Saying goodbye to ‘Dexter’
So Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has killed (many) people but they were all (mostly) bad. Yes, he’s dated some questionable women. There was the one who liked to start fires and the one who enjoyed secretly poisoning people. And yes, his brother was a serial killer whose preferred method was to separate his victims into tiny pieces. Then again, it’s a profession that runs in the family since Dexter is also a serial killer but is it really his fault? As a child, he witnessed men brutally murder his mother then they locked him in a shipping container with her dismembered and decomposing body for days. How could he not have become a killer? This is the central question that informs the show and one that has made it one of the most interesting series on TV.
Now in its eighth and final season, “Dexter” is taking its deepest look yet into the question of its main character’s dark nature. Thanks to Harry’s code, named after his adoptive father, a police officer who was having a relationship with Dexter’s mother (who was his confidential informant), Dexter is a sort of high functioning serial killer. Only those who commit terrible crimes fit the code and Dexter must kill them in a very specific way to avoid capture. So he is kind of like a one man Plan B after law enforcement. Of course, Harry’s code is problematic and much of the series deals with Dexter’s ability to deal with its extreme moral gray area. It’s not easy keeping a character who kills people interesting for eight seasons, but the show has done so because it has Dexter seek answers to questions we can all relate to in one way or another: Who am I? Who do I want to be?
Does Dexter want to be a killer? Or was he made that way by a well-meaning father? Did he ever have a chance at a normal life? The previous seasons address these issues in different ways as Dexter chooses one side of himself over another. We see him get married, have a son, become a widow and maybe even fall in love but we also see him get reckless with his kills and push the boundaries of Harry’s code. When his sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) discovers his secret, she decides to save him but the choices she makes spin her life out of control. Season eight is all about Dexter’s impact on Debra, the one person who brings him closest to his humanity. It’s also about the influence of another woman who enters his life, a psychiatrist who turns out to be the architect of Harry’s code. She tells Dexter he is perfect. Will he embrace the killer within as his authentic self?
I don’t know how it all ends but if I had one wish for one of the more intriguing characters in series television, it would be that he breaks free from the manipulations of others and figures out who he truly is. Oh, and he should probably be arrested for all those murders but that’s another show entirely.
“Dexter” is on Sundays at 9 p.m. EDT on Showtime.