Does watching the delightfully debauched dealings of a demented psychopath sound appealing? No? Then you haven’t watched the dark and deadly exploits of Dexter, star and namesake of Showtime’s hit drama.
Dexter Morgan (Michael C Hall, Six Feet Under) is a smart, charismatic blood splatter analyst who works for the Miami Police Department alongside his adoptive cop sister Deb. He has a house on the shore, a boat, great job and a girlfriend. You would think that would be enough for anyone. Wrong, for poor old Dexter has a compulsion – he needs to kill. This is nothing new for Dexter, he’s been suppressing his darker side since he was a child, but now he has a wonderful outlet for his needs. If Dexter had been allowed to carry on as he had begun as a child he’d be in prison by now (at the very least). But thankfully he was adopted by Harry, a cop who saw his compulsions early on and taught him to restrain it. That doesn’t mean for one second that he has stopped killing. Instead Harry gave Dexter a set of rules to live and kill by. By following these rules Dexter only exacts his deviant ways on those that truly deserve it – such as the remorseless drink driver who has killed several people and keeps getting away with it.
Dexter (Michael C Hall): There are very sad and disturbing reasons why Dexter was adopted, and he feels they may have played a part in the way he turned out. His adoptive father is his idol, and the one who taught him how to look like the best human being ever. He loves his adoptive sister to the best of his abilities and certainly feels some sort of caring towards his fragile girlfriend and her children. He calls himself a “monster” and doesn’t see himself as human, because he just doesn’t feel the way others do. Everything everyone else does and feels seems alien and strange to him – even sex, but he watches their interactions and does his best to fake them, fooling almost everyone.
Debra (Jennifer Carter): Dexter’s sister and work colleague, she’s an officer at the Miami P.D and is frustrated that no-one will listen to her in the male-dominated workplace. If there’s an undercover job for her you can guarantee it’s for vice and she’ll be on a street corner. She is very protective of her brother even though even she thinks he’s a little odd. She also idolised Harry, following in his footsteps by becoming a cop. Deb is a little, well, promiscuous and has a horrendous taste in men.
Rita (Julie Benz): Dexter’s girlfriend. She’s a troubled soul with a history of drug abuse and abused by her estranged husband. Now she’s trying to put her life back together, parenting her two children whilst maintaining a strange romance with our anti-hero Dex. After her long suffering ordeal with the husband from hell she is completely disinterested in sex, which is pretty perfect for Dexter considering his own issues on the subject.
Sgt. Doakes: Dexter’s colleague in the loosest form of the word. He neither likes nor trusts Dexter and is determined to show him up for what he is, not that he knows what that is.
Paul: Rita’s ex-husband, and if ever there were a man to hate this is the one. He’s a terrible husband and a father who uses his children to get back at Rita whilst trying to worm his way back in so he can gain control over Rita once more. He doesn’t like Dexter, and Dexter (and the audience) doesn’t like him.
Angel: Works at Miami P.D and always looks sharp. He gets on great with both Dex and Deb and is always willing to listen and help them. Angel loves the ladies, dancing, drinking and music and can often be found in the local Latin dance bar flirting and dancing with any pretty young thing in a skirt. But deep down he only has eyes for his beautiful wife and daughter, though he struggles to show it.
The Ice Truck Killer: A mysterious monstrous killer who drains his victims of their blood and removes limbs with precision before wrapping. The entire Miami P.D will spend the majority of the first season trying to catch him whilst Dexter just wants to meet him; after all, he’s a fan of the killer’s work.
The twelve episodes themselves are very well written, though not as camp in humour as the original books by Jeff Lindsay. The episodes in this season are as follows:
Dexter: There is no gradual ease in to the blood and gore here in the season opener when Dexter arrives on the scene of the first victim of the Ice Truck Killer. Well, there is an ease into the blood on this one as there isn’t any. Dexter’s interest in this killer is piqued.
Crocodile: Debra finds a refrigerated truck with a gruesome surprise. Meanwhile Dexter is following his next victim, a wealthy drink driver who is acquitted of all charges. Mystery and intrigue are abound as Lt Laguerta starts digging into Doake’s past and Dexter has mortifying moment with Rita after a double date with Debra and her latest disaster.
