Why I Should Binge-Watch Dexter

Dave Lange

WHAT IS Dexter ABOUT?

A dark, intense and often-twisted mystery/crime drama series inspired by Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the first in a series of novels by author Jeff Lindsay. The story revolves around a character named Dexter Morgan, a forensics expert and blood-splatter specialist who works for the Miami police department. Dexter is a twisted, psychologically damaged individual – and, as it turns out, a vigilante serial killer who metes out justice by tracking down and killing murderers or other heinous individuals who have managed to slip through the criminal-justice system. There’s a lot of blood and gore in this series … so … be … prepared.

Original TV Home: Showtime

Number Of Seasons: 8 (October 2006 to September 2013)

Total Episodes / Time Table: 96 (approx. 47 to 58 minutes each) = approx. 96 hours.

Where Is It Now?

Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, YouTube. DVD and Blu-ray boxed sets are also available for individual seasons or all eight seasons in one boxed set.

Viewing Strategy: Each season contains 12 episodes. You can watch the entire series in about month by watching three to four episodes per day.

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WHO’S IN IT? Top Up arrow

Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, Julie Benz, David Zayas, James Remar, C.S. Lee, Lauren Vélez, Erik King, Christina Robinson, Preston Bailey, Aimee Garcia, Geoff Pierson, Desmond Harrington.

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WHY IS IT BINGE WORTHY? Top Up arrow

Dexter_0906_2Dexter was one of Showtime’s most successful and popular series. Although the first season took its inspiration from author Jeff Lindsay’s novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the rest of the series strayed from the other works in Lindsay’s series of Dexter novels. Michael C. Hall jumped into the title role of Dexter Morgan fresh off his long-running stint as David Fisher on HBO’s Six Feet Under. And he made the transition brilliantly.

There’s a trio of actors who are at the core of much of the series along with Hall: Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter’s foster sister, Debra; Julie Benz as Rita, Dexter’s girlfriend who eventually becomes his wife; and James Remar as Dexter’s deceased adoptive father, Harry, who first appears in flashbacks and, later, appears as a ghost in Dexter’s everyday life.

Revolving around that core of actors is a strong collection of other talent that make up the rest of the show’s ensemble cast. Among them: David Zayas as homicide detective Angel Batista, C.S. Lee as offbeat forensics investigator Vince Masuka, Erik King as police detective James Doakes and Lauren Vélez as police lieutenant (and later captain) Maria LaGuerta. Later additions to the cast included a number of other notable stars, including: Keith Carradine, Colin Hanks, Jimmy Smits, John Lithgow, Sean Patrick Flanery, Valerie Cruz, Julia Stiles, Charlotte Rampling, Edward James Olmos, Jason Gedrick, Jaime Murray, Peter Weller, Jonny Lee Miller, Molly Parker and JoBeth Williams.

Although the series exteriors were filmed in California, it is set in Miami, which provides a colorful backdrop and also allows the series to pay homage to Miami’s colorful Latino culture. The party atmosphere is often a stark contrast to the gruesome and gory details of Dexter’s secret life.

Click Here to read all Channel Guide blogs about Dexter.

Spoiler Alert: Click Here to find out How Dexter Ended!

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MUST SEES … Top Up arrow

Somehow, it seems right to combine these two categories into one when it comes to this particular series. Every episode really has at least a couple of must-see moments that reveal certain important aspects of the show’s backstory and plot-lines. And, often, the must-see episodes are also the most shocking. Among the most notable:

Dexter (Season 1, Episode 1): The show’s pilot episode lays the groundwork for the series as well as detailing some of the personal history of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) via flashbacks that feature his adoptive father, Harry (James Remar). It seems that Harry recognized Dexter’s homicidal tendencies early on and coached him on how to put those urges to honorable use. The episode sets the stage rather quickly, with some disturbing images and a shocking array of events happening early on in the episode.

Let’s Give the Boy a Hand (Season 1, Episode 4): The Halloween episode of the first season finds the acts of the mysterious Ice Truck Killer taking a bizarre turn. Meanwhile, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) uncovers more clues relating to a possible personal connection he may have to the killer. The discovery that Dexter makes near the end of the episode is a jolt that changes his thoughts about the killer – and about himself.

Love American Style (Season 1, Episode 5) and Return to Sender (Season 1, Episode 6): Dexter (Michael C. Hall) uncovers the nefarious dealings of a human trafficker named Jorge Castillo (José Zúñiga). And, of course, he dishes out his brand of justice. But there are consequences that result in the episode that follows.

Circle of Friends (Season 1, Episode 7): The police finally apprehend the Ice Truck Killer. Or so they think …

Shrink Wrap (Season 1, Episode 8): Tony Goldwyn, better known these days as President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal, guest stars as a psychiatrist connected to a series of female suicides. He also makes Dexter (Michael C. Hall) face his past through a number of therapy sessions. The real twist in the episode, though, comes via another doctor named Rudy Cooper (Christian Camargo), who becomes the new man in Debra’s life – and who will eventually turn out to be a big part of Dexter’s life as well.

