Dexter 1.1-3 – Dexter, Crocodile, & Popping Cherry

Hello, Dexter fans! I’m so excited to be bringing you a Re-Watch Recap of all SIX excellent seasons of Dexter! We’ll be going through three episodes at a time until we get to season 6, when we’ll go episode by episode in preparation for the season 7 premier in September. So get out your blood-spatter kits and pull up a chair, because we’re going old school with the 2006 premier of this award-winning Showtime series. 

The first episode opens with the moon reflected in a puddle bathed in the red glow of a stoplight. A man drives down the streets of Miami, his face in shadows. “Tonight’s the night. And it’s going to happen again, and again. It has to happen.”

In a park, under a gazebo covered with lights, a boys’ choir gives a concert. You know the kind of choir I mean – voices like angels, singing old-timey choral songs that no one can ever make out the words to. The man watches from the car. Through voice over, he introduces us to the conductor, one Mike Donovan. Mike is embracing his loving family. He gets into his car and suddenly the man is choking him, telling him to do what he says and drive. Mike’s Adam’s apple can barely move against the tight cable as he tries to swallow.

Inside in an abandoned building, the man keeps telling Mike to look at what he did or he’s going to cut his eyelids right off his face. Jesus, who is this guy?! He’s pretty fucked up! And then we see the legs and feet of three bodies – three dead little boys. The man tells the gruesome details of how it took him a long time to find them and dig them up. Mike finally cracks: “Please, I couldn’t help myself, you have to understand!” The picture is starting to become clear, now. The mystery man reveals that he can’t help himself either, but that he could never do that to kids: “I have standards.” And then he sticks Mike with some sort of tranquilizer.

Mike wakes up naked and strapped to a table, the man standing over him in a splatter suit. He cuts Mike’s face and puts some of his blood on a glass slide. We hear the shrill whirring of a drill, and from overhead we see Mike trying to struggle, making muffled sounds through his gag.

“My name is Dexter. Dexter Morgan. I don’t know what made me the way I am, but it whatever it was left a hollow place inside.”

Dexter was adopted, but his foster parents have since passed. “I didn’t kill them,” he reassures us. He lives in a gorgeous apartment by the bay. Like almost all serial killers, he takes “trophies” from his kills. Dexter takes blood. He stores the slides in a wooden box inside his air conditioner.

Let’s go through the roster, shall we?

Deb Morgan – Dexter’s foster sister. She works in Vice for Miami Metro, and is currently working a case which involves her to be undercover as a hooker. She desperately wants to work Homicide, and she thinks Dexter can help her out.
Lt. Maria LaGuerta – Head of the Homicide Department. She and Deb don’t get along, and she has a creepy crush on Dexter.
Vince Masuka – Dexter’s colleague in forensics. He’s the Creepy Guy in the office: within the first five seconds, he makes an inappropriate comment about how “hot” Deb looks in her hooker get-up. To her brother. Ew.
Angel Batista – A detective in Homicide.
James Doakes – Homicide detective sergeant, who clearly hates Dexter because he gives him “the fucking creeps.”
Harry Morgan – Deb and Dexter’s father, a former cop who was well respected in the community. He created a Code for Dexter to follow to help him choose who to kill and how to not get caught. Because of him, Dexter is a “very neat monster.”

Dexter gets a call from Deb to come to a crime scene at some seedy motel where you can probably rent by the hour. They found a hooker chopped up in pieces, making that body number three – a serial killer. Vince asks Dexter what he’s doing there. Dexter explains it’s a crime scene.

“But you do blood spatter,” Vince pushes.

Dexter: “So?”

Vince: “So? There’s no blood here.”

Batista and Masuka pull the sheet back, and present a body in several pieces drained of all blood. Dexter has serial killer penis envy. Why didn’t he think of that?!

Back at the station, Dexter gets an old case file from a woman who was close with Harry. He’s using those files to track criminals who got off. And we’re not talking about bank robbers or scam artists: we’re talking the real sick freak criminals. Like Jewarski, who killed a woman and left her children and husband devastated.

We’re introduced to the lovely and sweet Rita. Deb saved her life on a domestic abuse call and hooked her up with Dexter. They’ve been dating for six months. She has two small children, Astor and Cody. Dex says she’s perfect because she’s “as damaged as me.” Her ex-husband was a crack addict who raped her and knocked her around. She understandably has some issues with intimacy and trust.

Dexter and Rita head out to an outdoor club for date night. There is a crime scene just a few feet away from them, and Dexter heads over to help. It’s another body, severed, no blood… and no head. Dexter is jealous of this killer’s skill, his art.

Through a flashback, we discover that Harry tried to help Dexter through his urge to kill. Harry asks him if he remembers anything that happened to him before he was adopted, but Dexter doesn’t. Harry is convinced that Dexter is a good kid, even though his urge is going to grow stronger. And so, Harry suggests that Dexter kills only the bad people that the police can’t catch, and he’s going to teach him how to do it.

