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Nitpicks / Questions about Dexter


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#1

thelephant

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Posted Aug 20, 2007 @ 10:28 AM

I asked in the books vs show thread what the age gap in the books is between Dexter and Debra. Because I get the feeling from the tv show that the age gap is quite large, at least between adult Dexter and Debra, because the younger versions seem much closer in age.

Dexter was born around 1970, which makes him around 37 in the show, but Debra is much younger than that, because I think at one point it's said that she was 16 when Harry died, and that was 10 years ago, making her 26 now, but I could be remembering wrong. She's also fairly new to the police force. Michael C Hall is 36 and Jennifer Carpenter is 27. A casting accident, perhaps? But I think the dynamic between them works really well as a result, especially considering their characters.

#2

darkestboy

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Posted Aug 20, 2007 @ 12:46 PM

Plus they are too close looking in age when it comes to the flashbacks as well. They only look about 2-4 years apart instead of 11.

#3

6x9is42

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Posted Aug 20, 2007 @ 2:29 PM

36-27 is 9 not 11

ETA: never mind. thought you were refering to the actor's ages

Edited by 6x9is42, Aug 20, 2007 @ 10:25 PM.


#4

vallegirl

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Posted Aug 20, 2007 @ 8:49 PM

But character wise, it's been vaguely established that the age difference is 11 years since Dexter should be 37 based on his age when his mother died in 1973 (he was three) and Deb should be 26 becaus of the reference to being 16 when Harry died 10 years earlier.

Even when they showed Harry in the hospital, they tried to make Dexter seem much younger than 26, which is what his age should have been in those flashbacks.

But the show does a good job skirting the age difference between the actors. They both acknowledge it, vaguely, but keep moving ahead. And despite the very obvious gaffe, I still buy that they were raised together.

Edited by vallegirl, Aug 20, 2007 @ 8:51 PM.


#5

Puds38

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Posted Aug 20, 2007 @ 9:51 PM

Just checked the book, when Harry is sick in the hospital with the bad nurse Dexter is 19 & Debra is 17. I can't recall the show giving them ages but I'm only up to episode 7 rewatching.

#6

vallegirl

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Posted Aug 21, 2007 @ 8:52 AM

The age references are only in passing, and Dexter's doesn't even get mentioned until the last episode or two when the date of his "childhood trauma" is revealed.

The show definitely hews to the 2-year age difference in the flashbacks, but in the current time they vaguely acknowledge that Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall are more than 2 years apart.

But my favorite gaffe, and this was mentioned in another thread, is that the three actors playing Dexter all have different eye color. Child Dexter has brown eyes, teen Dexter has blue eyes and adult Dexter hazel eyes. Hmmm.

Oh yeah, and baby Dexter...well the one angelic little boy sitting in the car with his father has light brown hair and brown eyes, and appears to be a little bit OLDER than the blonde child that Harry rescued.

Edited by vallegirl, Aug 21, 2007 @ 8:57 AM.


#7

Ammit

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Posted Aug 22, 2007 @ 12:26 PM

I'm fascinated by Dexter's front door. In the pilot it definitely opened outwards. Initially, I thought he was living on some kind of houseboat hotel or something like that. I'm only up to episode 5, but I noticed that the door opened inwards when his sister and Rita visited him at home.

Maybe it just changes back and forth depending upon which kind of shot they want.

#8

kieyra

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Posted Aug 24, 2007 @ 6:56 PM

On Deb's age...at some point in season 1, someone says to her (maybe it was Angel?) "If I were ten years younger..."

And she says, "I would still be in high school."

*shrug*

Have to admit, didn't think about it much aside from them still using 'adolescent Dexter' during Harry's death scenes if it was only ten years prior.

Question: even after a season 1 rewatch, I'm not sure...was Deb adopted too, or is she Harry's bio kid? For some reason between my first and second viewing of s1, I got myself convinced she was also adopted.

#9

Stormyweather

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Posted Aug 24, 2007 @ 7:06 PM

No, Deb wasn't adopted.

#10

lokifin

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 12:50 AM

I could be remembering wrong, but in the flashback about the "special blood," don't they mention his type as AB negative? Why is it impossible for them to find donor blood? Couldn't he take A, B, or O negative?

