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Harry, Dexter’s deceased cop father and occasional embodied conscience, has been absent during the dawning of Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and Lumen‘s (Julia Stiles) partnership to punish the men who raped and tortured her. James Remar, who plays Harry, acknowledges that he’s only in nine of the 12 episodes this season, so sometimes Dexter’s on his own.
“Sometimes Harry’s there and sometimes he’s not,” James Remar tells Zap2it. “Dexter maybe shut him out of his mind because he wants to do his own thing. This is the voice of his conscience, so I suppose from a creative standpoint, how we can choose to look at it is: Here’s a kid that hasn’t called home in a few months.”
This does make sense. Harry had been very vocal early on in the season and as soon as Lumen enters the picture, witnessing Dexter’s killing of Boyd (Shane Hatosy), Harry is quick to point out this breaks one of the main rules of The Code: Never get caught. Teaming up with Lumen, going after prey and killing them with her knowledge, violates that many times over, so is it any wonder that Harry hasn’t been around lately?
Harry is inescapable though for a number of reasons. Primarily, he’s the one that made Dexter what he is today. He gave Dexter permission to be a killer, but only one who preys on murderers that have escaped justice. Also, as a cop, Harry had his own struggles with darkness and bloodshed, which may have encouraged him to channel his son’s sociopathic bloodlust into vigilanteism.
“His own backstory is kind of complex and comes from a a long line of suffering and violence just like Dexter’s does,” Remar acknowledges. “Dexter is an allegory I believe for the common man who’s been trained to go out there and kill the bad guy and then has a moral dilemma.”
The father-son dynamic also may progress, albeit in a muted way, with Dexter and his infant son Harrison, who’s named for Harry.
“It’s ‘Harry’s son.’ The line continues,” Remar points out. “Harrison says, ‘die die,’ a combination of ‘da da’ and ‘bye bye.’ Little Harrison is clearly more like his father than Dexter might like him to be. He confides in him.”
Harry isn’t completely consistent either. Harry the Man was just human after all, and Harry the Conscience is filtered through Dexter, who is constantly evolving. At the beginning of the season, when Dexter is grieving for Rita (Julie Benz) and randomly kills the guy at the way station, this does not follow The Code, but Harry only comments, “That’s the first human thing I’ve seen you do since she died.”
“It was well outside of the code,” says Remar, “But I don’t think the guy can be censuring Dexter all the time. Harry didn’t always yell at him, didn’t always hammer him. We have to sort out the intricacies for ourselves.”
In the end, Harry isn’t a completely definable character, which leaves Remar to make the decision on how to portray him.
He explains: “The one consistent aspect that I’ve held onto and I find to be a very concrete platform from which to play anything that they ask me to do is Harry’s unconditional love for Dexter. He just loves the guy. He just loves him for standing there. That’s true of any loving parent. The kid could be the most astonishing mess up and how do you not love him?”
“Dexter” airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime
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Photo credit: Showtime