Riding With The Dark Passenger: Looking Back at Dexter (‘Dexter,’ Episode 101)

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James Remar as Harry Morgan and Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in Dexter – Photo: Randy Tepper

Dexter’s Father:  Unorthodox Parenting Methods

Like most serial killers, Dexter has a family, and it’s interesting to see how he balances them with his work and killing. In flashbacks throughout the series, we see Dexter with his adopted father, Harry Morgan (James Remar), acting as his life coach. At the same time, he could almost be called Dexter’s death coach. You see, after learning that his son’s been killing neighborhood pets, Harry knows pretty much exactly what Dexter is.

However, rather than freaking out, arresting him or giving him therapy sessions, Harry makes the unusual choice of coaching his son into controlling his murderous impulses. Harry urges Dexter to channel them to people who deserve it. This is not your normal fatherly advice (or at least one hopes). It’s one of the freakier, more messed up aspects of the show, honestly. I love it!


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Then you have Dexter’s foul-mouthed and frequently crying sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), who in this episode is a vice officer. She is an interesting character, as someone who’s almost Harry’s opposite. She wouldn’t accept Harry and Dexter’s secret training sessions, so that chapter of Dexter’s life is riddled with deceit. Oddly enough, though, Dex seems to care for his sister, to the extent he can. Maybe he has to, both to appear normal and to work effectively as a blood spatter analyst. A rocky relationship with someone on the force — especially his own sister — wouldn’t be good for business.

We learn that Deb really cares about her job. Part of the reason is her active role as an undercover prostitute. As the “Ice Truck Killer” targets prostitutes, they are people she knows. In many ways, she’s the emotional center of the show. Because Dex is borderline emotionless, it’s necessary to have some characters react to the dismembered bodies and such. While other characters challenge Dexter to feel — like Detective James Doakes (Erik King) and his girlfriend Rita Bennett (Julie Benz) — no one quite captures the role like Deb.

To complicate things, Deb’s boss, Lt. María LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) keeps underestimating Deb, which brings Deb to Dex for guidance. In this episode, not only does LaGuerta have Deb dressed as a streetwalker, but she also casually dismisses Deb’s (and Dex’s) theory that the prostitute killer is using a refrigerated truck. In other words, LaGuerta is being unprofessional, and just plain wrong. LaGuerta lets her feelings toward someone cloud her judgment on a case. So, as you can see, the police politics aspect of the show is also pretty interesting.

Rita and the Kids

Ostensibly to appear normal, Dexter tries to have a dating life. This is where Rita and her kids come into play. A domestic abuse survivor, Rita is considered damaged enough to be safe by Dexter. Her fear of emotional attachment and naïveté are a perfect match for his lifestyle, such as it is. Her kids, Astor (Christina Robinson) and Cody (Daniel Goldman) also help Dexter appear normal, and even like a decent father figure.

Don’t ignore your dark passengers and come back as we continue looking back at the Showtime original series, Dexter.

Next: Moon: Looking up at Duncan Jones’ space tragedy thriller

Well, that about wraps it up for this episode flashback! What do you think of this episode, and the show in general? Let us know in the comments!