Dissecting Dexter - The Deer, The Metaphor, The Moment Of Connection

A breakdown of the amazing deer scene in "Cold Snap", by Tyler.


Dexter’s new routine was one of many big talking points among fans after the premiere of Dexter: New Blood. As opposed to diligently researching criminals and tracking their every move to plan his kills, this time he was hunting a different kind of beast. A beautiful albino deer in the woods surrounding the snowy Iron Lake.  

Clad head to toe in winter clothing, he tracked the animal through the woodland until it was in the crosshairs of his rifle. While his finger rested on the trigger, he never made the shot. 

From the first eye-widening shot of the creature, the poignant moment of connection Dexter shares with it, and the gut-wrenching shot that ends the animal's life and acts as the catalyst for the dark passenger’s reawakening, there’s been a lot of theorizing into the meaning and symbolism behind the deer hunt, and today I’d like to analysis the metaphor and meaning behind scenes. 


Purity and Innocence 

Docile by nature, deers have always personified innocence, and the albino deer featured in New Blood amplifies this association further through its rare appearance. The creature is gentle, pure, and, in Dexter’s opinion, perfect. It’s also a perfect metaphor for the new life Dexter has created. Iron Lake is remote and quiet, with an almost non-existent crime rate, far away from the high-profile streets of Miami, therefore it’s easy to see why Dexter has chosen to reside there. 

No crimes. No un-convicted killers to bring to justice. No temptation. Jim Lindsay has a simple, good life. An innocent life. 


And the deer is a reflection of just that: the innocence Dexter has concocted and retained for almost 10 years. The purity of the animal is symbolic of the good side of Dexter. The side that leads when the Dark Passenger is dormant, and the hunt is a reminder to keep always keep the innocence intact. And when the deer is destroyed, the innocence shatters, Jim Lindsay disappears and Dexter Morgan takes control. 

Scratching the Itch 

However, just because Dexter has retained from taking a life that doesn’t mean the dark passenger won’t occasionally stir - as evidenced throughout the first half of ‘Cold Snap.’ Dexter doesn’t have his traditional kill routine anymore. Tonight isn’t the night but instead, he has the hunt. He has a proxied routine. He has the temptation to pull the trigger, and potentially even the release he needs that would come with committing the act but he never actually goes through with it. 

Hunting the deer was a way to satisfy his dark tendencies enough without having to resort to actually killing again. The thrill of the chase scratched the dark passenger’s itch enough to prevent him from relapsing into his old ways.

Michael C. Hall reiterated this recently when speaking to Scott Reynolds on the Dexter: New Blood Wrap-Up Podcast, stating ‘He’s never been a hunter and this animal didn’t do anything wrong but he is a hunter of a sort and he is addicted to pursuit. This is a kind of methadone… he puts himself close to the edge of doing the deed but he never does it, fortifying his resolve.’ 

No matter your takeaway of the deer scenes, they were certainly some of the most impactful moments in 'Cold Snap' that clearly resonated with many fans. 

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