Religious Themes in 301: “Our Father”

The dust is settling now that Sergeant Doakes is out of the picture and the Bay Harbor Butcher case has been officially closed. Angel Batista has been promoted to Detective Sergeant, which puts Deb’s Detective shield in sight. An unexpected visitor as Dexter as about to kill drug dealer, Freebo, causes Dexter to violate the Code for the first time in his life, killing ADA Miguel Prado’s baby  brother, Oscar Prado. With Harry’s birthday coming up, Dexter decides he must move on from the memory of his coward of a father. Dexter is settling into family life, and pretty well at that. Rita discovers that she is pregnant, which is bound to shake things up this season. When Miguel Prado takes a special interest in Dexter’s affairs, we have to start wondering about Miguel himself. Continue reading for the full treatment of Dexter season three, episode one: “Our Father.”

“Our Father”: Religious Themes in Dexter

Right off the bat, the season premiere  begins with a reference to the Christian  prayer “Our Father,” which plays on a few areas. The prayer speaks of God forgiving His people for their sins and the ultimate forgiveness he will bestow upon them to “deliver us from evil.” Since Harry Morgan is Dexter and Deb’s “God figure” (which is reinforced by the fact that Dexter refers to the Code as the “twisted commandments handed down from the only God I ever worshiped”), we can relate the Code to this promise. If Dexter follows the Code, he will be “deliver[ed] . . . from evil” and harm’s way. A portion of this episode takes place on Harry Morgan’s birthday, a day which the Morgan children celebrate their father’s life traditionally (or ritualistically, if we use “Dexter speak”). The episode celebrates their father.

Dexter proclaims: “my God is dead now,” which plays out in the fact that he does not meet Deb at the Blue Room at 7:30 “as usual” to drink to his honor. A lot of Dexter’s angst (or all of it) stems back to the fact that his father lied and wronged him in several ways, a parallel which emerges when Dexter stands in for Cody’s “Dad Day” at school. He observes the eight-year-old and sees how he just moves on. No more hang ups from how Paul abused him (if you recall, the treatment for 212: “The  British Invasion” defines Paul Bennett as a metonymic link between Dexter and Rita’s children). Dexter’s way of “moving on” just as Cody does is not attending this memorial of their father, leaving Deb to drink her pathetic glass of cranberry juice alone (that is, until Angel Batista stops by to pay his respects).

Blue Room

When we talk religious symbolism and themes that run through Dexter, I always think about how Harry’s shadow is forever present in Dexter’s life, just as Christians claim that God is a permanent presence in their lives. Dexter follows the Code just as people follow the 10 Commandments given to Moses. As Miguel Prado ponders at the wake of his late brother, Oscar Prado: “[Don’t you ever wonder about the person’s] life form . . . somehow it’s living inside you?”. In fact, it is. Harry lives within Dexter through the Code.

Yet again, we see Dexter in a religious setting (Oscar Prado’s wake), which was a dead ringer for me for Michael C. Hall’s HBO role in Six Feet Under as David Fischer. The black and white wardrobe and setting was an interesting way to introduce the idea of “all black or all white” in regards to morality. Dexter is only at the wake because he falsely claimed to be moved by Oscar’s death and wanted “to understand” what happened. He does discover, however, that he does not know how to act given the fact that he acted “wholly outside the Code.” Usually his life is black and white, but this is a gray area, as Dexter thinks: “commandments one through ten: don’t get caught.” This situation with the Prado family has got Dexter spinning his wheels, looking for some sort of evidence to justify Oscar Prado’s spontaneous murder. Later on, Dexter will learn that Oscar, in the words of Miguel, did not “[suffer] from the tragedy of perfection.” Although Dexter claims to “have moved on from my father . . . I still need his code, now more than ever. But it has to evolve — become my own.” We can expect from here on out a shift in the Code and the way Dexter operates. There is no more black and white — Dexter is actually attending a black and white wake, mourning the death of his old ideals and his image of Harry, not just Oscar Prado.

