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WHO IS DEXTER MORGAN?
Depends who you're asking. To the outside world, he's Dexter Morgan, blood-spatter analyst with the Miami Metro PD, a good friend, supportive brother, family man (a recent-ish development), boater, and pork sandwich lover. The truth? He's all of that — and a serial killer. A very good one, in fact. Good meaning a few things: He keeps his crime scenes clean (''a neat monster,'' he once said), which helps him avoid being tied to any of his numerous killings. He's also about as moral as a serial killer can be. Sound like a paradox? If so, good. It's supposed to. That's what Dexter is all about: conflicting emotions. This means you're paying attention...
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HOW DOES HE CHOOSE HIS VICTIMS?
The Code. Back when Dexter was a pre-teen, his father Harry, a police officer who adopted Dexter as a traumatized toddler, noticed his son was developing sociopathic tendencies. (FYI: Your kids should be hiding rated-R movies, not mass animal grave sites). He wasn't completely surprised, considering he had found Dexter and his biological brother Brian Moser sitting in a pool of their mother's blood. He didn't adopt Brian for fear he had been too affected by the event. Turns out Dexter had his fair share of dysfunction, too. When Harry realized Dexter couldn't subdue his innate urges to kill, Harry taught him how to control and channel them. Dexter often refers to his urges as his Dark Passenger. Among the rules for controlling it: Only kill those criminals who have fallen through the legal cracks and always have evidence to back up your suspicions about a person. Before killing someone, Dexter will sometimes display photos of the person's victims, so they can see why they deserve to die. His victims have ranged from snipers to arsonists to coyotes to fellow serial killers, including his brother Brian, who, as the Ice Truck Killer, was also season 1's main villain. (More on that in a bit.) Most importantly, the code also contains rules that help Dexter cover his tracks.
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HOW DOES DEXTER ''COVER HIS TRACKS''?
He has a very strict method for kills that involves drugging the victim, moving them to a remote location, covering said location in plastic for easy clean up, and disposing the bodies by cutting them into pieces and wrapping them carefully before throwing them into the bay. (Remember? He's a boater.) He deviates from this pattern only when necessary — like when framing someone.
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HOW DID NO ONE EVER NOTICE HIS ''TENDENCIES'' WHEN HE WAS GROWING UP OR EVEN AS AN ADULT?
Credit goes to Harry again. He always stressed to Dexter the importance of appearing normal to the outside world. Simple human acts (like smiling for pictures and acting sad during funerals) never came naturally to Dexter. Later on, we learn that Harry committed suicide after realizing one day that he had taught his son how to be a monster. During the course of the show's four seasons, Harry has often appeared to Dexter as a vision to council him and remind him to follow The Code.
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WHY HASN'T HE BEEN CAUGHT?
He almost has been caught several times. The person who arguably got closest was Agent Frank Lundy, who came to Miami in season 2 to investigate the case of the Bay Harbor Butcher, a serial killer whose victims had been discovered in the bay. Yes, it was Dexter. In the season 2 finale, Dexter framed Miami Metro police detective Sgt. James Doakes for the crime. Had he not, he likely would have been caught by Lundy. Several of Dexter's coworkers have also had suspicions over the years. In fact, it was Doakes' relentless search for the truth about Dexter that ultimately led to his demise.
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DOES ANYONE KNOW HIS SECRET?
Some have found out, but they're never around long enough to get Dexter in trouble for it. The person who stuck around the longest after finding out Dexter's dark secret was Miguel Prado in season 3. Prado was the assistant district attorney for the City of Miami. He became close to Dexter after the two met while Prado was investigating the death of his brother Oscar, who Dexter accidentally killed. (Of course, Prado doesn't know that.) Prado catches Dexter during one of his kills, and instantly becomes interested — not alarmed. They become friends briefly, but Dexter ends up killing him after learning Prado begins killing for his own benefit, not following The Code.
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SO NOT EVEN HIS FAMILY/FRIENDS KNOW HE'S A KILLER?
Nope. As smart as his sister Debra is, she hasn't pieced things together, which is surprising considering she also works for Miami Metro. In last season's finale, however, she did piece together that Dexter was related to Brian. (Dexter played dumb.) In the first season, it was revealed that Brian knew Dexter's secret, and eventually tried to lure Dexter into killing full time. Dexter ended up killing him and making it look like a suicide after Brian kidnapped Deb. But other than his father Harry and Brian, no one — not even those he's closest to at work or his (SPOILER: now-dead) wife — know about his double life.
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WHO ARE DEXTER'S FRIENDS?
Det. Angel Batista (right) has called himself Dexter's best friend, and it's largely true. Though he does not know about the other half of Dexter's life, he has confided in him in the past. Dexter was even the witness at Batista's surprise wedding to Lt. LaGuerta (pictured). Dexter's lab coworker Vince Masuka is also a friend of Dexter's — and he's also a sex-obsessed pervert. Hey, everyone has their flaws. I mean, we're talking about a serial killer here....
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HOW HAS DEXTER CHANGED SINCE SEASON 1?
In the first episode of the series, Dexter said of his sister Debra, ''She's the only person in this world who loves me. I think that's nice. I can't have feelings about anything, but if I did have them at all, I'd have them for Deb.'' That pretty much summed up Dexter for a while. When he met Rita, however, Dexter recognized the opportunity to live the ultimate normal life, which The Code always emphasized. Together with Rita and her two children from a previous marriage, Dexter formed a nuclear household. He and Rita even had a child of their own, Harrison. Toward the end of last season, it could even be argued that Dexter was beginning to humanize and fall comfortably into the role of dad/husband, without having to try too hard. It had previously been a great challenge.
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SO WHERE DID WE LEAVE OFF?
''Maybe Harry was wrong. Maybe things could turn out differently for me,'' Dexter said in the finale shortly before he dumped the body of the series' most terrifying foe to date into the bay. And we believed it. He had brought down Trinity after we gritted our teeth through 12 episodes of stomach-churning scenes. Dexter was ready for normal. He wanted to ''embrace [his] family,'' and his life as a normal man, with hopes of one day ridding his life of his Dark Passenger completely. That all changed when he walked into his house and found his wife sitting in a bathtub of her own blood with his son Harrison sitting a few feet away. The gruesome scene reeked of parallelism, and set up what is likely to be a killer season 5.