The circumstances were thus that we watched “Dexter” four nights in a row, it were the first eight episodes of the second series. “Dexter” started in 2006 and is still running (season 6). I am no fond of still running series, nor of series with many seasons, but a friend highly recommended “Dexter” and the series actually get a 9.3 on IMdB. We usually watch two episodes a week, but things were different during holidays.
“Dexter” is mainly about Dexter Morgan, a man in his thirties somewhere who watched his mother being brutally slaughtered when he was a child, afterwards spending three days in the container in the blood of his mother before he was found. This experience made that Dexter has unsurpressable urges to kill. Dexter’s fosterfather became the policeman who found him, Harry Morgan, who raised Dexter together with his real daughter Debra Morgan. Since Harry soon realised Dexter’s anomaly, he taught him a “code” and a means to deal with the presure. The outlet became people who deserved to die and who for one reason or another, could not be gotten to jail by the police. The “code”, simply stated, means that Dexter has to be 100% sure that his kill is righteous and that he has to perform his deeds in a way that he will not get caught. So, the person we follow in the series is a serial killer, all the rest we learn from the many flashbacks. “Dexter” is basically a “soap”, or perhaps what some people call “television drama” which is something else than a “soap”. We follow Dexter, who is his own voiceover in which we hear his thoughts (in the second series he calls this voiceover the “voices in his head”). We learn more about the man, his past, what he does and why and how he does it (the series are quite explicitly bloody at times). There is a lot of dark humour, especially coming from Dexter’s dual nature. Of course he is not open about his “dark side” so in general he becomes this quiet, strange fellow. He pretends to be normal, so he has a job at the police station as “blood splatter patterns” forensic expert, being a colleague of his dirty mouthed sister who followed her father’s steps and became a police woman. Dexter even found the perfect girlfriend, Rita. Rita has a husband who used to beat her up and ended in jail. Damaged as she is, she feels at ease with Dexter who does not force himself on her and on his own side is happy that Rita is not after the usual couples things such as sex and living together, since he tends to “freak out” the women he has sex with due to his total lack of emotion and feelings.
Like I said “Dexter” is a soap, meaning that we learn more and more about the people in it and characters develop in the course of time. Dexter’s sister Deb tries to portray herself as a strong and independent woman and does this with a dirty mouth and the use of sexuality. Actually she is an insecure young woman (especially after ‘that thing’ that happened to her in the first series), looking for a father figure who cannot get over the idea that her own father had more attention for Dexter and the fact that she does not really know Dexter. Dexter merely tries to protect Deb by not letting her into his life, as he does with anybody else, but of course, Debra does not really understand why.
Then we have Rita, mother of two kids who grow to love Dexter. Time and time again she tells Dexter that nothing will scare her away, but when her affection for him grows from being fond to love, she grows closer to him, but also more possessive. Then Rita’s ex comes out of jail and the situation becomes more complicated. Eventually trying to make the puzzle called Dexter in her mind, Rita convinces herself that Dexter is a drug addict like her soon-to-be ex and sends him to AA. Dexter first holds off, but eventually goes and meets the super sexy Lila who appears to be able to “look behind the mask” without scaring away. But neither to Lila Dexter gives away everything.
At the police station where Dexter works, there are some characters that do not (yet) develop, such as colleague forensic Vince, but also characters that seem to change three times in every episode, such as head of office Maria LaGuerta. Then there is (James) Doaks who immediately senses that there is something wrong with Dexter, something that becomes his obsession.
“Dexter” has a long-running storyline and many short stories. The long story is of course the story of Dexter, a serial killer trying to perform perfect crimes and the way he tries to combine that with ‘real life’, a ‘real life’ that sometimes seems more desirable than “living in the shadows”. So many murders cannot go unnoticed, so at some point Dexter becomes hunted by his own department. Well done about the series is that Dexter is so completely different from what a person should be, his struggles in the ‘real live’ make him completely identifiable for the viewer (at least, I think so). The way he manages to do his “work” next to his occupation and girlfriends, his attempts to fit in, his moments of weakness in which he wants to tell everything to someone while realising that that will not be a sollution. Dexter truely is the anti-hero of the series.
There numerous of shorter stories spread over one or more episodes. Debs boyfriends, cases the bureau investigates, the cases of Paul (Rita’s ex) and Lila, Doaks obsession with nailing Dexter, LaGuerta’s way to reach the top.
After one-two-thirds series I can say that “Dexter” indeed is a fine piece of modern series-making, but 9.3 is way too high. At an emotional level the rating is perhaps not that strange, but when you look at the writing of the script, there are really highs and lows. FBI agent Lundy as a character is almost as good as Dale Cooper, there are great jokes in the series, but there are strange misses like Doaks finding Dexter at an AA meeting thinking that he found the ‘dark secret’, the highlight of the first series (the one of the “Ice Truck Killer”) is worked out pourly, especially at the end, the episodes in which Dexter appears to have feelings afterall are not always very strong, Dexter’s lies are often pretty poor. Generally speaking I think that the series are good enough to keep watching for some time more, but I do not know if I will make it to the sixth (or whenever the plug is pulled) series. There are people claiming that the series get better and better, so who knows. As of now, I can say that the second series definately are not better than the first. They are not bad, but not better than the first series. At the moment I could easily keep on watching since I love the character of Lila and it looks like some real tension (until now I found the series not really tense/thrillerish) is coming.