‘Dexter’ Faces the Winter of Season 5

After a huge fourth season, Showtime’s seminal serial killer drama faces cruel, mortal truth — its best kills are probably behind it

Last Updated: August 5, 2011 @ 3:37 PM

After four seasons, Showtime’s favorite do-gooder serial killer has taken the pay cable channel to new levels of viewership and Emmy acclaim.

But even killers have to face midlife decline. Coming off an incendiary fourth season that culminated with a Showtime-record 2.6 million viewers tuning in for the finale, “Dexter” faces the winter of season five.

“We feel as long as there is new human territory to push Dexter to that minefield, we’ll keep going,” said executive producer Sara Colleton, at TCA on Thursday.

Coming off a campaign that featured John Lithgow in a highly acclaimed, season-long, Emmy-nominated guest arc, it will take a heck of a creative year for Showtime’s top show not to have peaked.

They’ll play out the string anyway, of course.

Premiering Sept. 26, season five of “Dexter” will feature a new showrunner, with former “24” operative Chip Johannessen taking the helm.

Instead of a singular evil, a la Lithgow’s Trinity Killer, star Anthony Michael Hall will be combating multiple villains.

“One of the things we wanted to do is shake up that single big bad guy theme,” Johannessen said.

Peter Weller will be among the additions, playing a cop who Johannessen describes as being from the “cocaine cowboy era” of South Florida.

Julia Stiles will also have an arc.

This year’s theme? At TCA Thursday, the producers used the word “atonement” at least a dozen times.

Is “atonement” code for winding a character down after, maybe, he’s been to the brink of being brought down one too many times? No. Again, the producers insist there’s plenty left in the creative tank.

But how does a character who has no conscious experience atonement, anyway?

“It will be atonement through the prism of Dexter’s very unique needs,” Colleton said.

Previously: "Showtime's Matt Blank: 'We've Had Some Changes.'"