The Trinity Killer, the Doomsday Killers and Dexter as Suburban Gothic

Mark Macleod


The city of Miami seems an unlikely setting for the Gothic. Like the global capital that has made Florida the fastest growing US state, it is all ephemeral present, with glittering surfaces that reflect appear to be too new to harbour the ghosts of the past. This is the setting for Showtime’s television series ‘Dexter’ (2006-2013) about a blood spatter analyst who works for the metropolitan police and is a serial killer. This paper explores two key story-arcs in the series. Punter (1998) argues that ghosts arise on the site of vanished cultural territory, and in ‘Dexter’Miami’s extraordinary growth has left many such spaces behind, but what kind of ghosts are possible here? Nelson (2012: xi) claims that gothic narrative in the 21st century has outgrown its ‘heritage of dark supernaturalism’, and yet the trimmed lawns and flowerbeds of season 4 hide a monster known as the Trinity Killer, who forces Dexter to confront his own horrific past in a devastatingly literal bloodbath and by season 6, in the story arc of the Doomsday Killers, Dexter’s monstrous double life is exposed to the one person he loves and fears above all others: his sister Debra. A complex series of doppelgängers, characteristic of high gothic narrative, concludes with Dexter’s attempts to lay to rest all the ghosts of the past that torment him, and to save the remains of his family by constructing his own death.

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