Dexter Morgan: Monster Or Man?

By September 22, 2013


You’ve come a long way, Dexter Morgan.

For eight years, Dexter has struggled through the journey from “monster” to “man,” battling his dark passenger every step of the way. It’s been a rough ride; at the end of season 7, he seemed poised to slip down a black hole and be forever marred by the darkness…and had he killed Maria LaGuerta, he might have done just that. It would have been an unforgivable lapse – a step too far over the tremulous line Dexter already straddles.

But Deb fired her gun instead, and thus saved Dexter’s life, and, perhaps, his soul. Dexter has always been a dark character, but it is the moral compass he lives by that allows him to remain an (anti)hero. Despite some near misses, he has yet to truly fall into the category of “villain.”


It seemed impossible for “Dexter” to end well. Indeed, a show about a serial killer seemed poised to conclude in one of three ways: Dexter dead, in prison, or on the run. But what if Dexter were able to rid himself of his dark passenger? Could there be a light at the end of the tunnel?

It was a thought that first entered my mind at the conclusion of season 5. Dexter had spent the season coping with Rita’s death by helping Lumen exorcise her own Dark Passenger. The curing of Lumen sparked some hope; could Dexter, too, be rid of his demons? Would the urge to kill one day wither and die?


All hope seemed lost by the end of season 7, as Dexter went off the rails and began to plot the murder of one of Miami Metro’s own. Perhaps the darkness really was embedded too deeply.

But this season, the show has come full circle. Eight years ago, Dexter was a monster pretending to be a man – or so he believed. In retrospect, it’s hard to believe he was ever less than human; his “fondness” for Deb was always legitimate.


Regardless, he is most certainly human now. The life he crafted for himself has become real; his friendships are no longer a cover, and he feels true love – for his sister, his son, and, of course, Hannah.

And his Dark Passenger? Perhaps, like Lumen, he has finally exorcised it. In finding something that is more important than murder, the bloodlust has dissipated. But will it be for the best? And can things ever truly end well for Dexter?


The series finale airs tonight at 10 ET on Showtime. In the meantime, watch this retrospective montage: