VERY ROUGH SUPER EARLY BEGINNING of Dexter Essay

Updated: January 4, 2022

Seriously… I’ve seen it 10,000 times, but I’m only 12 minutes into the Pilot ONLY finished with rewatching season one for this essay, so this will all change a lot.

So I’ve explained this on Twitter, but I am writing an essay for fun about Dexter. About how Dexter is NOT a sociopath/psychopath. (Yes, I realize in real life, he obviously would be. I’m not stupid.)

I’m only using the original series Dexter, and not Dexter: New Blood. Partially because I came up with this idea (and wrote some of this) years ago, partially because I’m not really sure yet how the new series would change things since I’ve only seen the episodes that have aired in Dexter: New Blood once — and it’s not even finished, partially because they don’t share the same characters, partially because it would be far more confusing to compare a character from two separate series, even if it’s technically the same character — because there are different writers, some different producers, and a different show runner, and the shows aired over a decade apart. Also, most importantly the reboot was partially created because the majority of viewers hated the ending of Dexter… and my thesis is mostly based on the ending of Dexter because I found it genius! It was such a revelation to me!

I’ve also studied sociopaths, both in school (one of my majors was Psychology) and for fun (and I literally dated a sociopath… no exaggeration… wish it was!), so, yes, I know it sounds crazy that I’m saying that a killer doesn’t fit the description. He does at the beginning, especially in the Pilot, but Dexter totally goes through a moral evolution, and to call him a sociopath at the end when actual sociopaths can’t feel remorse, guilt, or love is just not who Dexter is anymore. A book I really recommend that’s both written by a doctor and is simple enough for anybody to understand is The Sociopath Next Door by Dr. Martha Stout. It’s also REALLY good. I love any research article, too. I’m way too empathetic for my own good, so it’s super interesting to check out the opposite of me… because I can’t fully comprehend sociopathy/psychopathy.

The preface makes it clear that Dexter is just a fictional show, and that in real life, Dexter would be a complete sociopath without any question. He is a serial killer for god’s sake. A man like Dexter simply does NOT exist.


Preface

The show “Dexter” is a fictional series. In real life, there is no question that Dexter Morgan would be a sociopath. After all, he is a serial killer. However, it wouldn’t be entertaining television if the show was about a serial killer who doesn’t have some non-sociopathic tendencies, who somehow over the course of the series shows remorse, shame, guilt, and even love.

Perhaps we can blame Dexter’s murderous ways on Harry’s Code that he prepared with Dr. Vogel. What if Harry had taken Dexter for help? What if he hadn’t encouraged Dexter to start killing to curb his urges instead of doing something positive to combat them? We’ll never know because Harry went as far as telling Dexter to lie to a psychologist about who he really was. Maybe if Dexter had gotten help, he never would have become a serial killer and could have lived a normal life. That would explain the little peeks of conscience and humanity we see from Dexter in the early seasons – and the large ones we see in the later seasons. The more he lives like a normal human being instead of just pretending to act human, the more he evolves morally. And Harry never thought that possible, so he created The Code as a way to help Dexter instead. Who would Dexter be if he hadn’t?

Questions like these, and many more, make the series fun to watch, which is why the fictional story is not about a realistic sociopath. There is no cure for a sociopath. They do not change. They do not morally evolve. There are no Dexters in real life who suddenly alter the way they fundamentally think or somehow have a conscience while being serial killers. And while not all sociopaths are Dexters, all Dexters are sociopaths.

The fictional character of Dexter was created like this because we would never root for a true sociopath. We may root for a vigilante serial killer, but only one who has a good heart underneath it all. Dexter is a fabrication, and he truly is unique.

I postulate that in this brilliant fictional show, the sociopath does change. He does morally evolve. And he does have a conscience.


Introduction

The series of Dexter, specifically the series finale, is vastly underrated and extremely misunderstood. While we all wanted a happy ending for our favorite serial killer, the entire series and Dexter’s evolution sets up the ending that Dexter cannot – or perhaps will not – live a normal and content life even when he has a chance to ride off into the sunset with his greatest romantic love and the son he adores. The idea that he could do so is predicated by the notion that he is a sociopath who has remained stagnant or even devolved over the series; however, Dexter has developed real feelings and love for the people in his life, and is clearly no sociopath after all. When Debra is inadvertently killed by Dexter’s actions, we see genuine remorse in a way we’ve never seen Dexter experience it before.

Guilt is not new to Dexter in this moment. In fact, the entire series leads up to this revelation of pure and total remorse for the pain he has caused. If this finale had been at the end of the first season, we would probably see Dexter run away with Hannah and Harrison as part of his selfish and primal nature. While it is understandable that we root for both Dexter to be a normal human being with emotions and to live a normal human life with people he loves, it is not possible for him to do both after Debra’s death. In order for him to move onto that new life with Hannah and Harrison, he could not feel remorse for Debra. Without this guilt, he would clearly be the “perfect psychopath” Dr. Vogel says he is; however, we know by the end of the series that he is not.

Unfortunately, we cannot have it both ways. Sociopaths and psychopaths possess no conscience; they do not feel shame, guilt, remorse, or even love. Dexter may have started the series this way, but by Season 8, we have witnessed him feeling all of these things. Because Dexter has turned “human,” he does the only human thing he feels he can do in the wake of so much guilt. He decides to disappear so he does not hurt the other people he loves. In faking his own death and disappearing so he can punish himself by living in isolation, he is not abandoning the people he cares about; instead, Dexter is actually acting selflessly – sacrificing his happy future by saving them from him and the pain he has caused so many.


Dexter and Debra

All Seasons

  • The only people that know Dexter better than Debra are his victims that he becomes honest with in the kill room – and after she finds out his secret, that he is a serial killer – nobody knows Dexter better than Debra, for better and for worse.

Season 1

  • Episode 1, “Pilot – “That’s my foul-mouthed foster sister, Debra. She has a big heart, but won’t let anyone see it. She’s the only person in the world who loves me. I think that’s nice. I don’t have feelings about anything, but if I could have feelings for all, I’d have them for Deb.”
  • Episode 1, “Pilot – “You can’t get so emotionally invested.” – Dexter “You always say that.” – Deb “So did Dad.” – Dexter “Yeah, but he also said ‘Go after what you want.’ I want out of vice and into homicide.” – Deb “What can I do to help?” – Dexter “You get these hunches, you know? With these types of murders.” – Deb “Only sometimes.” – Dexter “Well, see if you get one this time. And can I bounce some ideas off of you later? I always get smarter when I’m talking to you.” – Deb “You just need a little more confidence… All right, I’ll take a look.” – Dexter
  • Episode 1, Pilot – Talks about wanting nieces and nephews while urging Debra to get a life. Sounds like he does have feelings for Debra or at least a possible family. He doesn’t seem to say it in a way to help him get a cover life.
  • Episode 1, Pilot – Debra asks about his date with Rita, which means they talk about more than work
  • Episode 1, Pilot – Helps Debra with the Ice Truck Killer case by giving her the idea of a refrigerated truck. We get the impression that they talk about work a lot and he shares his hunches with her often. Does he really not feel for Debra at all? Like is she just somebody to talk to?
  • Episode 1, Pilot – Dexter comforts Debra after the meeting goes badly
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – Debra comes over to bring Dexter breakfast and to talk about the Ice Truck Killer. She wants his advice, and Dexter gives real advice, which he doesn’t always do. It seems like they do this a lot. From the quote below, it seems she’s not getting everything she wants about the relationship, and perhaps feels Dexter isn’t as close as he could be, even though they seem close so far. She even chooses a tie for him to wear to court, telling him softly that it brings out his eyes.
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “So why is it we never talk brother-sister stuff?” – Debra “Our Dad was a cop. You’re a cop. I work for the cops. For us, this is brother-sister stuff.” – Dexter
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “Why don’t you and Sean the Mechanic join me and Rita the Girlfriend for dinner tomorrow night?” – Dexter “Why? So you can tell me later he’s not good enough for your little sister?” – Debra “You’re the one who was going on about brother and sister stuff this morning.” – Dexter “And that becomes brother and sister double-dating? What goes on in that head of yours” – Debra “Come on, it’ll be fun.” – Dexter
    • Dexter actually seems to care when Debra tells Dexter that she and Sean are getting serious, and like a normal brother, gets grossed out when she starts to tell him about their sex life. Already, it seems like he actually cares about Debra despite his protests.

