The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Dexter’s Inner Light

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Dear N,

If Dexter doesn’t get some sleep soon, I am going to go crazy! I get physically uncomfortable watching him reel from exhaustion and I was just about ready to scream at Rita for not offering to take over Harrison night duty for a few days. But like last week his sheer exhaustion is providing him (and us) with some very fun access to his uncontrolled consciousness. Maybe I’m forgetting a pivotal scene in an earlier episode, but last night was one of the first time’s I remember Dexter actually admitting that his Harry illusions are some part of himself: some (sub)conscious part of his ego, half-self-protection, half-conscience, keeping him on the straight and narrow of Harry’s Code.

It is not like we didn’t already know this – I mean, what else is Harry supposed to be, showing up at all hours in a slightly ethereal halo of light? But Dexter actually names Harry as himself as he stares up at the boxing ring lights and realizes his subconscious has been giving him a clue all day. Maybe Dexter’s already admitted this out loud before and I’m just forgetting it in my own sleepiness, but drawing attention to the fact seems important somehow, especially since Harry’s musings are growing increasingly skeptical/critical of Dexter’s perfect suburban set-up. When Harry has been critical before – of Lila, of Miguel – he has always been right. Those attempts at integration were failures, betrayals of the Code. So what does this nagging inner voice bode for Rita and the kids?

As you pointed out last week, Dexter has internalized the Code and internalized the voice of his father as a part of himself – a part he desperately needs, and a part he is trying to ignore. Is this season going to be a show down between Dexter and Dexter/Harry? If we think about the fact that Harry never even gave Dexter a shot at a “normal life” (what, not even a few sessions of therapy before you start building a serial killer out of your psychologically broken son?) maybe holding on to suburban normality is Dexter’s way of showing Harry what a mistake he made not to even give him a chance.

Other thoughts: oh my goodness, how creepy is the Trinity killer?! His pitch perfect friendly neighbor routine masking homicidal tendencies – deliciously scary and underplayed. What is going on with Deb? I get her humiliation at exposing herself to Lundy only to be rebuffed by his true professional intentions, but didn’t her reaction seem a bit extreme? And speaking of extreme reactions, why do I hate Rita in this season so much? We should have a longer discussion about how the achievement of the capitalist dream turns women characters into conniving, snotty children and how much that portrayal sucks.

I wish someone would just slip Dex some ambien…

K

Hey Kathryn,

I think you’re right –I don’t remember Dexter ever naming Harry as his own subconscious so explicitly before either.  Of course, it’s always been a little more complicated than a delusion, though, too.  I’ve never thought Dexter really thinks Harry is there – we’ve always had the sense that Dexter knows he’s inventing Harry (kind of like how David invents his father illusions in Six Feet Under), but yes, to name it so explicitly, that was a surprise!

So what does that mean?  Well, while I agree that Harry always ends up being right with his caution, it’s also the case that with both Lila and Miguel, Dexter was right too.  Sure, both end up causing problems, and sure Dexter has to kill them both – but it’s also true that Lila helps Dexter open up sexually, feel real emotions and get in better touch with himself.  Miguel, while the friendship is flawed, begins to teach Dexter the joys of male bonding.  And so the sexual desire, the emotion, the self-knowledge and the patterns of friendship – these all get integrated into Dexter’s life after he kills the ones who gifted them to him.

Which makes me wonder – while Dexter has struggled with ‘The Code’ all along, perhaps his struggle this season will not be with Rita and the kids (because, really, it never is), but rather will be in a more explicit way with his father.  Perhaps this out-loud naming is the first step down his own little Freudian path to slay ‘The Father’ in order to properly integrate ‘The Code’ into his life in a more healthy (!?!) way.

So Rita, yes – argh, she is driving me crazy!  To be honest, I really stopped liking Rita in the first episode of season 2.  Her breathy, throw her head into Dexter’s neck every time she sees him, stiff upper lip surviving drama annoys the piss out of me.  If she squints her eyes to say something she thinks is profound one more time, I might lose it.  I’m with you – for pity’s sake, don’t yell at your husband for hiding the extent of his car-crash injuries because you’re supposedly worried about him and then not let him sleep!  I’m actually quite intrigued to see where they’re going to take this bratty teenage Astor plot and if her growing up will give Rita a chance to grow up.

To be clear re: the women of this show, though – I *love* Deb! She can do no wrong in my book – over-reactions or not, her foul-mouthed, unlucky-in-love, over-working obsessive attitude is one of my favourite parts of the show.  If she over-reacted to Lundy, I think it’s because he was such a father figure for her.  Maybe they were trying to tie her experience into Dexter’s for us – both doing their own attempt at escaping their Dad’s shadow.

Last thing – I’m a sucker for boxing imagery, and so I’ve loved seeing these last couple of episodes in the space of the gym.  The worn walls, the loud lights, the broken equipment, all permeated with this pale green colour that aesthetically captivates me.  I hope we get to go back there at some point in the season – it’s a space I think we need to explore a little more!

Natalie

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Written by themothchase

October 5, 2009 at 7:03 am

Posted in Dexter, Uncategorized

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