Freebo a Freebie?: Politics and the Prados

Fred Bowman, or “Freebo,” was Dexter’s next victim to become “repurposed as fish food” until Oscar Prado showed up. Dexter knows that Freebo’s pink drug house will become a crime scene, so he drives there before he is even called, which I think is silly and careless, but I don’t think anyone calls him out for this (he does lie and say he’s 20-30 minutes away, however). As scary of a case this is for Dexter, Deb is rather excited because this could be the (high-profile) case that gets her a Detective’s Shield; however, due to her loud mouth, she is taken off the case almost immediately after its opening.

We are introduced to the main player for season two early on, A.D.A. Miguel Prado, along with a short bio of his two younger brothers, Oscar and Ramon. Ramon (the middle  brother) is a lieutenant in the sheriff’s department and is known for being a “law and order hard-ass.” Oscar, the youngest and least alive of the three brothers, was a coach at a youth club who was confronting Freebo for selling his kids drugs. Thanks to Deb’s investigation, Oscar was “into Freebo for some serious cash.” Calling him a “junkie” is coincidentally what gets her off of the case.

Miguel Prado’s slogan is: “A safe Miami is the only Miami,” which coincidentally coincides with Dexter’s “taking out the trash” mission. He was the top prosecutor in Florida three years in a row and is “dedicated to fighting crime.” Insistent on avenging his brother’s death, Miguel takes a special interest in those working on his brother’s case, which leads him to discover that Dexter had been searching the databases for information on Oscar (we find this out after Miguel calls Dexter up to explain the blood and series of events to him). When Miguel asks for reassurance as to Oscar not suffering a terrible death, Dexter asserts: “the blood never lies.” Indeed it does not. Perhaps Miguel sniffed out Dexter as a fellow psycho-/sociopath, just as the barking dog in the car does to Dexter, or perhaps he is just as upset about Oscar’s death as Dexter is confused by it; one thing is for certain: Miguel is an intimidating man with connections. Furthermore, Maria once had an intimate relationship with Miguel, who “will always be the one that got away,” which makes his case a priority on Miami Metro’s list. (Just a quick aside: Maria has slept with Esme Pascal’s fiancée, Sergeant Doakes while they were partners, now Miguel Prado, and by the looks of it, she has Angel Batista either in her grasp, or has her eye on him. Perhaps she is sleeping her way to the top, which is what Captain Matthews indirectly accuses her of every single time he criticizes her performance. It may be sexist, but in Maria’s case, it is also true).
Miguel Prado

We feel the heat that Dexter does as he carefully collects his tooth that Oscar knocked out of his face the night prior to be replaced into his mouth (like a trophy) by his dentist. Lucky for him, Oscar’s murder is pegged on Freebo, and Dexter gets a “freebie,” quite a relief after last season. Other than the fact that Miguel and Dexter likely share the DNA that inclines them to be psychopaths, the two share another bond: self-blame and guilt for a family member’s death. Miguel is convinced that if he had been with Oscar that he could have saved his life; similarly, Dexter blames himself for his father’s death. These bonds will become particularly relevant throughout the course of season three. One that hits home now, however, emerges when Miguel asks Dexter: “[do] you have a brother?”. Although Dexter’s cell phone rings at the perfect time to give him a moment to think and silently mourn his late brother, Brian Moser, alias Rudy Cooper/Ice-Truck Killer, he claims to only have the “one loud sister,” Debra.

Detective Joseph Quinn

We are informally introduced to Sergeant James Doakes’ replacement, Detective Joseph Quinn, who, at this point in time, acts as a puppy as he grins and smiles at Debra. Little does he know that he is dealing with a post-Special Agent Frank Lundy Debra, one who has matured and has lost her sense of self, for she changes herself depending upon the guy she is with. She had given up working through lunch and began listening to Chopin and eating cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches; she even cut her hair short. She has “[given] up men, liquor, and smokes” for the past twenty-seven days, a feat that she seems rather proud of. Despite the fact that she feels that she is a “model of fucking perfection,” she still has her potty mouth going for her, which inclines Angel to pull her from the Oscar Prado/Freebo case. Quinn’s first involvement in Miami Metro is calling in a favor with one of his past Confidential Informants, Anton, with whom Debra meets.