Season 2

  • Lalala

Season 3

  • Lalala

Season 4

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Season 5

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Season 6

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Season 7

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Season 8

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Important Relationships

All Seasons

  • Debra
  • Victims in the Kill Room
  • Angel
  • Vince

Season 1

  • Rita
  • Astor
  • Cody

Season 2

  • Rita
  • Lila
  • Astor
  • Cody

Season 3

  • Rita
  • Astor
  • Cody
  • Unborn son
  • Miguel

Season 4

  • Rita
  • Harrison
  • Astor
  • Cody

Season 5

  • Lumen
  • Harrison

Season 6

  • Brother Sam
  • Harrison
  • Travis Marshall (briefly)

Season 7

  • Hannah McKay
  • Isaak Sirko
  • Harrison

Season 8

  • Dr. Vogel
  • Hannah McKay
  • Zach Hamilton
  • Harrison

Adversaries

Season 1

  • James Doakes
  • Brian Moser, Ice Truck Killer

Season 2

  • James Doakes
  • Frank Lundy
  • Lila West

Season 3

  • George Washington King, the skinner
  • Miguel

Season 4

  • Trinity Killer

Season 5

  • The Barrel Girls Rapists, particularly Jordan Chase

Season 6

  • Travis Marshall

Season 7

  • Hannah McKay
  • Isaak Sirko

Season 8

  • Oliver Saxon
  • Elway

People Dexter Who Dexter Inadvertently Hurt/Got Killed (Or ALMOST)

All Seasons

  • According to IMDB, Dexter has approximately intentionally killed 130 individuals. KEEP COUNT DURING THE SERIES!!!

Season 1

  • Debra

Season 2

  • Harry
  • James Doakes
  • Astor
  • Cody

Season 3

  • Victims of the Skinner
  • Ellen Wolf

Season 4

  • Rita

Season 5

  • Astor
  • Cody
  • Harrison
  • Quinn

Season 6

  • Brother Sam (by killing Julio Benes)
  • Harrison

Season 7

  • Louis Greene
  • Members of the Koshka Brotherhood, particularly Isaak Sirko
  • Maria Laguerta
  • Debra

Season 8

  • Dr. Vogel
  • Cassie
  • US Marshall
  • Debra

Signs of Sociopaths

  • Sociopaths and psychopaths possess no conscience; they do not feel shame, guilt, remorse
  • Sociopaths are incapable of feeling love
  • They are capable of crying, but only do it for show. It is not something they would do alone
  • No sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or family
  • Glib and superficial charm
  • No empathy
  • No genuine interest in bonding with a mate
  • If a spouse has any value, it is because they are viewed as a possession, one that the sociopath may feel angry to lose, but not sad or accountable
  • They understand the difference between good and bad, but the distinction fails to limit their behavior
  • No emotional attachments to other people
  • Families are for the eyes of the world – camouflage
  • Substance abuse is a classic symptom
  • Can’t worry about friends or family members who are sick or in trouble because they cannot worry about other people
  • Can’t derive real joy from being around their children
  • “Psychologically speaking, conscience is a sense of obligation ultimately based in an emotional attachment to another living creature (often but not always a human being) or to a group of human beings, or even in some cases to humanity as a whole. Conscience does not exist without an emotional bond to someone or something, and in this way conscience is closely allied with the spectrum of emotions we call ‘love.’ This alliance is what gives true conscience its resilience and its astonishing authority over those who have it, and probably also its confusing and frustrating quality.” (Stout 25)
  • “Conscience can motivate us to make seemingly irrational and even self-destructive decisions, from the trivial to the heroic…” (Stout 25)

Season 1

  • Dexter is one of the most complex characters on television during the 2000s whose evolution is a pleasure to watch. It is clear from the beginning that Dexter doesn’t show feelings. He even states that he doesn’t have feelings for anybody, but if he did, he would have them for Debra. While it’s arguable that Dexter truly does not feel for people during this time, it becomes more and more obvious throughout the first season that he does care about the people in his life, even if he doesn’t consciously realize it. During season one, we learn about his heartbreaking and traumatic past and why he disconnects from the world. Harry assumed when Dexter was a child that this was something he would not grow out of and taught Dexter how to follow his urges. Unfortunately, we’ll never know how Dexter’s life would have been had Harry not taught him how to kill to deal with his urges and instead sought help and found another outlet for Dexter’s impulses; in one case, Dexter is told by Harry to lie to a psychologist. In the subsequent seasons, his feelings and ties to the people close to him only become amplified. According to Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, sociopaths are unable to keep long-term, meaningful relationships; in addition, the relationships that sociopaths do cultivate are used as a means to an end. While Dexter does indeed first choose to date Rita so he seems more normal, his feelings developed and the series quickly demonstrates that while Dexter believes he only chose Rita for a cover life, the fact that he begins showing such close ties to Rita and the children shows it’s actually his true life, and instead of accepting this, he chooses to be blind to his feelings.
  • In Episode 12, Dexter is confronted by his brother, Brian Moser, the Ice Truck Killer, with Debra laid out on a table exactly as Dexter kills his victims. He asks Brian if it must be Debra that he kills as he is fond of her. This is a notable evolution in his mindset, as in Episode 1, he claims that he does not have any feelings, but would have feelings for Debra if he had any. Ultimately, Dexter refuses the kill and saves Debra’s life. Moreover, aside from his feelings for Debra coming out, he also shows the need to protect her, even from somebody he has strong sentiments for and ties to – his brother. Because of his desire to keep Debra safe, Dexter kills Brian with little hesitation even though he feels such a deep connection with his brother over their shared childhood trauma. While Debra is in the hospital, Dexter even says that he chose Harry over his blood brother even though Harry completely betrayed him and Dexter owed him nothing, and he is confused as to why he chose his bond with Harry over his bond with Brian. However, it’s important to note that Dexter weeps about the situation after feeling the guilt associated with killing his brother. While it’s not impossible for a sociopath to cry, they only do so in order to manipulate people or to seek pity from them. Dexter, however, is not crying crocodile tears. He is crying real tears due to his feelings and does so alone. This obviously indicates he is not showing faux guilt so others will see it. Dexter is truly experiencing remorse for both nearly inadvertently killing Debra and for killing his biological brother in this moment.

