Good Morning, Dexter Morgan

For the Look, Listen, Analyze assignment, I chose the opening of the TV show Dexter from the 3rd youtube playlist. I chose this because Dexter is one of my favorite TV shows and although this isn’t a scene from a classic movie, I think it’s a masterpiece and worthy of this assignment. If the video won’t play, it can be viewed on YouTube here.

LOOK: The camera angles are very close-up throughout the whole intro. Many of Dexter’s actions are a little bit slower than normal. It begins with a shot of a mosquito on Dexter’s arm and he immediately slaps and kills it. It then cuts to the title of the show, Dexter, in red with dripping blood. If you look closer at the letters, you can see how they turn to a darker red as if they were put onto a microscope slide. It cuts back to Dexter looking in a mirror but his image is blurry. It then cuts to an extreme close-up of him running his fingers down his chin and neck. It’s so close, you can see the moisture on his skin and each individual hair sticking out. At a side view angle, he takes a razor and slides it up his neck. It then changes to a front view of his neck where blood trickles down, but the cut isn’t shown, just the blood. A drop of blood falls to the sink followed by a couple more and are, again, close-up shots. The camera goes back to the previous view of his neck and he’s holding a gauze pad to absorb the blood. A very close-up shot shows the blood spreading across the gauze. The camera then shows a close-up of meat in plastic wrap being cut. It is tossed into a skillet where you can see the cooking begin. He flips the meat, and the camera cuts to a zoomed in shot of his cheek. It then cuts down where you see him bite down on the bacon and continue to chew. An egg is being cracked in the next shot and put into the frying pan. Once the egg is cooked, another close-up shot is shown of him using a fork and knife to cut it. The yolk spreads and makes a bit of a mess and the camera shots are slightly choppy. Coffee beans are in the grinder then squeezed out in another close-up shot. A side angle shot shows an orange being sliced in a motion you can see all of the juice squirting out of it. Floss is wrapped so tightly around his index fingers you can see the cut of blood flow to the tips of his fingers. The camera angle changes and is down towards the sink, but you can still see his hands. Another close-up front view of his neck is shown and his mouth is opened as he pulls the floss out. Next, shoe laces are wrapped tightly in his clinched, shaky fists. It cuts to a view of his bicep where you can see the motion of him tying his shoe. A super close-up shot of his shoe lace being pulled through the ring holes is shown next. A white T-shirt is pulled over his head and he searches for the opening to stick his head through. He finds it and is looking straight into the camera with an almost exhausted look on his face. The camera zooms out a little to where you can see his whole face with his eyes still focused on the camera, the first time in the intro you see a full shot of his face. It changes to a side angle of his house key exiting the lock and him walking away from his apartment.

Listen: Sound is hard for me to describe but I’ll try. Music begins and kind of resembles an alarm noise. There’s a sudden slapping sound followed by the theme song starting. It’s a bit eerie and has high pitched noises throughout that almost sounds like a blade being pulled from a sheath. There’s a slight sound of a rough surface being rubbed then a scraping noise. The music gets a little louder then a slicing noise is made and I’m reminded of the crunch thick ZipLock bags make. Something is sizzling then crunchy chewing noises are made. More sizzling and the scraping of metal is heard. Squirting noises are made as if pressure is being put onto something then squeezed. Music continues with no other noises until a quiet squeaking of something being pulled. The eerie music continues to play, but no words are spoken throughout the whole intro.

Analyze: What I love about this intro is it’s just a basic morning routine. Wake up, shave, cook breakfast, eat, make coffee, cut up some fruit, floss, tie shoes, get dressed, and leave. It’s something everyone can relate to, yet it’s eerie. Dexter seems like he is just like everyone else, but there’s something that’s just…off. It’s most likely intended to make the viewer slightly uncomfortable. Not so uncomfortable they decide not to watch the show, but just enough that they realize this show isn’t typical. It should spark interest in wanting to know who Dexter Morgan is because he is an intriguing character. The hands that are used to shave, cook, eat, etc. are the same hands that end people’s lives. He’s an organized serial killer. The difference between him and other serial killers is that he has a reason for killing each of his victims, they aren’t random, spur of the moment killings. But like many serial killers, Dexter has a routine for how he kills…just like his morning routine (I know not every killing isn’t 100% the same, but if you’ve seen the show, you know he has a ritual). The people he kills must have done something bad to, in his mind, deserve being killed (the mosquito he kills bit him), he cuts the cheek of his victims (he cuts himself while shaving his face), he has disassembled some his victims and throws their bodies in the ocean (he cuts up the meat and throws it in the frying pan), he feels satisfied that the person is gone for good (he enjoys his breakfast), in the show they commonly zoom in on his hands as he stabs them close to the heart (the close up shot of his hand pushing down on the coffee grinder), he always uses wrap to restrain his victims (the wrapping of the floss and shoe laces), and I think there’s probably more that can be analyzed and I just may have missed it. Or maybe I’m wrong about all of this, I don’t know. It’s just how I see it. I think the close-up shots, blood, noises, and music is what changes how the viewer will interpret it. Maybe others will interpret it differently. I can definitely feel a difference when watching the clip above vs. the clip below.

If the video won’t play it can be viewed on YouTube here. This was a draft of the opening for Dexter. It feels so much darker and frantic. The music is harsher and the camera shots are almost chaotic with how choppy they are. I feel almost distraught while watching, especially after watching the final version where that one made me curious and wanting to see more of Dexter’s life.


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