Sunday, August 4, 2013

Born In Blood, Die In Blood? Baby 'Dexter' Better Not Be Morgan's Demise...

This is the Dexter piece I hoped I'd never have to write. It is the one in which I expose my theory that the series ends with Dexter Morgan himself (Michael C. Hall) on the table, wrapped in Saran wrap, surrounded by photos of his victims. As the camera blinks into focus and pans the walls to see the likes of Mark Pellegrino, John Lithgow, Jimmy Smits, Colin Hanks, and all of the killers in between, we'd have to come to terms with the fact that Dexter was not only caught but bested. I honestly hoped that would never happen-- nor did I have real belief it even could-- until now.

Dexter's eighth and final season has been doing a great job of bringing the show full-circle, thematically, to where we met the killer of killers in season one. The questions of nature versus nurture in making Dexter the killer he is today have been given renewed energy by introducing the fact that the code came not from Dexter's adoptive father but a psychologist-- a woman who, had she just offered Dexter straight therapy instead, could have seen his urges as a compulsion in need of quelling, like any addiction, not of feeding in small, specific dosages. 

The questions of whether or not Dexter is a true sociopath inevitably fall into much of the same discussion. Clearly Dr. Vogel (Charlotte Rampling) thought he was back when he was a teenager. But the sick truth was that she never met him then, let alone attempted to treat him in person. If she had, rather than relied on hearsay and the emotions of Harry (James Remar), she would have come to know what we do: that Dexter has the capable to feel, just not as openly or willingly as most of us. Undoubtedly some of that came from the trauma of his childhood, but even more must have come from the fact that he believed he was a monster because he was told he was: he was told he needed a "code" to get through life. 

I feel the show has done a phenomenal job over the past few years of showing the audience why Dexter is not a true sociopath-- from giving the young man he met in season one who he feared might be on his same murderous path a chance to prove him wrong before immediately killing him, to seeking out real connection-- from Miguel Prado (Smits) to Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski). Dexter has yearned to have relationships, even if they are untraditional. True sociopaths only mimic relationships to skate by under the radar in life; they don't actually care if those around them get hurt. Dexter has proven that time and again to not be true of him-- whether the person who is hurting is his sister or his step-kids or himself.

Of course, none of these connections Dexter made have ended up well, but that is not for lack of trying on his part. It's a side effect of his extracurricular; there is bound to be some collateral damage in some cases, and in others, the implosion just proves how human he actually is: he wants things to work more than they really do. He let thinks drag on longer than they should have with everyone from his brother to Prado to the Trinity Killer (Lithgow) because he was deeply searching for the connection and most importantly, to make sense of it. But with the addition of Zach Hamilton (Sam Underwood), Dexter seems to have found that one true connection that will be Dexter's actual demise.

Zach seems to represent an amalgamation of many of the chances Dexter has taken in the past and ultimately many of the mistakes. He is that young man with the pocket switchblade Dexter gave a second chance to in season one; he is that confidante and apprentice he took on in Prado in season three; he is even the Travis Marshall to Dexter's James Gellar (Edward James Olmos). He represents the kid Dexter once was-- and the one Harrison could become-- and it sadly appears like Dexter hasn't learned from his history so he's bound to repeat the same mistakes.

Personally I fear Zach is a true sociopath where Dexter is not. So I think that Dexter will have a harder time getting this savvy, independent kid to abide by a code he may cockily think he doesn't need. He already knows how to manipulate situations, how to get information out of people that will help him make a cleaner kill the next time. I would argue that his plea about killing his dad to save his mom was his way of tapping into what he knew would get to Dexter to make him think twice about killing him. Zach may be the student for a little while, but soon he may literally overtake the teacher-- whether it's because he doesn't want to be controlled or because he comes to realize that Dexter hasn't actually fallen in line with the code as a perfect little soldier for all of this time.

I would be so sad for the legacy that should be Dexter Morgan if he ends up Zach's first kill by the code. I would be equally as sad if Dexter's teaching moments with Zach distracted him from a bigger threat lurking out there, possibly taunting and manipulating them both. Dexter's greatest downfall has been the emotions that get in his way, and coming to care for Zach as a student, a little brother, or a surrogate son is bound to cloud his judgement. If anything is going to cloud his judgement, it should be Hannah, his one true love!

Whether Zach turns out to be a true sociopath or not (and it's much more tragic if he, like Dexter, is not), it would be a true moment of character growth for Dexter to have to recognize and acknowledge how he is limiting and labeling Zach in a way that was done to him and therefore defining everything about him and what his life will be. What could have Dexter have been if he had been treated instead of "managed" as a young man? What can Zach be? If Zach kills Dexter, he'll never get the chance to know. Dexter may realize at the exact second that it's too late that the lessons he really should have been passing down were about not allowing others to tell you what you are.

Of course moreover and on a more personal level, I would just be sad for Dexter if he unraveled fully-- fatally. The return of Hannah, brief and poisonous as it was here, made me hope that once again there was something better out there for him. Not a traditional "happily ever after" but a version of it that at least forces him to finally acknowledge he is capable of love; he loves her; and he wants more from his life than just carrying out this code like he's some sort of soldier in a never-ending war.

If I had my way, the show would end with Dexter finally realizing he is just human after all. No one wants to watch a show about a regular man anymore (recent pilot seasons have proven that), so this would get the character to a place of internal healing that is also a completely natural stopping point for the show. But before he gets there, I want him to put Dr. Vogel on his table as retribution for killing his youth, his innocence, his chance to have been human all along. I want him to push through his longing for a maternal figure to see that he was basically just a lab rat in a weird social experiment for her and that Harry didn't kill himself because of what Dexter was but because of what Dr. Vogel convinced him to make Dexter. Who would've thought this show would be about Dexter healing? And through him, so do we all.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I don't want him to die that is all i know.