Season 2

  • When James Doakes finds him, he has a moral struggle whether to kill Doakes or turn himself in. He first decides to frame Doakes, but quickly changes his mind as he knows Doakes is innocent, and while The Code’s number one rule is “Don’t Get Caught,” Dexter would feel wrong framing an innocent man. He simply can’t hurt an innocent like that, even though it would be in line with The Code. Dexter then decides to turn himself in. After a dinner with his sister, he realizes he can’t leave his life and continues with his internal crisis. Obviously, this indicates Dexter still has some darkness. A normal human wouldn’t attempt to frame somebody for multiple murders. However, he stops short of murder as he believes it is wrong. It’s important to note that Dexter believes this is wrong because of Harry’s Code and doesn’t comprehend the moral implications. While he still has his dark passenger, another step in his development is when he attends James Doakes’ funeral as one of the few guests as he knew Doakes truly didn’t deserve to die. He knew Doakes was an innocent, and while Doakes’ death solved his problems, Dexter never wants innocents to be hurt. While much of this is probably due to The Code, it would be lacking to say that part of this is not due to his moral evolution, as he does question parts of The Code during this time.

Season 3

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Season 4

  • In episode ?, Dexter kills Jonathan Farrow, a repulsive fashion photographer, because after vetting him, he fully believes Farrow killed one of his models. However, the police end up arresting his assistant based on DNA evidence and his faulty alibi. There is no question that Farrow was not involved in the murder. While Farrow was assumed to have raped two women, he was not a murderer and therefore did not fit Dexter’s Code. Instead of being delighted to get a rapist off the streets, Dexter felt true remorse that he killed somebody who was innocent of murder – and that it was Dexter’s faulty vetting that made him responsible for Farrow’s death. Dexter refers to the feeling as “uncomfortable.” At this point in the series, Dexter is still growing into his new emotions and feelings. This is because, although he experiences all of the feelings of remorse and guilt, he doesn’t know how to describe this sensation as he has rarely felt it before, and largely ignored it when he did. His new feelings may have to do with his new family with Rita and Harrison.

Season 5

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Season 6

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Season 7

  • In Episode 2, when Debra finds out he is a serial killer, he is not concerned about the consequences for himself, but only worries about Debra being okay. While he knows she could easily arrest him, he thinks not of himself at that moment, but how learning about his lifestyle will affect Debra. A “perfect psychopath,” as Vogel called him, would not react like this. Any sociopath or psychopath would only think of how this would affect themselves. Dexter, however, has morally evolved so much by this point in the series that he only cares about how Debra feels. It’s interesting to go back to the Season 1 line that he doesn’t care about anybody, but if he did, he’d care about Debra. Dexter has clearly evolved. He has cared about multiple people by this point, but his feelings for Debra are especially strong and steadfast.