Deb and Dexter discuss the serial killer case over lunch. If talking about chopped up dead people and cell crystallization doesn’t get your appetite going, I don’t know what does! Dexter believes that the killer is using a refrigerated truck: cold environment to slow the blood flow, private, completely mobile – it makes perfect sense. Deb shares this theory at a meeting at work and LaGuerta completely dismisses her. Poor Deb.

Dexter kills Jewarksi in an abandoned building. When Dexter is getting ready to leave, a refrigerated delivery truck drives by. “No way,” he whispers. He follows it, and after a few miles the truck turns, drives toward Dexter’s car, and drops a severed head onto his windshield.

Dex returns home to find a Barbie head taped to his freezer door. He opens the freezer and finds the rest of Barbie, tied with ribbon and cut into pieces. “I suppose I should feel upset, even 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.”

It's what's for dinner.

Episode two begins with a Dexter voice over contemplating his inner darkness. The great thing about that, though, is through his examination of himself, we’re exposed to comments about humanity in general, and our own darkness in particular. Think about it: the protagonist of the show is a serial killer, but we’re rooting for him. He’s our Byronic hero, but his sociopathic tendencies should make us dislike him. Yet we don’t.

Dexter keeps studying his severed Barbie doll. We see that her fingernails are painted in a rainbow pattern. Despite his love of puzzles, he’s frustrated that he’s not any closer to finding an answer to this one.

In court, Dex is on the stand to share his findings for a case. As he leaves, he sees a devastated family embracing in the lobby and he follows the father into the middle of a trial. He listens as a lawyer tells the jury that a young man is dead because the defendant hit him with his car while driving intoxicated, then fled the scene. Dexter follows the defendant, a man named Matt Chambers, until he leaves the courthouse, certain that he’ll see him later.

On the scene of another crime, Dexter discovers human flesh in the deceased’s mouth. LaGuerta shares the bad news that the victim, Ricky Simmons, was a cop. Doakes knows him and accompanies Maria to notify his next of kin. Looking in the window, Doakes notices Ricky’s wife, on the ground and bleeding. Simmons was undercover in a criminal named Carlos Guerrero’s family for ten months without incident, but attacking Simmons’ wife is crossing a line. He’s pissed off the entire Miami PD.

Deb finds the ice truck and Dexter joins her. It’s still running. They call in the rest of the crew and Angel, Dexter, and Deb climb into the back of the truck to find five fingertips encased in a block of ice. That means they have prints to identify the vic, like he’s “leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.” The truck is the first solid lead, and even though LaGuerta credits Deb with the find, she takes credit for encouraging Deb. Then she reams Deb out for not keeping her informed about her little side project. Deb just can’t get a break. Back at the lab, they notice the fingernails are painted in a rainbow pattern. Dexter knows it’s a message for him. On the plus side, the killer has a catchy new nickname – the Ice Truck Killer.

Doakes and Maria interrogate Cervantes, a suspect in the Simmons case. He tells the police that Simmons’ wife was fucking around and that he probably killed the woman himself, then committed suicide. But the DNA on the flesh in the victim’s mouth matches the suspect’s – and, oh yeah, he’s also missing a chunk of his arm. At the crime scene, Dexter finds a rogue drop of blood. The DNA also matches Cervantes’. Maria wants to give him a deal and use him to get Guerrero. Doakes is pissed off about this and storms out.

At a bar, Dexter sits down next to not-guilty Matt Chambers and starts a friendly conversation with him. Dexter could be an award-winning actor with the stories he spins on the spot and the other personas he so easily creates. When Chambers leaves, Dexter wraps his used shot glass in a tissue and sticks it in his pocket. At home, he discovers that Chambers has a history of drunk driving kills. His real name also isn’t Chambers. Dexter sets up his kill room. Harry taught Dexter to always be sure about his kills, and he is sure about this one.

The Captain and LaGuerta promote Deb from Vice to Homicide. It’s clear that Maria doesn’t want that, but the order came from above so, nah-nah-nah-boo-boo. Deb is now really on the Ice Truck Killer case.

Simmons’ wife dies of heart failure following her surgery. Maria outright asks Doakes if he was fucking her. I think we all know that it was pretty obvious he was. Maria should take him off the case, but she doesn’t.

Flashback: The man who killed Harry’s partner is let off on a complication. Dexter asks what they do next. Harry says nothing yet, but the world can always be set right. Dexter has Chambers on his table and takes the signature blood sample from his cheek. After a brief chat, he unceremoniously stabs him in the chest before beginning to saw him into easily disposable pieces. He returns home. Another Barbie doll head has appeared on Dexter’s freezer. The inside is empty. The Ice Truck Killer came back and left nothing, telling Dexter to come find him.

We start episode 3 at Simmons’ funeral. After the service, Dexter drives by the Dade County Youth Correctional Facility. “Florida prisons kick free 25,000 inmates a year. They don’t do that for me, but it sure feels like it. I search for the ones who think they beat the system. They’re not hard to find.” Dexter’s latest prey is a young man named Jeremy Downs, who seemed to have the makings of a potential serial killer – he was only fifteen when he killed an older teenaged boy in a park.

