Dexter: The Care and Feeding of a Dark Passenger


Dexter_Is_DeadI just found out there was one more book coming out in the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter is Dead. I rather thought that Dexter’s Final Cut was going to be the last book.

I thought I would take this time to talk about the supernatural/paranormal/fantasy element of the series, the Dark Passenger.

The Dark Passenger is an entity which inhabits many or most serial killers, or perhaps all. It seems that in the Dexter-verse, childhood trauma is a rather reliable attractor to Dark Passengers. Dexter and his brother Brian both witnessed the murder of their mother, at the ages of 3 and 4 respectively. Both got Dark Passengers and became serial killers. Dexter’s stepkids Astor and Cody, both traumatized by their abusive father, also have Dark Passengers. Dexter expects that Cody will grow up to be a serial killer but in Dexter’s Final Cut seems to think Astor will settle for being a ruthless corporation type, since girls are different. I don’t know whether there is a protest movement yet to destroy Jeff Lindsay for the thoughtcrime of admitting there’s a difference between the sexes.

The Dark Passenger can be recognized by other people who are hosts to Dark Passengers. Sometimes this doesn’t happen on first meeting. Dexter wasn’t aware that Astor and Cody had Dark Passengers until he witnessed Cody ruthlessly stabbing a fish that he’d caught.

Each Dark Passenger seems to inhabit one person. It directs Dexter’s killing pattern— when he’s gone without killing for a while, Dexter’s Dark Passenger gets restless. Sometimes at a crime scene, the Dark Passenger flaps invisible bat-like wings to let Dex know that a particular crime is something to pay attention to— the work of a serial killer, someone Dexter needs to pay attention to.

The Dark Passenger seems to be a secularized version of a demon. It can leave its host. That happened to Dexter in one book. Dexter still wanted to kill without his Dark Passenger, but was not able to. I’ve wondered whether Dexter’s desire to kill at that time was more force of habit than anything. Or perhaps Dexter would have killed if he had never had a Dark Passenger to call his own, and Dexter was just missing his usual invisible partner in crime.

One of the Dexter books gives some info on an entity which is the father of all Dark Passengers. This entity tells of his witnessing the evolution of life on Earth, its love of witnessing creatures killing one another, and its preference for inhabiting human beings once they came along. The entity realized that it could initiate more killing by inducing humans to regard him as a god— such as Moloch– and encouraging human sacrifice. In Miami Moloch even convinces his followers to create a great metal bull statue to use in the sacrifices. You’d think Moloch, who preferred infant victims in his historical incarnation, would have been more than satisfied by the killing at Florida’s abortion mills, but I guess he liked a varied diet.

The interesting thing is, while Dexter is aware of his Dark Passenger and even at one point wonders if it is a demon, he for the most part mocks other characters’ beliefs in any form of the supernatural or in religion. But then I guess we are all blind to our own favorite lapses in logic.

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One thought on “Dexter: The Care and Feeding of a Dark Passenger

  1. Very good review. I think I might get the books to read them. It’s right up my ally. I hope once you get my book you give it a review. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. 🙂

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