Some TV shows are of such high quality, it seems like the creators must have been touched by God. The process of getting programming on DVD and Blu-ray must be the work of other forces from a very warm climate, as we see in Dexter: The Sixth Season.

A serial killer’s work is never done. Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is still going strong as the guardian of the city of Miami, meting out justice to murderers who escape the system and satiating the unquenchable bloodlust of his alter ego, aka “The Dark Passenger.” Having finally adjusted to the death of his wife and the prospect of single fatherhood, Dex seems to have it all sorted out — loving daddy by day and prowling monster by night. Naturally, that’s just when life throws a wrench in his plans by disturbing the (relative) peace of the Florida paradise in which he lives. A new psychopath has hit the scene: Professor James Gellar (Edward James Olmos), an expert on the Book of Revelation, who, along with a young assistant (Colin Hanks), is attempting to bring about the End of Days by reenacting horrific biblical events with those he deems unworthy of the lord. While he can respect the method of his new nemesis, Dexter has never encountered someone with such a devotion to something so intangible, leaving him unsure how to proceed in stalking and killing Miami’s menace. He’s not the only one with problems. Foster sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) is in over her head as the new lieutenant of Miami Metro’s homicide department, and without much emotional support from her sibling, she may not be able to handle the promotion.

As is the case with all the Dexter DVD covers, Hall’s pleasant face lulls you into a false sense of security, in this case, his hands clenched in prayer with angel wings behind him. Of course, after the initial glance, you then get the full picture, seeing that he’s in fact clutching a knife and his “wings” are blood spattered against a white wall. This season, we see Dexter at his most conflicted in his duality, attempting to walk the straight and narrow path, only to go on to fully embrace evil in some of his darkest moments, and Hall lets us enjoy every minute of it as he stresses over whether he’s worthy of heaven or hell. We may not get the voiceover effect from the rest of the cast, but people all around are taking stock after staring into the abyss for too long. Carpenter especially is at her best, as Debra is brought to her knees by new responsibilities, a breakup, and a shrink (Rya Kihlstedt) who’s forcing her to face some of her demons, one of which is a deep, dark secret some viewers may have wished would have remained unprobed. Season guest stars Olmos and Hanks are simply excellent as the teacher and student, anticipating the Apocalypse in their own special way, as the former approaches it with a cool stoicism and the latter starts to have second thoughts. Before you think everyone religious in season six is a fanatic, consider the case of Mos Def as Brother Sam, an ex-convict turned born-again Christian preacher whom Dex befriends and starts to believe there could be more to life than just slicing up bad boys and sticking them in Hefty bags.

“Looking for something more” sums up this season pretty nicely. The anti-hero at the center of our attention manages to spend every season seeking something or having someone reach out to him. In previous seasons, it’s been a sibling, a lover, a friend, a mentor, a sidekick, sometimes in multiple persons. Here we see Dex concern himself with that which he has never considered: a higher power. If you’ve read Jeff Lindsay’s book series, which diverges from the show beyond the first season, this isn’t the first time “The Dark Passenger” has been at odds with religion, but it is a new experience seeing Dexter genuinely long for spiritual fulfillment for himself and his son Harrison before his past — shown in some familiar faces — pulls him back into his usual routine. While everyone on the show may be seeking out a better life for themselves, the audience is likely hoping for just a better treatment of the program on disc. The Dexter DVDs have gotten progressively more meager in their special features, and with only audio commentaries by cast members, this is the leanest one yet, not including the superfluous episodes of Showtime’s House of Lies, Californication and The Borgias. These less than stellar extras are the least of our headaches. Where Paramount and CBS Home Entertainment really go wrong in this presentation is in the inescapable preview — which can’t be turned off in any way short of unplugging the DVD player — at the beginning of each disc in the set, one which details the latest season of every Showtime program, including a crucial spoiler for the show at hand; something that is without argument, unforgivable.

After the debacle of the sixth season Dexter DVD, hopefully we’ll see some penance in the next release. For those who have yet to see the season and haven’t been upended by this needless trailer — the best way to avoid it is to just close your eyes, plug your ears and sing for three minutes — let it be known that after a massive cliffhanger, season seven — premiering Sept. 30 — could be heaven.

Season rating: 3 out of 4 stars

DVD rating: 2 out of 4 stars

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