Season 8

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Notable Quotes

Season 1

  • Episode 1, Pilot – “Tonight’s the night. And it’s going to happen again and again. Has to happen.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “Look.” “No.” Uh, Yes.” “No, no” “It’s horrible, isn’t it? Isn’t it?” “Please” “Open your eyes and look at what you did!” [Mike Donovan crying] “Look or I’ll cut your eyelids right off your face. It took me a long time to get these little boys clean. One of them had been in the ground so long, he was falling apart. I pulled him out in bits and pieces.” “Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is –“ “Stop! That never helped anybody.” “Please, you can have anything.” “That’s good, beg. Did these little boys beg?” “I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t. I just – please; you have to understand.” “Trust me, I definitely understand. See, I can’t help myself, either. Children – I could never do that. Not like you. Never, ever kids.” “Why?” “I have standards.”
    • Dexter always has a soft spot for children, probably because of what happened to him as a child. Plus, they’re inherently innocent.
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “Soon, you’ll be packed into a few neatly wrapped Heftys in my own small corner of the world. It will be a neater, happier place. A better place.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “I don’t know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all. And I fake them very well. And that’s my burden, I guess.”
    • At this point in the series, he does seem to fake all of his interactions. They make him more human after this episode, however
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “You’re different, aren’t you, Dexter?” – Harry “What do you mean, Pop” – Dexter “The Phillips said Buddy disappeared. I found the grave, son.” – Harry “That dog was a noisy little creep, Dad. He was barking all night, and Mom couldn’t sleep, and she’s very, very sick, and that lousy dog was yapping at every leaf that blew down the sidewalk.” – Dexter “There were a lot of bones in there Dexter, and not just Buddy’s.” – Harry
    • Dexter does care about the well-being of his mother. Would a sociopath do that? (I mean, I guess he could have cared about her well-being without killing the dog…)
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “Blood. Sometimes it sets my teeth on edge. Other times it helps me control the chaos.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “The Code of Harry, my foster father, is satisfied, and so am I. Harry was a great cop here in Miami. He taught me how to think like one., he taught me how to cover my tracks. I’m a very neat monster.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “I don’t have feelings about anything, but if I could have feelings for all, I’d have them for Deb.”
    • Even in the Pilot, you can tell he has feelings for Deb. After the Pilot, there is no question.
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “No blood. No sticky, hot, awful, messy blood. No blood at all. Why haven’t I thought of that? What a beautiful thought.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – [looks at donut box] “Just like me. Empty inside.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “That animal recognizes me as easy as I can recognize… any other killer.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “Have you ever wanted to kill anything else? You know, something bigger than a dog?” – Harry “Yes.” – Dexter “Like a person?” – Harry “Yeah, but no one in particular.” –  Dexter “Why didn’t you?” – Harry “I thought you and Mom wouldn’t like it.” – Dexter [Harry hugs Dexter]
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “When it comes to the actual act of sex, it’s always seemed to undignified. But I have to play the game. And after years of trying to look normal, I think I met the right woman for me. Deb saved her life on a domestic-dispute call, introduced us, and we’ve been dating for six months now. She’s perfect, because Rita is, in her own way, as damaged as me.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “Rita’s ex-hubby, the crack addict, repeatedly raped her and knocked her around. Ever since then she’s been completely uninterested in sex. That works for me.”
  • Episode 1, Pilot – “You and I had an understanding. Whenever you have an urge, you come to me, you tell me, and we deal with it together. – Harry “I do tell you, Dad.” – Dexter “The hell you do! There’s blood on this knife” – Harry “Animals. I find animals, that’s all.” – Dexter “Are you sure? Are you telling me the truth” – Harry “Yes.” – Dexter “I thought we had this under control. You still don’t remember anything from before? You know, before we took you in?” – Harry “No. Is that why I have these urges?” – Dexter “What happened changed something inside you. It got into you too early. I’m afraid your urge to kill is only going to get stronger.” – Harry “You’re saying I’ll be like this forever.” – Dexter “You’re a good kid, Dex. You are. Otherwise, it would have been a lot worse than animals. Okay? We can’t stop this. But maybe we can do something to channel it. Use it for good.” – Harry “How could it ever be good?” – Dexter “Son, there are people out there who do really bad things. Terrible people. And the police can’t catch them all. Do you understand what I’m saying?” – Harry “You’re saying they deserve it.” – Dexter “That’s right. But, of course, you have to learn how to spot them, how to cover your tracks. But I can teach you.” – Harry “Dad?” – Dexter “It’s okay, Dex. You can’t help what happened to you, but you can make the best of it. Remember this forever – you are my son, you are not alone, and you are loved.” – Harry
    • Harry never tried to channel it in any other way
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “Look at them. They can laugh and play. It comes so easily for them. Even though I’m not one of them, even though sometimes I can really be a monster, today, I’m just a sea monster.”
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “Soon enough, I’ll have to go back to doing what I do. So I make a point of enjoying days like this when I have them. [stares at his blood slides]”
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – As of this episode, Dexter has been involved in 2,103 cases as a blood spatter analyst
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “Some people would look at this family and see tragedy and heartbreak. But I see so much more than that. I see opportunity.”
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “I see their pain. On some level, I even understand their pain. I just can’t feel their pain.”
    • This doesn’t really change until Rita dies and he starts taking care of Harrison on his own. While he starts caring about people before that, he doesn’t seem to become “human” before this.
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “Why don’t you and Sean the Mechanic join me and Rita the Girlfriend for dinner tomorrow night?” – Dexter “Why? So you can tell me later he’s not good enough for your little sister?” – Debra “You’re the one who was going on about brother and sister stuff this morning.” – Dexter “And that becomes brother and sister double-dating? What goes on in that head of yours” – Debra “Come on, it’ll be fun.” – Dexter
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “Lately the thing that surprises me most about Rita is how much I like being with her. But whenever that happens with a woman, when I feel comfortable with her, it all goes wrong. That’s why I think it’s best to take it one step at a time.”
    • So basically, he cares about Rita, but he’s being careful not to care too much
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “I’ve seen this before. When a cop is killed, it’s like everybody’s life is stopped in mid-sentence.” – Dexter [cut to Harry as a cop] “Davey Sanchez was a fearless and dedicated cop. Davey Sanchez, was a son, a husband, and a father, Davey Sanchez was my partner. Davey Sanchez was my hero.” – Harry “That was great.” – Young Dexter [Harry sighs] “What, Dad?” – Young Dexter “Ever since Davey was killed, my world feels out of control.” – Harry “How do you fix it?” – Young Dexter “Two ways, I guess… honor Davey’s memory… and catch the bastard who did this to him. It’s not about vengeance. It’s not about retaliation, or balancing the books. It’s about something deep inside.” – Harry
    • Dexter becomes basically an avenger. A vigilante. That was Harry’s Code. So it was about vengeance, retaliation, and balancing the books. That, and criminals tend to disappear and not be missed, so he will be less likely to get caught.
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “My sister puts up a front so the world won’t see how vulnerable she is. Me, I put up a front so the world won’t see how vulnerable I’m not.”
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “I’m really proud of you.” – Dexter “Well, you had my back the whole way, and I appreciate it. I mean that. You’re the best. And that’s why I wanted to share this moment with you.” – Debra
    • It’s clear that both of them are the closest person in each other’s lives. Clearly, Debra cares for Dexter more than he cares for her at this point, but even though he says he doesn’t have feelings for anybody, I think Dexter is kidding himself, even this early on, when he says he doesn’t have feelings for Debra. She’s more than a means to an end for him. He legitimately seems concerned for her well-being, and even this early in the series seems to have an emotional bond to her. Even if we go back to when they were kids, he seems to have an emotional bond to her, even if he has to fake having fun doing the activities he’s doing. He also has an emotional bond to Harry and Doris – something sociopaths can’t have, not even with family.
