Sunday, May 27, 2012

My favourite Serial Killer

Season 6 of 'Dexter' has just ended. And despite the below par season, I miss my favourite serial killer already.

Meet Dexter Morgan. Blood spatter analyst by day who moonlights as a serial killer/vigilante. Watching his mother brutally murdered at the tender age of 3 had the effect of turning him into a blood craving sociopath. His adoptive father, a policeman, realizes Dexter's murderous tendencies early on and to protect his son and prevent him from killing innocent people, makes him follow a Code. According to the Code, Dexter will only kill those who are guilty of murder themselves. Following Harry's Code helps Dexter to provide an outlet to his "Dark Passenger" (his name for his urge to kill) and also maintain a facade of normalcy. His day job is with Miami Metro's homicide division where he works alongside his sister Debra Morgan. His job provides easy access to the scum of society who meet their nemesis at Dexter's hand. The basis for the characters have been Jeff Lindsay's novel, 'Darkly Dreaming Dexter', the first of his Dexter novels. While Season 1 followed the novel more or less, later seasons have veered away from the books' narrative.

"I like to pretend I'm alone. Completely alone. Maybe post-apocalypse or plague... Whatever. No-one left to act normal for. No need to hide who I really am. It would be... freeing."

'Dexter' is not for the faint-hearted especially when you consider that the protagonist chops up people and disposes the body parts in the ocean. But it is still one of the most widely acclaimed shows in a long time and has a cult following the world over. The originality of the premise and the writing have been one of the main reasons for the show's success. We hear Dexter's wry internal monologue and wonder at the dichotomy between social life and natural inclinations. Dexter is a monster but sometimes you wonder if there isn't a monster in everyone around him too.

"There are no secrets in life, just hidden truths that lie beneath the surface."

"Everyone hides who they are at least some of the time. Sometimes you bury that part of yourself so deeply you have to be reminded it's even there at all. And sometimes you just want to forget who you are altogether... I'm not the monster he wants me to be so I'm neither man nor beast. I'm something new entirely, with my own set of rules. I'm Dexter. Boo."

Initially, Dexter believes that he has no emotions, and takes a lot of pains to appear 'normal' and blend in with the other people around him. He prefers to stay low profile given his predilections. However Dexter does maintain a few personal relationships - with his adoptive sister Debra who is unaware of Harry's training, his wife Rita who is too traumatized from years of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, her two children from an earlier marriage, Astor and Cody and his own son, Harrison on whom he dotes. These attachments complicate his double life and often make him question his nature.

" I'm Dexter, and I'm... not sure what I am. I just know there's something dark in me, and I hide it, I certainly don't talk about it, but it's there, always. This Dark Passenger, and when he's driving I feel, alive, half sick with the thrill of complete wrongness. I don't fight him, I don't want to, he's all I've got. Nothing else could love me, not even.....especially not me. Or is that just a lie the Dark Passenger tells me? Because lately there are these moments when I feel.....connected to something else, someone, and it's like, the mask is slipping, and things, people, who never mattered before are suddenly starting to matter, and it scares the hell out of me."


"I am a father...a son...a serial killer".

Dexter's dilemma, his questioning and the frequent emergence of his better self inspite of what he believes himself to be find an echo somewhere with the audience. His ironic musings reveal both his despair and his loneliness. They are also tempered with a dark sense of humour that is both morbid and entertaining.

"Harry and Dorris Morgan did a wonderful job raising me. But they're both dead now. I didn't kill them. Honest."

"[about a used car salesman] It's a toupee. Even this guy's hair is a lie."

"Want a real glimpse of the human nature? Stand in the way of someone's mocha latte."

A big part of the credit for bringing Dexter Morgan to life should go to the lead actor Michael C. Hall who has been awarded a Golden Globe for his performance. Hall also faced some personal challenges of his own as he was discovered to be having Hodgkins lymphoma during the shooting of this serial. He is now in remission.  Another interesting bit of trivia is that he was also married to Jennifer Carpenter who plays his sister Debra in the serial.

As I wait for Season 7 and hope it will be more like the earlier seasons I leave you with another quote from Dex:

"All you can do is play along at life, and hope that sometimes you get it right."