplots (Quinn's did work) but overall the season was good and again the cliffhanger was excellent.

The Extras

None. There are no extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray. As for the technical presentation, I can pretty much cut and past what I said last time. The video is very impressive, both in the brightly lit daytime scenes and the many dark nighttime scenes. The level of details is high, the colors pop, the blacks are inky deep, etc. There's no significant problems with compression or other digital artifacts. The audio is also very strong with clear dialogue, good use of the surround sound speakers, directional effects, even some good use of the subwoofer on occasion. The Blu-ray costs $10 or 30% more than the DVD, which is a good price for TV on DVD.

The Verdict

Dexter: Season Seven is a little below average for the season, but that's hardly a major insult. Mediocre Dexter is still better than 90% of the TV shows out there. Even though there are no real extras on the DVD or Blu-ray, it is still worth picking up. Hopefully the eighth and final season will give this show the ending that it needs.

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Filed under: Video Review, Preston Bailey, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall, Colin Hanks, Desmond Harrington, John Lithgow, Ray Stevenson, Julia Stiles, Lauren Velez, Enver Gjokaj, Yvonne Strahovski