Posts tagged Dexter

Dexter-Related Conspiracy Theories: Season 6

It’s been like four episodes since we last talked about Dexter, so it’s time to play catch-up. What’s changed in season 6, and what’s going to happen in the remaining two episodes? LET US DISCUSS. At length!

For ease of use, I’m including some links directly to bits related to certain people or plots, so if you only want to know about, say, Louis Greene (YOU DO), then you can just click the link that says “Louis Greene.” Convenient, right? You’re welcome.

First, a recap! There be spoilers up to and including 6×10, “Ricochet Rabbit,” here. (There are no spoilers for the future. Only speculation.)

Travis & GellarTableaus 6 & 7Louis GreeneDebDexter himself



Let’s Talk About Dexter: Halftime

It’s days like these that I kind of wish I hadn’t decided to only do two or three Dexter posts this season and that one of them wasn’t going to be after episode 6, as it’s a terrible shame to deprive oneself of the opportunity to humbly brag about how you totally either called or in the very least ominously foreshadowed a bunch of shit that apparently was all going to happen in the same episode.

(Actually I kind of can. I have proof. Along with a couple of other people who are neat, including some from this very blog, many of the twists and turns of this episode had been at least vaguely anticipated in our Dexter podcast, Let’s Talk About Dex. Which you should check out. I’m going for a Nerds in Babeland bump).

Below you’ll find a quick recap of the season so far, along with several hypotheses for the future that may or may not be correct and the occasional bout of congratulating myself on being a master of the universe.

So for those of you who haven’t seen the most recent episode of Dexter yet, don’t ruin the most mind-blowing badass experience you may ever have watching an episode by clicking the jump. I know people like you are out there, and while I appreciate that you actually read these things at all, it would upset me to know that you’d completely ruined one of the few chances one has in life to react to a television show like Jack Donaghy reacts when receiving a cool toy as a child.


Editorial Piece: Pulling Threads and Spinning Yarns

While participating in the Dexter ARG, I was fortunate enough to meet Michael Andersen from ARGNet.  When I started this blog with all of the wonderful fellow Nerds in Babeland, I intended for this to be a place where female nerds can write about their passions (however nerdy or un-nerdy they may be).  Well, as has been made obvious, one of my new-found passions is Alternate Reality Gaming, and I asked Michael to talk about his own thoughts on ARGs.  I know, I know, he’s not a woman (shock!) but I think it’s okay for us to have our occasional male guest writer.  Thank you, Michael!


There’s a secret world out there, existing just outside the bounds of your perception. Most people go through their entire lives without realizing this fact. But if you’re smart enough, talented enough, or just plain lucky enough, you might join the select few who can recognize the signs and peel back a layer of reality to see what lies beneath.

This is a popular theme in science fiction and fantasy: you’ll find it in Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Matrix. There’s something eerily compelling about story worlds that could easily coexist with our own. Press a few bricks in the right order, walk down the wrong alley one night, or follow a few cryptic instructions on your computer screen, and your life will be forever changed. It’s also a recurring theme in alternate reality games (ARGs), a form of entertainment that superimposes a new set of rules over reality by peppering the real world with story fragments using a wide range of media and artifacts. I write about this kind of storytelling at ARGNet, and worked together with a handful of Nerds in Babeland contributors to explore the Dexter universe as we tried to hunt down a serial killer.

After a few years of following alternate reality games, I have become adept at recognizing loose threads in the fabric of reality. Pay enough attention, and you’ll discover the fantastic hiding in plain sight. You might even find yourself hiding clues to a secret world of your own. So what do I mean by loose threads in the fabric of reality? See for yourself, through a series of photographs I took in search of stories hidden in plain sight.

Sometimes, the underlying story is an enigma. Consider this fine fellow as an example: I found him in the middle of the road at the corner of Euclid and Mayfield, mere blocks from my law school in Cleveland. Intrigued, I kept my eyes peeled, and discovered he had compatriots scattered across the city: indeed, the Stickman is a national phenomenon, with sightings in locations from Portland to Washington DC. What secrets do these hidden men hide?

Other times, the secret is more straightforward, offering a chance at adventure. On a trip to Baltimore, I paid a visit to the Peabody Library, touchingly described by one visitor as the “closest I’ve seen to Hog-warts!” in the Institute’s guestbook. Just outside the building, a street map featured the following correspondence:

If I stayed in town for an additional day, what exciting adventure might have presented itself? Would I encounter the source of the message, or another curious soul like myself?

