The game is afoot between Jordan Chase and Dexter and Lumen. As such, as In the Beginning opens, Dexter sends Harrison off with Sonya to be with Rita’s parents in Orlando. He also moves Lumen into his old apartment. Now Dexter and Lumen need only plan their attack.
With three of the five members of Chase’s gang identified and eliminated from the photograph they stole from Cole Harmon’s house in week 7, Dexter and Lumen had only two gang members remaining at Beginning’s outset—and Chase himself, of course. To identify the last two, they turn to Emily Birch (Angela Bettis), the mysterious, late 30s woman from last week who Dexter discovered after running a DNA analysis on a sample of blood he stole from the vial Chase wears around his neck. It takes two visits—the second by Lumen only—but Birch finally spills the beans on Chase and his pack of self-help-enabled serial murders.
Jordan Chase, it seems, is not Jordan Chase at all, but rather, he’s the alter ego of Eugene Greer—who’s in the aforementioned photo, leaving only one unidentified gang member and only five in total. Eugene was a chunky, awkward teen and has since transformed himself. The picture itself was taken by Birch at a summer camp that she attended with the 5 teens. She had become friends with poor, awkward Eugene, feeling a sense of empathy for him, but paid a terrible price for his insecurities and emotional instability. Under Eugene’s direction and goading, the other four teens in the photo raped Birch, planting the seeds of what would become Chase’s “Take It” system.
Eugene himself never touched Birch, but orchestrated and watched, playing instigator and coach. That would remain his modus operandi as he transformed himself and molded his teenage campmates into a ruthless gang. Birch was allowed to live, serving as Chase’s ongoing inspiration.
Birch also reveals the identity of the final teen in the photo: Alex Tilden (Scott Grimes), a local banker, who, in the scheme of season 5, is merely a bit player—the epitome of a red shirt. Tilden gives Dexter and Lumen another target, but there’s a twist. Birch, it turns out, secretly remains under Chase’s spell and has divulged the information to Dexter and Lumen at Chase’s direction. Doubtlessly, Chase is orchestrating some scheme to bring Dexter and Lumen to bad endings.
Apparently, Chase’s plan includes sacrificing Tilden and, indeed, before Beginning’s conclusion, Tilden ends up on Dexter’s killing table, wrapped in plastic sheeting and begging for mercy. It’s Lumen who does the killing this week, though, marking a major transition for the character, transforming her from helpless victim into serial-killing vigilante—Dexter’s perfect match, in other words. And in the episode’s closing moments the pair’s relationship evolves from a mere partnership-in-vigilante-serial-murder into a partnership-in-romance, too.
Elsewhere in week 10, after uncovering evidence that forced the reopening of the ‘barrel girl’ murders in week 9, Deb has been reinstated. The reopened case not only casts the recently departed Cole Harmon as a suspect, but also Jordan Chase and his entire gang. Unbeknownst to Batista and his team, of course, because of Dexter and Lumen, Chase and Tilden are the only members of the gang still alive.
Deb, however—savvy detective she is—conceives a theory that Harmon and the other missing serial murderers haven’t fled, but are instead being killed by a vigilante—likely an escaped former victim. If only she knew how close she is to the truth.
Chase is compelled to visit police headquarters with his lawyer and volunteers a DNA sample, knowing the results will prove negative since he never participates in the rapes or murders. The sample is taken by Dexter, leading to a brief, but tantalizing exchange between the two that’s loaded with menace and foreshadowing.
Chase seems to relish the cat-and-mouse posturing and offers Dexter a last chance to abandon Lumen; he also none-too-delicately threatens Dexter’s remaining family. Dexter’s unmoved by the self-help guru’s overtures or threats and makes a threat of his own. It’s clear the two (three, including Lumen) are on a collision course that will, I’ve little doubt, end with a gripping season 5 finale.
You can be certain, too, that disgraced cop Stan Liddy will factor into that collision as well. Liddy takes his investigation to new levels in Beginning, forging Quinn’s name to checkout police surveillance equipment and install it in Dexter’s apartment. His ploy nets video footage of a practice session wherein Dexter teaches Lumen how to kill Tilden.
Quinn will likely figure into the coming conflagration as well. If he’s confronted with the truth about Dexter—and he seems certain to—what will he do? Although Deb broke things off after learning about Quinn’s investigation of ‘Kyle Butler,’ the romantic tension between the pair continues in week 10. If or when Deb finds out about Liddy’s exploits, Quinn can kiss any remaining chances with her goodbye. That, potentially, puts Quinn in an unenviable position. Will he choose love or the law? Career advancement and prestige or Deb and her serial-killing brother?
Thankfully, there’s zero mention of the Santa Muerta investigation in week 10 and only the vaguest allusion to the week 9 shootout. Overall, Santa Muerta proved more entertaining than other time-killing plot elements from previous Dexter seasons, but it nonetheless ultimately disappointed by not tying in with the season’s main story arc. Likewise, the Batista-Laguerta marriage has taken a back seat in recent episodes—a highly welcome development.
Of far greater interest is the complicated Dexter-Lumen romance. Lumen knows the real Dexter and yet, doesn’t view him as a monster. That means the pair share an intimacy the likes of which Dexter’s never experienced with anyone; the likes of which he’s never thought himself capable of.
I continue to suspect, though, that Lumen won’t survive season 5’s finale, making her demise all the more devastating for Dexter, bringing the character to yet another crossroads heading into season 6. It’s a fascinating possibility, one I both excitedly anticipate and dread.