Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes...

My new favorite show is Dexter. I know after such a long time away (and really, I don't even have a good excuse!), I should be delivering something much more eloquent and thought-provoking, but honestly: I've got nothin.' After watching the complete second season back-to-back in only a few days, though I admit the "I am Jack's inappropriate affect"-esque voice over does grate on me, I have really never felt more in tune with a character.

I admit when Showtime first premiered Dexter, I was not immediately sold. I didn't realize the complexity of the character (though I should have guessed, considering some of their other programming), and assumed it would be quite vanilla-- just some forensics investigator who doesn't trust the justice system for which he works, so he takes matters into his own hands to get criminals off the streets. And to a degree, that is true. But there is much more to Dexter Morgan than just the seeming-vigilante that meets the eye.

Whether you believe it was things in Dexter's childhood (sitting in his mother's blood, gripping tight to his brother, perhaps?) or something innate that was just born when he was that makes him the person he is probably gets determined by whether you believe in nature versus nurture in general. Are we destined to be violent criminals or are we made that way, and if we know certain facets of our personalities-- of our psyches-- can we hold them at bay, ultimately becoming someone different? What's fascinating to me is to watch him, already at terms with who he is and what he does, still struggle to make sense of the events (and the people) of his past. He doesn't come out and ask the expositional "Why me; why am I like this?" that many viewers were undoubtedly wondering at the start of the series, but the questioning is still in the little things he does-- like a tick, really.

As meticulous as he is about keeping his crime scenes evidence-free, he is just as compulsively cautious about appearing like any "normal" guy to his friends, girlfriends (save for one who was even nuttier than him!), and co-workers. He does not fit the stereotypical profile of a serial killer; he does not harbor that desire to get caught that pops up with taunting letters to the authorities or cryptic comments to those in his inner circle. Quite the opposite, he is obsessive about covering his tracks and allowing himself the ability to continue his work, even when it means pointing the finger at someone completely removed from his crimes. Therefore, it will be extremely interesting to watch Dexter unravel in the upcoming episodes, when he begins to act on impulse and break his own pattern of kills. It is ensured that as he escalates, he will grow sloppier (as of which we have already seen hints in season two), and Dexter the series will have to adapt as Dexter the man begins to take a new course.

In gearing up for season three, which I have decided to start recapping here (along with 30 Rock, which is hands down my favorite comedy show), I came across a short quiz online. Basically I was asked to look at a few inkblots (something to which I was no stranger as a child, being constantly tested in nursery and pre-school to see if I had what it took to be in the "gifted" program in elementary) and write one or two lines about what I saw and then rate how it made me feel on a 1-10 scale of "sad to happy." When it was all said and done, my results said: "Your answers indicate that you are the kind of person who doesn't generally have violent thoughts, but you're only young; there's still time." Well, duh.

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