Nemesister (nemesister) wrote,

Dexter's Dad

Since I recently had a discussion on this... I think the Harry storyline and angst on Dexter is long completed now, so what is your final verdict on the man? Before I say too much, please vote!

Harry ...

was protecting Dexter and potential innocent victims out of love and the goodness of his heart.
was using Dexter and turned him into a killer to satisfy his own revenge fantasies.
It's complicated, but he mostly had Dexter's best interests at heart.
It's complicated, but his motivations were mostly shady.

Do you like Harry?

Not really.

I thought it was pretty heavily implied that Harry used Dexter and that Dexter being a killer was his plan all along, rather than something he just dealt with exceptionally well (erm, for a while). Was that just my interpretation? I was surprised to meet people who had the same view of him I had at the beginning of season one. I definitely started out pro Harry, but couldn't really ignore what the show revealed about him as it went on.

Also, is there any difference in how Harry is presented in the books? I haven't read them.
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I don't thing using Dexter as a vigilante killer was his plan all along. I'm re-watching S1 now and they flashback to childhood conversations between them. Harry is clearly pained and devastated in one scene where he asks Dexter if he ever had thoughts of killing a person (since he was already killing several animals at that point) and if so, what stopped him. By the way he reacted when Dexter replied, "I thought you and mom wouldn't like it" rather than something like "Because killing and hurting people is wrong" it was evident to me that was not the answer he was hoping to hear.
We all know Harry realized the thing in Dexter couldn't be stopped from all the signs he exhibited, especially the lack of remorse and animal killing, because we've seen him tell Dexter this in flashbacks. Granted Harry did use Dexter as a way to exact revenge on the criminals that escaped the justice system, but I really don't think that was his intent when he adopted Dexter.
I will agree though that Harry was not all that great of a person. Cheating on his wife and failing to protect Dexter's mom are the first things that come to mind.

Deleted comment

Tjat was definitely my impression. I don't see how he could have planned it. Dexter's killer instincts were his own. We never saw Harry do anything to encourage them.
There is still the question why he separated the brothers then, and Brian isn't being pettily bitter here, this is way cruel and generally considered so. Brian tells us he was to damaged due to his age. I don't really know what to make of this, but I felt it was implied Harry did anticipate the boys to react violently.

Maybe he just wanted to adopt Dexter because he carried him out there and didn't want to let go? So he is just a selfish asshole, who fell in love with the little boy? IDK It doesn't really make perfect logical sense either way.
The book (and I think the show) explained that Harry didn't adopt Brian because he was too "damaged" and old enough to recall the trauma. Yes it's totally fucked up he separated the two of them I agree, but that was the reason nevertheless. Harry figured at the time of the murder that Dexter was young enough that he might not remember what happened and it wouldn't affect him, which obviously turned out to be wrong. I also think Harry did it out of guilt because he was partially responsible for the situation that led to the murder of Brian and Dexter's murder - again, still fucked up he wouldn't take Brian under this wing too.
I thought Brian was probably correct there--he cut him off because he was too old and more likely to be damaged, then just erased him from Dexter's life for an extra measure. It just seems too way out there that he could actually assume that a toddler, having watched his mother die, would become a serial killer that he could use as a revenge weapon. He obviously knew that it was very possible they'd both be emotionally disturbed, but the original idea that he thought Dexter was more likely to be healthy so he just concentrated on him and left Brian to his fate still makes sense to me. (Added to his personal reasons for wanting to do anything at all in the first place, of course.) In the end he actually did probably help Dexter by cutting him off from Brian.
I can't really agree that a child who hasn't hurt a person yet, *can not* be stopped. Criminals are rehabilitated all the time. Dexter wasn't even that far yet. Unfortunately many, many, many children kill animals without remorse without ever starting to kill people. Or maybe I should say fortunately?

Btw "You and mom wouldn't like it" is not that bad a response. All it maybe proves is that Dexter is morally a little immature. Every child learns morals that way.

I was accepting Harry's interpretation within the series at first, but honestly, it's not very reasonable.
"You and mom wouldn't like it" might not be the worst response (maybe "I can't choose, there are so many"--that's a pretty bad answer.) but what he wants to see is that innate morality we're not supposed to have to learn. Many of our morals aren't necessarily learned so much as ingrained because of our evolution. I think also the way he said it (kudos to the young actor for being able to get that dead pan/thoughtfulness) seemed like a simple assessment and not feeling guilty or bad about the potential act...