Truth Be Told (Season 1, Episode 11) and Born Free (Season 1, Episode 12): The final two episodes of the first season build up to quite a climax that includes a tense race against the clock as Dexter (Michael C. Hall) finally uncovers some bizarre truths about the Ice Truck Killer.

Waiting to Exhale (Season 2, Episode 2): This installment introduces Keith Carradine as Frank Lundy, a special agent with the FBI who specializes in high-profile murder cases. The episode also contains a few twists that affect the relationship of Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and Rita (Julie Benz).

Dex, Lies and Videotape (Season 2, Episode 6): Rita (Julie Benz) breaks up with Dexter (Michael C. Hall) after he admits to cheating on her.

Our Father (Season 3, Episode 1): Jimmy Smits joins the cast in a 12-episode arc as Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney in Miami. Meanwhile, Rita (Julie Benz) discovers that there is a bun in the oven.

Do You Take Dexter Morgan? (Season 3, Episode 12): Rita (Julie Benz) and Dexter (Michael C. Hall) tie the knot – matrimonially, that is. But there’s plenty more to this season finale.

Dexter_Sn4_1Living the Dream (Season 4, Episode 1): Rita (Julie Benz) and Dexter (Michael C. Hall) seem to be happy, living the ideal married suburban lifestyle. But all is not rosy. In fact, there’s a clever scene about eight minutes into the episode that offers an offbeat and comical variation of the sequences that usually accompany the show’s opening theme song. Perhaps most significant, though, the episode has John Lithgow joining the cast as Arthur Mitchell, a teacher and church deacon who has a dark side – as a serial killer – that will eventually have a significant impact on Dexter.

The Getaway (Season 4, Episode 12): A cruel and tragic twist of fate touches Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and Rita (Julie Benz) after Dexter has climactic encounter with Arthur Mitchell (John Lithgow). In fact, the final scene of the episode is probably one of the biggest shockers of the entire series.

My Bad (Season 5, Episode 1): The episode picks up where the Season 4 shocker left off, with Dexter trying to put his past behind him.

Those Kinds of Things (Season 6, Episode 1): Colin Hanks begins a 12-episode guest stint as Travis Marshall, an employee at the Miami Museum of Art.

Buck the System (Season 7, Episode 3): Yvonne Strahovski joins the cast as Hannah McKay, a killer’s accomplice who eventually becomes involved in Dexter’s life in a significant way.

Surprise, Motherfucker! (Season 7, Episode 12): The seventh season comes to a dramatic conclusion in a big confrontation scene involving Dexter (Michael C. Hall), Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) and LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez).

A Beautiful Day (Season 8, Episode 1): This ended up being the most viewed episode of the entire series – in part because it kicked off the show’s final season.

Remember the Monsters? (Season 8, Episode 12): A series finale is always worth seeing for character and storyline resolutions. There were those who say this episode and, in particular, its final scene delivered the worst series finale in the history of television. Others think it was fine. You be the judge.

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THAT LINE WAS SO GREAT… Top Up arrow

There are so-o-o-o many great lines in this series. The best and most profound ones, though, tend to come from the voiceover narration as Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) relays his innermost thoughts about his life and the things that swirl on around him. And most of the memorable best lines really come early on in the series, while you’re still getting accustomed to the show’s storytelling technique. Among the ones worth noting:

 

“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 from something different now.”

 

– From Dexter (Season 1, Episode 1): They’re the first lines of the series uttered by Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) and they quickly set the dark tone and grab your attention. You just know something weird is up – and that things won’t take long to kick in. The lines are also significant because the first couple are repeated in the first episode of the second season as well.

 

“My name is Dexter. Dexter Morgan. I don’t know what made me the way I am but whatever it was left a hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all – and I fake them very well.”

 

 

“Harry and Dorris Morgan did a wonderful job raising me. But they’re both dead now. I didn’t kill them. Honest.”

 

 

“Harry was a great cop here in Miami. He taught me how to think like one; taught me how to cover my tracks. I’m a very neat monster.”

 

 

“That’s my foul-mouthed foster sister, Debra. She has a big heart but won’t let anyone see it. She’s the only person in the world who loves me. I think that’s nice. I don’t have feelings about anything, but if I could have feelings at all, I’d have them for Deb.”

 

– A series of four separate lines from Dexter (Season 1, Episode 1): After the show’s first gruesome sequence, Dexter spends time explaining his background story and family history in voiceovers which accompany a variety of scenes that set the stage for the series.

 

“She’s perfect because Rita is, in her own way, as damaged as me.”

 

 

“Rita’s ex-hubby, the crack addict, repeatedly raped her, knocked her around. Ever since then, she’s been completely uninterested in sex. That works for me!”

