#7: Dexter - Season One

Dexter: illuminating the lighter side of serial killers

Dexter follows the life of Dexter Morgan, a sociopathic, yet curiously moral blood spatter analyst employed at Miami Metro’s Police department. While displays of police corruption and intercity politics are a common theme woven into the plotline, it is the psychology of the main character, Dexter Morgan that propels this season into the top ten greatest. Apparently, after discovering Dexter’s tendencies towards serial killer behavior, Dexter’s late foster father laid a code for Dexter which would allow him to vent his “needs” to kill while disposing of the heinous criminals who have slipped through the grasp of the legal systems.

Though Dexter’s point of view, we follow the case of the “Ice Truck Killer”. The ice truck killer meticulously murders prostitutes and hides the evidence by draining the blood of and dismembering his victims in an ice truck. The frustrating dead-end case of the ice truck killer exposes the hierarchy of police politics and drives home a disappointing theme within politics (which we discover was the impulse for the way Dexter was raised by his father in the first place): The people who survive in politics are not necessarily the best at their job, but rather the best at deflecting blame onto their inferiors and taking credit everyone’s successes. Meanwhile, Dexter, a lab rat, absent in the political spectrum is quickly engrossed in the Ice Truck Killer case after finding personal messages meant for him, courtesy of the ice truck killer.

In the process of hunting the ice-truck killer, Dexter begins to question whether the act of following his foster father’s code of justice is rejecting his true self. The ice truck killer, obsessed with Dexter, inserts himself Dexter’s life by dating his stepsister, Deborah. The season finale culminates in the revelation that the ice truck killer is Dexter’s biological brother, Brian Moser. Brian kidnaps Deborah and forces Dexter to choose between killing his sister (symbolizing freedom from Harry’s code and shame of his true self) or killing Brian (symbolizing acceptance of his father’s code, his responsibility to society, and his respect for human morals). Dexter chooses to abide by his father’s code, saves his sister, and with much stress, kills his brother.

Ultimately, Dexter’ internal struggles between his murderous impulses and the code of morality he has been taught to follow is what makes season one of the show so fascinating. In Dexter’s case, just like in many people’s lives, he had to scrutinize his father’s code and find out for himself just how important it was. Though he eventually came to agree with his father’s code, the process of questioning and discovering the reasons for himself was integral to the solidification of Dexter’s code.

Aside from the examining and debating the morality of Dexter’s homicidal vigilante actions, there are many other guilty pleasures that make Dexter: Season One so damn fun to watch. First of all, Dexter’s kills are disturbingly enjoyable to watch. His careful planning, attention to detail, and fascination with blood and knives make him an expert in the art of homicide. On one hand, Dexter’s brute intelligence and quick wit are the envy of any viewer. On the other, his dark side is pretty damn dark. Ultimately, the dark morality of Dexter is psychologically fascinating, and more than that, highly entertaining television.