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “It’s about the guy who killed Davey isn’t it?” – Dexter “The judge said the busy wasn’t righteous and let him walk.” – Harry “That guy kills a cop, and nothing happens? That’s not fair.” – Dexter “Life’s not fair, Dexter.” – Harry “Can’t anyone do anything? Can’t you do something?” – Dexter “No, not now.” – Harry “So what, then? The world just keeps spinning out of control?” – Dexter “No. The world can always be set right again.” – Harry
  • Episode 2, Crocodile – “There are no secrets in life. Just hidden truths that lie beneath the surface.”
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “Most people have a hard time dealing with death, but I’m not most people. It’s the grief that makes me uncomfortable. Not because I’m a killer – really. I just don’t understand all of that emotion, which makes it tough to fake.”
    • A VERY sociopathic statement. At this point, Dexter simply doesn’t have the same feelings normal people would about life and death. He’s faking his way through life. He doesn’t feel grief or sorrow about a cop dying, even though he knows it’s objectively a tragedy, because he simply can’t
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “Many times in life, I feel like I’m missing some essential piece of the human puzzle.”
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “Do you want a hug?”
    • Debra just found out one of her prostitute friends when she worked vice was killed. This was incredibly out of place for Dexter, but he actually meant it. He may not have the same feelings normal people would about a lot of things, but he certainly has an emotional bond to Debra, which has already been shown multiple times in less than three episodes, and sociopaths can’t truly have those. We’ll see just how strong his emotional bond his Debra is towards the end of the first season, and even more over the next seven seasons. If Dexter is a sociopath, he shouldn’t feel love. But it’s obvious that Dexter loves Debra.
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “I prefer a stalk and ambush approach. My instincts are impeccable. But I have to be sure of my prey.”
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “When you take a man’s life, you’re not just killing him. You’re snuffing out all the things he’ll ever become. As a cop, I only fire my weapon to save a life. That’s a code I live by. Killing must serve a purpose. Otherwise, it’s just plain murder. You understand?” – Harry
    • Harry and Vogel hadn’t created The Code yet, but in this moment, Harry is basically telling Dexter that The Code is serving a purpose, and not just plain murder. It’s not shocking to understand why Dexter sees no moral issues with killing people who have killed others and will kill more if Dexter doesn’t take them out first. Technically, Dexter’s kills save lives and serve a purpose. And Harry made it into The Code that Dexter lives by.
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “When I’m gone, I won’t be able to stop you from being who you are. Sooner or later, you’ll need to do it.” – Harry “Do what”—Deb “Just remember our lessons.” – Harry “What lessons? What are you talking about?” – Deb “I can’t make it without you.” – Dexter “Yes, you can. If you feel like you’re slipping, lean on your sister. She’ll keep you connected.” – Harry
    • Dexter does always lean on Debra
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “Instead, I tried to act human. Like it’s my job to save lives.”
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “Don’t let her.” – Harry “Okay, my brave little soldier. Let’s get this nasty shot out of the way.” – Nurse “No! Wait!” – Dexter “What is it, honey?” – Nurse “He doesn’t want the shot.” – Dexter “Your father’s very sick. He’s in a lot of pain. He needs a shot.” – Nurse “I want pain.” – Harry “He wants pain.” – Dexter [nurse looks at them angrily] “I’ll have to tell the doctor. He’s not going to be happy you’re refusing your medication.” – Nurse [she leaves] “You can tell.” – Harry “About the nurse? Yeah. She’s… like me. How could you tell?” – Dexter “She gives too much morphine. And something else. It’s making me worse.” – Harry “She’s drugging you. She’s killing you by overdose.” – Dexter “Not just me. Others, too… Stop her.” – Harry “What do you mean, stop her?” – Dexter “It’s time. Before she hurts anyone else.” – Harry
    • Harry not only gives Dexter The Code, not only gives him permission to murder, but actually TELLS him to murder his first victim
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “The nurse was my first playmate. I’ll always be grateful to her for opening up so many magnificent new doors for me. Things were a little messy in the beginning. Hey, perfecting a new craft takes time. But I was trained well. Those who witnessed my early stumbles never had a chance to tell.”
  • Episode 3, Popping Cherry – “I’ve just been looking through your photo album. Hope you don’t mind. Are all your victims in here?” – Dexter [nurse grunts] “I’m sorry, let me help you with that.” – Dexter  [nurse screams] “Scream and lose a tongue.” – Dexter “I helped them. All of them. I took their pain away.” – Nurse. “I understand. Now it’s time to take away your pain.” – Dexter [voiceover] “It was messier than I anticipated, but still a special day. But, of course, it was really Harry who paved the road to my salvation. With the nurse put down, Harry lived another year before hardened arteries squeezed the life from him. But his lessons have never failed me. Harry taught me that death isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a chain reaction that will catch you if you’re not careful. He taught me that none of us are who we appear to be on the outside, but we must maintain appearances in order to survive. But there was something Harry didn’t teach me. There was something he didn’t know, couldn’t possibly know. The willful taking of life represents the ultimate disconnect from humanity. It leaves you an outsider, forever looking in, searching for company to keep… [Dexter drives up with a car for Rita and picks up the kids and puts them in. Rita thanks him, and they smile at each other.] All you can do is play along in life, and hope that you sometimes get it right. Score one for the little wooden boy.”
    • He seems to be beginning to have an emotional connection with Rita. He admitted so in the last episode. But Dexter is delusional if he thinks he doesn’t have a true emotional bond with Astor and Cody.
  • Episode 4, Let’s Give the Boy a Hand – “I find that people around me are all making some kind of connection, like friendship or romance. But human bonds always lead to messy complications – commitment, sharing, driving people to the airport. Besides, if I let someone get that close, they’d see who I really am. And I can’t let that happen. So time to put on my mask.”
  • Episode 4, Let’s Give the Boy a Hand – “What’s your problem” – Harry “I hate the beach. It’s sandy and gross and nasty, and I want to go home.” – Dexter “Well, too bad. You’re part of a family. And being part of a family means smiling for photos.” – Harry “Why should I pretend I’m happy?” – Dexter “Because it will make your mom happy. And because it’s how you fit in. Remember we talked about that?” – Harry “Yeah.” – Dexter “This is how you do it. When somebody takes your picture, you smile. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy or not. You just do it to fit in. Okay?” – Harry
    • Dexter clearly takes this lesson to heart. While SOME things make him happy, mostly the Ice Truck Killer and Debra, he’s indifferent about most things up until now. But he always blends in perfectly with a smile, even going as far as bringing donuts to work.
    • It’s notable that when Harry was sick, Dexter insisted on taking a picture of him and Harry where they were both smiling. Would he do this if he didn’t have an emotional bond with Harry?
  • Episode 4, Let’s Give the Boy a Hand – “I love Halloween. The one time of year when everyone wears a mask, not just me. People think it’s fun to pretend you’re a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I’m not. Brother, friend, boyfriend – all part of my costume collection. Some people might call me a fraud. I prefer to think of myself as a master of disguise.”
    • Dexter’s words once again differ from his actions. Brother is not a costume. And he’s taking off the mask of the boyfriend costume. At this point, he doesn’t really have friends – just superficial ones from the station, so that much is true. And he is a master of disguise. He does spend his life pretending he’s something he’s not. But sometimes, Dexter thinks he’s wearing masks when he’s really not because he feels things he thought he was incapable of feeling – that he was basically even told by Harry he was incapable of feeling.
  • Episode 4, Let’s Give the Boy a Hand – In this episode, when he thinks he has the right location of the next body part of Tony Tucci, he doesn’t share it with Debra… he goes there on his own to check it out. So, while he often helps Debra, he often keeps information to himself to benefit himself. However, when he does find Tony Tucci, he calls dispatch and leaves an anonymous personal message for Debra telling her where to find him. So, while he does keep information to himself from time to time, he’ll also go out of his way to help Debra, and Debra alone. He won’t share his hunches or any information with the rest of the cops.
  • Episode 4, Let’s Give the Boy a Hand – “Harry was the only one who saw me. Really saw me. So, he taught me to hide. And that’s what kept me safe. But sometimes, I’m not sure where Harry’s vision of me ends and the real me starts. If I’m just a collection of learned behaviors – bits and pieces of Harry – maybe my new friend is right. Maybe I am a fraud.”
    • His entire value system was given to him by Harry. His belief that he’s a monster was given to him by Harry.
  • Episode 4, Let’s Give the Boy a Hand – “Gift wrapped, and begging for death. Tools at the ready. But my new friend doesn’t see me as clearly as he thinks. I can’t kill this man. Harry wouldn’t want it. And neither would I.”
