DEXTER: Season One
Michael C Hall
Review by Ross Hughes Offical HCF Critic
“a TV show that can still stun you”……………
The minute you know when Dexter is going to be something special is right at the start, even before a first word has spoken. The pre credits sequence is something that I can only describe as an ingenious bit of creativity. As the titles roll, we witness what seems the lead star, waking up from bed and just doing the normal thing of getting dressed, flossing and making breakfast. But there is something wonderfully dark about it all. When Dexter shaves and cuts himself, the blood slowly drips, when Dexter tightens the wire to floss, it suggests something murderous, a cutting of an orange, a frying of a steak, all bring something sinister, I dare say that everything we need to know about the lead character is all answered in the very first two minutes. Dexter is a normal looking guy but with a dark side, a dark side we will discover to such wonderful effect.
Dexter Morgan (Golden Globe winner Michael C Hall ) loves to kill people. He likes nothing better than to cover a room full of cling film, and have a helpless man/woman tied, on their back on a table, while he cuts their left cheek so he can take a bit of their blood as a trophy, before then, killing and cutting them up in pieces and dumping the black bags in the sea. Does he have any remorse? Not really, as long has he in following the code of Harry then he is comfortable with what he does. Besides these people he targets are criminals. Those who have escaped justice! He believes what he is doing is right, and as long as they have done something wrong, he makes it right! Why has he never been caught! Because he is trained not too. His father Harry saw the anger inside him from a young age, and taught him the basic principles of how to evade capture. It was this training that also helped Dexter become Miami’s best blood splatter analyst, and how he has managed to get a position in the Miami’s Police department, quite handy when you looking for targets and trying to stay one step ahead of the game!
He finds it hard to share any emotion but to pretend to be normal to those around him, he finds himself in a relationship with a single mother and her two kids. Rita, played by the gorgeous Juila Benz, is a fragile young woman who shy’s from sex and close contact after suffering years of abuse from her ex. husband, and just wants friendship, a perfect foil for Dexter who has no need for sex, he just sees the young woman has someone he can be with without anyone getting suspicious. With his adopted parents both dead, his only family is his loud mouth sister Debra (played by his real life wife Jennifer Carpenter) who also works in the police department under vice, but hopes for one day to be moved up to detective. She loves her adopted brother but sometimes feels some sort of resentment. Dexter was always getting the attention at home, especially from her father, and she could never understand that. What she did not know is that Harry caught Dexter killing animals at a young age. Knowing what was to become of him, he taught him, the code, in which the victims he targets must be criminals who have killed before and will again! He also must have proof that they did do what they did! Being a Cop himself, Harry showed Dexter how to clean up the mess afterwards, and how to dispose of bodies, most of this training went on “hunting weekends” in which Debra was never invited. We are shown all this has flashbacks, throughout the season, with Harry dead now for several years, he sometimes appears as the conscious of Dexter especially when his Dark Passenger starts to emerge, that being his evil personality!
Things have been going ok, life is great, a few killings have been done, and Dexter is content, his treasure box of blood slides of his victims are hidden in the air conditioner, and no one suspects a thing, that is of course until a body is found, and Dexter and his life will never be the same again…..
A body cut up in pieces and drained of blood, stuns Miami, but thrills Dexter as he has never seen anything so beautiful. Kept from the distance because of the lack of blood, he watches has Lt. Laguerta (Lauren Velez), Detective Batiista (David Zayas) and the excellent Sergeant Doakes (Erik King) all chase after clues of who this new player in town is. Because Dexter does not need any attention in his life and to go unnoticed to those around him, he spoon feeds clues to his sister Debra about this new killer. This enables her to be moved from Vice to detective straight away and head first into what is now called The Ice Truck Killer investigation, and Dexter slips off home without a care in the world. That is until he opens his fridge and sees that the Ice Truck Killer has left him a little clue, and Dexter begins to suspect that this new killer also may know the dark passenger that lays inside him!!
When more killings appear, all in creative fashion, with hidden clues that only Dexter notices because they are from his past with Harry, the investigation suddenly becomes a personal game, and memories locked in the mind of Dexter begin to surface. It seems the Ice Truck Killer knows more about Dexter than he himself, and has painful images of a long forgotten past and secrets emerge, it seems that Dexter needs to forget about killing for a while and protect those around him, especially his family who are all in danger from this mad killer!
Dexter is like a breath of fresh air. Here is a man who is probably the most evil serial killer in the world, but yet we root for him. The pull of the show is that we sit in suspense in hope he does not get caught, and all credit goes to Michael C. Hall who is totally wonderful in the lead role. His deadpan expressions and voice over’s are worth the watch alone. The magical thing he brings to the role is the sudden turn. At one moment we are laughing at his non ability to do things normal in which he comes across as a fool, but then all of a sudden, the anger is there, and he looks like someone you really would not like to meet in a dark alley. The supporting roles are pitch perfect. Carpenter excels has Debra, loud and an angry woman, but deep down insecure. Juila Benz who has been in all the major TV shows from Buffy, Taken, to Supernatural deliberately underplays the character of Rita. Plain looking when we first see, she serves mainly as an extended cameo at the first few episodes before really coming into her own later on! Its her family dysfunction that plays the heart beat of the TV show, has Dexter refuses to believe he actually has any feelings for them when we know quite clearly that he does. Zayas is very likeable as Batista, while Velez as Lt. Laguerta is a hardened woman who really believes in what she does and says. The hidden star is Doakes (KIng) the bad ass detective who is the only one who has doubts of whom Dexter is, and what he is hiding. The chemistry between the pair builds up throughout the show and sets off a train of events that was being planned for the already developed season two.
As the show moves on, the purist of Ice Truck Killer comes relentless, but somehow the show not once loses its dark humour. Its engrossing at times and the plot grips you and just won’t let go. With each turn comes a new twist and while by the time you get to the reveal of who this mad Killer who is tormenting Dexter is, while many of you will probably have guessed who it is an episode or two earlier, the motive and reasons are quite a shocker, and its great to have a TV show that can still stun you!
Fans of the book Darkly Dreaming Dexter from which this season was based on, may have been a bit stunned at the changes of the plot, I was at first, but its safe to say that this is one of the rare displays when a TV adaption is better than what was written on a page. Its a perfect introduction to the world of Dexter Morgan and the scary thing is, what we did not know at the time, it was only going to get better…..
OVERALL: One of thee most underrated TV shows of the last 10 years, a wonderful anti hero, a plot that sizzles along, and enough blood, sex, horror and laughs to make you weep with joy. A real treat and a TV gem!….
[pt-filmtitle]Dexter Season 1[/pt-filmtitle]