Nonchalance created The Jejune Institute to address these questions through an elaborate alternate reality game using San Francisco as a stage to hide puzzles in plain sight. Workers in the Business District likely pass a metal ring soldered to the sidewalk bearing the name “QUINCY” every day without giving it a second glance…but for those of us who entered the Jejune Institute lobby at 580 California Street, Suite #1607, it stands out in stark relief as an introduction into a world of cults and conspiracies.

It may seem a bit daft to obsessively seek out meaning in the countless unexplained curiosities you encounter and summarily discount on a daily basis. But those selfsame threads serve as portals into fantastic worlds that lie just beneath the surface of our own.

At the risk of coopting the expression of a Chicago-based graffiti artist with a knack for the comedic: if I ever start to lose this sense of wonder at these untold stories hidden in plain sight?

Dexter-Related Conspiracy Theories: Season 5 Prediction Post

There are only two more episodes of Dexter left this season and strange things are afoot at the Circle K. I spend, um, most of my waking hours thinking about this show and discussing it with people, so I decided, why not compile many of my theories about what’s going to happen in the next couple of episodes into a post?

So, I’m going to assume that if you read past the cut that you’ve already seen up through episode 5×10 (“In the Beginning”).  Anyway half the reason this post is here is so if I’m right, I’ll have evidence that I was right.  If I’m so wrong it’s hilarious…well, that’s usually what happens.  Dexter is, in my opinion, notoriously unpredictable, which is part of why I love it so much.

If you have any thoughts yourself, or if you just wanna talk about it, let ’em loose in the comments.  I love talking about this show.


Dexter Season 5.. so far

Season 5 at a glance.. 3 episodes left and shit is getting real.  Things are happening and if you haven’t kept up with the series then don’t read.  Full of *spoilers*!!

By far my favorite season of Dexter to date was season 4.  The pacing was on point.  The storyline was perfect and best of all you had John Lithgow (or Gogo for any DougLovesMovie fans).  The acting is always very on point but never so much as in that season.  It was a build up to so much that happened and once the final episode aired I was screaming in my living room.  Not only had they ended it with a surprise but it was unfinished.  Previously I have felt that Dexter would end its seasons with things tied up in a way that you wouldn’t be happy about it but could accept if there wasn’t another season.  Not until the end of the 4th season did they set up so much to be brought to what we have today.  And now it is all grounds for spoilers.  I have been vague and I really want to talk about what has been happening before this season ends and I have to scream all over again with whatever they leave us with.

Where we left off in season 4, Rita was found in a bath tub; dead.  She bled out from her femoral artery.  Trinity’s m.o.  What was so sinister about this is Dex actually kills Trinity and you never feel quite right about that.  He isn’t sad or upset but almost peaceful that he is going to die at the hands of Dex.  Only later do you find out why he is so peaceful.  He leaves a legacy of his imprinted on Dexter forever.  This causes his unraveling in the first two episodes.  You are starting to see Dexter as a person.  Someone who has feelings and is making mistakes.  Something he never does.  Up until this point we have only ever known him to be methodical and strategic.  Next thing you know he is beating random guys up in a bathroom and not really following ‘the code.’  Once Dex does feel like he can get on track though and picks a victim who he feels is deserving Dex ends up in more shit then he knows what to do with.

Boyd Fowler.  What a predicament this has caused throughout this entire season.  This should have been a simple kill.  Not only does it backfire but Boyd fights back.  It’s all ok though.  Dex moves the room and thinks things are getting better once he gets him on the table.  A little swipe on the cheek and a knife to the heart.  The slow exhale that should make his life come back into place is only for a mere second until he realizes killing in Boyd’s house is a total mistake because he is not alone.  Introduce Lumen.  She is one of Boyd’s potential victims.  He must have had her stashed away before she was going to be stuffed in a barrel and preserved for him to come visit.

Lumen was trouble from the start.  He can’t kill her because ultimately this would be the person Dexter is saving by killing men like these.  BUT! If she stays alive then there is potential that everyone knows of what Dexter is.  The massive dilemma starts now.  Eventually though she becomes strong enough to live on her own and she trusts Dexter, even though she did see him not so savagely kill her capture.  It was very apparent to her that he has done this before and you would think, well if I was in her position then why wouldn’t he kill me too?  Some time passes and they become friends.  Well not friends, yet.  She is a bit of a nuisance to him though.  She is obsessive about wanting to find her captures.  DING! DING! There was more then one.