  • Episode 4, Let’s Give the Boy a Hand – “Everyone hides who they are at least some of the time. Sometimes you bury that part of yourself so deeply that you have to be reminded it’s there at all. And sometimes you just want to forget who you are altogether. And what about me? Maybe I’ll never be the human Harry wanted me to be. But I couldn’t kill Tony Tucci. That’s not me, either. My new friend thought I wouldn’t be able to resist the kill he left for me, but I did. I’m not the monster he wants me to be. So, I’m neither man nor beast. I’m something new entirely with my own set of rules. I’m Dexter.”
    • PERFECT
  • Episode 5, Love American Style – “It’s important that you seem normal.” – Harry “Even though I’m not?” – Dexter “Because you’re not.” – Harry
  • Episode 5, Love American Style – “She has no clue who she’s with. Maybe that’s the key to a successful relationship.”
  • Episode 5, Love American Style – “Dexter, women are different from men.” – Harry “Dad, we’ve had this talk.” – Dexter “I’m saying they have a whole different experience of things. When they’re with someone, physically, they feel connected. And they know when you’re not. They can sense it because you’re very exposed.” – Harry “Yeah, you’re naked. – Dexter “I mean emotionally. Son, this is going to be very dangerous for you.” – Harry “I can fake it” – Dexter “Buddy, you can learn to fake a lot of things. This is a tough one.” – Harry
  • Episode 5, Love American Style – “Dad? Do you think that maybe one day I’ll feel it for real?” – Dexter “I hope so, son.” – Harry
    • We learn later in this episode that he does
  • Episode 5, Love American Style – “Alone, I’d be better off. Relationships are too confusing.”
  • Episode 5, Love American Style – [less than a minute later] “I wonder if Rita and the kids would like fishing.”
    • He says he’d be better off alone, but it doesn’t seem like he wants to be alone at all. He is confused by relationships, but at the same time, he’s falling for Rita, and has already fallen in love with the kids.
  • Episode 5, Love American Style – Dexter asks the Castillos before he kills them how they can love each other since they’re like them. They say they both want the same dream for their lives. He then asks Rita what her dream for her life is, and it’s the same as his. He seems very happy to hear that they share the same dreams, like he anticipates them sharing a future together.
  • Episode 6, Return to Sender – “Keeping the truth from the people closest to you is how you’ll survive, and how you’ll protect them if anything ever goes wrong.” – Harry
  • Episode 6, Return to Sender – “I’ve never felt a moment of remorse, doubt, regret. What’s happening to me?”
    • VERY SOCIOPATHIC. But… he’s evolving.
  • Episode 6, Return to Sender – “Deb will forgive me eventually. That’s who she is – bighearted, kind, nothing like me.”
  • Episode 7, Circle of Friends – “When did you first notice it? This darkness inside the guy you fell for.” – Dexter “I always knew it was there. I guess I just didn’t think I deserved better… until I met you.” – Rita “I have a dark side, too” – Dexter [Rita laughs] “What? I do.” – Dexter “Somehow I doubt that. You’re not like Paul. You don’t hurt people.” – Rita “Innocent people. I don’t hurt innocent people.” – Dexter
    • Dexter has either worn his mask so well that Rita can’t tell who he is or he doesn’t actually wear his mask around Rita and the kids and he’s truly a good person around them
  • Episode 7, Circle of Friends – “I’m empty. But I found a way to make it feel less bottomless.” – Dexter. “How?” – Jeremy “Pretend. You pretend the feelings are there for the world and for the people around you. Who knows? Maybe one day they will be.” – Dexter
    • Does Dexter still feel empty and bottomless? Is he still pretending? Or has the pretending made the feelings actually be there for him?
  • Episode 7, Circle of Friends – “I always prided myself on being an outsider, but now I feel the need to connect with someone.”
  • Episode 7, Circle of Friends – “Ever since Harry’s death, I’ve been alone. But now, for the first time, I feel alone.”
  • Episode 8, Shrink Wrap – “Have you ever been close to anybody?” – Dr. Meridian “My foster father. He’s the only one who ever really knew me.” – Dexter
  • Episode 8, Shrink Wrap – “This isn’t supposed to be fun. You think I want to teach you these things? This is the only way I know how to keep you out of an electric chair. This is about survival, Dex.” – Harry
    • One can say that Harry truly believed that, and was just misguided. Another could argue that while Harry truly believed that, making Dexter believe that he was a monster and creating The Code for him was tantamount to child abuse, as he could have tried other ways to channel Dexter’s urges first.
  • Episode 8, Shrink Wrap – “This is a disaster. I chose Rita because she was damaged. If she gets better, I’ll lose her for sure.” – Dexter “I’m ready, Dexter.” – Rita [she takes off her nightie] “Oh.” – Dexter “I don’t know what I’ve been so afraid of. You’re the perfect boyfriend.” – Rita [they passionately kiss] “I want you to spend the night for real.” – Rita “I’m so sorry. I came over here because I thought something was wrong. But tonight’s really not a good not. I’m right in the middle of the case. I’m way too distracted.” – Dexter “Now? It’s so late.” – Rita “That’s all the more reason to get back to work. The clock’s ticking. But I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” – Dexter [kisses Rita, while she looks at him, dumbfounded] “Okay.” – Rita
    • Honestly, other than the fact that he’s a serial killer with intimacy issues, Dexter is totally the perfect boyfriend.
  • Episode 8, Shrink Wrap – “I can’t have sex with Rita. Every time I have sex with a woman, she sees me for what I really am – empty – and then she’s gone. But I don’t want Rita to go, which means I have to deal with this. I can’t kill Meridian yet. I need another therapy session.” – Dexter
  • Episode 8, Shrink Wrap – “Your girlfriend really means something to you. I know that.” – Dr. Meridian “Well, if she means something, why did I run away from her?” – Dexter “For the same reason you work so hard to shut everybody else out. ‘Cause you’re afraid they won’t like what they see.” – Dr. Meridian “Yeah, I think you’re right. How can I change that?” – Dexter “Well, for starters, you accept the fact that we all have a big, bad wolf hiding inside of us, a darkness we don’t want anyone else to see. – Dr. Meridian “Do you?” – Dexter “Of course I do.” – Dr. Meridian “Really?” – Dexter “Mm-hmm.” – Dr. Meridian “And how do you deal with your wolf?” – Dexter “Well, first of all, I accepted it was there. I made friends with it. And now I just let it out for a big meal once in a while.” – Dr. Meridian “Can we get back to the sex thing?” – Dexter “This is all about sex. The reason you avoid sexual intimacy is because you don’t want to surrender control.” – Dr. Meridian “Nah, I’ve surrendered control. It’s not like my girlfriend hasn’t been south of the border.” – Dexter “That’s not what I’m talking about. Intimacy, really letting go face-to face, there’s nothing more difficult than that. The minute you start to accept who you are, you just might feel free enough to share that intimacy together.” – Dr. Meridian
  • Episode 8, Shrink Wrap – [Dexter goes back to Rita’s house and they have sex] “You’re sweet.” – Rita “I am?” – Dexter “Next time, we’ll figure out what to tell the kids so you don’t have to sneak out like this.” – Rita “You want there to be a next time?” – Dexter “And a time after that. Don’t you?” – Rita “No, I mean, yeah. I just… I didn’t freak you out?” – Dexter “Why would you think that? Dexter, there’s nothing you could ever do that would scare me away.” – Rita [Dexter looks relieved]
  • Episode 9, Father Knows Best – “I know the truth, because Harry always told me the truth. He was teaching me principles, a code. He knew what I would become without it. So Joseph Driscoll [Dexter’s biological father] of Dade City must have been mistaken.”
  • Episode 9, Father Knows Best – “I guess I understand why Deb is upset. We both idolized Harry, lived by what he taught us… though Deb never had to be taught not to kill innocent people. That’s why she doesn’t understand why I need to know [about my biological father].”
  • Episode 9, Father Knows Best – Dexter felt some sort of connection to his biological father and the idea of his biological family
  • Episode 9, Father Knows Best – “I had a father. Someone other than Harry that called me son. The thought never even occurred to me. Harry was all I needed. He knew who was good, bad, safe, and dangerous. I built my life on Harry’s Code. I lived by it. But Harry lied. Why would he do that? What else don’t I know? My concrete foundation is turning to shifting sand. Maybe Rudy was right – you never can truly know anyone.”
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – “Why do you always do this?” – Deb “Do what?” – Dexter “You shut me out.” – Deb
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – Rudy and Debra get into an argument about Dexter because Rudy keeps pressing Deb about how Dexter felt about the bloody crime scene
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – Rudy starts to get closer to Dexter at Debra’s expense
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – Rudy brings up the crime scene to Dexter, who brings up his repressed memory, and Rudy makes up his own. He asks about Dexter’s, who doesn’t answer.
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – “It’s funny how life brings people together, huh?” – Rudy
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – Angel meets a woman with a fake hand who painted her nails like the ice truck killer painted the fingernails. Vince tells Angel to ask Rudy about amputee devotees.
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – Rudy comes to the station to pick up his cell phone from Dexter and gives him the weapon used in the bloodbath. Debra’s pissed.
