Dexter’s Top 5 “Victims”
Dexter Morgan is an intriguing example of a television character; he’s one of the few serial killers on television we actually root for. In a world where Horatio, Gibbs, and Hotchner are always outwitting and bringing down all manner of killers, it’s refreshing to find one who is not only a sympathetic character, but a likeable one. As an anti-hero, Dexter certainly operates outside of the law, with a Code set down by his cop father to keep him out of jail. What’s rule #1 of the Code?
Don’t get caught.
After six seasons, Dexter has certainly been keeping true to that rule, while racking up an impressive kill-count of rapists, pedophile’s, serial killers, psychopaths, and everything in between that managed to escape the justice system- but not without some collateral. Death follows our dearly demented, darkly dreaming and devoted Dexter everywhere he goes, and some victims have weighed more heavily on him than others.
There are plenty of spoilers up to season five below- so for those of you not caught up, now would be a good time to avert your eyes.
Consider yourself warned.
1) Biran Moser (spending most of the first season under the pseudonym Rudy) was a prosthetic technician at the hospital, who introduced himself to Dexter and his sister, Deborah, creating prosthetic limbs for the most recent victim of the Ice Truck Killer- a security guard who was kidnapped and had most of his leg and left hand amputated to be left as morbid messages to Dexter and the Miami PD. Rudy quickly romanced his way into Deb’s heart, and kidnapped her with the intent of letting Dexter kill her because, as Dexter found out, Rudy was actually Brian Moser; Dexter’s brother. Dexter’s compulsion to kill was brought about by a brutal incident where he and his brother were left in a shipping container where their mother was horrifically killed with a chainsaw. While Dexter was raised by Harry Morgan, a cop who instilled the Code within him to protect and guide him, Brian was put in a psych ward. But Dexter proved that family runs deeper than blood, fought Brian off, and freed Deb. Later, Dexter set a trap for Brian, and slew him in the manner he had killed his previous victims; severing the jugular and bleeding the bodies dry, making it look like the Ice Truck Killer had ended his life rather than be taken down by the police. Dexter learned, essentially, what he could have become from his experiences with Brian, and just how lucky he was that Harry pulled him out of the shipping container. But he did not brush off Brian’s death easily; it prevented him from killing again for quite some time, and weighed heavily on his conscience. Later in the series, Brian returns as an inward manifestation of Dexter’s “dark passenger”, as a foil to Harry’s role as his conscience.
2) Sgt. James Doakes was the only police officer in Miami who got a “bad vibe” off of Dexter, which lead him to constantly berate, insult, and taunt Dexter any chance he got. When Dexter’s brother, Brian, was killed, Doakes began delving into the past of dearly demented Dexter, and followed him constantly. Dexter was able to temporarily throw him off by posing as a recovering drug addict, which also introduced Dexter to Lila, his sponsor. When Doakes realized Dexter’s façade, he once again came after him, forcing Dexter to go to the lieutenant of the Miami Police Force. With Doakes temporarily at bay, Dexter sought a more permanent solution, purposefully falsifying evidence that lead to Doakes detaining an innocent man. After another altercation exacerbated by Dexter, Doakes is thrown off the police force, which gives him ample time and motivation to break into Dexter’s house and retrieve a collection of blood slides taken from every one of Dexter’s victims. This was the beginning of the end for Doakes, as Dexter was able to pin the murders on him, and hold him prisoner in a cabin while he attempted to plan out his next course of action- only for Lila to come along, and kill Doakes in an attempt to cover Dexter’s tracks. Doakes’ death and apparent guilt for a myriad of murders was a heavy blow to the Miami PD, and the first time Dexter could be considered “responsible” for an innocent man’s death, something difficult for him to reconcile with The Code.