So does he choose to help her by tracking down said captures or try and convince her to get back to her life. To the finance she left and her family who has no idea where she’s gone?  Well, he does try but she persists and ends up staying in Miami.  Her trauma has caused her so much pain and not being able to talk to anyone about what happened to her without giving up his involvement causes a problem.  Now I want to take a second here because this is when the situation takes a turn for the familiar.  We saw in previous seasons when Dexter tries to bring people into his world.  He, like us all, tries to connect by letting them in on the secret.  It has 100% of the time backfired and he ends up having to kill the monster he unleashes in others.  My thought is will this happen with her too?  She is not like his previous proteges I will say though.  She matches him in one respect, also where Trinity kind of mirrored him, they were all born in blood, so to speak.

Her traumatic experience, causing a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feel, is what really brings him to understand that she isn’t so different from him.  The two of them are trying to fill the deep hole they have inside.  By bringing justice to these men Lumen feels she can sleep at night and maybe he can use this to get back to who he always was, a monster.

The next victim ‘they’ target happens to be Jordan Chase’s head of security, Cole Harmon.  Chase is a motivational speaker that Boyd listened to constantly.  He preaches about taking what you want out of life.  He also later comes to tell Dexter that his teachings come from Plato’s philosophy of all of us having fractured selves and constantly are looking to complete that and become whole again.  Cole eventually finds out Lumen is missing and tries to move the barrel girls and ends up messing the whole thing up for everyone.  The police are on to all of them now because Cole fled the scene and claimed his truck was stolen.  Somehow it all gets pinned on Boyd and Cole becomes Lumen and Dexter’s target.  This is all under the noses of those pesky detectives, aside from Doakes 2.0 aka Quinn, and Jordan Chase presumably.

The night comes to kill Cole and things go wrong.  This whole season seems to be about things going wrong actually.  Somehow the next day Chase calls Dexter up on stage to talk about his recent tragedy of his wife being murdered and Cole sees Lumen leaving the hotel.  There’s a chase and back to the ‘kill room.’  Next thing you know Cole is being checked out of the hotel as Dexter’s baggage.  All the while not realizing Chase is one of the other guys Lumen was tortured by in Boyd’s attic.  This is where things start to take a turn for the more intense because you not only know Dexter is human and makes mistakes but we learn he has real feelings.  You kind of see it in the beginning of the season with Harrison but this last episode, number 9, really goes to show that maybe he can’t be the heartless serial killer he was once upon a time.

In the meantime, in the rest of the world of this show Debra is dating Quinn, messy, and Batista and LaGuerta’s marriage is hot and cold as she uses him as a pawn throughout to keep her career intact.  Really all that matters with this is that Quinn is improved on the Doakes model because he chooses Deb over the intriguing pictures of bags disappearing on a midnight boat ride between Lumen and Dexter.  I call this a good call, although it doesn’t mean that Liddy (the guy Quinn hired to follow Dexter around) is actually going to let this go and not keep digging to get his career back.  By the situational powers that be the barrel girls’ case once closed was reopened due to new evidence, as being DNA of multiple perps, was discovered.

When you bring kids into the mix the waters get cloudy because now Dexter is acting like a parent.  He’s still demented as we see once he beats up a guy in order to prove a point of good parenting, but he let’s his fear of Astor getting kidnapped by on of Chase’s goons cloud his judgement and not only have people find out Lumen is there but also that he has been spending time with her.  After all the running around and unraveling of secrets that was so closer guarded at first there is a great scene between Harry and Dexter in the car.  He is ready to dismiss whatever his father has to say until he realizes that Harry is proud of him for acting as any parent would.  He put his life on the line for her and didn’t think of anything except her safety; a completely new action we haven’t ever seen from Dexter.  Could he be evolving?

Only problem is now he is dealing with a psychopath with resources and power.  Once again he is not thinking as we have known for him to be, methodical and sensible.  Dexter is stupid to try and outwit Jordan Chase during one of their private sessions, which were only intended to be used to get more information on him and prove that he is worthy of the code to be put on his table.  Only problem is Jordan Chase is not a dumb guy and openly admits his obsession with Trinity to Dexter early on.  He finds out soon enough what is going on and it leads us to the ending scene you see his madness when Lumen answers the phone to hear him utter the words, “Tick tick tick, that’s the sound of his life running out.  Can you be sure to tell him that?  Take care Lumen.”

