“5 Things” is a weekly column in which a writer, group of writers, or contributors may offer 5 facts or opinions related to all things television. We invite you to contribute your thoughts by submitting your own “5 Things” or leaving comment. “5 Things” runs every weekend on welovetvmore.com.
5 Things: Dexter Morgan
The time has come for our favorite serial killer to take a final bow. Tonight marks the beginning of the final season of Showtime’s killer hit… it’s been a long time coming, and some may argue it should have ended seasons ago, but for all of us fans this will be a season of great distress.
I’ve compiled 5 things that you need to know if you’re jumping in to the series cold turkey.
1) Dexter was trained to be a serial killer by his adoptive father
Dexter witnessed his biological mother’s death at a very impressionable age. The series argues that this made him become the killer he is today—after all, she was chopped to bits and he does dismember his victims. His adoptive father, Harry, was a cop on the serial killer beat. He knew what signs to look for in a serial killer and knew that his son fit the bill. Instead of getting the kid any kind of therapy or having him institutionalized, he did what anyone with a vigilante heart but no way to back it up would do: he trained his son to kill serial killers (he trains Dex to follow a strict code of killing rules to keep him safe from the police/his victims genuine). Harry inevitably killed himself because the knowledge was just too much to bear (Dex DID show Harry the dismembered body of a killer-pimp, after all)… Talk about bailing on a project, am I right?
Should be mentioned: both Dex and his sister Deb now work for the police. Dexter is a blood analyst and Deb’s role is ever-evolving, though she has now landed the title Lieutenant.
2) Dexter is desperate for human love and genuine relationships / friendships
Here’s the thing about Dexter: he believes that he doesn’t feel any kind of emotion, yet we constantly see him trying to make a new friend or bedding a new lover. He’s always questioning himself, “Can I have friends? Could this be real? Is this person being genuine with me? What can I learn from this encounter?” without ever fully feeling anything. Damn near every season of the series is built around Dexter and a new relationship that he is building.
Season 1: Dexter was pursuing Rita as a love interest,
Season 2: He cheats on Rita with the psychotic pyromaniac Lila,
Season 3: Dexter makes friends with Miguel—the district attorney who wants to kill the people who get in his way (although initially he is killing people who leaked through the system much like Dexter),
Season 4: Dexter learns to be a father and messes the entire series up by trying to learn from a master serial killer—Trinity,
Season 5: he redeems himself for his actions in season 4 by helping out/bedding the severely traumatized rape victim Lumen,
Season 6: He discovers religion with Mos Def (as Brother Sam),
Season 7: Dexter falls in love with the worst character to ever be written anywhere/femme fatale serial killer Hannah McKay.
3) All things Rita
Rita was my favorite character on television for four straight years. She was a dynamic female character who had so much love to give. She was also a rape victim, which weirdly made her the best possible match for Dexter. It was through this character (and her children) that we saw Dex as good human being. Her plot was obviously a vehicle to show that, although he is a serial killer, Dexter is also good at heart. But that was okay because her existence kept him grounded and made the series not just “that show where a serial killer kills serial killers”, rather it made everything that Dexter did more complex and have more consequences than if he were simply on his own. Well, the writers saw fit to have her killed off by John Lithgow’s fantastic portrayal of the Trinity Killer, and the Internets wept. Or at least I did. For days.
There is a general consensus here at We Love TV More that this series started to lessen in quality when they decided to kill off the one thing keeping Dexter close to reality… Goodness knows I never liked the series as much once Rita had been killed off.
4) Dexter is wicked smart but not very wise
This dude can kill someone and leave no trace of it, but damn does he have a hard time keeping his secret, well, a secret. He has been responsible for the deaths of so many important people (LaGuerta, Harry, Miguel, Doakes… the list goes on) that you’d think the FBI might be after him.
Oh yeah, the FBI was after him and he was clever enough to frame Doakes for the murders… still, Dexter generally doesn’t know how to just to stick to his usual proceedings and not involve anyone else in his crazy. There are consequences to your curiousty, Dex… Or are you forgetting the pang that was Rita’s horrific death?
5) Dexter manipulated Deb into killing an innocent
Dexter has a sister named Deb. Deb is now Dexter’s boss, but at the beginning of the series she was an undercover cop. She’s the toughest woman on TV even when she has her own moments of weakness. Unfortunately, the clusterfrak that was season 7 left Deb with two options: put her brother away for being a serial killer or kill Maria LaGuerta, one of the last good people at Miami Metro. Sure, LaGuerta had questionable means of climbing the professional ladder, but at heart she wanted the bad guys to be put away and the good guys to be the ones doing it. Ultimately LaGuerta was too good a cop to not see that Dex was a killer, and in a moment of desperation Deb killed LaGuerta to keep her from turning Dexter in. This scene was all kinds of wrong and made me sick to my stomach. The dilemma wasn’t all that perplexing: kill the serial killer (who has killed in cold blood outside of the code, but that’s a whole other rant) or kill the cop trying to take down the serial killer. Hmmmm? If I were Lieutenant, I think I’d have killed the serial killer.
If you’re catching up in preparation for the season 8 premiere, please check out my reviews from season 7!