Dexter and the Moral Dead End

The final episode of Dexter on Showtime was a brutal end to a murderous season.  Dexter, in case you don’t know, is a television series about a vigilante killer who works for the government solving murders while secretly killing murderers.  The show celebrates the thrill of the kill.  Dexter is a needlessly bloody show filled with few surprises, but the final episode was made more interesting by a rabbit punch killing.


All season Dexter has been trying to murder “The Trinity Killer” — played by John Lithgow — and in the end he finally wins that want.

Dexter returns to his home only to find that the Trinity Killer left a final victim:  Dexter’s wife Rita in a blood-filled bathtub and his young son crying in a pool of sticky blood on the bathroom floor.

The effect of that final scene is grotesque and Michael C. Hall — the actor playing Dexter — said this about filming that final discovery:

It was tough. The fact is when you watch it, it’s sort of lyrical slo-mo, but the actual shooting of it was much more frantic and to the point. Coming in, seeing this baby in the blood, turning my head, seeing Rita there, realizing what’s happened, picking up the baby, leaving the room — it happened much more quickly than [how] the scene plays. But it was horrifying. It’s the kind of thing that only in its aftermath can you begin to deal with. In one way or another, Dexter will be reeling from it for a long time to come. But Julie in that tub was just heartbreaking — and the baby on the floor. It was very somber. And also very secretive. Some of the people on set had just gotten pages. So I think everyone was quietly in a private way processing what we were shooting, what this meant for the show, what this meant for Julie.

I wonder why we find such fascination in creating and sharing such endless bloodlust on television.

It’s
as if there isn’t enough blood-in-the-bathtub killing in the real
world to satisfy us, so we delight in the entertainment of watching
even more, invented, pretend, death to cure our very real and hostile yearnings.

When killing on television is so rote and familiar — how can we not be irrevocably changed by that viewing experience?  Murder becomes ordinary and everyday and that cannot be good for us to become so desensitized to the demeaned acceptance of our early demise.

If, after the final episode of Dexter, you still have an appetite for murder, you can turn around your claw hammer and do some Dexter inspired killing on your iPhone.

3 comments

  • I certainly am not ready to become Dexter. :o
    I think the appeal of Dexter is supposed to be that it is “justifiable” killing as seen by the protagonist. I never got it, though. A lot of killing, it seems, and that’s just not my cuppa tea! :)

  • I could never get into Dexter at all, Gordon. When I saw the magnificent John Lithgow as part of the cast this season, I think I watched the final three episodes. It is a rather nasty show where Dexter, a sociopath, believes he is doing the right thing by killing bad people without any due process. He’s merely a vigilante.

  • Pingback: When CSI Met Dexter in My Bathroom « Boles Blogs

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