What do we have in store for us?  Dexter’s demise?  His unraveling as a killer and metamorphosis into a more whole human being?  All I know is that the next three episodes must be jam packed because there are plenty of loose ends to tie up and if last season’s ending is any indicator of how this may go, we may be looking at another cliff hanger to keep us hooked and find out what will become of our murderous crusader as he handles what he is becoming; human.

The Serial Killer Experience (Part 2)

[Part 1 is here.]

Well, I’m back.

Now, let’s talk some more about the Dexter alternate reality game. Where we last left off, I was extolling the virtues of a game as interactive as this one without telling you much about the actual game. Often the game’s more interesting moments were definitely controlled by the….okay, I just want you to know something. Somehow, without meaning to, I actually typed “controlled by the fates of others.” This game is like bedbugs. I can’t get rid of it. It has obviously exercised some kind of terrifying mind control over me.

Thematically speaking, what I just said makes some vague kind of sense. The serial killer’s self-assigned moniker, F8, is so many different kinds of nerdy pun on the word “fate” that it makes me a little bit nauseous. Just a little bit. Completely curably so with some ginger ale. Whatever the case, as I mentioned in yesterday’s half of the post, F8 selects his victims–or as he calls them, “friends”–because they feel they can “influence the fate of others” (his words, not mine). The theme of control is that which threads the game together; it is mentioned time and time again from day one, and was cemented in an early on challenge–an 8-Step Control Addiction Program (I’d pay special attention to this if you’re a Dexter fan, as I have a strong suspicion this is going to be the most pervasive element of the game that turns up in season 5). I remember trying to burn a list of all the things I had decided I had attempted to control and nearly burning my iPhone in the resulting flames.

A lot of the game’s ridiculous challenges were the result of experimentation with new media. Interactivity meant that you had to come up with a way for users to participate, but in a really active game, it wouldn’t have been enough for them to just tweet a few things on a weekly basis. Things had to get more invasive, more personal, and more nonsensical. It’s really not a game unless you make yourself feel like an ass on its behalf on many occasions. We decoded ciphers on cakes (which, much to my chagrin, led to someone saying “THE CAKE IS A LIE” every 37 seconds), we played in huge online rock-paper-scissors tournaments, we forged documents, and navigated a remote control fire truck around and watched an 18-hour live stream that included things like garden gnomes, three-legged dogs and dancing eyeballs.

In the end, though, it came down to one last thing, the main event, the aforementioned life-or-death confrontation, and a very simple challenge. Dee and Infinity came face-to-face to have a little chat. Infinity had set it up so that users had to vote via Twitter or Facebook to either #killdee or #killinfinity, and whichever one had the most votes would prevail.

Imagine how surprised I was when, after two months of hearing people bitch about the Serial Huntress and go on about how awesome they thought F8 was, they voted to kill Infinity 65-35.

Maybe one of the most interesting things about this–and something that made me unnervingly suspicious that this was some kind of social experiment above all other things–was exactly how many people voted to save the Serial Huntress and kill the Infinity Killer in the end. I’m not trying to be totally egocentric here, but I spent so much time on this game that by the end I was sure I had a pretty good handle on not only the game itself, but the players in it. It occurred to me, near the very end, that it might be a closer call than I had initially thought it would be when the countdown timer started ticking because I remembered my own initial hesitation, as brief as it was, to #killdee. I thought briefly that this was an opportunity here to question my own moral compass. For the most infinitesimal of moments I actually considered this seriously before I was brought to reality with a bump and the two worlds came into conflict. The alternate reality that had become the actual reality slid back into the alternate reality again. Maybe, just maybe, had these been two real people instead of two fictional characters, I would’ve made a different choice. But they weren’t, and I didn’t have to judge which one I would save based on real principles.

After it was over and F8 had died I felt this ridiculous and appalling despair. I was actually really confounded by it because, while I had imagined that if this happened I wouldn’t take it very happily, it was actually mildly embarrassing how upset I really was. I sat there reading the message boards in disbelief for several hours because basically what was going on was people were arguing their choice to #killinfinity based on moral grounds and I was responding by shouting four-letter words at my computer. I figured this wasn’t a very good basis for an argument so I decided not to say anything for a very long time. I didn’t understand it. I felt so betrayed by these people, like they had seriously wronged me somehow. And then one of them, one who had voted to #killinfinity, said something very interesting to me–why are you so upset? It’s only a game.

My non-player friend (feel free to take a moment out to voice your shock that I have a friend), who came with me to the kill room and who at this point was subject to weekly updates on the case, voiced similar confusion when I told her the results. “You would think,” she said, “that the fact that ‘it was only a game’ would make people MORE inclined to save the killer. There’s no real concern that an innocent dies while a serial killer goes free. Not to mention,” she added, “is this not a game that caters to the taste of Dexter fans? Isn’t that a show about a likable serial killer? Because I think it is.”