 

– From Dexter (Season 1, Episode 1): Dexter (Michael C. Hall) describes his relationship with his girlfriend, Rita (Julie Benz), as we first set eyes on her.

 

“Needless to say, I have some unusual habits. Yet, all these socially acceptable people can’t wait to pick up hammers and publicly smash their food to bits. Normal people are so hostile.”

 

– From Dexter (Season 1, Episode 1): Dexter (Michael C. Hall) observes the behavior of those around him as he and Rita (Julie Benz) go to a seafood eatery where people are smashing crab shells.

 

“I suppose I should be upset – even feel violated. But I’m not. No, in fact, I think this is a friendly message, kinda like, ‘Hey, wanna play?’ And, yes, I wanna play. I really, really do.”

 

– From Dexter (Season 1, Episode 1): The final lines of the pilot episode, as Dexter (Michael C. Hall) goes home and discovers severed doll parts in his freezer, put there up by a serial killer and arranged in the same way the killer had lined up the severed body parts of one of his victims.

 

“Our boss, Lieutenant LaGuerta. In keeping with her total sense of entitlement, she has this attraction to me. I thought I was creepy.”

 

– From Crocodile (Season 1, Episode 2): Dexter explains the discomfort he feels due to the crush that his supervisor, Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez), has for him.

 

“Another beautiful Miami day! Mutilated corpses with a chance of afternoon showers.”

 

– From Crocodile (Season 1, Episode 2): Dexter observes his surroundings as police uncover frozen finger tips in a refrigerated truck.

 

“I can kill a man, dismember his body and be home in time for Letterman. But knowing what to say when my girlfriend’s feeling insecure … I’m totally lost.”

 

– From Crocodile (Season 1, Episode 2): Dexter (Michael C. Hall) reflects on his relationship with Rita (Julie Benz) while they’re on a double date with Debra (Julie Carpenter) and her boyfriend.

 

“I find people around me are all making some kind of connection. Like friendship. Or romance. But human bonds always lead to messy complications. Commitment. Sharing. Driving people to the airport. Besides, if I let someone get that close, they’d see who I really am. And I can’t let that happen. So, time to put on my mask.”

 

– From Let’s Give the Boy a Hand (Season 1, Episode 4): The opening lines of the episode, which reveal a little more of Dexter’s psyche.

 

“I love Halloween. The one time of year when everyone wears a mask. Not just me. People think it’s fun to pretend you’re a monster. Me, I spend my life pretending I’m not.”

 

– From Let’s Give the Boy a Hand (Season 1, Episode 4): Dexter’s thoughts as he checks out the wares at a Halloween costume store with Rita (Julie Benz) and her kids.

 

“I’ve come to appreciate the comfortable moments with Rita – the easy, quiet moments. This … might be better.”

 

– From Let’s Give the Boy a Hand (Season 1, Episode 4): The thoughts that run through Dexter’s mind as Rita (Julie Benz) comes over to his house and unexpectedly begins to perform oral sex on him.

 

“She wants something from me. Ever since the blow job, she assumes we’ve taken it to the next level. She doesn’t know yet: I don’t have a next level.”

 

– From Love American Style (Season 1, Episode 5): Dexter (Michael C. Hall) gets uncomfortable over the “small talk” he and Rita (Julie Benz) have over lunch at an outdoor restaurant.

 

“Now I’m really curious. He’s been gone so long, he had to be planning a splashy return. But a crime scene just for me?”

 

– From Seeing Red (Season 1, Episode 10): Dexter (Michael C. Hall) eagerly anticipates the return of the Ice Truck Killer. But the blood-soaked crime scene soon overwhelms him.

 

“The reality is, there’s nobody left alive who can handle my truth. Doakes always sensed I was hiding something. Now, he knows. My devil danced with his demon and the fiddler’s tune is far from over. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like for everything inside me that’s denied and unknown to be revealed. But I’ll never know. I live my life in hiding. My survival depends on it.”

 

– From Born Free (Season 1, Episode 12): These lines are among the last ones in the first-season finale, as Dexter (Michael C. Hall) grapples with everything that has gone on in that season.

 

“Dexter Morgan. Good suburban husband. Happy father of three. On paper anyway.”

 

– From Living the Dream (Season 4, Episode 1): Dexter (Michael C. Hall) assesses how he and Rita (Julie Benz) are living the suburban dream. Or not.

 

“FBI? Fucking Bunch of Idiots.”

 

– From My Bad (Season 5, Episode 1): Debra (Julie Carpenter) lashes out at an FBI agent at the scene of the latest homicide by a murderer known as the Trinity Killer.

 

“I destroy everyone I love. But I can’t let that happen to Hannah, to Harrison. I have to protect them – from me.”

 

– From Remember The Monsters? (Season 8, Episode 12): They’re the last words uttered by Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) as he contemplates the future of his girlfriend and the son he had with his first wife, Rita (Julie Benz), in a voiceover that happens as he drives his powerboat into an oncoming hurricane near the end of the series finale.