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Dexter is the first of twelve episodes in Season One of Showtime's original series DEXTER, and the first overall episode of the series. It first aired 1 October 2006.

Dexter takes part in the investigation of a serial killer who drains his victims of blood, and then leaves their dismembered bodies in public places.

Dexter: "Tonight's the Night. And it's going to happen...again and again. Has to happen."

Summary

1.01

Dexter's trophy box

The Choirmaster

It's nighttime in Miami, Florida, and the streets are busy. People are out having fun but so is Dexter Morgan. As he drives, he observes the people in the area, and reminisces on how he enjoys a variety of cultures and food. However, tonight he's after something different. He's hungry...but not for food. He needs to feed his urge to kill. Dexter's target is a pedophile and child killer named Mike Donovan whom he tracks to a choir event and hides in the backseat of his car, awaiting his prey. When Donovan enters, Dexter quickly slips a wire around Donovan’s neck and orders him to drive. They end up in a wooded area near three open graves that Dexter recently dug up.

Dexter forces Donovan inside a nearby building and confronts him about his crimes. He forces Donovan to look at the decaying bodies of his young victims - Corey Balanti, Tyler Kale, and Joe Bigalow. Donovan begins to pray, only to be smacked across his face. Dexter tells him that praying never helped anybody (referencing victims who prayed for their lives). Donovan begins to beg and Dexter asks if those little boys had begged. Donovan then admits his guilt, insisting that he couldn't help himself and Dexter has to understand. Dexter smiles, remarking that he definitely understands, but that he could never, ever hurt kids. When Donovan asks him why, Dexter moves forward, injects him with M99, and replies, "I have standards." As Donovan falls to the floor, unconscious, Dexter puts away the needle and removes his gloves.

Dexter is next seen wearing his kill attire as he stands above Donovan, who is lying wrapped in plastic on a table. Using a scalpel, Dexter slices Donovan's right cheek and collects a drop of blood. He releases it onto a blood slide and places a second slide on top of it. A circle of blood appears and Dexter gazes at it for a moment. He tells a terrified Donovan, "Soon you'll be packed into a few, neatly wrapped Hefties in my own, small corner of the world. It’ll be a neater, happier place. A better place."

Dexter picks up a small power saw, and stands above Donovan’s head. Lowering his visor, Dexter turns on the saw, brings it down, and slowly saws into Donovan’s neck as muffled screams are heard. During the night, Dexter uses his boat, Slice of Life, to dump Donovan’s remains into the ocean near Bay Harbor.

In the morning, he encounters a passing boat and he cheerily greets the captain as part of his "blending in" with the world. Dexter’s thoughts are revealed:

"My name is Dexter. Dexter Morgan. I don't know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I've fake them all, and I fake them very well. And that's my burden, I guess. But I don't blame my foster parents for that. Harry and Doris Morgan did a wonderful job raising me, but they're both dead now. I didn't kill them...Honest."

Dexter then flashes back to his childhood. His adoptive father, Harry, brings up a dog named Buddy, who went missing. Harry tells Dexter that he found the grave, and Dexter defends himself, saying that he did it because the barking kept his sick mother awake. Harry then says that more than just Buddy's bones were in the grave. The flashback ends and Dexter takes his boat to his marina, returning to his apartment shortly thereafter.

Blood Slide Box

Dexter lives on the top floor of a two-story apartment complex with a swimming pool. When he enters his apartment, its neat order is revealed. Dexter immediately heads to the air conditioning unit, removes the casing, reaches inside, and pulls out a blood slide box. Setting the box down, Dexter reminisces about the kill while he looks at the blood drop on Donovan’s slide. He then places it next to a group of other slides inside the box. After he returns his trophy box to the AC unit, Dexter sits at his desk, pleased that he had honored The Code of Harry in this kill. (The code is set of rules taught to him by Harry that allows Dexter to kill without being caught.)

Deb’s Phone Call

Dexter notices a phone message from his adoptive sister, Debra Morgan, who is a vice officer. Grinning, he listens to her foul-mouthed request for him to join her at a crime scene at the Seven Seas Motel. He has thoughts that if there's anyone he could have feelings for, it would be her (like a brother would). Dexter obligingly heads out to meet her at the crime scene.

The Seven Seas Motel

DexterStunnedByTheNewSerialKillersArt

Dexter stunned by the amazing work of the hooker killer

As he walks toward the crime scene, Dexter has the thought, "There's something strange and disarming about looking at a homicide scene in the daylight of Miami. It makes the most grotesque killings look staged, like you're in a new and daring section of Disneyworld: Dahmerland." As Dexter crosses under the yellow police tape, Officer Oliver steps in his way and asks if he's a cop, to which Dexter replies by flashing his forensics laminate badge and saying, "No. Forensics." He looks around the location until he sees his sister, undercover as a prostitute, calling him over to meet in a motel room.