Joey Quinn

Debra’s involvement with Quinn’s past does not stop there: Yuki Amado, a woman from internal affairs, offers to help Debra out with her detective shield if she works to get information from Quinn. Apparently Quinn’s time in Narcotics led him into some questionable territory, which needs investigating. Despite the fact that Deb suspects Quinn of acting like she is a “potential lay,” she denies Amado twice, for her cop buddies are her “friends,” not just “badge numbers” to her. Whether or not Deb’s conviction will hold up throughout the season is beyond me (frankly, I don’t remember), but we shall all see!

Yuki Amado

Freud Would Chuckle at the Morgan Siblings

Deb confesses, in so many words, her feelings of inadequacy regarding her career and her father’s recognition of her and her achievements. She explains that Harry already had his Detective’s shield by the time he was Debra’s age, which conveys her insecurity. Given the fact that Harry has been dead somewhere between ten and fifteen years, it is certainly time for the Morgan siblings to move on; however, the two have some serious hang-ups when it comes to Harry and Dexter’s birth mother. Debra “still lives her life trying to please our father;” however, Debra criticizes Dexter of “kill[ing] your father so you can become your own man,” but I see it slightly differently.

Dexter chose Rita over celebrating his father’s birthday; because Deb accuses Dexter of “kill[ing]” their father, and because he goes to sleep with Rita (who coincidentally is a dead-ringer for Laura Moser), this is the much-talked-about Oedipus Complex in action. Although he does not literally castrate Harry, in Dexter’s flashbacks from last season, Dexter figuratively castrates him and his serial-killer-creating bravado when he walks in on Dexter’s kill room. Dexter’s grudge with Harry has hit an all-time high, but Debra urges him to realize that “Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was there for [him].”

Normalcy

“Rita is the scaffolding” that holds up Dexter’s facade of a normal life; Dexter seems to be enjoying the idea of sex, and of being a father figure to Astor and Cody. Coincidentally, we discover at the end of the season premiere that he and Rita have conceived, which could either be a monster child or a God-send. This is perhaps one of the bigger plot lines for the third season, and it shall be interesting to observe how Dexter becomes increasingly more paternal as the series progresses to both Rita’s children and his own.

Overview

And now to put a “number” on this episode. Dexterity (neat-handedness, puns, trickery, clever sayings, placements, etc.) will judge all of the small things that I pick up on. The higher the score, the more fun I had picking apart the episode for hidden clues. Entertainment (how much I laughed and enjoyed the episode) will judge how excited I was on average throughout the episode, as well as after it for the upcoming episodes. “Xtremity” (how dramatic, but also how believable the episode was, edge-of-the-seat, white knuckles, the “holy shit” factor) will judge just how jaw-dropping the episode was.
Dexterity: 8
Entertainment: 8
Xtremity:  9
DEX-Factor: 8.33

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10 thoughts on “Religious Themes in 301: “Our Father”

  1. An interesting exchange to me was that between Dexter and Debra when he complimented on her new hairstyle, calling it “beautiful”, and she was so touched she was almost crying. I know why Dexter did it – he was looking to change the subject. What did you read into Deb’s reaction?

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    1. I agree that Dexter was looking to change the subject, but for a number of reasons: 1) He’s not good with emotions and he is both uncomfortable by Deb’s emotions and the lack of his own; 2) Since I’ve seen the series in its entirety, perhaps it’s a denial of his own feelings. This whole “I have no feelings” business may have been a way this entire time to avoid the truth — the truth that Debra finally happened upon at the end of season 6. I believe it has been true for Dexter all along. Sure, his love for her is less romantic in nature — it’s more of a soul mate kind of love; 3) Also, they had just been talking about Harry, and all things family-related set Dexter on edge; 4) And there’s a crime scene waiting for them — we know how Dexter hates blood, but how he also loves it.

      Now, for Debra’s reaction — her emotion is linked to both her father and Dexter. She’s never noticed, by her father nor her brother. She has issues with self-esteem and approval, so any show of emotion or sign that someone is paying attention to her makes her feel incredibly special, and overwhelmingly so, which accounts for the tears. Also, this occurs the night after Harry’s birthday, which we know Dexter stood her up for. Perhaps it’s one big release of emotion from the date and from the Ice Truck Killer and from Dexter giving her that attention she so desperately desires. I know I keep talking about Deb’s Elektra complex, but I think there is more to it, considering what we know about her feelings for Dexter. Perhaps this whole getting Harry’s attention thing is a displacement of her feelings for Dexter. Her jealousy melts into love for her serial killing brother. When he finally notices her, she cries because she’s bashful and honestly touched. We know how Dexter doesn’t notice much — well, things he doesn’t have to pay attention to at least. A haircut is a change in her style and her persona, and Dexter’s approval is like her moving from childhood to womanhood — from this point on, Debra seems to take ownership of herself and look for less approval from Dexter.

