Top 15 Kills Celebrating 15 Years of ‘Dexter’ (Part 2 of 3)

Part 2 of Dexter's Top 15 kills, by Nick Henderson!

Showtime (edited by DexterDaily)

My Dexter countdown celebrating 15 years of this groundbreaking series continues! If you missed it, I am counting down my 15 favorite kills throughout the nine season run. The brilliance of Dexter has always been how these twisted moments serve to shine a light on the human condition. They inspire reflection in us as viewers and somehow manage to bring this character closer and closer to finding his own humanity; Even if it is destined to remain just out of reach.

With part 2, I am delving into the first half of my top 10. If you missed part 1, you can find it here. Of course, this article contains SPOILERS for all 9 seasons of Dexter so proceed with caution if you haven’t watched the show or are not 100% caught up. Let’s get started:


10.) Cole Harmon
Season 5, Episode 8 - Take It

Season 5 of Dexter remains a strange beast. It exists in limbo between two long-term showrunners (Clyde Phillips and Scott Buck) and tackles Dexter’s development in a noticeably different way by forcing him to confront grief and regret in the aftermath of Rita’s murder. As someone largely incapable of understanding or dealing with these emotions, Dexter latches onto Lumen - a surrogate for Rita who has suffered tremendously at the hands of a group of rapists and murderers.

Dexter reluctantly agrees to help her find justice and channels his need to kill into something noble (even if it is still very misguided). Of course, the two of them eventually find themselves standing in a kill room together and Dexter’s truth is finally laid bare for Lumen to see. The whole episode works because it builds to this dramatic moment and highlights Dexter’s (very human) need to make amends for Rita’s death. I might even argue that this is the closest he ever comes to being authentically human. He recognizes and reacts to another person’s pain in ways that can only be described as empathy.

When the moment of truth arrives, the reality of Dexter’s nature is undeniable. Lumen recognizes what he is but she doesn’t turn away. The two have a genuine moment of connection as Dexter delivers his unique brand of justice while Lumen watches. It is intense and emotional - not to mention cathartic for Lumen, who also serves as a surrogate for the viewers in this scene. This moment walks the line between the familiar and unfamiliar and for that reason, it has always stuck out to me as one of the best kill scenes of the entire show.


9.) Walter Kenney (AKA “The Tooth Fairy”)
Season 6, Episode 3 - Smokey and the Bandit

For such an underwhelming season, season 6 certainly had some fantastic kill scenes. In fact, I would understand if many of you forgot this particular kill even exists. Despite being a “kill of the week” episode that was detached from the larger season-wide DDK (Doomsday Killer) arc, ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ tackled the legacy theme more poignantly than perhaps any other episode of the season. As Dexter wrestles with the notion of leaving a positive mark on his son, he discovers that a serial killer he admired in his youth may have become active again in Miami.

Of course, Dexter quickly discovers that ‘The Tooth Fairy’ is now an old man who killed again in an effort to relive his glory days. As his pursuit unfolds, the famed killer, whom Dexter once respected and even idolized, becomes less and less appealing. Eventually, this audacious and efficient killer is reduced to a pathetic loner who hates his remaining family and spends his days staring at a box of trophies and flipping through porno magazines. It’s an ominous warning for Dexter who quickly recognizes that he may be looking at himself in 40 years.

But the reason I love this kill is that it finds an organic way to demonstrate Dexter’s genuine devotion to his son. It reminds us that Dexter has grown into someone capable of experiencing a (limited) range of emotions and at times, can even be driven to commit selfless acts; Something that the Dexter we met in season 1 was quite literally incapable of. As Dexter prepares to deliver the killing blow, Kenney spouts off about wishing his son would find out that he is the “Tooth Fairy” - One last miserable “fuck you” to an ungrateful son. In that moment, Dexter puts down the knife and chooses to smother Walter with a pillow and then leave his body in his apartment at the retirement home; Ensuring that he will die in obscurity with little chance of his son ever discovering the truth. It is a fitting and just end to a monstrous person and an important milestone on Dexter’s journey.


8.) Ray Speltzer
Season 7, Episode 4 - Run

Ray Speltzer’s death in season 7 was significant and memorable for a number of reasons. Despite being a fairly run-of-the-mill bad guy, there is no denying that Ray’s MO was… unique. The brute put on a Minotaur helmet and chased his victims through a booby-trapped maze before beating them to death. His reign only lasted two episodes but in that short amount of time, he ushered in a new era for Dexter and played an integral role in helping Deb come to terms with her brother’s secret life.

After giving Dexter a run for his money through his twisted maze, Ray is finally bested and ends up strapped to the sliding table in a crematorium. Of course, who can forget Dexter’s hilarious taunt in the kill room?; Mocking Ray for his pointless cries for help. It’s an inspired and original backdrop for a kill room with some fun dialogue and an unforgettable swell of Daniel Licht’s intense theme music.

