"Tonight's the night, and it's going to happen again and again. Has to happen. Nice night. Miami is a great town. I love the Cuban food, pork sandwiches - my favorite - but I'm hungry for something different now. There he is."And so begins Dexter Morgan's evening run into this city he loves, determined and willing. Played in frightening detail by Michael C. Hall ("Six Feet Under"), there is no internal conflict within this character - what he does is more than providing a service for humanity - it is art, it is his way of experiencing lust and all of its trappings, and there is no lame attempt at apology for who and what he is - he simply IS. Blood Spatter Analyst for the Miami Police Department, that is what he chose - serial killer-cum-vigilante, that is what he was made.
The show pilot by nature has a lot to prove, so there was a lot riding on this one. I was very impressed that the writers didn't rely on the old hat trick of producing too many double entendres all wrapped up in a pretty clever box, because really - when was the last time you kept the wrapping paper and threw away the present? There are flawed characters, some with many things riding on them and some just as unapologetic and brave as you please. This show pilot perhaps introduces us to a few too many initially, which I wondered about. I wanted to know more about Dexter without having to find too much involvement from the supporting cast on the periphery. He feels nothing, even though he gets a bit close at times. The closest true love he has is blood, and he's as drunk on his bloodlust as he is in the ritual of preparing for his sense of justice. Setting up his 'victims', who are anything but innocent, you get to see him as he truly is. The duality of his intense distaste for humanity and the 'normality' of regular life; and his fascination with this work, this service that he provides in making those guilty of unspeakable atrocity meet their day of reckoning. When he sets the play in motion, he is as enchanted with the pain and suffering of those he is tearing apart as children are in the presence of a magician. Dexter's most perfect moments come when he confronts his victims and sets the roleplay on its ear - the predator suddenly becomes the prey, nose to nose with pain, breathing in the fear they've only ever breathed out. He lives for that immaculate second when his victims come to realize that all of the nighmares they have conjured for and placed on others pale in comparison to the ones he now delivers them.
If the protagonist Patrick Bateman in Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho had a sense of conscience and decency, and were a genuinely likable guy, he'd resemble 'Dex'. This is a testament to the brilliance of both Jeff Lindsay and the writers, in making this character have a sense of appeal that is far past undeniable and borders on guilty pleasure. The show (as well as the novel) is built on substance rather than style, which I hope paves the way for longevity.
Dexter's murderous urges were not simple seeds in a patch of subconscious dirt, they were well tended to in fatherly love and nurtured until they began to bear fruit. The potential sweetness and bitterness of this fruit and any balance of the two are to be revealed later as the show progresses, we're going to have to work for it. Perhaps the most frightening thing about Dexter is how much you would want to be him if you could get away with it all as well - and for the record, I DO want to be Dexter. I will make no apology for it either. Definitely going to keep up with this one, Showtime has scored beautifully once again!
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