And that was just what was pissing me off! Here at last was this wonderful opportunity to be deliciously bad and you didn’t have to feel guilt. Having been raised in a Catholic family, I view such things as wonderful opportunities, since I am so laden with guilt as a result that I think “guilt” is something I feel more often than “hunger.” Actually, I’m hungry now, but I feel bad about it. But here, with the click of a button, you could actually kill one person and save another for no other reason than that you thought one of them was more charming than the other, even if the charming one was the guy who had killed seven people. And then you could go have lunch and donate your monthly $22 to Children International and no one would ever know. All the fun of murder; none of the clean up! I’m sure Children International would love to read this paragraph.

But when I think about it, the fact that it was a game was perhaps what made his death hit me harder than that of most fictional characters. Look, I am a proud nerd, and I am not ashamed to say that I have sat around and wept over the death of more than one fictional character. I am pretty sure everyone who lived on the same floor as my apartment when I watched the season 4 finale of Dexter thought someone must have been murdered (although SOMEONE WAS). But when I really considered it, trying to figure out why I was reduced to tears because a fictional character I had known about for two months had kicked the bucket, I came to the conclusion that the interactivity was the thing. This was a guy who would answer your tweets. When you woke up in the morning and saw an e-mail from him in your inbox it made your day. I didn’t have to do much serious reminiscing to establish that so far, I have not received any other e-mails from fictional characters, even ones in alternate reality games. The alternate reality here had, rather impressively, crossed over rather convincingly into actual reality. This guy, fictional or not, had probably singlehandedly kept my brain from atrophying in a haze of post-graduate nothingness. I felt like I had spent a large part of the last two months trying to actually impress this guy. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact, but I do know that it’s true. I wanted his approval. The reason I spent three days on my floor trying to rearrange 56 different sentence fragments into one cohesive statement was some strange combination of zen (which admittedly did end up with my kneeling on the floor and unleashing some kind of primal scream, not entirely unlike what Dexter experiences in that gross bathroom in the season premier) and wanting to prove my loyalty to this fictional guy. After all, this was a guy who had written my name down on a notecard and circled it, which had been found by the authorities when he abandoned his hotel room after almost being caught. I didn’t know why he had done it–for some time I theorized that he had circled my name because he didn’t like me but he DID like circles–but he had, and I felt like I had something to live up to.

I didn’t want to give up on him. I didn’t want to let him down, either. I definitely didn’t want to run around and desert him. I felt like I owed him something. I felt real loyalty for someone fictional, which is probably why I was so singularly pissed off at everyone who had voted to kill him. I suppose I was under the impression that a lot of other people felt the same way. Maybe I was really really biased; after all, this was my BFF we were talking about–maybe I was slightly too willing to look past some of his faults. O internet, how I have misjudged thee.

After it was over, returning to actual, actual reality seemed like an idea infinitely more bizarre than what had just transpired. Sleeping for 6-8 hours a night? Not sitting on the floor with a shitload of notecards fanned out around you trying to solve a riddle? Google Docs is useless again? Text message alerts aren’t often from a serial killer? Seeing video footage and the first thought in your mind not being “would it be easier to transcribe this if I downloaded it and then slowed it down a fraction”? These things seemed like the bastardization of life rather than life itself. Another player said to me, after mentioning that she had taken to carrying the plastic garden gnome she had received from F8 around in her purse (I move mine into bizarre locations around my house to disturb relatives who don’t expect to open the pantry and find a gnome), that a normal life was not enough. I sympathize. After it was over I felt kind of like I had just woken up from one of those batshit insane earth-shattering dreams that you sometimes get, where the idea that you have to get out of bed now and brush your teeth and go to work and pretend like everything is normal is seriously ridiculous. For a while you’re even pretty convinced that you’re dreaming right now. Perhaps the entire thing is inception. Or maybe it’s kind of like the end of Labyrinth. I’m pretty much waiting for F8 to jump out of my wardrobe and start dancing. IT WILL HAPPEN. I’m patient.

If you want to see a bit of the smooth-voiced serial killer and his rival, you can check out and, the two main in-game websites. If you’re still curious, check out my recap of the entire game here and part one of this monstrous post here If you’re feeling nostalgic, check out Shiny’s post about it last month here. And if you’re incredibly curious and just the right kind of nerd, check out Modernista!, the creators of the ARG, and their own website’s coverage of it here.