But yeah...I killed my brother's newts once (when I was really little) to get back at him. I STILL feel bad about that!
Dexter is a sociopath. You can't "fix" a sociopath. You put them away so they won't hurt anybody. The fact that Dexter is able to function in "normal" society is totally due to the way Harry has molded (for lack of a better term) him. Harry deserves a lot more credit than he's getting here.
That isn't really true. You only put them away AFTER they kill someone, or you should. In Europe you generally give them 10 years of therapy and let them out again, unless they are really heavy duty serial killers. I think that's crazy and dangerous, but to put a person away just because they lack a little emotionally would be even more of a problem.

Many psychopaths are able to function in normal society. They are usually creative, break a lot of hearts, have a lot of fun and don't kill anyone (unless they find themselves in a fucked up position where they can/are encouraged) because they were raised better than that.

I'm actually unsure Dexter fits the description of a sociopath. He's fucked up, yeah, he thinks he is one, HARRY TELLS HIM he is one, but he doesn't really seem to be one. The flatness of feeling he describes rather sounds like depression. Sociopaths don't usually give a fuck how empty~ they are, they just enjoy life.
Dexter doesn't seem depressed to me. He fakes emotions with other people but he's genuinely satisfied with his hobby and his life. Depressed people tend to feel hopeless, sad, take no pleasure in activities they used to enjoy, suicidal, etc. and none of these symptoms describe Dexter at all.
But I do agree with you in that I don't really think Dexter is completely sociopathic. Sociopaths don't feel affection or care about other people, but obviously Dexter is fond of Rita's kids and Debra. If he wasn't, he would have been perfectly fine with letting Brian kill his sister and go on a murder spree with him. He wouldn't have cared about Lila trying to kill Astor and Cody in a fire in Season 2.
And I wonder if he would long for someone to understand him the way he does every season.

I do think he's not completely a sociopath for all those reasons. But I also agree with your take on Harry here. He *is* a serial killer. He has a compulsion to kill. Harry watched him for any signs of being disturbed closely and tried to channel it into something morally acceptable. It started with hunting, but animals didn't do it for Dexter, so Harry came up with a sort of imitation of morality.
He also loved Rita, as he realized at latest at the funeral. Also, he isn't content, he is desperately trying to find a connection with people and longs for a normal life. He is not completely uncool, he often pretends that he is fine being different, but he always lets it shine through that he is not content, that this might be the best life in store for him, because of what happened to him, but it's still not a very good life. He is only really content when he feels connected, like just before he finds Rita dead.

If I should diagnose a disorder I'd go for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with violence/killing as a desperate coping strategy, an obvious attempt to take the control back.
He should just play TETRIS! Instead of killing people.....
Seriously, Harry could have just bought him a game boy first!
gah, I just realized that it looks like I just linked to the game...if you read the sentence. Just in case, it IS a link to a study about traumatic experiences and the benefits of playing tetris....

Oh, I had checked it out. Interesting and not entirely surprising! I would add the hypothesis that one of the reasons tetris is so soothing is that everything is so simple and under your control in the tetris world.


6 years ago

I felt that his way of "helping" Dex was bizarre after a while... like, really? You can't just take him to a therapist at least? But of course there would be no series if he did that and dexter was all better....

So, I said a little bit shady but I know he also was concerned for the kid. He was just wrongheaded about how to help him.
You're probably right. Even I clicked "It's complicated". I have the feeling he fell in love with his idea of having Dexter only kill those who deserve it and then convinced himself and Dexter that it was the only option. Obviously it makes for a great story!
yeah. I mean we are conjecturing about the motivation of fictional characters...
Often times therapy only makes things worse for people exhibiting sociopathic tendencies. They learn more effective ways to lie and manipulate people and exploit human tendencies. Not sure if this would apply to young Dexter or not. But the urge to kill inside Dexter was so strong that eventually as he grew up I don't think therapy would have stopped him. If was only through Harry teaching him that he channeled those urges to other killers - otherwise he would have been a mindless killer like Brian.
WEll I think I would talk to SOMEONE else that has some sort of experience with diverting the serial killer tendencies in people...

I haven't read the books either, and it's been a long time since I've seen the earlier seasons of Dexter, but when I think about it, I mostly remember Harry being a bit of a fuckup and a bit manipulate-y in the end, but by and large a good guy?

LOL, worst response ever. Maybe it's time for a rewatch. :)
Oh, I was going for "impression". My impression of Harry is probably extremely dark, maybe I'm just biased by antipathy. He just comes off as such a hypocrite to me.
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