#11

LolaRuns

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 2:48 AM

Eta: For faulty info. Move along.

Edited by LolaRuns, Aug 26, 2007 @ 11:17 AM.


#12

needsleep05

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 2:48 AM

I'm pretty sure AB negative is one of (if not the) rarest blood type. My best friend is AB neg and she always gives blood whenever the Red Cross sets up a blood drive in the area.

ETA:

Your blood type is one of rarest of all of the blood types. That means there are less people to donate your blood type. -- from the American Red Cross


I remember my friend mentioned something about that AB neg folks have a hard time getting transfusions and I found this on KidsHealth.org:

To avoid a life-threatening reaction, blood from a donor needs to match the blood type of the person receiving it. There are eight major blood types. They are:

O positive (about 38% of the U.S. population has this type)
O negative (about 7 % of the U.S. population)
A positive (about 34% of the U.S. population)
A negative (about 6% of the U.S. population)
B positive (about 9% of the U.S. population)
B negative (about 2% of the U.S. population)
AB positive (about 3% of the U.S. population)
AB negative (only about 1% of the U.S. population)


BloodBook has some good stuff too.

Edited by needsleep05, Aug 26, 2007 @ 3:10 AM.


#13

LolaRuns

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 2:50 AM

My brother apparently is a rare type of AB and they even kept calling him at the phone whenever the recovery period had passed asking him whether he wanted to donate again.

#14

lokifin

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 8:10 AM

Yeah, but according to the Red Cross, while AB- is the rarest type, an AB- recipient can take blood from A-, B-, O-, or AB- donors. And according to this source, "Because of these patterns, a person with type O blood is said to be a universal donor. A person with type AB blood is said to be a universal receiver."

I gather that it's best to get an exact type match, but not essential as long as one of those are used.

#15

LolaRuns

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 11:13 AM

Oh, then I did mix it up. Gonna go and edit.

My biggest nitpick with the show is that Dexter might have a flashback, totally freak out and half an episode go back to talking about how he is a sociopath with no feelings. Yeah, I might acknowledge that he might be unaware that he is developing feelings and attachments because he isn't used to it, but after a while that gets kinda silly.

Edited by LolaRuns, Aug 26, 2007 @ 11:16 AM.


#16

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 1:38 PM

Huh. I just watched the first episode of season 2 (yay internets) and Dexter is, like, jonesing to kill someone after just over a month of being prevented from doing so by Doakes' tailing him. Which got me to thinking - he's got, what, forty-some slides in that little box, and has been at this for over a decade? That's only a handful of murders a year, but just in the first season, which only seemed to cover a few months, we saw him off a bunch of people. Are they intentionally showing him escalating, or is the inconsistency just a product of dramatic necessity?

Edited by Teshi, Aug 26, 2007 @ 1:41 PM.


#17

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 1:43 PM

We don't necessarily know that he doesn't have another box of slides somewhere.

#18

vallegirl

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 4:38 PM

Brought over from the Harry thread:

Most of Dexter's affection can be explained through sociopathic self-interest (like Dexter is upset that he using Rudy because Rudy would have been useful to him as a fellow serial killer), but the show seems to have too much of a soft spot for portraying Dexter as an occasionally tragic and relatable figure (the whole "I want a normal life and be happy" scene with Rita), sometimes to the extent that I think that they are forgetting what they are supposed to be writing.


I thought this belonged here because it is, at least to me, the major weakness in an otherwise well written program. Especially the whole Rita arc. Dexter is a very difficult character to sympathize with what with the serial killing and all, and I feel that even with so gifted an actor as Michael C. Hall the writers are still a bit gunshy about allowing Dexter to fully explore just how completely fucked up he is, without trying to anchor him in a happy little domestic situation. It makes his ugliness easier to accept since he retreats to a normal life.

But he's not normal and MCH really seems to revel in Dexter's utter abnormality. His getting smurfy because Rita's too dumb to realize he's even worse than Paul just rings hollow. I can accept that Deb has managed to burrow her way deep into what little bit of a soul he has, if only because he's known her all of her life and she's as disconnected from her feelings as he is, except she allows hers to blow up all over the place and then she retreats back into her shell.

