THE SHOW "Dexter"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime

REASON TO WATCH The avenging devil/angel returns, for a sixth season, with an arc starring Mos Def.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT There is almost a spring in Dexter Morgan's (Michael C. Hall) step -- unexpected, considering the turmoil of last season with Lumen (Julia Stiles) and the death of his cherished wife, Rita, the season before. But his son, Harrison, is now preschool age, and pleasant chores of domesticity press upon him. He must select a school for his son to attend. A prestigious Catholic one becomes an option but when the school's Mother Superior wonders about his faith, he's stumped: "I believe in a certain set . . . of rules to follow, so that I don't get myself in trouble."

His sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) observes, "that sounds kind of cold and empty." Dexter: "Does it?" Sunday, he goes to a high school reunion, meets old classmates, and dispatches one. There are also big changes at the Miami Dade Metro Police, while a pair of killers -- Travis (Colin Hanks) and Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) -- use the Book of Revelation as a guide.

MY SAY Dexter and faith . . . faith and Dexter. What's wrong with this picture? Dexter's only "faith" is drawn from the primal impulses of his "dark passenger." He believes in no God, in nothing. But the pure innocence of his son has forced a change of heart. This season centers, improbably, on the nature of God. Can someone who once did evil things, like Brother Sam (Mos Def), become good in the eyes of God? And what of those, like Gellar, who perform monstrous deeds in the name of God? Or: If God exists, then how does that explain someone like Dexter? It sounds vaguely turgid and pretentious for a show about cops and the good-hearted serial killer among them.

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But the season's first three episodes don't dawdle in theology. Instead, they move quickly, build an especially creepy "B" story, and even have flashes of humor.

BOTTOM LINE A not-bad start that promises to take Dex (and "Dexter") in a slightly new and fresh direction.