The Psyche of Dexter


The place is Miami. The time is today. And at Miami Metro Police, we have Dexter Morgan.

He is a terrible protagonist, unwillingly wielding the sword of justice over his head. He murders with scientific precision, gift-wrapping his victims in plastic and bubble-wrap and unceremoniously dunping them into the abysmal, anonymous depths of the ocean. Dexter is demented, he is twisted, he is strong enough to overcome evil, fair enough to eradicate it. He is soft enough to love, firm enough to be evil himself. Dexter is breaking through the thin line separating an antagonist from a protagonist. He may be a shadowy hero but he might also be the ever-consuming dread of the night. He loves passively and hates with passion. He is consumed with fire and is mirthfully inclined to regard his own life with a sarcasm so piercing, that it makes him believe he does not deserve to live.

Dexter feels he is living a life on the edge. Forced everyday with the choice to surrender or to give up, to cave in or change the way he lives, he chooses to kill day after day after day. As addicted as an alcoholic and as charged as a serial killer without a code, Dexter operates with one. It is a code handed down to him by his foster father, who saw the evil in him when he was too young to identify it himself. After being rescued from a trailer where he was locked away in the bloody pool of his own mother, with her corpse lying a few feet away, he is taken to a normal world, a happy utopia where love exists and he has a family and gets an education. But to fit in he has to let go of his dark passenger, which is the one thing pulling him forward through the drabness of life and it is also the one thing destroying his chance of normalcy by urging him again and again to force that same sticky liquid to surface. He wants to see it spurting, he can easily by blinded by the dramatic need to quench this thirst of his by murdering all and sundry but his aggression is channelled by his new father, who teaches him a code. The code becomes a compulsive part of his life because then he becomes stealthy, he becomes quiet, he observes and then he decides. Dexter’s itinerary consists of working with blood throughout the day. He delivers his own form of bittersweet justice. He picks locks, sneaks into houses and systems, spies on his people, makes acquaintances and sometimes confidants of them and then when he is sure they are at par with his father’s code, he attacks.

In the Miami Metro Police Department, he works under his sister Lieutenant Debra Morgan- the sister who he is not related to, the sister who loves him bordering on incest (but not quite because they don’t share blood), the sister who is fervent, wild  to the point of being fanatical and prone to bouts of expletives. Even though Dexter is a closed book, he humours his sister and allows her to harbour the belief that she’s in on his secrets. Until she actually is on to him.

A rehab for a serial killer. That is Debra’s idea of dealing with her brother once she realises what he has really been up to all these years. Is it a bad thing that he wanted to kill dogs and other animals when he was a child? Does it matter that he actually succeeded in killing some of them? Can she live with the fact that her own father, whom she believed loved him more than he loved her, taught Dexter the code that he now uses? Is the fact that her freakishly clean, organised brother has a bag full of killing tools, purchases copious amounts of plastic wrap and seems to have an unending supply of warehouses, unused garages, old trailers to plot his murders scary to her at all? She beams out a ray of derogations and then sets up the rehab where she is supposed to watch over her brother twenty four hours of the day.

But when the fact that Dexter had wanted to turn over a new leaf and give up on his methods just when his wife got murdered because of something he started, even though she was nowhere on that particular killer’s list at all, is not enough to eliminate the need for a rehab, is an actual rehab set-up for his benefit supposed to work? Debra gives up on her task when Dexter becomes sickly violent under her watch and starts dreaming about slicing through a body made up of nerves, skin, bones and sinew as easily as slicing through ham or a loaf of bread or your own birthday cake (and then making a birthday wish).

So where is Dexter going from here? Are we back at the finale of season one when he imagines himself walking down a red carpet and everyone applauding him for clearing the scum of Miami, including his sister who follows in his wake in good cheer? Or is the dark harbinger going to have to walk through the flames and try to come out clean at the other end with the entire police department as well as the leader of a Ukrainian mob hot on his trail, one seeking justice because Dexter murdered the people who ought to have died but walked away instead, and the other seeking justice because he killed those men who had walked away and did the world a good deed?