On Dexter

The Killer Within

By Adi Jaffe

There’s something a little bit off about Dexter Morgan. While this may not seem to be an outlandish claim for a man whose primary recreational pastime is the abduction and dismemberment of some of society’s least savory characters, it has nevertheless been at the core of the series bearing his first name from the very beginning. Dexter’s disconnect from the societal norms that surround him, and the extraordinary amount of effort it takes for him to effectively pass for normal, to “keep the mask in place,” make for the most interesting and complex moments in the show. We are fascinated by this portrait of a brilliant killer, infinitely more capable than we could ever be when it comes to brutally incapacitating a violent gang member, and yet on the verge of a complete breakdown when ordering a mocha latt©. The cold indifference, relentless self-interest, and capacity for sadistic violence that make up Dexter’s Dark Passenger capture our attention not because they are completely foreign to us, but because we have all known people with similar traits. This, luckily, is not to say that we all know a secret serial killer, though you might do well to avoid anyone who collects doll legs or has a homemade leather suit. Rather, the source of our uncomfortable familiarity with Dexter’s antisocial behavior was made evident in the show’s second season, when his then-girlfriend Rita made a fairly accurate, if incomplete, assessment of the mounting evidence: Dexter is an addict.

Dexter’s response, a misleading admission  …

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