Stars: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, James Remar, Desmond Harrington, David Zayas, Lauren Velez, C.S. Lee, Ray Stevenson, Yvonne Strahovski, Jason Gedrick

Finally, after two years of aimless storytelling following its magnificent fourth season in 2009, Showtime's Dexter regained its pulse. See what actually giving a series some legitimate dramatic stakes can do for its entertainment value.

With the sixth season finale's long-awaited closing moment, that of Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) discovering her bro Dexter's (Michael C. Hall) serial killer secret, the once-great program truly revived itself. Capitalizing on that development, Dexter's seventh batch of fresh episodes has given both Carpenter and Hall ample room to add newfound layers to their formidable chemistry.

Outside of Dexter's old reliables, a couple of new faces have bucked the show's negative trend of wasting good actors in throwaway, seemingly pointless roles (see: Julia Stiles, Jonny Lee Miller, Edward James Olmos). Though he was somewhat underused, Ray Stevenson's work as Ukrainian crime boss Isaak Sirko gave Hall's Dexter his best antagonist since John Lithgow's Arthur Mitchell. Most impressive of all, however, is love interest Hannah McKay—played wonderfully by the stunning Yvonne Strahovski, she's the perfect antidote to Dexter's harmfully internalized "dark passenger."