Rita's all "I NEEEEEEEEED YOU NOW, DEXTER" on his text messages and so demanding and naggy, and someone like Dexter really wouldn't fall so happily into some domestic situation with someone that pushy, needy and clingy. Even if she's willing to have sex with him a second time.

#19

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 5:04 PM

Dexter is a very difficult character to sympathize with what with the serial killing and all, and I feel that even with so gifted an actor as Michael C. Hall the writers are still a bit gunshy about allowing Dexter to fully explore just how completely fucked up he is


I don't see that as a flaw in the writing. I think the writers are giving us what they want. Dexter identifies as a sociopath, but his actions don't always support it. I think we are suppose to have doubts about it. The whole premise really doesn't support him being a sociopath. Afterall, how could a true sociopath be trained? Why would he care about what Harry thinks? I think we are suppose to be asking these questions.

#20

korporate

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 5:17 PM

I think we are suppose to be asking these questions.

I agree. The "inconsistencies" are placed into the show so that the audience questions the one-tone depiction of the characters from the pilot. The shallow premise of the show itself--"serial killer of killers"--is merely a starting point into Dexter's murky world.

Dexter may say he doesn't feel anything and that he's a sociopath, but that doesn't automatically make it true. Yes, he's a serial killer, and he justifies his killing with his "can't help it" thing (a reason that Harry reinforced). But I think the brilliant direction, acting, and writing on the show demonstrates that it's not as simple as that. Dexter is not just a sociopathic serial killer who kills bad people because he can't help himself. Harry was not just trying to do the right thing with Dexter. The characters are grey and complex.

Edited: formatting mistake

Edited by korporate, Aug 26, 2007 @ 5:19 PM.


#21

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 5:18 PM

But how does a normally functioning human being decide that it's okay to be a serial killer? And get pleasure from killing? With the pleasant little domestic situation that the writers have foisted upon Dexter to "humanize" him, they're veering further away from the core truth about the character which is that, for whatever reason he has decided to dedicate his life to killing other people.

And I do feel that the writers are afraid to just let Dexter be and allow him to explore how he became what he is. They're giving him the likeability crutch of taking care of his whiny, needy girlfriend and her cute, if somber, children.

#22

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 5:19 PM

The question of him being a true sociopath (based on how the term is defined) bothers me - sociopaths are egocentric, with no empathy for others, and they are incapable of feeling remorse or guilt. That doesn't gel with the portrait of Dexter - we know he cares about Rita and his sister, and does feel some remorse when his actions hurt them.. he does seem to truly be fond of Rita's kids.. and I wouldn't consider him to have a grandiose sense of self..

Also, aren't sociopaths born? Would a traumatic childhood event make him sociopathic with no potential rehabilitation (at least, that's what Dexter thinks based on the episode where he murders the shrink)? I wonder about the direction of the overall storytelling, if they're paving a way for him to have to deal with the emotional consequences of his killing..

#23

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 5:34 PM

See I do think that this is where the show has the potential to develop problems eventually. They are slowly undermining their own setup.

On the first level, Dexter not being a sociopath has the effect:
(1) It makes Dexter pretty darn dumb if he just keeps repeating the mantra even though he has feelings. One would think he would have noticed something odd by now.
(2) It makes Harry wrong/evil and it at least seems that the show wants to continue playing touch and go with Harry and whether he is likable (note: the only thing worse would be if the show actually wanted us to think that Harry is evil and that evil mean Harry is the only reason poor schmoopy Dexter ever did anything wrong)

On a more basic level, it would mess up the foundation of the show. If Dexter is a sociopath then his worldview is consistent. If Dexter does have feelings after all, then why again is he a serial killer? If he continues killing even after having feelings, what else does the show become as a cheerleading piece of vigilantism YAY! And if he does stop killing then we have a corny "serial killer gets reformed by love, yay!".

If the show actually were consistent with their portrayal of sociopath Dexter, then they should show us more about how all his actions are motivated by selfishness. We know that the actions are selfish, but the ones around don't and therefore love him for his actions even though they are really hollow.

But the show doesn't want us to feel like that, so it wants too keep up the illusion for us viewers just as much as it is for Deb or Rita, even as we are privy to Dexter's inner monologues and brutal actions.

