based on characters in the trio of dexter novels by jeff lindsay comes a television series like no other. really this year has seen a bumper crop of top notch shows rivaling even big screen list A production by moneyed hollywood studios. ‘heroes’ immediately spring to mind along with the 2nd season of ‘my name is earl’, ‘jericho’ and the sixth season of ‘the sopranos’ just to name a few. out of all the new ones, i think ‘dexter’ will have the more interesting shelf life.
a serial killer who targets serial killers. thats the concise version of who dexter morgan is. to flesh him out, the writers made him a blood splatter analyst working for the miami police. imagine being at a party and asked by some beautiful stranger what the nature of your job is. its a great pick up line waiting to happen. his job is to scour crime scenes for clues by analyzing the patterns of blood splashed seemingly at random on walls, furniture, floor, mutilated bodies etc. his incredible power of deduction is only equaled by his unhealthy obsession with this bodily fluid. and thats only his day job.
at night and on weekends he prowls the streets of steaming miami picking out his blood-thirsty ‘victims’ who in and of themselves are perpetrators of some of the most heinous crimes. ostensibly dexter is ridding the world of these murderers so that we may lead safer lives. however his passion for this extracurricular activity is driven by an uncontrollable urge far removed from any altruistic reasoning.
born to a small time coke dealer and user, he witnessed the brutal death of his own parents at a very young age. he was rescued by a cop, harry morgan, who arrived at the scene which resembled a blood-soaked purgatory. raising him as his own, the cop soon realized that dexter possesses a hunger, an urge that must be satisfied at all cost. he constructs the ‘code of harry’ for his adopted son. this is a set of rules and boundaries within which dexter must operate to do what is in his nature to do.
he is taught how to stalk his victims without being caught. he is schooled in the art of breaking and entering without leaving a trace. the victims must only be murderers themselves. the innocent must be spared at all cost. above all he must act normal and assimilate himself to mainstream society. this last bit is the most difficult for dexter who is pathologically detached from human emotions (perhaps as a subconscious protective mechanism after the horror he witnessed when his mother was cut up with a chainsaw in front of his very eyes). half the fun is watching him trying to become joe public in the face of his blood lust. to makes matters worse he becomes romantically entangled with a single mum who is trying to escape from the shadow her abusive ex-husband. rita falls madly in love with him and he reciprocates in a misguided attempt to appear normal.
the first few episodes builds dexter’s character up by showing him at work and at play. harry’s own biological daughter, deb, is a detective in the same precinct working a long side a bunch of dysfunctional but reliable agents headed by a lady boss who loves the limelight a bit too much for her own good. deb rubs her the wrong way and is given the runaround. angel batista is the stereotypical hard-nosed cop who is going through a painful separation with his wife. his best friend and resident curator of obscure sexual fetish terminology, vince masuka, is the token wisecracking asian of the show. then there is the ever suspicious sergeant doakes who knows that there is something wrong with dexter but just can’t quite put his finger on it. he has made giving dexter a hard time his main purpose in life.
when not working dexter spends an unhealthy amount of time studying and tracking down his victims. with practice comes perfection and he chalks up his kills, preserving the last drop of blood from each victim on glass slides which he keeps hidden behind his air-con unit in his one room apartment. one day he gets a call from his office to a crime scene and when he sees the dismembered body parts, he is struck by the artistry of the kill. in that instance he knows that he has finally met his match. as the season progresses the identity of the so called ice-truck-killer (ITC – for his penchant of draining all the blood from his victim and transporting them around in a refrigerated truck) is alluded to in a subtle interplay of flashbacks and tight storytelling.
ITC represents the arc that holds the entire season together to its shocking conclusion in the finale. the ensemble cast is flawless, complimenting michael c. hall‘s (he played the gay funeral parlor owner in another hit series ‘six feet under’) effortless portrayal of dexter; a mixture of laser sharp intelligence and uncontrollable urge. the first season ended just 4 days ago and already fans are clamoring for more. based on the overwhelming response, the second season should be in production soon.