      These thoughts are jumbled — I apologize. There might be a follow-up reply shortly if I think of something more logical.

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      1. I didn’t watch Dexter until my wife discovered it on Netflix in February . We binge-watched it for months but I admit that for much of the first 2-3 seasons I was missing a lot of it doing other things around the house . But I gradually became really hooked on Dexter’s slow evolution from an emotion-deadened psychopath to a “real boy” and his relationship with Deb . So now I’m doing what you are doing and going back and rewatching the episodes in sequence  to see what I missed, and I missed a lot. I just rewatched that episode a couple of nights ago and that exchange jumped out at me as something that was different than any exchange the siblings had had previously. It was “sweet”. Dexter is never sweet. And it so deeply touched his sister. I really felt bad because it made me think that no one had ever said something like that to her before.

        Dexter is a remarkable show in my experience because of the absolute feeling of sadness it left me with and I haven’t shaken it yet. After Dexter discovers what happened to his mother in season 1, he makes a comment along the lines of “this is why I don’t feel anything – if I did I would have to remember this.” He wasn’t a psychopath, born to be bad. He didn’t have to turn out this way. But he was stunted emotionally by that traumatic experience and his father (and Vogel, who I think had a different agenda ) decided the only way he could survive was by becoming a serial killer with a Code that would protect him. It took Dexter 40 years or so and a lot of love from people like his sister for him to overcome this bad decision, to feel human even though he was human all along . Then because of his own bad decision he lost Deb, the only person who had loved him all of his life. And Deb…it’s really a tragedy. I understand why the writers ended it the way the way they did, it has logic, but it hurts .

        I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I’m really enjoying reading your thoughtful treatments. I think you are very perceptive. Not having a background in psychology, I am particularly interested in your exploration of themes regarding Dexter and Debra’s Oedipal and Elektra complexes. Please keep up the good work, and never lose your focus on the Dexter/Debra relationship. Thanks for your prompt reply.

        Tom Harris

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      2. Tom —

        No, thank you for taking the time to respond in writing. It makes me feel like I’m not doing this just for me. It’s nice to have supporters who are actively engaged in my blog!

        I’m glad to hear that you, too, agreed with the writers’ decision to end the series the way they did. I had been torn in the beginning of season eight as to how I felt about Deb’s imminent death. I knew it had to happen, for anyone and everyone who knows about Dexter’s truth eventually meets his Kill Room (or takes his/her own life), but I was in severe denial, likely because I deeply love Debra and her character. I understand where some people are coming from in their belief that Debra was annoying in seasons 1-2 and 6-8, but honestly, I liked her too much to let the temporary stalls in character/plot development get me down. By episode eight or nine, I had resolved that Debra had to die to end the suffering — her own, our own (because I felt for her). I think, thematically, this show is a work of art, hence why it’s worth writing about, even after the series’ end.

        Once again, I am so glad you found the blog, Tom, and I hope you continue to enjoy these treatments. As you will see seasons 1-2 are done, and I’m currently working on 3. If you are curious as to what I was thinking/feeling play-by-play in season 8, those original treatments/predictions can be found under the Treatments tab.

        I have a minor in Psychology, so I do have a working knowledge in the field, but don’t take my word for it 100%! However, I have my BA in English, so Oedipus is kind of my homeboy and I do feel I have a great understanding of this particular area. I’ll never lose that focus (Dex/Deb), because it’s the major underpinning of the series as well as each of the seasons in themselves.

        Don’t hesitate to write/question!

        Kristen Roedel

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      3. I can tell you that your blog has at least one big fan. I have read all of your treatments with great interest. In fact, I have printed them out and sometimes read through them at night and consider them while my wife is watching something I’m not interested in.