So yeah, sometimes the show does give me the impression that they want it both ways. Especially when they do those "OMG, don't you see, he's just like us! Wanting the same Hallmark lines like everybody else".

#24

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 5:37 PM

I do sort of think Harry is evil and that he might have been the true sociopath and basically uses/used Dexter as his weapon. It's perfect, the gift that keeps on giving, even after he's dead.

#25

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 9:14 PM

I don't think that the portrayal of Dexter as having feelings and some degree of affection for people is necessarily a flaw of writing. I agree that we are supposed to wonder about whether Dexter is truly a sociopath/psychopath. If he's not a psychopath, that doesn't mean he isn't a seriously effed up person; he is just much more complex and even more frightening this way. I also don't think Harry was evil, but I think we are supposed to question how reasonable it was for him to assume that Dexter could not be changed.

#26

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 10:29 PM

Which got me to thinking - he's got, what, forty-some slides in that little box


I read on wikipedia that on the show Dexter has 98 slides in his box, but in the book he only has 36. Which that box seems way too little for, but whatever.

#27

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Posted Aug 26, 2007 @ 11:22 PM

I believe the character of Harry can have a really screwed up sense of morality without being evil, per se. Just as Dexter's actions can be seen as selfish, Harry's choices for Dexter were probably not motivated only by a love for his son. Likeable or not, Harry is becoming more of a fleshed-out person, with complex motives and flawed judgment. I don't think this detracts from the character but, rather, adds to it.

he is just much more complex and even more frightening this way

Agreed. If Dexter doesn't do the things he does simply because he cannot control his impulses, what really drives him? What gives him his sense of entitlement to kill? These questions intrigue me. I'm not sure that Dexter doesn't realize that he has emotions. His voice-overs may be in contradiction to what he knows about himself (and may be trying to deny). Or, if not contradiction, then the VO's might have selective inclusion/exclusion of information.

One question I have is about Dexter's line concerning his parents' deaths: "I didn't kill them. Honest." We know that Harry did not die in the hospital that one time with Nurse Hatchet, and that Dexter's mother was sick. Has the show given any other clues to their deaths?

#28

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Posted Aug 27, 2007 @ 12:47 AM

Dexter VO'd that Harry died from his illness a year later and the mother died from a prolonged battle with (implied) cancer. That's why Dexter killed the dog. It was noisy and disturbing Doris while she was sick.

#29

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Posted Aug 31, 2007 @ 1:15 AM

Sociopaths have feelings.

#30

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Posted Aug 31, 2007 @ 1:59 AM

There's a good book called 'The Sociopath Next Door' that addresses some of these issues. The author, Martha Stout, says that there seems to be a lesser incidence of sociopathy in the Asian countries, but this may be because there's so much more 'connectedness' and family-oriented-ness built into their society that they're 'compensating' in a way. Whereas in America, with its emphasis on the individual, separating from your family as an adult and standing on your own two feet, there's more room for sociopaths to act out. The case studies in her book suggest that sociopaths tend to conform to the expectations of their society, out of canny self-preservation, which is one reason their behavior can go unnoticed for a long time.

The person who asked if sociopaths are born or made through awful childhood experiences raises a good question about how much of our understanding of sociopathy is cultural. Stout seems to be saying they're born, but the famous sociopaths the serial killers who've been caught and interviewed almost all claim childhood abuse. This may be how Americans 'compensate' for their pathology, by saying, 'I was abused.' I'm only half kidding when I say that. Maybe our understanding of what motivates sociopaths is excessively filtered through the interviews and testimonials of these guys, who, having been caught, have a lot of reason to seek sympathy. No one wants to say, 'I was born this way'. (Except Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris's novels, and even Harris eventually softened that position in the later books, inventing a horrific childhood for Lecter). And the rest of American society doesn't seem to want to believe that anyone could be born that way, either.

Of course, the other good point Stout makes is that most sociopaths don't manifest so dramatically as serial murderers, which I think is a common misconception. I once told someone that I suspected a colleague of theirs was a sociopath, and she looked at me like I'd said he sprang from shadows with a knife. I just meant that this guy had stolen from people who liked and trusted him and then cried when confronted about it ... seemed to fit the definition, to me.