Sunday, October 7, 2012

'Dexter' In Recovery?...

It's no secret that the aspect of Dexter by which I have always been most intrigued is the psychology that makes up his "dark passenger." In the early years, I wondered how much of it was nature and how much was nurture; how much the urges came from what Dexter (Michael C. Hall) witnessed as a baby and how much was a chemical imbalance in his brain; how they could have dissipated with therapy or psychiatric meds-- or even if they could have dissipated. Once I accepted Dexter for who he was, though, I found I didn't need to know the whys of his behavior; I was just happy to see him control himself as well as he did. But apparently for Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), the kind of control his "code" has allowed is not enough.

I see her point. She's new to this side of Dexter and therefore reacting in a way much of the audience did in season one. For us to experience the ride with her years later, after having been on his side and saw all the good he did-- even if just for himself-- it's a refreshing twist on their usual dynamic. And I have to admit, her makeshift rehab proposal, if performed correctly, could be just the thing to treat Dexter. But if she's looking for a cure, she's never going to find one. Addicts are addicts for life. They can learn to control their urges; they can learn to refuse to give into the bad behavior; but they will always be tested and always be tempted. And her idea of playing warden in his rehab is not truly rehab but simply lockdown.

Debra is stepping in to play mom to Dexter in a way that's weird because of her romantic feelings for him at the end of last season (though, I assume those have disappeared now that she knows what he really is) but also is weird because of the way he lost his own mom. Her answer is to lock him in her apartment, watch him like a hawk, and stay glued to his side when out at work. That isn't treating the behavior or the cause of it; it's simply eliminating abilities to act on it, and in the end, all that will do is cause more anger, resentment, and fuel to his fire. I mean, he almost broke his code to prematurely kill Louis (Josh Cooke) because of how twisted she had his emotions. What makes him so good at what he does is just how deeply he understands his victims' pathologies: because he sees himself in them. She's trying, but it's clear she doesn't know what she's doing. Confinement is not the answer; he should never shut off even a tiny part of his "lizard brain."

Still, she has done something fascinating in basically agreeing to be his sponsor. She may not be adequately trained to deal with him on a therapeutic level, but simply having someone to call to talk through his urges may help him get through the intense moments without acting on them. Can he detox and then learn to "just say no" the next time he recognizes the signs? Sure. The more we all get to know our own chemical makeups, the more we know when we are reacting a certain way based on a hormone spike or something. Dexter wouldn't be changing who he is; he would just be agreeing to shut the door on a part of himself. He would change his behavior. Some people might say he would be denying a deep truth about himself (for the record, I would be one of those people), so the real question here should be not if Dexter can change but if he should.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Love, love, love this review. Such a great take!
To respond to your conclusion: morally, I want to say that Dexter should change because the whole killing people thing is wrong, but I don't think him stopping will ultimately turn him into a better person and that's really the goal. If he doesn't already have the nice-person social bug in him, he will never get it- and he seems to be doing just fine as a co-worker, father, brother without it.
But the thing is, I do want Deb to be successful with him because of how heartbroken she is and how determined she is. I would hate to see her fail- I think that would ruin her.