Spoiling Dexter Season Two

October 20, 2008

I never liked the genres given to describe Dexter. The show is too much about the harmony of good and evil–as opposed to the accepted dichotomy–to be considered the same genre as CSI Miami. The most interesting moments are the ones in which Dexter’s internal conflict manifests in the world around him. In the second season there are more moments like this, where he considers how he might be wrong, and how if he can’t stop, he will eventually hurt the people around him. This is his single greatest motivation to change, because he cares more about them than he cares about himself.

The cost of protecting his family and friends is never more apparent than when Deb and Lt. La Guerta talk in the last episode of season two. Deb empathizes with La Guerta because she knows that in accepting Doakes to be a serial killer, La Guerta would lose any capability to trust herself. The two characters would have been in opposite places if Dexter had gone through with turning himself in; and La Guerta and Doakes are the greatest casualties of Dexter’s decisions. While the show always points out the good and bad in his character, his god-like decisions never come without consequence.

Similarly, at the end of the first season, Dexter chooses Deb over his brother Brian. Brian’s only sin was to break Dexter’s code, and although Brian forced him to make a decision, at least he gave him a choice. The cost of protecting Dexter’s identity is his brother’s blood. When Dexter seemed ready to turn himself over to the police, it was because he saw that Doakes was good. He was never willing or ready to take responsibility for an innocent life, but he changes his mind when he truly grasps the impact on his family. Although he is exempted from making this decision when Lila effectively kills Doakes, it is assumed that Dexter was going to frame Doakes as the Bay-Harbor Butcher.

The most important theme that becomes clear now is Dexter’s want to protect his solitude. For the second time he has found someone who completely understands him, and he chooses to kill them. He chose his foster sister over his evil brother of the exact same homicidal tendencies, and he chose the girlfriend that he must hide from over the girlfriend who like him, feels nothing.

At best, this is a commentary on life, and we are like Dexter when we pretend to feel something just so that we can get along with people at work, at home or in relationships. We all hide secrets and when those secrets come out we choose to hide them rather than to integrate them. Dexter’s tragic flaw is that his secret is so dark that no one can know it. Imagine having a secret so grave that you push away the people that learn it, that you choose the ones that can’t know you over the ones that are just like you.

Something dark and reflective:

Aimee Mann – Save Me

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