Movie Reviews

Did Dexter Really Love Rita In The Original Show?

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Dexter.


Summary

  • Dexter’s relationships with Rita, Lumen, and Hannah show his unexpected capacity for love.
  • Rita’s tragic death was a pivotal moment in the series, revealing Dexter’s vulnerability.
  • Dexter’s complex relationship with Rita was hindered by his inability to fully reveal his true self.


Dexter Morgan had a complicated yet seemingly loving relationship with Rita Bennett throughout the first four seasons of Dexter. Rita, played by Julie Benz, was a complete ray of sunshine that contrasted Dexter’s hidden darkness. Dexter, being a masterful manipulator, was easily able to make Rita believe that he was a mostly simple guy outside his gory day job as a Blood Spatter Analyst at the Miami Metro Police Department and fabricated heroin addiction in season 2. Rita, although somewhat naive and blindly trusting of others, did ultimately mean a lot to Dexter, even though he claimed in the first season to be incapable of loving her.


As Dexter progressed into its later seasons after Rita’s shocking death, Dexter had two other main love interests, Lumen Pierce and Hannah McKay. In the final episodes of Dexter, the vigilante killer is willing to throw his entire life away in Miami to begin a new life in Argentina with Hannah and Harrison, his only son who he had with Rita after they were married. This proves that he was surprisingly capable of love, or at least a passionate obsession of some kind, forging his typical calculated methods to spontaneously leave Miami for good with Hannah. Dr. Vogel in season 8 also noticed Dexter’s atypical ability to care deeply for others, including Debra, even though he was thought to have been a psychopath.

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Dexter Realized How Much He Loved Rita Before The Original Show Ended

Dexter saw hope for himself through his partnership with Rita

Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and Rita (Julie Benz) talking in Dexter

In the early seasons of Dexter, the titular protagonist got about as close as he could to loving Rita and her children Astor and Cody although there was always something in the way, ie his dark passenger, from Dexter fully being in love with her. Dexter cared for Rita as much as he was able to especially because she provided him with the cover of being a typical family man, which was good overall to mask his violent hobby. While it’s somewhat subjective, Dexter’s fondness of Rita in the first couple of seasons appeared to develop more into an intimate and caring relationship, although it’s hard to say Dexter was head over heels in a traditional sense.


Dexter was obviously distraught by what happened to Rita in the season 4 finale, especially because he took the blame on himself for failing to fully protect her. This seems to be the theme with most of the people that Dexter loves or cares about most in the series, particularly in the case of Debra, who also died in part due to Dexter’s negligence. Trinity knew that Dexter loved Rita in his own way, otherwise, what would have been the point of killing her and having Harrison being “born in blood” like Dexter had been in the Shipping Yard Massacre all those years ago? Dexter began to realize how good Rita was for him but Trinity took her away.

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What Happened To Julie Benz’s Rita In Dexter

Rita’s death was a pivotal moment in the series

dexter rita

Rita was tragically murdered by the Trinity Killer, Arthur Mitchell, in the season 4 finale, who is arguably the greatest villain in the entire Dexter series. Trinity wanted revenge for Dexter getting too involved in his private affairs and for hiding the fact that he worked for the Miami Metro Police Department. Trinity, played by John Lithgow, killed his victims in a sequence of three particular modes of death that were a reference to his childhood trauma. For Dexter, however, Trinity made an exception to his modus operandi, killing Rita in the bathroom of Dexter’s house and leaving her to bleed out in the bathtub with Harrison crying next to her.


Witnessing Rita’s death in Dexter season 4 after knowing that he could have killed Trinity sooner is one of the harsh realities of rewatching Dexter. Rita’s death sent shockwaves throughout the Dexter fandom and instantly became the most shocking scene in the entire series, and arguably still is to this day. Julie Benz was reportedly not too pleased that her character was being killed off but ultimately it turned out to be the best possible outcome for the series and the conclusion of Trinity’s arc. The season 4 finale titled “The Getaway” is often considered the best episode of Dexter.

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Why Dexter’s Relationship With Rita Was So Complicated

Dexter could never tell Rita who he really was

No matter how close Dexter got to Rita, he could never be completely honest with her, knowing that she would never accept him, his “dark passenger”, or Harry’s code. Rita was far too innocent to ever consider being with someone who was capable of murder, let alone be a lethal serial killer. Perhaps Rita would have understood Dexter and might have kept his secret if Dexter had ever come clean to her, but there’s no plausible way that her character still would have wanted to be married to Dexter after he lied to her for so long and his so much of his true identity. Being with Rita was ultimately good for Dexter during the first four seasons but sadly the same cannot be said for Rita.


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