The Psychology of a Serial Killer in 404: “Dex Takes a Holiday” & 405: “Dirty Harry”

Zoey Kruger

As Frank Lundy closes in on this thirty-year hunt for the Trinity killer, the ghost-like man manages to escape by the skin of his teeth. The hunt for the great serial killer excites Deb, and so she follows along until their stalking turns deadly. Despite the fact that Lundy believed Trinity was a lone wolf (and Dexter’s projection of Harry believes so as well), we discover that Trinity is, indeed, a family man. Does this mean that Dexter can have it all?

“Enigma”: Trinity

Dexter is in the habit of classifying the “monsters” he takes down; “I am not like you” seems to be his go-to line while his victim is packed in Saran wrap on a table. Although Dexter believes Trinity is “a very different monster than [he] [is],” his encounter with officer Zoey Kruger reminds him that “monsters come in all shapes and sizes.” Much like Dexter, Trinity is attuned to police work and worried about self-preservation. Whereas Dexter is constantly in the middle of people and a line of work that could eventually lead to him one day, Trinity is on the outside looking in. He discovers Lundy is onto him by way of a newspaper and decides to bump into him at the hotel where Lundy would soon die. Dexter, too, enjoys facing his adversaries head-on and having a one-on-one exchange before M-99ing them. It’s all a part of his research. When he spots Lundy at the hotel, he seems rather shaken up to discover that “[he’s] [been] found”. Although he doesn’t show the depth of emotion that Dexter has shown (which is an enigma in itself considering the premise of the show; this serves to highlight how hollow Trinity is), we still recognize the need for self-defense and -preservation.

The fact that Trinity has completed thirty years of his killing cycles makes him rather “successful,” but it is not because he is a “lone wolf” or has no family; quite the contrary.

“Trinity’s a husband, a father. He’s . . . like me.”

Witnessing Trinity in a beautiful home with his seemingly happy family causes Dexter to think: “He doesn’t belong here. It doesn’t make sense,” despite the fact that Dexter’s life is a mirror image of Trinity’s (with fewer years of successful killing), from just how particular they are about their breakfast to their rituals and use of blood spatter shields. Trinity’s way of scoping out his kill sites and victims eerily resembles the way in which Dexter operates; perhaps Dexter is lovable and we are partial to him because of that, but there is something far creepier propelling John Lithgow’s character. Something unsettling.

So, given the fact that Lundy has been drawn to Miami only twice in all of his career (once for Dexter’s kills, and once for Trinity’s), it’s safe to say that Dexter, if he’s careful, will be just as successful as Trinity in his killing and facade. As disturbing as this notion is, family man and serial killer, I’d like to think that this is only for the purposes of the show; however, John Fox and Jack Levin highlight that people like Dexter and Trinity in the real world often “hold full-time jobs, are married or involved in some other stable relationship, and are members of various local community groups” (qtd. in DePaulo 69). Bella DePaulo asserts that “the family man is the role to play” in order to be successful. And why is that? Because having people who love you makes it incredibly easy to get away with, well, murder.

Family First

DePaulo observes that “the important people in Dexter’s life enable his lies. They don’t mean to, but they do. First, the mere presence of friends, a . . . partner, kids, and a sibling he sees all the time shield Dexter from suspicion. They make him seem normal” (74). Loved ones are more likely to believe that the beloved are telling the truth, for thinking that their loved ones are lying to them is simply too painful and threatening to the status of their relationship. We know Rita partakes in this lying — it began from the moment she chose to believe Dexter over Paul; this dynamic was threatened when she found the shoe Paul claimed would be at her house when he suspected foul play. Rita still chose to believe Dexter and clung to the idea of what her relationship with Dexter was/is, thus allowing Dexter to go on his merry way. Although Rita’s latest cover-up involved the smashing of the neighbor’s light, the most heavy-hitting accusation comes when Rita discovers that Dexter kept his apartment and seems to have found his chest of kill tools. Among lying about the affair and the “drug use,” she doesn’t know what could  be “so horrible” that Dexter would have to hide it from her. Rita asserts:

“The most disturbing thing about this lying is I’m beginning to see just how good you really are at it.”

Maria comments how Dexter’s “getting good at this relationship stuff. Marriage agrees with [him],” although we know that Rita would disagree. Despite the fact that Harry continues to insist that Rita and the kids are “all props. The camouflage of a family man,” Dexter draws the line between him and Zoey Kruger when he says that he would “rather risk them knowing the truth than lose them.” This revelation even shocks Dexter; we see it on his face. This is the first sign that Dexter is evolving more than Harry ever imagined he could. Dexter thinks that “revenge . . . [is] . . . a new page of the Code.”

