I finally saw the Season 5 premiere yesterday (I haven't watched episode 2, so I'm probably going to be an episode behind all season long). My overall impressions were that it felt like a direct continuation of last season. Considering that it essentially WAS a direct continuation, that means the writers did a good job here. Alright, after this points be spoilers so turn away while you can.
We pick up from last season's (pretty shocking) finale: Dexter has just come home to find Rita murdered in her bathtub by Trinity, and called 911 to call in the murder. We learn later that he called it in reporting it almost as a lab report. This Is Important. Dexter blurts out to Deb and the responding officers, "It was me". Meaning of course that it was his actions that ultimately led to Rita's murder, not that he actually murdered her. But it makes him look pretty bad.
And that's the essential set-up for the episode. Dexter has no clue how to deal with Rita's death - everyone (well not everyone...Quinn) remarks that next-door neighbour Elliott was more broken up about the death than Dexter. He's showing absolutely no emotion - he can't even break the news to his step-children without trying to emulate the funeral director. Even Deb breaks down before Dexter.
But it does all lead to a point where Dexter finally snaps and wails on some hick. Dexter shows that he is really human, and despite trying to initially run away, realizes he needs to return and face the consequences of Rita's death (which include delivering a pretty moving eulogy and cooperating with an FBI interview).
I feel like the theme of the season (and the corresponding "villain") is going to be that of consequences. This episode does a really good job of setting up the theme. I think that this episode is going to act as a microcosm for the rest of the year - Dexter feels the weight of Rita's death, and deals with the consequences and faces them.
What I liked about the episode: The emotions were bang on for every character. At least, I thought they were bang on for what we've been shown of the characters over 4 years. I liked that Dexter finally gave in to his emotions and came to his senses. I liked that we saw Dex and Rita's first date.
What I didn't like: Quinn and Deb's insistence that Dexter wasn't acting normal because he wasn't showing emotion. To me, it seemed that Dexter was in shock for the first three quarters of the episode. He didn't know what to do. Dexter has never dealt with death on precisely this level before; it just hasn't hit him. And yet neither Deb nor Quinn see that he hasn't fully realized what's happened.
What I'm indifferent about: Quinn. He's the new Doakes, no doubt about that. He thinks Dexter is up to no good, and potentially Rita's killer. I feel like we've been there, done that (re: Doakes), BUT the reason I'm so far indifferent is because Quinn at least seems to have some common decency. Whereas Doakes would probably bark at him during the funeral, Quinn appears to feel some sympathy for the man in some places.
It seems like Quinn is going to be a fairly well-developped character, so I'm willing to wait to see how he plays out. So far this episode, he's in neutral territory.