September 26, 2010 at 02:40 PM EDT

Image Credit: ShowtimeLike anyone else who didn’t have Showtime last year, I found out about Rita’s death before I actually watched it. So when I spent a weekend watching the season 4 — with the knowledge of her gruesome demise tucked away in my mind — I considered myself prepared. To my surprise, when I actually watched it, it was as though I had read absolutely nothing about it.

My stomach tensed, I covered my mouth so as to prevent others around me from seeing my stupid shock-filled face, and I got goosebumps. “I knew it was happening; why did I react this way!?” I asked myself. I now realize the answer is: You just can’t prepare yourself for that.

Yes, it’s TV. Yes, it’s supposed to be bloody — it’s freaking Dexter. But it was also one of the most shocking TV deaths ever. I’ll admit I was never a huge Rita fan, but much of my reaction was a result of the build up in the episode. Dexter was changing and finally embracing his human side — for lack of a better term. He was hopeful, which made the conclusion all the more crushing for our anti-hero — and for us.

So I’m not even going to try to emotionally prepare for tonight’s season 5 premiere in any way. Instead, I prepared with the facts while putting together the Dexter: Essential Knowledge gallery. I realized while piecing it together that I hadn’t reflected on Dexter’s journey in a while. Once I reviewed what I knew about Dex, I realized what I wanted to know about him and what I hope to learn in season 5. To say the least, expectations are high.

What about you, PopWatchers?  Does the scene with Rita in the blood tub still give you goosebumps, too? And most importantly, are you ready for more?

Be sure to check back tomorrow morning for my Dexter recap, and follow me on Twitter (@EWSandraG) for more.


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Dexter: Essential Knowledge

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Dexter spoiler alert: Find out how Rita’s returning

Michael C. Hall plays a serial killer who only murders evildoers in this gruesome drama
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