I finished watching season one of Dexter on Friday night. I had intended to finish it up a few days earlier, but the image of 3-year-old Dexter in a pool of blood, screaming, disturbed and upset me in such a way that almost a week later the image has stayed with me. As Dexter says, “the little boy in the blood, frightens me.”
Dexter is a series, among other things, about trauma, memory, and a darkness that haunts humanity. Bleak in its thesis, Dexter, the series, argues that what Dexter, the character, is (a monster) anyone could very easily become. This is made evident in the constant comparison of what Dexter does (as a service to humanity – a point I want to return to later) to what other characters either say or do. For example when Doakes executes the Haitian man under a Miami bridge the Lt. LaGuerta explains to Angel that the Haitian was in fact a “very bad man” and therefore deserved to die. Justice is served in the offing. This kind of primordial sense of justice argues true justice is only found in retribution, and eye for an eye. Pull back the curtain of enlightened modernity and all humanity is a empty heart of darkness.
The horror of Dexter isn’t how different he is from everyone else, but how similar he is. Everyone wears masks, everyone wants to take justice into their own hands, everyone’s hiding from someone or from themselves. The difference though, is I suppose, the difference that makes all the difference – Dexter kills people (most) everyone else doesn’t.