“Tonight’s the night,” Dexter Morgan always says as he takes his dark passenger out into the night to kill again. It’s basically his mantra. A blood spatter analyst with Miami Metro Police Homicide Department has a secret that would sicken many. He’s addicted to killing.
Raised by adoptive parents, Dexter’s mother was murdered with baby Dexter in her arms. The police officer at the scene saw young Dexter and took him into his home and made him part of his family to live with his biological daughter Debra Morgan. Dexter’s father Harry noticed Dexter’s killing addiction and taught him a code. A code Dexter would abide by from then on. Dexter was trained to only kill murderers who had slipped through the cracks of the justice system. Harry taught Dexter how to use his evil for good and how not to get caught. Dexter mastered this art.
He uses his resources at the police station to help him in finding these should be convicts and putting them to justice. He searches for them. He finds them. And he brutally murders them. He dismembers these rapists and murderers and disposes of them in the ocean with his boat. Dexter’s closest confidante is Debra but she has no idea what her brother is capable of. Dexter also has a son and a significant other. The entry of a son in Dexter’s life has not stopped him from killing but has given him doubts for the first time.
A vigilante is nothing new. The concept has been debated before. However, Dexter’s situation differs from most. He doesn’t kill purely because of morality, but possibly more so because of his hunger for killing. Not to under appreciate Dexter’s acts, because he does take on only the most disturbing of criminals, but it almost makes the ends less justified by the means.
The question of dirty hands comes into debate. Dexter takes scum off the streets, scum that typically would continue to hurt women and children. But he is doing it partly out of a thirst for cold blooded murder.
The show makes it easy to root for Dexter. He is unconditionally loving of those extremely close to him. His wife’s children from a previous relationship included. Dexter always takes care of his sister and loves his son more than anything. Nevertheless, the man is vicious killer who has gone unnoticed for years.
What makes the show interesting is that they elect a theme to explore in each season. Themes that have been explored include family, religion, responsibility and addiction. What this allows the viewer to do is evaluate Dexter’s habit in many different lights. How does it affect his relationship with his family? How does it make him look in the eyes of God? Is it an impulse that he must rehab like a drug addict? All these dynamics give us much insight on whether or not we can justify what Dexter does.
That is the million dollar question: is what Dexter does kind of okay?
There are many different ways to look at it. One could say what Dexter does is what any loving parent wants to do: protect their children from all the evil in the world. On the other hand you could say he sets maybe the worst example ever for a child.
Does Dexter’s habit lose moral standing because of his role as a father? a religious man? an addict?