And seriously, I promise my next post will be shorter.

The Serial Killer Experience (Part 1)

It begins in a room next to Dick’s Last Resort, one surrounded in mirrors with a secret message and covered in an admirable fake blood that sticks to the floor but doesn’t come up when you touched it. And believe me, and I am admitting this only two months later, I checked, because I am a fake blood critic of the worst kind. If you are a creepster (unlike me; I am obviously very regular), this is the sort of room you enter and think that this would be a really great place to get away with a mildly noisy murder. No real neighbors, a bar downstairs that distracts from unusual late night foot traffic and noise, and a gigantic convention a couple blocks away with at least 4,000 nerds who definitely waited quite a long time to get into a Dexter panel. If you want to make a scene but don’t want to be caught red-handed, where better to do it than at Comic-Con?

Alternate reality games have different types of players just like video games do. You get your button mashers, your dilettantes who’ll play anything for a half-hour, the people who will buy a video game console just because they really want to play a single game, and the hardcore gamers who will play a new game without sleeping until they beat it, then replay it until they get the greatest possible score. (The same applies for Harry Potter fans. By the way. I’ve just worked that out. YOU’RE WELCOME, WORLD.)

To save some time, I’m going to assume you know what an alternate reality game is, both because it has already been mentioned here, and because I am going to link you to the Wikipedia article about alternate reality games. Here you go. I’m also going to assume you have a working knowledge of Dexter (but if not…here you go).

Anyway I used to be one type but now I’m the one who buys the console for the game. I have an overwhelming tendency to get sucked into an alternate reality game to a ridiculous extent when I decide to play, the result of which is that I end up not sleeping and ditching most if not all real world commitments in favor of the game. As such I try to avoid them whenever possible and haven’t actually finished one since The Dark Knight. I suppose this is kind of an inherent pitfall in the idea for some people; an alternate reality game tries to create an immersive and interactive experience for the player, which usually ends up immersing some people slightly too much. Especially me. So I avoid them like the plague because they are like cocaine and I am like a person who is addicted to cocaine.

However, it just so happens that Dexter is my favorite thing in the world. Period. Without hyperbole. So I decided to regard myself as being in like an Agent Lundy situation, where maybe I had retired, officially, but I couldn’t deny the opportunity to scratch the itch when it presented itself to me in such an irresistible package. There are some combinations to which I cannot say no. Chocolate and raspberry, Christian Bale and Ewan McGregor appearing in the same movie, Jon Hamm and ham, Dexter and alternate reality games.

To attempt to recap the entire game (for Freud devotees, I just typed “came” on accident) would, at this point, take a very long time. Also it would be redundant since I’ve already done it. At my website. If you really want to read it, even though it’s very long, it’s here. Also the official recap, which is not as awesome as mine is (YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE) is at (BUT WHO IS THE HUNTER AND WHO IS THE PREY??? Food for thought). So I’m going to give you the shorter version, although I can tell you already it certainly won’t look shorter. But it is. I promise.

The room of which I spoke earlier was presented to the masses at Comic-Con in July. If you were a super nerd who went to Comic-Con just for Dexter, you already knew exactly where it was and when it opened because you were keeping a list of the challenges in Dexter Game On and which ones you had completed and which ones you still needed to in your notebook (color coded) because you didn’t want to waste precious iPhone battery life walking around the exhibit hall at Comic-Con shouting “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY CAN’T I GET ANY WIFI IN THIS GODFORSAKEN PLACE.” If you aren’t a super nerd, or at least that kind of super nerd, then maybe you found about it in some other way. It was a neat place, and I made a video of it. I’m going to include it because honestly, though my video was taken on a really crappy camera, it’s easier than describing it to you. Included with it is audio of the victim being murdered. In case you are wondering, I took that video while listening to that audio at the same time. Did I just blow your mind?

