RANGER AGAINST WAR: Dexter III -- He's One of Us <

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dexter III -- He's One of Us

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
--What if God was One of Us?,
Joan Osbourne

I am he as you are he
as you are me
and we are all together
--I am the Walrus, The Beatles

And anyone can tell

you think you know me well

but you don't know me

--You Don't Know Me
, Eddy Arnold

Per Ms. Osbourne's plaintive, if grammatically incorrect, question: What if he were one of us?

Ranger does this as a pop cultural public service for you; someone's got to do it. But it is not as though he goes gently into that good night. No, not without the palliatives of Pilsner and chips. On with the show.

The season finale saw our hero, serial killer Dexter, facing a tough choice: to kill the episode's bad guy, which is normally his pleasure, or not. Problem: this serial killer what needed killin' was his brother. You guessed it, a Cain and Abel play of sorts. In the end, Dexter puts on a brave face and offs his brother so as to save his adopted sister who is an innocent in these sinister goings-on.

Fastidious to a T, Dexter slits the brother's throat and inverts him so he can bleed out nicely, the hanging carcass thus emphasizing the animal nature of all. Clean work, Dex! He really slays them.

Applying the metaphorical posture of previous posts, one could see the murdered brother as symbolizing the U.S. and the adopted sister as Iraq.
Dexter becomes a George Bush archetype, bleeding out his consanguine brother (= the U.S.) to save the adopted sister (= Iraq).

As the show draws to a close, Dexter has a Walter Mitty-like reverie: if people only knew of his greatness and his martyrdom, they would praise him as a hero. Maybe even throw flowers at him, a la Mr. Rumsfeld's imago dei.

In a pure Hollywood moment, we see an airplane drawing a Dexter banner. This is his "Mission Accomplished" moment. Or maybe the screenwriters just meant they had accomplished the mission of a season of Dexter for this particular year. Maybe a clever double entendre. Whatever.

Finally, the screen fades out to Dexter's externalized thoughts: "Yes, they see me. I'm one of them, in their darkest dreams." But maybe, this "dark" is like saying "bad" when we really mean "good," as in street-speak for "not conformist." That would be deep, perhaps giving too much credit to screenwriters.

Who knows, but fade out to red, white and blue confetti falling all around Dexter, in a screen shot straight from a republican nominating convention. It is his Sally Fields moment -- They really like me!

He is, after all, one of us.

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

yeah, that was some totally strange ass shit. one of the biggest fallacies that this show propogates is that dexter (and his brother) are the way they are because of the childhood trauma.

nearly every study that is coming down the pipe resolves the "nature vs nurture" debate squarely and emphatically on the side of nature. sociopaths are made, not created. they tend to do worse when exposed to conventional psychotherapy. it gives them an expert platform to hone their pathology and con skills. conning a shrink is akin to taking batting practice off nolan ryan. everything else after that is cupcakes.

my sister is a nurse in one of the biggest california prisons. her case load is chock a block with sociopaths. she tells them since god didn't give you a conscience the state of california has given you me. consider me to be your own personal jimminy fucking cricket from now on.

she's a great lady.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 6:15:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


So is your sister a psychiatric nurse? She's got quite a job--my hat's off to her.

Probably a bit of both in the case of nature vs. nurture, but hewing to nature, for sure. I am tired of people refusing responsibility for their actions b/c they're traumatized, or what have you. We are all traumatized, simply by virtue of living in this very sick society.

I.Q. potentiality, for instance, seems to be skewed to nature (genetics). Sociopaths almost always seem to arise from the ground of a poor upbringing. Not always, but usually.

Of course, that doesn't dismiss the "nature" argument, either. Distressed people raise distressed offspring. In that case, nature + nurture have dealt a poor hand. Shrinks, rehab centers and juvenile facilities are usually schools for scoundrels. Conventional psychotherapy is hopelessly rulebound.

I don't have an answer, but I know our society has preached an ideology of entitlement. The self help aisles in the bookstore proclaim your "rights" to happiness , youth, health. . . Meds, the scalpel or therapy will take you there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 8:17:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

she's a trained psychiatric nurse, but she's working a general assignment gig at the prison. although because of the setting there is a huge compliment of psych cases. the california prison system is now mostly the biggest nuthouses in the state. there are four prisons which are completely organized around psych cases which didn't get the nut plea down.

even though she does a good deal of cuts, bruises, checking TB tests and such she does spend most of her time dealing with the psych jackets.

she says it's the best job she's ever had. everytime she's with a patient there are two COs standing guard. also, as a nurse, she is off limits for assault among the prisoners. they know that if a nurse or doctor was hurt they would be denied the meager and marginal health care they are getting now.

there are lots of very functional sociopaths in our society. they are well represented in the military, law enforcement and politics. a lot of the milder cases have enough self-awareness to know that there is something missing. a circuit that doesn't complete, or a switch that won't throw. many of them find comfort in something like the military where the external structure and code replace and compensate for what is missing.

in politics, what better skill could a politician have than knowing on a visceral level what people want to hear and be able to give it to them? bill clinton has that in spades. his lack of any core or central belief or conscience made him preternaturally gifted when it came to swaying a crowd. he sniffed the wind and followed his nose to paydirt.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 11:06:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


"There are lots of very functional sociopaths in our society. They are well represented in the military, law enforcement and politics." Don't I know (present co. excepted!)

When you mention a politician's absence of core ideology allowing him to prey upon the masses, I would argue just as strongly that the True Believer can be every bit the sociopath as the amoralist. Perhaps moreso.

For the amoralist, everyone counts the same, whereas for the True Believer, the infidels can be seen as evil incarnate, and requiring of reformation and/or elimination.

You may take your pick here. Witness Muslim fanatics, George Bush, . . . endless, really.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008 at 11:53:00 AM GMT-5  

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