Life, Murder and Companionship

Dexter's Quest for Friendship

by David Charpentier

31 August 2011


Everybody Needs Somebody

A victim of a horrific crime, Lumen is damaged. Dexter finds her, cares for her. He offers her a manner for retribution, to heal. He is able to instruct her in his code and she follows it. She comes to understand how the code defines him and her. Because her purpose is the removal of an emotional and psychological burden, because it does not come from pure vindication or a deeply rooted second nature she is able to walk the line. Because it is therapy, because she has someone to guide her, she does not succumb to relentless hate and her kinship with Dexter grows.

The relationship features the bonding of shared activity as experienced with Miguel Prada. Her role as lover and caring companion fills the void left by Rita. Her compassionate instinct, her role in caring for Harrison and eventual acceptance into a temporal family life display what Dexter had with Rita and admired in Trinity. This link is the strongest Dexter has formed so far. In her, in her understanding, in the revelation of his true self, he has found an equal. She is more than a friend. She is someone he can be honest with. Previously, the only people he could be honest with were Harry and little Harrison. It must be good to finally have someone to talk to who talks back (and isn’t a hallucination).

Dexter and Lumen’s relationship is based on shared need and attraction.

Dexter and Lumen’s relationship is based on shared
need and attraction.

With honesty comes trust. The relationship begins as “trust out of necessity”. Dexter knows what has happened to Lumen, and Lumen knows of Dexter’s murderous antics.

However, he also needs her, as a distraction. She needs him for revenge, to put this part of her life behind her. For each other, they fill emotional voids. That Dexter does not harm or kill her, even after she stabs him in an escape attempt, speaks to his human side, his desire to help and nurture. Lumen herself needs to trust again, and seeing Dexter’s care she is eventually won over.  Out of this necessity, the inadvertent aspects of admiration develop.

The state of love and trust takes shape in several key scenes. When Lumen first accepts Dexter’s role in taking responsibility for her, she begins to live in Rita and Dexter’s old house (which was quickly abandoned after the murder). One night, Dexter walks into the house to check on her. It is silent, dark. He moves through the house, through the rooms, toward the master bath. In the tub lies Lumen, eyes closed, nigh the same position he found Rita weeks earlier. The look of fear on his countenance, the horror of reliving the moment—it nearly brings Dexter to collapse. It’s demonstrative: he’s still mourning Rita, but in a way Lumen has begun to fill the void. His affection, his sense of connection to her is growing.

In episode eight, the consociation between Lumen and Dexter has evolved to develop mutual jealousies and concerns. As the two prepare for a kill, Lumen begins to have doubts. She worries who she may become, as well as the effects vigilantism is having on Dexter. She looks to gain a part of her old life back by going to meet with her ex-fiancé. Dexter, jealous, asks her to stay. He initially confesses that the killing is for her, for others, so that the perpetrators cannot commit their crimes again. As they prepare the kill room, when she realizes Dexter will take a life with or without her, she begins to understand whom he is. He is a killer. And she accepts him. Their bond strengthens and he tells her the truth. For the first time in his life he is open and honest.

When Dexter and Lumen finally consummate their relationship, it’s a culmination of aggression and attraction. By killing together, they have increased their level of intimacy. Stiles notes on the disc’s extras, it as a love “that is almost classical” in its forbidden nature, in the overwhelming emotion involved. She trusted him to “share that experience with him and not be scared.” By being her first lover after her rape, by committing to the revenge, their trust in each other is complete.

However, the act also notes Lumen’s determination to move on, to move past her tragedy. Unlike Dexter, her reason for being damaged, for wanting to seek revenge on those who harm others, does not define who she is. While she can never go back to her old life, no matter what he feels for her, no matter that she is the only person who has survived knowing the truth, she cannot stay with him. She doesn’t want to go, but she can’t live this life anymore; it’s not who she is. She understands Dexter, comprehends why he is who he is, possibly even loving him for that; but she herself cannot commit to the lifestyle and must once again attempt a normal life. Using Dexter’s verbatim, an attribute of her self was bathed in blood, but she is not defined by it.

In the final scene between the two, Lumen has been healed, her dark passenger defeated. As Stiles notes, the greatest aspect of the relationship was the honesty; the truth that stood between them that Dexter was never able to have before. The great part about their affection was that she “knew who he was and accepted him for that… and he accepted her.” Having this knowledge, this acceptance, but breaking up with him, “for her to say she is not going to be part of it anymore… she is rejecting him as a person… it’s like a true rejection of him.” 

Dexter’s shattered self lies on the floor.

Dexter’s shattered self lies on the floor.

It may be that such relationships built on need only exist until the need has assuaged. That connections built on hateful, destructive energy cannot have a happy ending. For the audience, through her damaged façade, Lumen has become sympathetic in a manner similar to Dexter, and the two begin to be identified as one. It ‘s a difficult breakup, but as revealed in that important scene, one that we should have realized would have come to pass:

Dexter: Don’t go… You can’t.

Lumen:  I don’t want to…I can’t do it any more. What we’ve been doing.

Dexter: You don’t have to…

Lumen: But you do…It’s who you are.

Dexter looks at his reflection in a platter. Disgusted, he throws it across the room. It shatters into a thousand pieces.

Dexter has never lacked emotion; he has just been unable to express it, for fear of its outcome. He’s afraid of his true self and its destructive role on his relationships. His friends, coworkers, even his lovers will never truly understand. Real friendship, commitment, based on honesty and shared feeling can be difficult for anyone to achieve. 

However, now that he has experienced true love, what he needs in his life, perhaps he will find happiness. Or perhaps, feeling rejected as a person, he may begin to revert back into his loner self. It’s difficult to believe that he will ever rid himself of his dark passenger, or completely reveal his secret life to others. As the Sixth Season begins, it will be interesting to see how Dexter chooses to pursue his relationships, balancing his new penchant for open honesty, his recent trauma and the turmoil of his dark secret.

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//Mixed media