Dexter: The Dark Defender or Dexter the superhero?


Episode 205 of Dexter is fairly unique, as Dexter imagines himself as a literal super hero, avenging his mother’s murderers.

As many of you already know, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a complex character. There are many different ways to see his story. Season 2’s “The Dark Defender” lets Dex see himself from a different vantage point — that of a vigilante super-hero. In a way, it’s a familiar motif for the series.

At the end of season 1, Dexter even imagines a celebratory crowd praising him for being a killer of killers. In another episode, the boy Cody Bennett (Preston Bailey) was running around calling himself “The Butcher Man,” to make the “Bay Harbor Butcher” less threatening, hinting at a comicbook-like aspect to the killer. However, this particular episode gets more literal about the idea.

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While investigating a murder in a comic book store, Dexter sees a poster for the super hero “The Dark Defender.” He learns that the Defender is based on the Bay Harbor Butcher’s vigilante-style justice. What they don’t know is that Dex is the Bay Harbor Butcher!  Also, a certain glint in the hero’s eye reminds Dexter (and us) of himself.

That night, Dexter has a dream about becoming the Dark Defender himself, using his strength to heroically save his mother, Laura Moser (Katherine Kirkpatrick). Pretty weird, huh? Dex thinks so, too. However, when he tells his this revenge fantasy to his NA sponsor, Lila (Jaime Murray), they arrange a trip so Morgan can confront one of the murderers. Dexter’s girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz) even agrees, as her mother (JoBeth Williams) has been putting a wedge between them.

The fateful moment

When Dex finally meets one of his mother’s killers, Santos Jimenez (Tony Amendola), it’s almost anti-climatic. He predictably roughs him up, almost killing him, but decides to fight the impulse, just as a drug addict would fight their need. It’s a bit ironic, too, because one might expect anyone to be more interested in avenging their own mother’s death, as opposed to playing “Dark Defender” elsewhere.

However, it’s a poignant scene, as it shows our anti-hero at a crossroads. If there’s ever a place to prove he can control his urge, this would definitely be it. When he lets Jimenez go, it’s like he’s losing his own darkness — at least for the moment.

Later, another fateful moment. Lila confesses that she killed her ex in a fire, albeit she says it was an accident. The two have plenty in common, and Lila uses it as an opportunity to parade around naked in front of the confused and vulnerable man. We already know that Dex is basically cheating on Rita, at least in terms of emotional connection.

Now, it becomes obvious that it will become physical as well. While one can easily say “Bad Dex! Bad!,” it seems many people have been in spots like this, and it’s not necessarily just about the sex stuff. Granted, most of us have never seen our mother’s chainsawed to death inside shipping containers while we were kids, but still…we all have something in common with Dexter.

There’s another interesting development. Dexter’s sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) snoops through the laptop of her boyfriend Grabriel (Dave Baez). She learns he’s working on a book called “The Ice Princess,” and she’s not too happy about it. Having dated the Ice Truck Killer (Christian Camargo), she assumes the story’s about her. However, when Special Agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) reveals the guy is a children’s author, Deb is able to see her mistake. In the process, she seems closer to getting over her trauma. Does time heal all wounds? Certainly not, but Deb is tough enough to move on.

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