But the real reason this kill graces my list is that it serves two extraordinarily important purposes. After igniting the furnace and plunging the pointed end of a broken shovel into Ray’s heart, Dexter parts ways with his beloved blood slide collection. Recognizing that his trophies make him no different than his victims in the eyes of his sister, Dexter runs his fingers along the slides one last time before placing the box on top of Ray’s body and sliding it into the furnace. Just like that, Dexter vows to never take a trophy again. It’s an important moment for the evolution of the character and one one that makes clear the authenticity of his feelings for Deb.

Lastly, the moment just following Ray’s death is among my favorite dramatic moments of the entire series. Dexter rendezvous with Deb just outside the Crematorium and climbs into her car. He points to the smoke billowing from the chimney and tells her that he got Speltzer. The moment is heavy and everything about the scene emphasizes the weight of what is happening. The dialogue that follows gives me chills every time I watch it:

Deb: “Did you do this for me?”
Dexter: “No. How do you feel?”
Deb: “Glad… What does that make me?”
Dexter: “Human.”

7.) Arthur Mitchell (The Trinity Killer)
Season 4, Episode 12 - The Getaway

John Lithgow’s portrayal of the Trinity Killer in season 4 is an undeniable highlight of the series with ripple effects that are felt all the way through to the end of ‘New Blood.’ He played the role to perfection and is commonly considered to be one of the best TV villains of all time. From his unforgettable introduction in the opening moments of the season to his chilling final act that left Dexter a widow and a single father - It should not come as a surprise to anyone that his demise was an obvious contender on this list.

Trinity represents much more than just another one of Dexter’s victims. He is the face of Dexter’s deepest regret that follows him for the rest of the series. Through Trinity, Dexter learns that actions and choices, especially selfish ones, have consequences that are sometimes severe. Of course, as Trinity lies on his table, Dexter (and the audience) does not know any of this yet. Arthur sees Dexter for who he really is but resigns himself to his fate knowing that he had already played his winning hand. The two take a moment to discuss their demons and the nature of fate before Trinity calmly states “It’s already over” - triggering an unmistakable flinch in Dexter’s Dark Passenger. This moment is so brief but the acting talent on display is undeniable and almost reason enough to honor this scene on this list.

Dexter shrugs off the moment of unease and then raises a hammer over Arthur’s head, flips it over with the claw facing down, and brings it down hard; ending Trinity’s 30+ year reign of terror. It’s not until Dexter makes it home that we are hit with the unforgettable realization that Trinity had already killed Rita and left Harrison sitting in a pool of his mother’s blood on the bathroom floor. It is without question, the most shocking moment of the entire series and it re-frames the entire kill scene that preceded it - giving unexpected weight and double meaning to Trinity’s final words. The kill scene itself stood on its own thanks to the two powerful performances on display but it was the revelations that followed that make the scene truly special on subsequent viewings.


6.) Roger Hicks
Season 2, Episode 3 - An Inconvenient Lie

Over time, the kill room eventually evolved into a creative tool that could elevate any episode of the show - even episodes that might otherwise seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things - into something greater. Such is the case with Roger Hicks, a used-car salesman that appears very early and very briefly in season 2. This small-time, “kill of the week” villain contributes little to the grander story being told throughout the season but his interactions with Dexter before and during the kill room have stayed with me.

That’s not to say that he serves no purpose at all; In fact, it’s quite the opposite. That purpose becomes very clear, as they often do, in his final moments in the kill room. After digging himself a rather deep hole with Rita thanks to an inconvenient lie, Dexter finds himself in awe of Roger’s effortless ability to lie with conviction. He hops from one lie to another with ease which inspires some spectacular acting by Michael C. Hall who has - at this point - only recently embraced the magic and creative freedom that the kill room scenes provide.

As their conversation unfolds, Dexter opens up about Rita and admits that his camouflage has evolved into something… deeper. Roger thinks he sees his opening and tries to appeal to Dexter’s perceived anger towards the woman who shut him out; A fatal mistake that leads Dexter to angrily spring to her defense. Before he can utter another disparaging remark about Rita, Dexter plunges the knife into his heart. In that moment, he starts to realize that he may have feelings after all. It is a fantastic scene that is rich with engaging dialogue and important character growth. For me, it was perhaps the first moment that I realized that I had found a character and a show that I would be transfixed by for years and years.

Don’t forget that this is just part 2 of 3 (You can find part 1 here). The final article in this 3-part series will include my TOP 5 kills from the entirety of Dexter. Let me know what you think down below about my choices thus far and feel free to share your own personal favorites in the comments as well!

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