Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a serial killer on the side of “good.” He kills other serial killers and manages to escape detection, because he was trained to do so by his father in order to harness his violent instincts. To be fair, Dexter isn’t really that good at getting away with killing people, it’s more that the rest of the Miami Metro police force is unbelievably incompetent. As the show went on, that became sadly more apparent. But, however he keeps it going, Dexter makes for good television… for 5 seasons.
Just stab him and save us the pain, please.
The story so far: Dexter has a method for his hunting. He finds the serial killer, abducts them, confronts them with their crimes, and then “dispatches” them. He does not consider himself human, but merely a thing pretending to be a person. He fakes all of his emotions and acts of conscience, beyond his desire to kill. Despite this, he’s our protagonist, because the people he kills are still worse than him. He also has a girlfriend (later wife), Rita (Julie Benz), whom he considers part of his human disguise. Recently, Dexter had claimed to be a heroin addict to Rita, causing strain in their relationship.
“The British Invasion” is the episode where Dexter first really takes a turn for the worse. Having been caught in the episode beforehand by the technically-a-nemesis-but-objectively-more-heroic, Det. James Doakes (Erik King), the only person who ever really suspects Dexter of being a killer, Dexter imprisons Doakes in a cabin and decides to frame him for all of his murders. Despite the fact that he has no classical emotions, however, Dexter still seems hesitant towards the plan, as Doakes is an innocent.
At the same time as Dexter is arranging to frame Doakes for the FBI, Dexter’s self-imposed “love interest” (i.e. stalker), Lila (Jaime Murray), shows up and finds Doakes at the cabin. Rather than releasing him, she decides that she has to protect her “soul mate” and sets the cabin on fire. When the fire is put out, all of the evidence gathered at the scene now points to Doakes being responsible for Dexter’s killings. Dexter rejoices, or the equivalent act with no emotions, in his newfound presumed innocence by reconciling with Rita. Later, he discovers that, given the circumstances of the fire, Lila must have been the cause and vows to kill her, only to find that she has abducted Rita’s children. Dexter arrives in time to find her, only for her to set the room on fire and lock him in with the children. Dexter helps the children escape, then knocks down a wall to safety. Dexter then tracks Lila to Paris and kills her, before heading back to Miami to attend Doakes’s funeral, being one of the only people who knows Doakes wasn’t a killer.
This episode shows both the heroic and villainous aspects of Dexter’s character to their fullest. At the end of this episode, all the traces leading to Dexter as a serial killer have been eliminated, but Dexter himself has been tainted by the experience, because he was preparing to kill an innocent, the one thing he isn’t supposed to indulge in. To Hall’s credit, he manages to make Dexter’s consideration of the task seem someone conflicted, but in a manner that seems more like trying to enter the wrong program into a computer, rather than how an organic mind processes it. The distinction is subtle, but it definitely sets the show apart.
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