Upon entering the room, Dexter jokingly comments on the "sex suit" that Deb is wearing and asks where she keeps her gun. She excitedly tells Dexter that a dead hooker was found chopped up in bits and pieces, and its the third one in five months. They agree that a serial killer is at work.

Debra doesn't know if there are suspects because Lt. Maria LaGuerta is keeping her in the room since she's working Vice and not a member of the Homicide division. Dexter suggests that she take a lesson from LaGuerta in politics. Deb responds that she only wants to catch this guy before he kills another girl. She begs Dexter to look at the scene because he always gets "hunches," and he finally agrees to do so. Knowing that Dexter will help her with the case, Debra smiles at a possible chance to be assigned to Homicide.

Dexter walks over into the pool area and slips on his latex gloves as Vince Masuka runs up to greet him. Dexter comments on his "haircut" and Masuka quips about Debra looking "hot" in her outfit. Masuka then asks why he's at the crime scene since there's no blood. When Dexter expresses disbelief, Masuka asks Detective Angel Batista to lift the sheet and show Dexter the body. The strange aspect to this crime scene - no blood on, in, or outside of the body sparks Dexter's curiosity and admiration. Batista notes an oddity in how the victim was dismembered. While the right leg is separated into four sections, the left leg is only separated into three with a final cut, apparently "interrupted." Dexter, still fascinated with the killer's bloodless technique, departs the scene after he tells Batista that, since there's no blood, he isn't needed there. Dexter wonders if this killer has exceeded his own abilities.

The Donut Guy

On his return from the Seven Seas Motel, Dexter stops by Sadie's Donuts for his usual Donut Run. On most work days, in order to appear as a nice, normal guy, he offers a large box of donuts to his co-workers.

At the station, an Officer at the desk takes a donut followed by Detective Dan and Detective Sue who joke about the next "blood bath" (since Dexter is a blood spatter analyst). After they walk away, Officer Debra Morgan, shows up wearing her police uniform. She also chooses a donut and tells Dexter that Captain Thomas Matthews put her on the case, despite Lt. Maria LaGuerta's objections.

Dexter then takes the donuts to Camilla Figg, the records supervisor. After she picks a donut, Dexter asks her if she has "anything new." She smiles and rolls her chair back to pick out a case file. Before she gives it to him, she states, "One of these days, you're going to tell me." Dexter responds with, "I already told you. Blood spatter doesn't take up all my time. I like doing it. Maybe I can help out. It fills my nights." She says that he has a morbid sense of fun, and he agrees. In reality, Camilla is one of Dexter’s unwitting sources for victims. He asks for case files on someone particularly heinous, in order to get information for a kill.

Next, Dexter greets Det. Angel Batista in basic Spanish and he takes the last donut. Walking away, Dexter looks into the box and thinks, "Just like me. Empty inside."

The Hotel Cokehead Murders

In front of a wall hung with blood spatter patterns, Dexter sits spinning around in his chair. Sgt. James Doakes (looking rather angry) walks up to Dexter's desk and asks where the hell he's been. Within Miami Metro Homicide, Doakes (who deeply dislikes Dexter) is the immediate supervisor of the dept. and works under Lt. Maria LaGuerta.

Doakes orders Dexter to write a blood report about another murder case. Doakes insists that two people died in a drug deal, but Dexter has his doubts. As Doakes walks away, he looks back at Dexter with suspicion. Dexter thinks to himself, "The only real question I have is: Why in a building full of cops, all supposedly with a keen insight into the human soul, is Doakes the only one who gets the creeps from me."

Before Dexter writes the report for Doakes, he goes to check out the Hotel Cokehead Murders crime scene where Officer Simon is assigned. Dexter states that the blood "tells a story" and shows off his unique knowledge of blood. He acts out how the male victim was quickly stabbed in the carotid artery, based on the blood's pattern on a white wall. Dexter then walks over to where the female victim was killed. There the wall has thinner streaks of blood causing by slashing. Dexter says the killer knows how to use a blade, and then leaves to take a lunch break.

The Valet

During his break, Dexter stalks his next target, Jamie Jaworski, a valet with a secret hobby of being a rapist. When Jaworski murdered a woman named Jane Saunders in a snuff film, he escaped justice due to a faulty warrant. Dexter breaks into Jaworski's house to snoop around and is almost attacked by his dog. Dexter finds the definitive proof that Jaworski is guilty and Jaworski’s fate is sealed. However, Dexter feels that he must wait until the time is right to place him on his table.

