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Dexter’s Debra

Monday 28 July 2014, by Van Quynh

Keywords:  |  dexter  |

Dexter’s Debra or delving into the psyche of Dexter.

This 7th season comes full circle with the 1st in a fundamental way. To the question “Who Am I?”, Dexter has first answered with the following: “A Killer with a Code”, Dexter stands as some sort of violent far west hero figure who makes the laws he wants to abide but also the laws he can live with. That answer has also changed throughout the course of the series, his identity taking ventures on unbeaten paths; all the while learning from trials and error – I am a boyfriend, I am a husband, I am a friend, I am a father, I am a man; somehow the truth belying those successive answers slash discoveries was simply I am a human being, because I feel, I hurt, I long and I dream, consequently I also anger, I envy, I covet, I rage, I anguish, I depress, all of these just parts of the whole package of living. But for one who feels so rational, Dexter is irrationally blind concerning his own very real emotions.

Dexter has come back full circle and this season finale mirrors that of the 1st season finale but now everything is upside down. Fantasy is answered with reality, daytime by nighttime, celebration for the siblings with doom (Is this the beginning... or the beginning of the end?), no more smiles but dull shock, from celebration from everyone to complete anonymity in the cheery crowd, being led by the hand by an excited Debra replaced by Debra almost clinging listlessly on Dexter’s arm behind him.

This is a message that was always there in the series and is the fundamental reason that the show is not a simple apology of killing with a moral code: Blood sullies everything, it stains, it defiles, it denatures, it corrupts, it perverts, it dooms, for everyone who comes close, the only salvation is just to up and leave or to up and die.

Who is Debra? Debra is the embodiment of Dexter’s tie with humanity but she’s more than just that.

Dexter tells us at the very beginning of the series that if he could feel for anyone, it would be for her, and it betrays something that is not obvious at first: Debra is the first foundation of his identity, long... long before he had a grasp of who he wanted to be or think he was or is, Debra has been the foundation of his life. Harry did not only provide him with a code, more importantly he put Debra in his life, he glued her in – making her essential.

It explains why Dexter cannot give her up in the first season when Bryan (Dexter’s blood brother) very accurately wants to kill her because of what she represents. The situation is repeated in this season, Dexter cannot give in to Hannah for the risk it would put on Debra’s life, but in truth for the very real threat put on his very own identity.

Although, his mental Debra is not exactly the real Debra, the two are intrinsically linked.

Dexter uses his Debra and his Dark Passenger as an excuse to distance himself from his emotions and his dark drive but mostly he uses them to justify his powerlessness. A rationale that the real Debra denies him in block, “you are not the victim...” which leads him to admit truths in this finale, fundamental truths about his sense of identity. First there is no Dark Passenger, at last he embraces his violent nature, no more excuse, but he realizes also that this fake identity of his is real, has now become his true self. And the real Debra who has always gravitated around his conscious psyche is partly being emancipated from his Debra; sure, Debra cannot live on the run but most importantly, it is Dexter that cannot accept to live on the run.

It goes beyond a simple case of siblings bonds and that could certainly explained that Debra would think there was something more in their close relationship. In a lot of ways they are symbiotic, neither one would exist as such without the other constant existence.

The last season of Dexter was much of a disappointment for many people, I included, but not because of the content of the finale per se but because of the form – more accurately the way it was delivered.

While the last season was interesting in the treatment of the siblings relationship, the ending would have benefited from that remaining the entire focus of the season, and if not possible at all, from the siblings theme at least being the last one tackled. Instead we had a pseudo family fantasy à la Dexter (i.e. a serial killer family sans Debra and with a defanged Hannah who had consequently lost all momentum) towards the end of the season.

Thus no point got through and the result is an inconsistent and in the end ungraspable season.

The last episode seemed for the most part to occur totally out of the blue, Debra as such dies without much rhyme or reason, one moment – she was alive and at last accepting of Dexter and the next – dead and sinking into the deep sea, same goes with Dexter who suddenly ends up alone – an anonymous and somber wraith of a creature.

Anyway, as it stands, the ending of Dexter vindicates the theory that Dexter and Debra’s existences are symbiotic in essence. Debra is Dexter’s mental alter ego, an ego who for all intent and purposes resides in the person of the real Debra, Debra is indeed a crutch for Dexter.

For that matter, Dexter is literally shocked when Debra tries to kill them both – in all of the things that happened, it never came to his mind to distrust her – consequently he is really hurt and shaken by it. Of course Debra’s action are not out of character, she has been going through a traumatic experience in killing Laguerta – for Debra’s inner construct is that of a police officer – attempting to kill Dexter is the last try to salvage that part of the persona. The lesson learnt from the experience is that Dexter is more essential to her than anything else. Debra cannot stand outlasting him so she saves him, consequently her desperate conviction in killing the both of them vanishes not likely to appear again for the lesson she did learn.

You may also say that they are the two faces of the same coin – one the gruesome side and the other the most honorable side of justice, still justice is blind... Their sense of justice is very biblical – embracing the violence of the world, one through actions (Dexter), the other through words (Debra). They serve a common purpose given to them by their father – that is to stop the Evil of the world. The two despise the monsters they see for the very despicable nature of their Evil. It never comes to mind for Dexter to despise himself for fundamentally he does not see himself as a monster – indeed he has never prey on the weak. Plus the act of killing is not ugly in Dexter’s eyes – more it is an art, as well Debra has no such judgment either even if she has never believed in being proactive in her exercise of justice – her later tolerance for vigilante is speaking of her lack of disgust, it stands that Debra could rationalize killing someone on duty or to save an innocent.

For a lot of reasons, Debra appears more like a normal persona (compared to Dexter) but many elements underlines her symbiotic existence with that of her brother. For instance, her so called romantic love for him but even before this dubious and maybe deluded conclusion of her, she had indeed claimed that Dexter was her "constant". As much as Debra is Dexter’s crutch, he is hers – an anchor in the hostile world.

In the end, both of them are completely "fucked up" and it should be said that Harry was instrumental in bringing them up as they are.

For the both of them, the other is not external to themselves but like part of themselves, it goes even further for the other seems to be their very foundation and without whom they are likely to just crumble.

Consequently, although Dexter cannot disparage his survival instinct (he survives the storm), an existence without Debra is no existence – and thus the series comes to an end.

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