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – “You don’t talk to me, Dex. You’ve spent our entire lives keeping me at a distance. But my boyfriend shows up on your doorstep with a couple of T-bones – “ – Debra “They were porterhouses.” – Dexter “Porterhouses. And you end up tossing beers back in the middle of the night. Dex, you are all the family that I have, and I barely know you. So, if you’re going to eat steaks with somebody after a rough day, if somebody’s going to break through your fucking walls, I think it should be me. I think I have earned it.” – Debra “Deb, it’s hard for me. You know that.” – Dexter
    • Dexter may care about Debra, but he still doesn’t open up to her and show her anything real about himself, lest she see The Dark Passenger
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – Dexter gets emotional and attacks Paul. He ends up driving him back to his motel and shooting him up with heroin. Dexter can’t kill him because he doesn’t fit The Code, but he feels a need to protect Rita and the kids, and he knows Paul will only hurt them again.
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – “You’re part of this family, too.” – Rita
    • Dexter seems like he likes being part of a family more than anything. It’s why he clings to Harry’s memory and why Debra is the most important person in his life. It’s why he cared so much about finding out if Joseph Driscoll was truly his biological father. It’s why he takes care of Rita and the kids as if he were a husband and father. Dexter craves family. A sociopath wouldn’t care about familial connections like he does.
  • Episode 10, Seeing Red – Dexter goes back to the hotel room to see if he can remember his repressed memory and finally remembers his mother being chopped up by a chainsaw
  • Episode 11, Truth Be Told – “I was there. I saw my mother’s death. A buried memory forgotten all these years, it climbed inside me that day. And it’s been with me ever since – my dark passenger.”
  • Episode 11, Truth Be Told – Dexter seems like he cares about Angel’s well-being at the hospital even though he’s distracted, but he leaves immediately after LaGuerta tells them Angel is okay despite the fact that he says “I know I should say.” Doakes calls him out on this and asks him if finding out Angel is going to live makes him feel anything at all. Does Dexter care about Angel’s well-being? Is he distracted or a sociopath?
  • Episode 11, Truth Be Told – “If you hurt her…” – Dexter “Then you’ll hurt me.” – Rudy “Yeah, something like that.” – Dexter
  • Episode 11, Truth Be Told – “No wonder I felt so disconnected my entire life. If I did have emotions, I’d have to feel… this.”
  • Episode 11, Truth Be Told – The way it’s filmed as Dexter realizes Rudy is the Ice Truck Killer and that Debra is with him is chaotic, like Dexter’s world is turning upside down
  • Episode 12, Born Free – Dexter goes everywhere he thinks to look for Debra – he hunts down the shipping container where his mother was killed, only to be found by Doakes, but Debra is not there. He then goes to Rudy’s apartment and searches through everything. He bosses everyone around, insisting everybody take full inventory. He knows Rudy would have left him a message before escaping. He did, a Barbie record player with a Barbie wearing an apron saying “Home Sweet Home” so Dexter assumes it must be his childhood home.
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “I don’t usually work this way. Call it an homage to a fellow traveler.” – Rudy [injects Debra with M-99]
  • Episode 12, Born Free – Dexter goes to his childhood home and remembers his mother, with nails painted all different colors, then remembers a brother, Brian. Rudy/Brian opens the door.
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “I have a brother.” – Dexter “A real brother – none of this foster bullshit. We’re blood brothers through birth and death. Watching mom die – it’s amazing how we survived that, isn’t it? The chainsaw, the flying body parts, the blood?” – Rudy
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “Where’s Deb?” “I waited for you before we got started.” – Rudy [Dexter continuously calls out for Debra] “This is not the way I envisioned our family reunion. Come on, let’s just sit down and have a beer.” – Rudy
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “You’re trapped in a lie, little brother. The same lie they tried forcing me into.” – Rudy “’They’” – Dexter “You know, doctors, therapists, group leaders. What a family they were.” – Rudy “You were never put up for adoption?” – Dexter “Afraid not. You were three, a little bird with a broken wing. First cop on the scene – Harry Morgan. He wanted to make you all better. But me? I could see it in his eyes. All he saw was a fucked-up kid – they all did. So they locked me up.” – Rudy “I didn’t even know you existed.” – Dexter “Of course you didn’t. Harry wanted to keep you all to himself. And while you were being raised by the Morgan family, I only had the memory of a family.” – Rudy “Me.” – Dexter “Mom always told me to look after you. Imagine how I felt when I tracked you down and found out you were exactly like me.” – Rudy “I don’t have to imagine.” – Dexter “I know what you’ve been going through all these years. The isolation, the otherness, a hunger that’s never satisfied. Well, you’re not alone anymore, Dexter. You can be yourself with me – your real, genuine self. Takes the breath away, doesn’t it?” – Rudy [Dexter looks exhilarated. Dexter and Rudy hold hands, then Rudy passes him a knife.] “I think we’re ready for Debra.” [Dexter’s eyes widen in concern. He is clearly not okay with this.]
  • Episode 12, Born Free – [Debra is in a Kill Room like Dexter makes] “I prepared her just the way you like. This time we’ll do it together” – Rudy “Does it have to be Deb?” – Dexter “It’s the only way.” – Rudy “But she’s my…” – Dexter “Fake sister, I know. Tell me something. Your victims – are they all killers?” – Rudy “Yes.” – Dexter “Harry teach you that?” – Rudy “He taught me a code… to survive.” – Dexter “Like an absurd avenger?” – Rudy “That’s not why I kill.” – Dexter “You can be yourself around me. Who am I?” – Rudy “A killer… without reason or regret. You’re free.” – Dexter “You can be that way, too.” – Rudy “What about The Code?” – Dexter “Damn it, Dex, you don’t have a code. Harry did. And he’s been dead ten years. You can’t keep him sitting on your shoulder like Jiminy Fucking Cricket. You need to embrace who you are now.” – Rudy “I don’t know who I am.” – Dexter “Of course you don’t. You’ve been away from your family since you were three. But I’m here now. I can help you. We can take this journey together.” – Rudy [Dexter looks distraught as he looks at Debra] “I can’t. Not Deb.” – Dexter “Oh no, don’t say that.” – Rudy “I’m very… fond of her.” – Dexter “You can’t be a killer and a hero. It doesn’t work that way!” – Rudy [Rudy grabs the knife from Dexter and tries to stab Debra as her eyes open, but Dexter stops him by grabbing his wrist. Dexter beats him up, but the cops come and Rudy runs away]
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “What did I just do? I drove away a brother who accepts me, sees me, for an adopted sister who’d reject me if she knew and a foster father who betrayed me. That’s what it was – a betrayal. The most important single fact about me – I’m not alone – and Harry kept it from me. What do I really owe him after that?”
  • Episode 12, Born Free – Dexter sets it up so it looks like Debra is sleeping on his bed, but really uses Rudy’s prosthetics from his workshop and waits until he comes in and knocks him out. Dexter sets up Rudy’s kill room like Rudy set up his own for his victims to kill him and make it look like a suicide
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “What am I, one of your victims now? You going to collect a little sample of Bynie’s blood for your slide collection?” – Rudy “No, you’re not a trophy. But you need to be put down.” – Dexter “Why? Because of your code?” – Rudy “And the safety of my sister.” – Dexter “She’s not your real sister. She’s a stranger to you, and she’ll always be one. I tried to help you by killing her.” – Rudy “I know that! You should know this isn’t easy for me. You’ve done more to deserve my knife than anyone. [Dexter puts his forehead against Rudy’s and cries] You’re the only one I’ve wanted to set free.” – Dexter “You’re the one that needs setting free, little brother. Your life is a lie. You’ll never be what you — ” – Rudy [Dexter slashes his throat] “Sorry. I can’t hear anymore. ‘Cause you’re right.” – Dexter [Dexter adjusts the table so it’s upside down and Rudy’s blood is leaving his body then sits in the corner and weeps
  • Episode 12, Born Free – There’s a stigmata of hesitation in the stroke, which makes them think it was a clear suicide… but it was Dexter’s slight hesitation in killing his brother
    • Like I said earlier, Dexter craves family. And Brian understood him like nobody else. So while he was determined to kill Brian so Debra would be safe, it was difficult for him to do.
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “Are you alright?” – Rita “Uh, yeah… No… I’ve been through a lot lately. I could use a little more time with you and the kids.” – Dexter
  • Episode 12, Born Free – “The reality is, there’s nobody left alive who can handle my truth. Doakes always sensed I was hiding something. Now he knows. My devil danced with his demon, and the fiddler’s tune is far from over. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like for everything inside me that’s denied and unknown to be revealed. But I’ll never know. I live my life in hiding. My survival depends on it. Dearly damaged Debra – she’s here to face what’s left of the monster, spit on his carcass, mourn him. She’s in hiding now, too. Harry’s daughter will be damned if she lets anyone see what’s she’s suffering inside. That’s her tragedy. My tragedy is that I killed the one person I didn’t have to hide from. And I’m the only one who mourns him. Everyone else would probably thank me if they knew I was the one who drained him of his life. In fact, deep down, I’m pretty sure they’d appreciate a lot of my work. This is what it must feel like to walk in full sunlight, my darkness revealed, my shadow-self embraced. Yeah, they see me. I’m one of them… in their darkest dreams.”