Dexter’s Girlfriend

Dexter goes on a date with his girlfriend, Rita Bennett, a domestic violence victim. As a result of her violent past with her husband, Rita has no interest in sex. Since Dexter secretly feels comfortable with the lack of intimacy, he thinks she is an ideal girlfriend for him. Rita also has two young children, with whom Dexter gets along well. While on their date at the Crab Festival, Dexter notices a crime scene in which another victim has been cut into pieces with no traces of blood; however, this time the head is missing.

When Dexter brings Rita home, he is still thinking about the dismembered body. In trying to describe the killer’s technique, he makes cutting motions across Rita’s thigh. She thinks he wants to have sex and hurriedly gets out of the car, leaving Dexter to wonder why he did that to her.

The Ice Cold Corpses

While at lunch, Dexter and Debra discuss the dismembered bodies, and Deb says that one of them felt ice cold. When she mentions the term “cell crystallization,” Dexter speculates that the killer is using a Refrigerated Truck to transport the body parts. (Later, a truck like this is found, and the serial killer is dubbed The Ice Truck Killer.)

The Briefing

While Dexter waits to attend a briefing about the bloodless victims, he notices Mrs. Donovan inquiring about her missing husband. While reassures himself that he covered his tracks, Sgt James Doakes appears and asks Dexter if he has a thing for grieving widows, and calls him a psycho. Dexter says he is there for the briefing. Doakes tells Lt. Maria LaGuerta that Dexter doesn't belong in the briefing and that he's still waiting on Dexter's spatter report on the Hotel Cokehead Murders Case. However, LaGuerta lets Dexter sit in at the briefing, which irritates Doakes. During the meeting, Debra brings up the idea of a refrigerated truck, but she is shot down by LaGuerta.

Following the briefing, Dexter and Doakes meet with LaGuerta in her office to go over the Cokehead Murders Case. Dexter insists that the murders had nothing to do with cocaine. He says that the man was quickly dispatched, while the woman was an emotional kill. He suggests an old boyfriend, but Doakes plays off Dexter’s hunch as a waste of time. As Dexter is checking his spatter pattern, Doakes warns him, "I'm watching you, motherfucker." LaGuerta simply sits at her desk and smiles at Dexter.

Demise of The Valet

The time is right for Dexter to kill Jaworski and he captures him at a construction site. Jaworski is wrapped in plastic and secured to a table, after which Dexter collects a blood slide. When Jaworski admits his guilt and says he is not sorry, Dexter kills him with a cleaver. While he is dismembering the body, Rita calls Dexter and asks to see him. He says that he is finishing a task and will stop by later.

The Refrigerated Truck

As Dexter drives to see Rita, he is sidetracked when he notices a refrigerated truck. He follows it, only to have the head of the last victim tossed at his car by the driver. Police arrive on the scene and he is questioned by LaGuerta, while Doakes stands glaring at Dexter from afar. LaGuerta tells Dexter that he was right about the Cokehead Murders, and Doakes arrested the boyfriend, but he still hates Dexter. When LaGuerta begins to flirt with Dexter, he says that he is tired and pretends to go home. Instead, he heads to Rita’s house.

Close Encounter

It’s early morning when Dexter arrives at Rita's house. She is hurt that he didn’t come over the night before, but he explains about the head and she understands. Then he finds out why Rita wanted to see him. She awkwardly expresses her interest in taking their relationship to a more intimate level. Dexter is taken off guard and doesn’t quite know how to respond. They move to the couch, but Dexter is saved from following through when Rita's son, Cody, calls from the neighbors house. He is sick and needs to be picked up.

The Doll

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When Dexter enters his apartment, he notices a small doll's head fastened to his refrigerator door. Inside, he finds the other parts of the doll, severed just like the bloodless bodies. Dexter is intrigued and his thought is, “I suppose I should be upset, even feel violated, but I’m not. No. In fact, I think this is a friendly message, kinda of like, “Hey, want to play?” And, yes, I want to play. I really, really do.”

Reception

The pilot premiered 1 October 2006. It was watched by over one million viewers, giving Showtime its highest ratings in nearly two years. The edited version of the pilot episode that was broadcast on CBS 17 February 2008 was watched by 8.1 million viewers, finishing third in its time-slot and giving CBS its best ratings in the 10 p.m. time-slot since December 2007. A little less than 300,000 viewers watched Dexter's premiere on FX in the United Kingdom 10 July 2007. Dexter premiered in Australia 7 July 2008 on Network Ten, where it was watched by a little less than a million viewers, finishing highest in the 18-49, 16-39 and 25-54 demographics. Maganini won the 2007 Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.

