Recent seasons of Dexter haven't quite lived up to the series' earlier seasons. But Season 7 brought the Showtime drama back to greatness by returning the primary focus to the lead character and wrapping up some of the additional story arcs early on, leaving those last free of clutter and at the same time, packed with suspense and drama. Season 7's pacing is a big part of why Dexter ranks up there with some of the best TV had to offer this year.

From the start of the season, the suspense began building, with LaGuerta's investigation almost buried behind other issues, including Deb's anxiety as she tried to understand and accept her brother's dark passenger. Also introduced was the death of one of MIami Metro Homicide's own, which eventually led to Dexter getting mixed up with a Ukrainian criminal on a mission for vengeance. And then there was Dexter's developing romance with Hannah. These arcs played out and just as some of them began to wrap up, LaGuerta's growing suspicion of Dexter turned to accusation. She went full-on Doakes with him, putting her own career in jeopardy and coming dangerously close to proving Dexter was the Bay Harbor Butcher. The final episode of the season proved to be one of the more stressful pieces of scripted television this year, for all of the right reasons. The show set itself up to leave us guessing and unable to fully predict just how things would turn out. In the end, we were left with yet another brilliant game changer in the final moments of the season, as one character redefined themselves with the pull of a trigger.

Hart of Dixie
Last spring, the CW’s southern drama, Hart of Dixie set up several complicated love triangles that either needed to be broken up or expanded as the fall rolled around. It’s those initial love triangles that sucked many fans in, but by the end of the first few episodes this fall, more inter-town romances and partner swapping, as well as plenty of hurt feelings could have derailed the show. Luckily, Hart of Dixie is more deftly woven than its previews might indicate, and Season 2 has managed to play off Season 1’s epic ending, moving a few chess pieces around in prominent places and forcing many of its characters to take a more grown-up turn.

At the heart of this is Jaime King’s Lemon Breeland, who brings attitude and charm to the table, but whose character development between last spring and this fall has helped the show to move forward as a whole. Sure, Hart of Dixie’s a delightful small town story that relies on its romance more than Rachel Bilson’s Zoe Hart’s predicaments as a doctor, but those set-ups and heartbreaks are what has always been the most satisfying part of the show. If romance and pop culture references aren’t your cup of tea, Dixie may not be a show for you, but the show knows exactly what it is, and if you gave up or have not given the show a chance, Season 2 has been better than the show’s first, and one of the better sophomore efforts this fall.

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