Deb gets another call for a murder that bears the Ice Truck Killer’s MO. This time the body is left at a hockey rink. “A miracle on ice,” Dexter gushes. Calm down, Dexter, it’s unprofessional to pop a boner at a crime scene. The body is missing the fingertips. Deb recognizes her as a woman she worked the corner with and asks LaGuerta if she can go talk to her hooker contacts to see if she can find anything out.

Jeez, Dexter, could you try to look a little less excited by a severed hooker?

Deb’s hooker friends tell her that Cherry, the recently murdered prostitute, got in an old station wagon the night before and never came back. Even though this group of girls only has a short one-shot scene, they’re awesome. They tell Deb that LaGuerta is her pimp because of how she controls her, and Deb says she’s not a “fucking whore.” One of the girls asks her, “What’s wrong with being a fucking whore?”

The cops find a missing security tape from the hockey arena in a missing night watchman’s apartment. The footage shows Tony Tucci walking across the ice and placing the pieces of Cherry’s body in the goal. He’s got a record, too, which is good for the cops. LaGuerta labels him the Ice Truck Killer, and Deb calls bullshit. Once again, LaGuerta shuts her down. That’s gotta be a great work environment for someone who is trying to prove herself.

Later on, Deb and Angel go over the security footage again. They discuss the fact that the body was preserved in liquid nitrogen, a very dangerous chemical to work with. Tucci didn’t even pass high school chemistry. They catch him looking over his shoulder just before he repositions the torso, as if he’s taking direction from someone. The real Ice Truck Killer must be holding him at gunpoint and making him do his dirty work. He’s framing Tucci.

Dexter continues to stalk Downs at a park, where he seems to be luring another boy over a fence. He has a knife in his back pocket. Dexter recognizes that he’s trying to recreate his first kill, to ritualize it. Dex follows them into a marsh, where they are apparently going to look at an alligator. It’s no surprise when the other boy doesn’t see the alligator, but Downs assures him he just has to get closer. The other kid realizes there’s no gator there. Just as Downs begins to pull his knife, Dexter comes through looking for his missing Frisbee. Then a real gator pops out, scaring the shit out of both Dexter and me. He’s regretting his act of humanity. It’s not his job to save lives.

Back in time, Harry is in the hospital, very ill. A nurse prepares to give him a shot of pain meds. Harry tells awkward teen Dexter to stop her, that he wants pain. After she leaves, Harry asks if Dexter can tell. “She’s like me,” he says. The nurse gives too much morphine and some other kind of drug that is making Harry worse and killing him and others by overdose. “Stop her,” Harry whispers. “It’s time. Before she hurts anyone else.”

Deb takes her theory about Tucci to the Captain, who scolds her for jumping the chain of command by not taking this to LaGuerta first. “Your father never would’ve pulled the kind of shit you just did.” Everybody now: poor Deb. But then the Captain goes to LaGuerta and checks her reality, son! She needs to listen to her crew.

Doakes is in the car with a few fellow cops. He expects a nice boys’ night out, but instead he’s handed a clown mask and asked to help the guys mess up one of Guerrero’s top lieutenants.  Doakes doesn’t want them to do this, because he showed his face to Guerrero and his whole church when he threatened Guerrero. They’re going to think he’s behind it. “That’s the point, dumbass!” says one of the guys. “You fucked my sister. You fucked a cop’s wife. Now, you’re just fucked, buddy!” He is apparently Simmons’ brother-in-law. Doakes runs

In a rec center, Downs plays an arcade game. The power goes out, and Dexter pushes the kid up against a pole. Downs tells him that if he tries to fuck him, he’ll kill him just like “that other guy.” Dexter realizes that Downs was raped and that he didn’t commit murder; he was just taking out the garbage. Dexter changes his mind and pretends he just came back for the wallet that Downs stole from his car.

Back to the Angel of Death nurse. “The nurse was my first playmate,” Dexter recalls. She and Dexter struggle as he tries to slip her the tranquilizer. “Hey, perfecting a craft takes time.” We relive Dexter’s first kill. It’s messy and inefficient. He sure has come a long way!

The episode ends with Dexter musing about his disconnect from humanity, his puppet existence. This is juxtaposed with Rita smiling happily at him while the kids sell lemonade. He’s so good to them, and he looks after them and clearly he does care for them. And this is why we love Dexter.

Total Dexter body count: 4

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  • Erik

    Nice job Samantha and very well written! Looking forward to reading more!

  • Mandy

    Love the recap! Could you let us know about how often you’ll be posting? Looking forward to taking the Dexter ride with you!

    • Hi, thanks for reading! I’ll be posting every Monday. It’s so funny watching the older seasons now… I haven’t seen them in so long!

  • Kate

    Thanks! I have tried so often to watch Dexter but it is broadcasted at horrible times over here. I am now trying to catch up to season tree and your recaps help me remembering wth happened in the first season I saw years back.