Players are asked officially at the crime scene to help the Serial Huntress aka Dee Pratt try to track down this heinous serial killer, the Infinity Killer, by gathering at her website and pooling all their knowledge together to solve problems that one man could not do alone, assuming he is not VIncent D’Onofrio on Criminal Intent. In and of itself the idea is a pretty novel one because essentially the alternate reality game is that already, so it was interesting to see a character in an alternate reality game almost actually using the unspoken basis of the thing as a model for propelling its action forward. If that makes sense. I mean to say, the reason alternate reality games could only really exist in the age of the internet is because they REQUIRE social networking in order to work. There are so many puzzles and problems in them that the idea that any single person could solve them all unaided is laughable. Players necessarily must convene in order to do it. An alternate reality game is a cross-platform story that actually requires audience participation and cooperation in order to work, and perhaps just as importantly, it works on a real-time chronology in which you have no say. You can’t just sit at home by yourself on a really dull Wednesday night and play it. Theoretically I suppose in some games it could actually be done, but the idea is that nobody has all the knowledge that one might need to complete all the challenges. You HAVE to consult other people. “Crowdsourced” crime solving is taking that idea and applying it to the gameverse–that you could just be one woman in a basement trying to decipher all the clues, but you honestly probably wouldn’t be able to. You need other people there to tell you this Interesting Thing You Didn’t Know that turns out to move forward a stagnant case. It applies in alternate reality gaming, where maybe you have no idea how to solve the puzzle but the person next to you happens to recognize this cipher that the person next to her found hidden coded inside some Javascript that the first two people wouldn’t have seen. So why couldn’t it apply in a murder case? Two heads are better than one. And you bite because, after a lifetime of media consumption in a generation that happily embraced Silence of the Lambs, the opportunity to play the part of the profiler is alluring.

But into this equation comes a curious new variable–the charismatic serial murderer. He wants to play, too, and he’s so much more fun. He’s complex. He’s mysterious. He tantalizes you with little details but, like an episode of Lost, with each answer supplies even more questions. And if you play right, you can even win a prize. (Which usually turns out to be an actual audio file of him killing someone. Hooray! Who doesn’t want the opportunity to explain that one to the unenlightened when it shuffles onto their iTunes?) He introduces himself so much more carefully than the Serial Huntress. When you walk into the crime scene, they hand you her business card. You can call her hotline or go to her website. And he’s there, too, but you really do have to work harder. His personality is all over the crime scene. He’s written you a message on mirrors in blood. The message leads you to a website, which he’s hacked so you can see his profile (his username is F8), where a seemingly-innocuous “dream therapy” video leads you (via another mirror image) to a Twitter account which leads you to a riddle which you have to solve in order to get that kill audio. His methods are, to put it lightly, considerably more circuitous than hers. So now you get to play for both teams. You get to hear F8’s side of the story, too, which unfolds ever-so-slowly, like a Mad Men storyline.

In other games, this may not have worked as well, but this is when you remember what we’re playing a Dexter game, here. I had typed this whole long paragraph exploring why I thought people actually liked the show, but I deleted it because it has been discussed many times before and we may never truly know the answer. I honestly don’t even know why I like it so much. It probably has something to do with the fact that I am also a serial killer. It’s just that Dexter asks you necessarily to sympathize with its serial killer protagonist. If you couldn’t, then you probably wouldn’t watch it. So to ask you to sympathize with another serial killer isn’t really a huge stretch.

Retrospectively the method through which they eased him into our hearts and minds strikes me as unreasonably clever. Whether as some form of intentional storytelling manipulation or for other reasons, the first Infinity kills that we learned about–regardless of their place in the Infinity chronology–made him appear to be a vigilante, even if perhaps his guidelines were not as strict as Dexter (having killed an identity thief and a drug dealer). But as time went on it became apparent that perhaps it wasn’t so simple; F8 even mentioned it at one point when the connection was brought up: “but you seem to be trying to compare me to someone else,” he said, and “i have a feeling that’s what’s keeping you from noticing the thread.” By the time you found out that F8 selected his victims just because they exacted control over a fair number of people, and not because they were necessarily bad people, it was too late. You already liked him.

[This, of course, is not to mention how big a nerd he is. I’m serious. Call it what you want, but a great way to appeal to a large group of people who are willing to wake up at one-hour intervals to check some websites and see if anything has changed is to make the character they’re kind of supposed to be rooting for a nerd. Over the course of the game you discover that Infinity is actually an IT guy, but this already seemed obvious. Here we had the sort of person who was willing to create 64 Twitter accounts (which means 64 unique e-mail addresses) with portions of one QR code that would lead you to YouTube that would call on you to participate in a YouTube conference…or who inexplicably followed @TacoBell on Twitter…or who would, in a crowning moment of achievement, attempt to rickroll you. I mean come on. This guy was practically one of us, but he happened to also be a serial killer.]

