There are several mentor essays I could write, from the perspectives of being a mentor, being a mentee, and from observing mentoring relationships. The one being chosen today is the freshest in my mind.
I’ve watched Showtime’s, 8-season Dexter, from beginning to end once so far and have purchased the series. I’ve watched S1 probably 3 or 4 times. Last night I finished S2 for the 3rd time. Since there will be spoilers, if you have not seen S2 before, please skip the rest of this post.
The mentor-mentee relationship between Dexter and Lila is educational, entertaining, and evocative. It starts out on a false premise that he is an addict and is forced to attend a 12-step group if he wants to keep his relationship with Rita. Dexter plays his faux role in the group and Lila sees right through it. Something happens where Dexter feels that Lila has insight into what is behind his masked existence and she becomes his sponsor. Lila appears to have it all together in a way Dexter can only dream of. Up to this point he has felt he will never ditch his “dark passenger;” Lila gives him a glimmer of hope. He looks up to her, and on the horizon-expanding adventures that happen along the way, Dexter feels a liberation he’s never felt before. His urge to kill has been placated as the pendulum swings to its farthest reach.
Lila’s Way is, at a superficial glance, bold and effective. She draws Dexter out of himself and into her world because of it. As time goes on, the pendulum makes its inexorable return. The cracks in her rock-solid methods of conflict resolution begin to open. Life has a way of interfering with the best-designed systems (e.g. personal philosophies.) When Dexter keeps getting drawn back to Rita and the kids, those cracks turn into chasms. With everything going on in S2, Dexter, who is usually so careful, is about to step into a chasm before he gets hep that Lila’s Way is perfect only as long as there are no bumps.
Once the spell is broken, Dexter pulls away, only to realize he’s not getting away quite that easily. The harder he fights to get away, the more the mentor-mentee relationship not only refuses to end, but begins to flip roles. Neither consciously realizes what is happening, but Dexter’s mass is much greater than Lila’s and she is pulled into his orbit, albeit willingly. Her own dark passenger, arson, puts the pedal to the metal. Most evocative and disturbing is when she adds some of Dexter’s serial killer tricks to her bag and starts using them on completely innocent victims.
At the furthest swing of the pendulum, there is a genuine feeling of regret from Dexter. There is a sense that he’s sorry it didn’t work out between them. He’s sorry there is no other way to silence Lila. Probably most strongly felt is that, like the many things Lila turned to ashes over the years, she likewise was incinerated by Dexter’s flame.