3) Rita started out as a way for Dexter to keep his “cover” as a normal, fully functioning human being, by pretending to be interested in the dating game- in fact, Dexter specifically chose Rita because of her complicated past, which made her hesitant to enter a physical relationship; this was perfect for Dexter, because relationships tended to go south when they… went south. Throughout the seasons, we see Rita and her kids rapidly become an important part of his life, evolving from simply a way to blend in to a group of people he genuinely cares for. Rita is a driving force for conflict in Dexter, holding him accountable for the dizzying amount of lies he tells to cover his tracks, and teaching him a great deal about human relationships and interaction, something that was very foreign and alien to Dexter. The monologue spoken by Dexter during his wedding with Rita (who also happened to be pregnant with his son) you can hear him reflecting on the change in his character caused by the influence of Rita. Their life together, however, is cut horrifically short by the “Trinity Killer”, a serial killer whom Dexter was desperately trying to learn from, wanting to protect his family and keep his cover as effortlessly as it seemed Trinity was able to. Dexter realizes far too late how different Trinity and himself were, that while Trinity was a destructive tyrant to his family, Dexter was a beloved member of the family. Rita is slain by the Trinity killer in the fashion of his other victims, leaving Dexter to find his son lying in a pool of his mother’s blood, much as he himself was many years ago.
4) The Prado family was rather famous around Miami: Oscar Prado was an active member of his community, Ramon Prado was a county Sherriff, and Miguel Prado was a high-profile District Attorney. Oscar Prado is encountered by Dexter in the den of a drug dealer named “Freebo”, Oscar attacks Dexter, who kills Oscar in self-defense. This was the first time Dexter had killed someone without being sure of their guilt, and it weighed heavily on his conscience, especially considering the next day he was called to his own crime scene. Dexter expertly uses the blood spatter on the walls to recount the events of the previous night, but also meets Miguel Prado for the first time. Dexter gives his condolences to Miguel, and continues his hunt for Freebo. Unbeknownst to Dexter, Miguel was also looking to take the law into his own hands, and stumbles across Dexter just after he had slain Freebo. Pretending to have been investigating a lead, then acting out of self defense, Dexter is embraced by Miguel for avenging his brother, and a bond is formed between them. Miguel and Dexter form a friendship, with Miguel becoming increasingly interested in going after another criminal. Eventually, Dexter hesitantly decides to train Miguel in the Code of Harry, and they kill an enforcer for a gambling ring. Dexter feels relief at finding a friend whom he can truly confide in, and whom accepts his true self. Quickly, however, Dexter realizes (much like his father) that he has created a monster when Miguel kills a lawyer who freed a man Miguel had wrongfully convicted. When Dexter confronts Miguel, he threatens Rita and her kids, which forces Dexter to quickly enact a plan to kill Miguel.
5) Harry Morgan; Dexter’s adoptive father, mentor, and practically Dexter’s God. Harry realized early on that Dexter was a sociopath, and saw a chance to turn him from a serial killer into a force of justice against those who escape the system. Harry gave Dexter the Code, taught him how cops think, how to dispose of evidence, and a myriad of mixed-martial arts to silently incapacitate his victims. Without Harry, Dexter would have been taken down long ago, and Harry seemed genuinely proud of his son when he was able to feign normality and blend into the populace. But the reality of what Harry turned Dexter in to was horrifying. When his father walked in on Dexter dismantling a body to be dumped into the ocean, saw the blood spattered plastic sheeting covering every surface, the saws, knives, and other implements Dexter had been trained how to use, and his son covered in gore with a morbid smile on his face was too much for Harry to handle, which lead to him committing suicide ten years prior to the start of the series. While he is dead, that doesn’t stop him from advising Dexter: whenever he finds himself in a situation where he is unsure which course of action to take, he reflects on the lessons taught to him by Harry, and later, Dexter carries out entire conversations with a dream-like projection of Harry, born from Dexter’s less-than healthy mind.
Dexter is a remarkably complex character, and one of the best examples of a “dynamic” character in television today. While many characters in the 250+ channels of nothing are static from week-to-week, only the situations they find themselves in changing, Dexter’s character is constantly evolving, learning, and growing.