The image of the blood floating above Kruger’s head makes her Dexter’s next target.

Harry accused Dexter of taking a special interest in Zoey Kruger because he was thinking of killing his own family. We know the difference between Kruger and Dexter: while Dexter is busy taking out the trash, Zoey Kruger uses the garbage disposal to get rid of the evidence of foul play. She “couldn’t breathe,” which is why she had to kill her family. “You did it to survive,” Dexter explains to her. As much as Dexter believes he is in control of his life, Zoey Kruger points out, as does Harry all of the time,

“You’re going to have to chose. . .”

between family and his trade. Each kill reflects Dexter’s psyche and current life situation. Each victim is a mirror of Dexter — each kill a trip down “what-if” lane, and each  blood slide is a souvenir. In constantly comparing himself to other serial killers, Dexter finds the inherent need to justify his crimes and violence; this airs on a God complex, as I’ve insinuated before; however, more of a conscience is showing through than ever before in his observations of Kruger and Trinity.

Harrison's red hand print (in the color of blood, and not by accident) is surrounded by shattered glass. Will Harrison stay safe? Will Dexter's facade remain in tact, or is this a strange omen of future events?
Harrison’s red hand print (in the color of blood, and not by accident) is surrounded by shattered glass. Will Harrison stay safe? Will Dexter’s facade remain in tact, or is this a strange omen of future events?

Freudian Commentary

“The Morgan family curse – chose the worst option possible . . . at least Dexter’s don’t get people killed.” – Debra to Rita

It has been an issue since Lundy first reappeared as to whether or not Debra had feelings for him. We now know that Deb has always had feelings for Lundy, but she was trying to suppress them because of Anton, and because of “age appropriate”-ness. We should recall how Lundy is a father-figure to her, and it seemed as if she wanted to cheque that inappropriate desire for him.


With Frank Lundy’s death comes a resurgence of feelings about Harry; Debra’s daddy issues, when combined with losing (possibly) the love of her life, Deb shuts down. She throws her pain pills away and decides to suffer in silence. Inflicting pain upon her body to create her own form of purgatory on earth is a very self-destructive tendency, one we see Trinity partake in. Just as I have previously discussed, Lundy was not only Deb’s lover, but a father-figure as well, and so his death, and her inability to save him, feels like losing Harry all over again.

Debra: “I’m the fuck-up in the family, not you . . . it doesn’t matter what I do or what I choose. I’m what’s wrong. There’s nothing I can do about it . . . if I’m not hurting myself, I’m hurting everyone around me. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m — I’m broken.”
Dexter: “No, you’re not. I am.”

Deb claims that the look in Lundy’s eyes was as if he was apologizing to her — apologizing to her for ruining her relationship, for coming unexpected, and for being in that very location where they were both taken out. In short, our parents all mess us up (just like Harry did Dexter). Although Dexter doesn’t feel the degree of loss Debra does, for he and Lundy were only pals, he does feel horrible for Deb.

“My sister doesn’t deserve to be in this kind of pain.”

In line with Dexter’s incessant internal monologue about being a “good person” and whether or not his actions are “justified,” we can see that Dexter has placed Debra above in him terms of his “goodness” scale. As his father’s daughter, he respects her and sees her as more perfect than he once saw Harry.

We know from these two episodes that Trinity has some daddy issues of his own to deal with. In provoking the drunk from the bar (we can assume that his father was a drunk, just like Miguel and Ramon’s father — what a picture of alcoholics provides, huh?), we can assume that Trinity needs to inflict pain upon himself as a ritual — perhaps it is a way of re-inciting the residual rage from being beaten as a child. The bludgeoning, that he likely did to his own father, can only  be done perfectly and with enough rage if he is brought into the self-loathing mode.

“You were no father . . . you made me.” – Trinity

Dexter: A Comedy

  • Maria LaGuerta: “Dexter, I know everything.”
  • Dexter: [Voice Over] “I’m gonna choose not to misinterpret that.”


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: 9
Entertainment: 10
Xtremity:  10
DEX-Factor: 9.66

Works Cited

DePaulo, Bella. “Deception: It’s What Dexter Does Best (Well, Second Best).”
The Psychology of Dexter. Ed. DePaulo. Dallas: Smart Pop, 2010. 65-78.


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