Reviews of the pilot were generally positive. David Hinckley of the New York Daily News called it "bold, different and exciting, with a central character and performance that take your breath away." Hinckley praised Hall's dynamic Emmy-worthy performance, and the "indispensable and haunting" narration. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune claimed "to deny yourself the engrossing Dexter based on its subject matter would be to miss out on one of television's most fiendishly intelligent new dramas." Ryan enjoyed the series' black comedy aspects, which she thought were "infused with the most pitch-dark irony on television." Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe was impressed by Hall's grand performance, especially in his ability to made Dexter likable. Gilbert praised the set designers, comparing the crime scenes to a Vanity Fair photo spread. IGN declared the show as "Best New Psycho Drama of 2006." Critics reacted positively to the character of Dexter. Entertainment Weekly's Josh Wolk called him "the hippest-looking killer since American Psycho's Patrick Bateman." The San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman described Dexter as "alluring, in a strange way," while Ryan found him to be "among the more compelling characters on the small screen." Gilbert described Dexter as a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, calling him a vigilante obsessive murderer with a slippery personality, but "also a hero of sorts."

However, not all reviews were as positive. Robert Abele of LA Weekly thought the pilot was average, containing "fashionable gore, occasionally witty dialogue, serviceable suspense and boilerplate police-department politics." Abele felt that the series was a superhero tale, rather than the dark comedy, police thriller and brooding drama that it was promoted to be. Brian Lowry of Variety did not think that Dexter would impress critics, and noted, "antics of the deranged... aren't really all that pleasant to watch." Nancy DeWolf Smith of The Wall Street Journal felt that the "grotesqueries of Dexter are not something that can easily be dismissed with the old 'you don't have to watch' line. We don't have to watch. We do have to live among the viewers who will be desensitized, or aroused, by this show."

Trivia

  • DEXTER is one of few television series that has a different name for the first episode than "Pilot", which is commonplace in most shows. Additionally, it's also one of the very few that names the pilot after not only the main character but also the show itself. Much of the production of the pilot the differs from the rest of the series. It does, however, set up the story, Introduce the main characters, establish relationships, and present dilemmas.
  • In the pilot, the Miami Metro Police Department is different than in the remainder of the series. The original set has some resemblance (specifically Homicide) but it changes going into the second episode "Crocodile" where it stays the new set design afterwards.
  • None of the extra background detectives from the pilot carry into the remainder of the series, nor are any of the seasoned detectives such as Michael Soderquist or Israel Yale present during the pilot.
  • The first kill room in the series is also used in "Goodbye Miami," set up by Dexter to use on Oliver Saxon. Why Dexter chose to use this location is uncertain, it could be due to the remote location that he used to kill Mike Donovan years prior. However, Dexter ultimately forgoes using this room due to constantly changing circumstances and apparently leaves this room intact after the finale as it's not seen again.
  • This is the only episode that does not contain either a recap or the opening title sequence, as it was a pilot pitched to Showtime prior to having a title sequence (and its the first episode in the series, thus nothing to recap). In addition, the quality of filming in this episode compared to the remainder of the season is due to a significantly lower budget at the time, as are most pilots.
  • Angel Batista is shown wearing full dress pants, shirt and tie at his first crime scene (as well as the briefing) where normally he's seen wearing a more lax attire, usually an orange themed designer shirt and fedora. The normal outfit is later worn at the second crime scene in the episode and for the remainder of the series, only returning with suit attire after becoming Lieutenant of Homicide in Season Seven and on a few formal occasions.
    • James Doakes also wears a suit during the briefing, where in the remainder of the series he sticks to his usual attire.
  • The briefing room used in the pilot is never used again, as it's designed as a press room with a projector screen where various detectives and officers sit while the Lieutenant asks them of their progress. The briefing room used for the remainder of the series is located within the Homicide department, featuring various dry erase boards and is more compact than this spacious location.
  • This is the only episode where Dexter wears plastic wrap on his face when killing a victim. It's unknown why he does this, likely due to it being a more open location, but the idea was ditched going into the remainder of the series where often times he doesn't even wear the face mask to protect himself from the blood (athough his methods of disposal become less bloody as the series goes on).
  • In the pilot, Dexter only has a Desk with his nameplate along with pictures of various crime scenes and so forth. This changes to an office moving forward in the series, with more privacy, although at times he does work at a desk situated just outside of the office door.
  • At the beginning of the briefing room scene, Batista and LaGuerta have a short conversation in Spanish without subtitles. The rough translation of the scene is as follows:
    • LaGuerta: You find anything?
    • Batista: Nothing today.
    • LaGuerta: Do me a favor and take your hat off.
    • Batista: Excuse me.

Gallery

Extra Information
Title Meaning:
Dexter is the main character of the series. Since this is the pilot episode, they named the episode in his honor.
Trivia
We learn that Dexter started killing small animals and then a dog. Most serial killers have a history of animal cruelty.
Quotes
"People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all, and I fake them very well." - Dexter

The Episodes of Dexter
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