"Dexter" Returns with Tragedy and Killer Ratings (Spoilers)

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Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) met his match when he tried to control a monster. The result was tragedy when the monster, Arthur Mitchell (John Lithgow) -- aka the Trinity Killer -- took a terrible vengeance as retaliation for Dexter's interference in his deadly business.

Michael C. Hall returns as Dexter

In last night's highly anticipated fifth season premiere of Dexter, which garnered big ratings for Showtime, we got to see the aftermath of the Trinity Killer's handiwork.

For those of you who need a refresher, Dexter Morgan is a serial killer who also works as a blood spatter expert in the Miami police department. Up until now, he's been a sociopath with a code of ethics: Only kill those who deserve it, never get sloppy, never get caught. Dexter broke all those rules last season in pursuit of what he thought was fellow serial killer Arthur Mitchell's perfect family.

In last season's knockout finale, Dexter finally murders Mitchell, but the Trinity Killer gets in the last blow when Dexter comes home to discover his wife Rita dead in a bloody bathtub and his young son crying on the floor. She's the Trinity Killer's final victim.

The premiere gives us a Dexter who feels justifiable guilt for not killing Mitchell sooner, but who walks around in an emotional dead zone, unable to show any of the normal feelings expected of someone who's just lost his wife in such a brutal way. Always trying to figure out the right responses, Dexter watches mourners at a funeral, wondering how he should be feeling, what he should be doing.

A perfect example of his lack of sensitivity is when he tells Rita's kids and parents, just back from Disney World, about her death while he's wearing the Mickey Mouse ears they brought him as a souvenir.

It's frustrating to watch, because as we're mourning for Rita, we want to see Dexter mourn for her as well. That's why it's a macabre relief when out of anger and grief he bludgeons an obnoxious, random guy in a gas station bathroom.

Meanwhile, Dexter's sister Deb and their co-workers are in shock as well -- all except Deb's partner Quinn, who thinks Dexter should come under scrutiny for Rita's murder.

But the FBI has taken over the Trinity Killer case, and it's up to them to do the investigating. Let's see if they're as dumb as Deb thinks they are when they interview Arthur Mitchell's terrorized family and find out that Arthur's friend "Kyle Butler" was really Dexter trying to get serial killer/family multitasking tips.

That's going to make for some uncomfortable questions for Dexter. Why was he pretending to be Kyle? If he suspected Arthur Mitchell was the Trinity Killer, why didn't he report it? Why would Trinity target Dexter's wife?

Last night, however, was all about Rita, and how her ghost will haunt Dexter for some time to come. In a sweet flashback, we see Dexter and Rita talking on the phone after their first date -- which is cut short when Dexter has to disable his latest prey.

Rita talks about her kids and her troubles, which she thinks will turn Dexter off. She instead marvels that he's still interested in her and wants to take her out again. When they say goodbye, it's also our goodbye to the character and Dexter's former life.

Will he still try to raise Rita's kids and their son? Will his grief make him sloppier and more likely to be caught? Will Quinn, who's looking much better with his sleek new haircut, begin investigating Dexter on his own? How close will he get to the truth?

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to a bang-up season.

Here are some reactions to the Dexter premiere from the blogosphere:

Jill Mader at Couchtime with Jill:

I loved it. Much like the premiere episode of Grey's Anatomy, the heavy sadness that haunted this episode of Dexter was the perfect followup to a shocking and traumatic finale.

Anani Miss in her post gives five reasons she thinks Dexter is good husband material:

I was literally talking to my friends last week about the show and had a revelation. Take away the serial killer thing (and the end of last season which I will NOT spoil here. I know at least one of my three readers has not seen the finale) and Dexter is a pretty effing good boyfriend/fiance/husband.

Kat at Kat Ex Machina:

I've been less nervous watching Dexter's typical stalking and killing of his prey, how he's been shown balancing his daily life with his "Dark Passenger," than I was watching him fail to pass as a grieving widower.

Virginia at We Heart TV:

The way he told the kids that Rita was dead was heartbreaking. Using the line from the funeral director "I'm sorry for your loss" was the only thing he could say to try to seem sincere.

Image courtesy Showtime

Did you see the Dexter premiere? What did you think?

Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television/Online Video.. Her other blogs are Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock and Meg's Rad Reviews.

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