02 May 2008

skewed standards

I started watching Dexter this week on surfthechannel.com.

It's weird what becomes, well, fictionally acceptable after a point.

The pilot--especially the opening sequence--was downright disturbing; but it's the perfect introduction to Dexter Morgan. The voice-over tells us what he's about, explains what he's doing and why he's doing it, which is: stalking serial killers to satisfy his own need to kill people.

Because Dexter has a code ingrained in him by a terribly understanding step-father Harry--a police officer who discovered his adopted son's urges at a very young age. Oh, and we know that Harry rescued Dexter from a gruesome crime scene at the age of four, a crime that clearly has had its effects on Dexter's psyche. In order to quell these urges, Harry teaches Dexter to hunt and kill animals, to pretend emotions, and eventually how to spot other serial killers and how to cover his tracks when Dexter kills them.

It's important to note that Harry is the only person who knows what Dexter is. His foster mother and sister have no idea.

Flash forward to the present. Dexter and his step-sister work for the Miami Dade Police Department, Dexter specialising in forensic blood spatter. Wee.

He's really an excellent antihero. The first episode's opening is repellent and typical--Dexter hunts down, drugs, butchers, and disposes of a serial killer of young boys--but the remainder of the pilot is a steady inward reeling in which I just become very attached to Dexter.

Dexter does not consider himself capable of "love," as such, but he does have intense loyalty to the good people around him. He has a girlfriend, Rita, and her two children by an abusive ex-husband. In another voice-over, he admits that part of the draw to Rita is her alike damaged nature and their shared dream of normalcy. And he is, in his own words, "very fond of" his step-sister Deb. I think it's these few human connections, and the bewildering moments of emotional disconnect, that make Dexter the most endearing sociopath ever.

Oh, and he's always eating. All the time. Gorey crime scene--and--a sandwich!

I've also been turning over in my head the similarity between Dexter and Lestat circa Memnoch the Devil. Both hunt down and murder other murderers to satisfy something inside them--not really as an act of justice, though an outside observer could make that judgment call, but because they need to kill somebody, and it may as well be somebody wicked. And they both have personal connections that make them more human, give them a chance to show a better side.

It's another reason for being okay with Dexter--prior experience in being attached to characters that are, well, not exactly all wrong, but definitely not right.

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