Popping Cherry: Another victim of the Ice Truck is found; Dexter helps his sister as the police try to track down a suspect they believe is the killer. Rita encounters some car trouble courtesy of someone from the past while Dexter finds himself another victim with a striking resemblance to someone close to him.
Let’s Give The Boy A Hand: The Ice Truck Killer starts to get personal, leaving severed parts of his victims in places that mean a lot to our favourite serial killer.
Love American Style: One of the Ice Truck Killer’s victims is found alive; giving the police some much needed help. Dexter manages to get himself into trouble whilst stalking a new victim – a human trafficker who extorts money from his victims’ families and then makes their deaths look accidental.
Return to Sender: The Ice Truck Killer causes trouble for Dexter when he leaves the gift of a corpse at the very place Dexter has just exacted his own brand of justice.
Circle of Friends: The Miami P.D. has another potential suspect, but Dexter disagrees. In worse news, Rita’s ex-husband has decided disappearing away quietly to let her and the kids lead a happy life just isn’t on his agenda.
Shrink Wrap: Dexter suspects a psychologist is killing his patients, but is surprised when the bad doctor gets him to open up about his darker side. Paul tries to fool his ex-wife Rita. Laguerta is increasingly sceptical that the man they think is the Ice Truck Killer is being truthful while Debra’s new relationship with gorgeous doctor Rudy is warming up.
Father Knows Best: Dexter gets a surprise when he is informed of his biological father’s death, who he thought died 30 years ago. But he has a chance to learn a little about his past as his father left everything to him, so he takes Rita with him on a trip out to pack up everything. Later Deb and new beau Rudy show up to help and Dexter almost feels human.
Seeing Red: Dexter’s work with the Ice Truck killings has been minimal so far, however he’s about to have to face a childhood fear when the Ice Truck Killer leaves an indescribable bloodied room at a local hotel, causing flashbacks to Dexter’s childhood and family.
Truth Be Told: Another day, another victim, this time the Ice Truck Killer leaves partially gift wrapped body under a Christmas tree (Oh Santa, you shouldn’t have…seriously!). Dexter finds a link to the identity of the killer whilst Doakes’ suspicions about Dexter grow stronger. Debra and Rudy become serious while Rita takes her kids to see their father, who is not happy.
Born Free: The grisly season finale with the ultimate showdown between our two killers, where secrets best left unsaid are revealed.
This is a gripping crime drama with well-written and fleshed out characters that make the audience care. Dexter has his faults but it’s hard to do anything but root for him, yes he’s a killer, but he’s killing people who escaped punishment themselves. There are so many other characters too that you will care for and that’s one of the best things about the show, these characters have a real back-story, not one of them is perfect but they are all trying.
The premise itself for Dexter Is interesting, a serial killer working for the police and killing those who evade justice is an odd and unique concept. This is a crime drama for those who are desperately bored with the regular formula as it brings a breath of fresh air to an old much-loved format. The casting has been well thought out; Michael C Hall plays the part of a seemingly mild mannered crime analyst with a secret well without being obvious. It’s the subtlety in his performance that makes it work. It’s also really nice to see Julie Benz in a different role to what many will have seen – going from the (very well-known in geeky circles) tough evil Darla in Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the downtrodden but desperate to be happy Rita. Jennifer Carter is also well cast as the tough but fed up Deb who wants a career and love but is finding neither is that easy, she exudes confidence and the sort of attitude you’d need to get by in her job.
For those who are squeamish this won’t be the show for you, it features blood, corpses and severed limbs a-plenty. There’s also bad language, scenes of torture and sex (Not at the same time you’ll be glad to hear) and graphic violence – so I wouldn’t advocate this as viewing for those who are sensitive or too young. But it isn’t as horrific as it may sound from this, Dexter’s internal monologue is shared with us the viewers throughout almost like a narrator and quite often it’s his odd take on events that means you’re laughing even though what you are seeing is awful.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Season 1 is strong and never disappointed, great pacing and characterisation make this a repeat watch.