Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Had a conversation with a friend the other day about movies and books and about how disappointing it always was to see a movie based on a brilliant book that one may have read. So much is lost when mediums are changed. Characters get reinterpreted, stories get hacked, changed. It’s almost always a disappointing experience.

We did acknowledge with some reluctance that movies can whet appetites, make one want more, like when one sees a movie and knows that the book has to be the immediate next step.

However, TV shows, surprisingly, can often do more justice to the novel and stay true to form. Perhaps because they have more time. I have been watching Dexter on my iPod. I downloaded all of Season 1 and am almost done with all 12 episodes. The show is amazing. In essence it is about a serial killer who kills serial killers and other murderers; a serial killer who enjoys killing but has been taught (or programmed by his father over several years) to never take an innocent life. I hear that the show is based on Jeff Lindsay’s – Darkly Dreaming Dexter and almost as soon as I finish watching the 12th episode of Season 1 I am going to acquire a copy of the novel. It would be almost as hard for me to resist as it is for Dexter to resist a good kill.

In watching these episodes what’s hooked me are the moments of introspection that Dexter goes through when he wonders if being nothing but a collection of learned behaviors makes him a fraud.

How often are the rest of us simply pretending, showcasing learned behaviors and burying the slumbering and occasionally awake beast within. What’s our essence, what’s acquired, what’s real?

He feels empty inside as if he’s floating above, watching things, observing, not really a part of anything. When he feels nothing for a person he pretends he does or rather, has been trained to pretend and to blend in so that no one ever suspects his sociopathy. He resists sexual encounters because he believes that such intimacies will bring him too close to someone and then they’ll know him for who he really is. Makes one wonder what it is about sex that triggers a series of expectation building or triggers an alteration in behavior. As if a new precedent has been set and all that came before was meaningless. Even though all concerned know, deep down, that what’s going to come after isn’t necessarily meaningful either.

One wonders how a show so bloody and so monstrous could have one contemplating so much else. But there it is.

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