Season 2

  • Lalala

Season 3

  • Lalala

Season 4

  • lalala

Season 5

  • lalala

Season 6

  • lalala

Season 7

  • Episode 7, Chemistry – “She isn’t drawn to my darkness like Lila, or blind to it like Rita, and she doesn’t need it like Lumen. She accepts both sides of me – the whole Dexter. So why am I walking away from this? Because when some chemicals mix, they combust and explode.”
  • Episode 8, Argentina – “When I was younger, somebody told me who I was. And I pretty much took his word for it. If I’d taken the time to decide for myself, I would have turned out different.” – Dexter “Different how?” – Astor “I don’t really know, but I kind of wish I did.” – Dexter
    • VERY POIGNANT!!! Even Dexter knows he would be different without Harry’s Code at this point. He even believes he may not even be the serial killer he is today!

Season 8

  • Lalala

Notes

  • Dexter is quite different in the Pilot than he is in the rest of the series. In the Pilot, he is almost purely sociopathic, but by Episode 2, they tone that down quite a bit.
  • He gets so excited with the Ice Truck Killer’s clues that he has left him. He’s not queasy that this serial killer has picked him. He knows he’s safe from him. He’s thrilled, like a kid in a candy shop. If he had no signs of sociopathy in Season 1, he would share his evidence with the police – like how he calls Debra in to arrest Oliver Saxon in Season 8. However, he keeps it to himself, because it’s a puzzle left just for him. There are some signs he evolves in late Season 1, but he’s only begun his long moral development. Dexter is at his most primal in Season 1, and doesn’t evolve all that much until Season 4, though he thinks he hasn’t.
  • Dr. Vogel is a doctor who studies psychopaths… why didn’t she question the fact that Dexter had real emotional bonds with Harry and Debra? He was also truly concerned about Doris when she was sick. (I mean, he killed a dog to fix the problem, but he was really worried about her nonetheless.) At the very least, these things should have warranted her meeting him in person. Maybe his urges to kill could have been controlled with therapy and other activities. Dexter may have always been a bit dark. I believe he still carries his darkness with him in the end. But without Harry’s Code that she helped create without meeting him or seeing if he was a lost cause, how could she know it was the only way for him? She’s completely irresponsible. What she and Harry did is tantamount to child abuse.

Conclusion

Dexter has had a dark side throughout all of his life and continues to have one; however, so much light has been brought to his life that the darkness has diminished. Instead of the devolution, he could have gone through, he has a moral evolution.

If Dexter was the perfect psychopath, as Dr. Vogel postulates, and felt no remorse, he would have indeed run off to Argentina with Hannah and Harrison. It was because he felt true remorse that he knew he had to save the last two people he loved most in life from himself – like he didn’t do with Debra, his lifestyle inadvertently causing her death – or more ironically, the fact that he gave up his lifestyle causing her death.

The only thing Dexter knew he could do to not hurt anybody else was to leave Miami – faking his death, so Dexter Morgan could never return – and move to an isolated cabin, living somewhere he had minimal contact with the outside world and would never be able to inadvertently or intentionally hurt anybody again. These aren’t the actions of a perfect psychopath with no compunction. These are the actions of a deeply repentant man who is overhauling his life and identity so he doesn’t hurt an innocent again.

Dexter still carries his darkness, and always will, or he wouldn’t be forced to exist in isolation. It’s a bleak and miserable ending for him, but ultimately, it’s a moral evolution of a man who always believed he had no morals – just Harry’s Code to follow.


I’ll keep adding to this as I add things. I haven’t really gotten to the part of comparing Dexter to a sociopath yet because I haven’t typed up citations from the main book I’m using and don’t have all the quotes from Dexter written down. That will be really interesting. Also, some of this stuff may not even matter, but I’m going to comment on it anyways in case I want it in my essay in the end. I’m sure my thesis, and therefore, probably the whole intro and conclusion will change with the more I write. So if you’re interested, I’ll keep posting this on my Twitter as I add new things, and you can check it out!

Also, I haven’t used Grammarly on this yet, so please do not judge any grammar mistakes. (I think it’s fine so far, but that will NOT last.) Also, I sometimes fully believe Grammarly is incorrect and I’m right. It doesn’t like my comma usage. So I’ll probably stick to my “incorrect” comma usage that my English college professors generally thought was great. Despite that, Grammarly is usually totally right, and I’m wrong, so it will fix a lot of the problems.


Also, clearly the “lalalas” are THE most important parts of my essay.

One thought on “VERY ROUGH SUPER EARLY BEGINNING of Dexter Essay

  1. Re “psychopaths”…

    It’s good to see that you, Sunshine, have a more accurate understanding of psychopaths. Unlike of what Hollywood flicks and the entertainment industry at large have presented about psychopaths which is a deliberately erroneous picture of psychopaths which keeps the public misinformed about what and who psychopaths really are (eg most psychopaths are not overtly violent).

    Why is it done deliberately? Well…

    The most vital urgent and DEEP understanding everyone needs to gain about psychopaths is that a network of manipulating psychopaths ARE governing big businesses (eg official medicine), nations and the world (the evidence is irrefutable and which is most OBVIOUS with the Covid Scamdemic. But that’s only ONE part of the equation that makes up the destructive human condition.

    It is NOT just a matter of “draining the swamp” at the top and we’re back to our former (sick) “normal.”

    The true, WHOLE, but “politically inconvenient” and “culturally forbidden” reality is more encompassing because “the swamp that needs draining” on a psychological and behavioral level is over 90% of people anywhere. Carefully check out “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room –The Holocaustal Covid-19 Coronavirus Madness: A Sociological Perspective & Historical Assessment Of The Covid “Phenomenon”” at https://www.rolf-hefti.com/covid-19-coronavirus.html

    Without a proper understanding, and full acknowledgment, of the true WHOLE problem and reality, no real constructive LASTING change is possible for humanity.

    Then … SPREAD THOSE DEEP TRUTHS FAR AND WIDE… and DO the RIGHT THING.

    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” — George Orwell

    Like

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