As I have already said, this was not my first ARG, but I have called it the most immersive one I’ve played and I guess I’ll back that up. Every game I was playing before was apparently on such a large scale that it ultimately ended up being impossible and impersonal. I’m not saying that I felt excluded, I’m just saying that I never felt like I was a vital cog in making the machine work. I just felt like I was on board for the ride. I suppose part of that is that this is the first time I’ve ever been playing an ARG since day one, but the other part is that this one was smaller, complex enough to keep my interest (unlike some of the grassroots one I’ve tried to play that kind of peter out), and more importantly, offered more opportunities to interact with the characters in the game. Yea, though you could call the Gotham Intercontinental Hotel in The Dark Knight game and speak to the concierge, it’s not quite the same as receiving a direct message from a fictional serial killer or being mentioned by name in one of his videos. There is something thrilling about being able to speak so directly to a fictional character. His omnipresence is part of what made it fun. After a certain point, one got the impression that no matter what you were doing in the game, F8 was watching you. And why not? At some point he was probably your Twitter friend, your Facebook friend, invited to your IRC chat, a member of the message board. He was definitely there whenever he presented you with a new puzzle. I think perhaps one of my favorite moments of the game is, during the final life-or-death confrontation, when he actually checks his cell phone because he wants to see what people are tweeting. Now if that’s not an endearing combination of nerdiness and devotion then what is?

All right, well this thing is so big that I’ve had to split it into two parts. Stay tuned for part two tomorrow. [ETA: Here it is.] If you’re particularly curious, you can check out a couple of the major in-game websites, like and For extra homework check out my own in-depth recap at my website. If you love to know things like this, check out the website for the agency in charge of this campaign, Modernista! (exclamation point theirs, although of course I am thrilled to type their name). I swear after this I will write shorter posts.

Dexter Season 5 Premiere – Guest Reviewer!

Hello my fellow nerds and nerdettes!

I’m here to write a review of tonight’s premiere episode of Dexter. After a long summer everyone’s favorite serial killer has come back to television, and I think Season 5 has quite a story to tell. The first episode picked up where the suspenseful season 4 left off, with Rita dead in the bathtub of the marital home she shares with Dexter and poor baby Harrison in a pool of his mother’s blood. The season starts with Dexter in a state of shock, full of uncertainty as to what will become of his double life (blood splatter expert and dad by day and a serial killer by night). Trinity (a serial killer from last season played by John Lithgow) killed Dexter’s wife before Dexter killed him, however, Dexter is the only one that knows Trinity is dead. Most of Dexter’s fellow police officers suspect Trinity as the Rita’s killer, but the circumstances around this murder and the suspicions Quinn already has about Dexter puts suspicion on Dexter similar to that from Officer Doakes in season 2.

Guilt is eating away at Dexter throughout this episode. He carries the guilt of being indirectly responsible for Rita’s death, the guilt of having to break the news to Astor and Cody (Rita’s children from a previous marriage), and the guilt of what may come of young Harrison (Dexter’s son with Rita). You feel this sense of confusion throughout the episode. You have no idea what Dexter is thinking. Typically he has no set of traditional emotions, but we can tell he is thinking of the feelings he had for Rita and trying to make sense of his own unique form of mourning. At this point we have Dexter’s flashbacks to his first dates with Rita which I found to be a wonderful part to this episode. It gave us more info on how they got together then just Deb setting them up on a blind date. But throughout all of this, Dexter has his only rock now, his sister Deb. Deb is now put in the position of being the strong sibling helping Dexter get things in order for Rita’s funeral. In the mist of all of this whirlwind of sadness and shock, Deb turns to her old ways of taking to the first man around her who seems to show some sort of affection to her, Quinn. At this point in the episode everything is becoming too much for Dexter. He thinks destroying his past and just taking a few things and running away from everything is the best solution for him and his family. During his little get away Dexter get’s into a altercation with a passerby and finally shows the first bit of real emotion he has shown the whole episode. He realizes this is not what needs to be done and that he has to go back because, in some weird way, his family needs him and he needs his family. I see that season 5 is going to be a rollercoaster of adventure and mystery with this new storyline unfolding.

Review by Tiffany (fellow Nerd in Babeland from The Node)

Video of the Day!

I can’t really call this a “fanvid” because it is just a clip from an episode but this post is dedicated to a handful of girl nerds out there that love Angel Batista and swear that they watch it every day in order to start their day off properly. Talk about objectifying men…

I do have to admit, this is pretty adorably awesome. I can’t even count how many times I have felt exactly like this while leaving a voice message. Also, it’s a good little bit of Dexter to start prepping you for the upcoming season 5 premiere.

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