Dexter – 5×01: Guilty as Charged

She had a big heart. Big enough for both of us. It had to be. I wasn’t even human before I met her.” – Dexter
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Goodbye, I'm Sorry. (Showtime)

After a somewhat disappointing premiere week (Bones – meh; Boardwalk Empire – good but not great yet; The Event – suckage; House – whatever) the return of Dexter last night finally got me feeling the September buzz!

The season opener finds Dexter Morgan in a sea of guilt and confusion over his wife Rita’s unjust murder by whom we all assume to be last year’s Trinity Killer, Arthur Mitchell. But he’s not drowning, he’s slowly rowing along and further away in that disconnected way Dexter does. The guilt comes from the fact that, as Dex puts it:

This would have never happened if I had just killed Trinity from the beginning.

Touché! But Dexter’s guilt looks different from the average person’s. Sort of. He appears to be more shocked more than sorrowful, which can happen to the average “human”, but it was the lack of emotion that stood out here.  Of course there was the typical dose of self-punishment we expect from the guilt-ridden with Dexter’s choice to separate himself from Cody and Astor – thinking he is not good enough for them and that he deserves to be alone – but what was most shocking was his sloppiness. Ironically, the one time that he didn’t kill the victim, the police are starting to believe that he did. He tells the police “it was me”, he evades the FBI, he acts guilty, he doesn’t come up with extravegant but believable lies… all very atypical for Dexter.

Dexter looks on from the human side (Showtime)

But the audience recognizes this change as Dexter finally suffering. If he were okay about things he’d still be functioning like the killer he is and covering up his tracks and anything that could lead to him as a suspect. Of course, he didn’t kill Rita, but he does know who did and has a relationship with the Trinity’s family, and so I wonder if this season of Dexter will have Dexter taking a more laissez faire approach and, out of his own guilt, allowing the police/FBI investigate freely without any interference from him… because he deserves it? This would be a fascinating twist and would add a new depth to Dexter’s character. One of more self-recognition other than the usual “I’m not normal” or “I’m a monster”.

Although Dexter has always been aware of his “Dark Passenger” he has never expressed any belief that he should be punished for the people that he killed. The only thing he’s ever felt badly for is having to lie to the people he loves as a result. But now his Dark Passenger has cost him his wife. It’s true that if he hadn’t made himself so vulnerable to Trinity, because he had “learn more from him“, and then actively crusaded to kill him, Rita would be alive. Or would she?

Does anyone else think that “Trinity did it” is easier said than proven? I could be way off here but, what if Elliot, the adulterous neighbor, did it? What if Dexter at some point found out that it wasn’t Trinity after all? He’d supposedly be absolved of his guilt but at the same time he’d have suffered and contemplated his choice to be a killer because, after all, it is a choice.

Dexter kills in cold blood! (Showtime)

And speaking of being a killer – Dexter killed a non-killer! That hick in the public bathroom was the worst kind of dickhead imaginable and its even very possible that he had killed before, but Dexter didn’t know that… and he murdered him in cold blood. I was so incredibly shocked when Dexter smashed his face in with that anchor-hook! Was anyone else? Even more shocking was that the imaginary ghost of his father, Harry,  approved and near-congratulated Dexter for it! Isn’t this against the code?!?! As the great Omar from The Wire used to say “Every man’s gotta have a code.” If Dexter loses that, he’s no better than any of the other serial killer pieces of garbage that he’s killed. Five years ago, Dexter successfully got us cheering on a serial killer, which not an easy task, but the biggest factor in this was not even Dexter’s hidden heart of gold, but his code. He was a vigilante, not too different from the Batman we’ve idolized for decades, so without a code, what is Dexter?

Eventually he breaks down. AN ABSOLUTE FIRST! He yells and weeps and screams and smashes the ground, which was so heartbreaking considering what he’d just done in that bathroom and all he’d just been through. After everything Dexter thinks he is, it’s always him whose been the last to know that he’s a caring and loving person. He’s insisted for years that his family and friends don’t know who he really is because they don’t know what he’s done but I know that’s not true and I think we all do. Do you think that people who don’t know your biggest secret don’t know you at all? And if you’ve never told anyone your biggest secret does that mean no one knows you? I sure hope not. I think we all want Dexter to see that he actually does have a heart and that “humanity” isn’t so black and white. It’s not too late to find that out and to stop thinking of his role as father/brother/friend/co-worker as the mask he wears to hide the killer inside. Who he is to his friends and family is who he is  — and the fact that he’s a serial killer is just a part of him the way that being addicted to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Brooklyn Lager before bed is for me. As sinful as I know it is, it doesn’t define me as a person even if no one knew it until now, and even though its probably important that I give it up. Dexter’s got a similar lesson to learn, except with, you know… bodies and murder and stuff.

What’s next this season? Whose going to be the Big Bad? As per my own “code”, I don’t watch any previews or sneak peeks so I’m totally in the dark but I’m so intrigued since I think there might be a very significant change taking place inside Dexter — it must for the show to conclude one day. Like I say about Don Draper (Mad Men), our protagonist doesn’t have to eradicate all his inner demons by the series conclusion, he simply has to try and to learn something along the way even if its not enough. Even if he never makes it out triumphant, we must see the journey and we see the failure… but you can’t fail if you don’t try. Dexter has been trying, but not enough, and so I hope this season will be the moment to break through.

Extras

As you may may know, I’m not particularly a fan of most of the supporting characters on the show and I find that to be its greatest weakness so I won’t be discussing them very much, but, for what its worth…

  • Does Debra have to sleep with everyone?? Every season she’s ripping someone’s clothes off or falling in love with someone else. She’s both slutty and a relationship addict. And then she’s always crying about it. She is the Tara (True Blood) or Dexter.
  • LaGuerta’s reasoning for not wanting to investigate Rita’s murder was stupid — not wanting to ruin her wedding day? I thought it was going to be something more benevolent than that like not wanting their feelings to get in the way of the investigation or something.
  • If anyone saw The Expendables last month, you may understand why its impossible to watch Batista (played by former OZ star, David Zayas) considering he should win every Razzie under the sun for that performance.
  • How beyond inappropriate is Matsuka’s opening joke about imagining “Rita naked but not like this” at the crime scene? That wasn’t even funny, it was totally unlikeable and really cut the tension of the scene for which there was no need since the episode had just started. Also, he’s the one who originally jumped to the possibility that Dexter may have done this when he spills the beans about Rita and the neighbor’s kiss and Dex’s knowledge of it. Aren’t these people his friends?
  • Quinn is the new Sargent Doakes, but why do we need another Sargent Doakes? I mean, seriously he’s the same exact character isn’t he? Only difference being that Doakes was smart enough not to put his penis between that used-up spot between Deb’s legs!
  • I always liked Rita. She was the one supporting character I enjoyed coming back to. The only one ever… and now she’s gone. Goodbye Rita. We all know that no one will ever replace you and that Dexter may very well be alone for a long time. Please come back frequently in flashbacks and dreams! (Not likely unless Julie Benz’ No Ordinary Family gets canceled.)

Next week, Single Daddy Dexter! Will Deb really take over as surrogate mother? Ugh, I pray to a world of NO.

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One Comment

  1. lis
    Posted September 28, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    always impressive to see how well you can read into a character/show/situation.

    great stuff–you’ve almost gotten me to start watching Dexter–not an easy take my friend.

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