        This is kind of embarrassing to say, but I had such a feeling of dread after Deb discovered Dexter’s secret that we stopped the binge for a couple of weeks. I felt like what was surely going to happen was that Deb would sacrifice everything to protect her brother and lose herself piece by piece and ultimately she would sacrifice her life for him. I didn’t know if I wanted to watch that, because I had really fallen in love with Deb as a character. So I cheated and I read articles about the end of the show. Ultimately it was an article by Mary McNamara in the L.A. Times that convinced me that I should see it through. A lot of those last two seasons was really painful though. I really wish the writers had made some different decisions, particularly regarding Hannah. I resent the way that some of the writers allowed Hannah to turn Dexter into a moron who went from begging his sister to come back to him (“we’ll always be together right?”) to treating her as an afterthought as he planned this hare brained escape to Argentina with a serial killer girlfriend who would likely kill him if at any time in the future he became inconvenient to her – in the span of 2-3 episodes. Hannah essentially was a plot device so they could disappear Dexter from Harrison’s life without making the audience hate him for abandoning his son after Deb’s death.

        You’re doing great work and I will keep reading.

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  2. Hello! I know this is kind of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does operating a well-established blog like
    yours require a massive amount work? I’m completely new to writing a blog but I do write in my diary on a
    daily basis. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share
    my personal experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or
    tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

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    1. Hi there!
      It depends on what you want to do with your blog, and how in-depth you would like to go. For my uses, as you can see, I have between four and seven posts published per week, but only one or two of them required a large chunk of my time in creating the content. Because my blog content is media-based, I do spend a good deal of time searching online for articles and videos and facts/trivia and the like to post each week for my readers.

      There are several ways in which you can treat your blog – like a diary, as you seem to want to, or as more of a “news” website, where I set deadlines for myself and a schedule, which compels my readers to expect me to generate content on a timely basis. Because of my established audience and the way in which I have set up my blog, my blog does take a massive amount of work and time (but I enjoy the hell out of it). If you choose to treat your blog like a diary, you will definitely feel freer than, say, a “news” blog or time-sensitive blog would make you feel. Your blog can be as simple and pain-free for you as posting on Facebook. The only time this kind of blog might consume is the initial design and organization of it, but once you figure out how WordPress works, you’ll find it doesn’t really take that long.

      I do have to tell you that I am a student, and so I don’t always have time to blog during the semester. I generally write everything ahead of time (in 3-4 month chunks) and get everything “queued” (meaning I create the posts, and WordPress publishes them automatically on whichever day and time I choose) so that I can leave my blog alone. But preparing takes an incredible amount of effort and dedication.

      My advice to you — figure out what you want your blog to be and set a schedule for yourself. I’ve found that a routine and schedule have been the most helpful in gaining readers because they know they can count on me every week for content. The most important feature I would use on WordPress is the tagging option. When you are writing your post, keep in mind all of the key concepts you are talking about, and then add each word or phrase as a tag (if you need clarification, let me know). What tagging does is it makes your content more likely to appear on Google and other search engines when they search for your topic. For example, I write frequently about psychology and religion as it pertains to Dexter. So, I will tag the name of the show, Showtime, and each of the characters I will be talking about as well as the actors portraying them. I find that over half of my blog’s hits come from people googling something like this: “Debra Morgan loves Dexter” or “Is Vogel the brain surgeon?”. Because I have tagged my posts with terms like Debra Morgan and brain surgeon, Google will index my blog.

      Also, social media will become incredibly important for blogging. Develop a Facebook and/or Twitter page so your fans can follow you and get notified when you post new things. As you know, not everyone uses WordPress, but many more people use social media sites. This will help expand your audience and refrain from excluding those who are uncomfortable with using WordPress.

      I hope this has been helpful! 🙂

      Like

    1. Hi there!
      This is a WordPress blog, and no, you do not need any coding knowledge for the way I use it. My website is through WordPress.com (as opposed to WordPress.org, which I believe requires coding knowledge). WordPress.com has the formatting already down for you. All you have to do is customize things visually, as you would a Microsoft Word document. Let me know if you need help with anything! (E-mail me at realdissectingdexter@gmail.com)

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  3. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and
    I’m impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the last part :
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    Thank you and good luck.

    Like

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