Sergeant James Doakes was one of the most lovable and iconic characters at the beginning of the Showtime’s series Dexter. Although we love to love the bad guy Dexter we can’t lie and say that at times we didn’t secretly root for Doakes. He is after all very charismatic.
The show had a way with us where we as the audience had to question our own morals and ethics. If Dexter was caught we wouldn’t have a show anymore but on the other hand, is it normal for a person like Dexter to freely walk the streets?
James Doakes had some faults of his own, but we can’t help but wonder is he a hero in an anti-hero world?
Sergeant James Doakes’s Character
Sergeant James Doakes was roughly put a strong-willed character who was a trained special ops soldier. He was a very capable sergeant and was trained to shoot two bullets fast enough to penetrate the rib cage with such precision that it often appeared as though only one bullet was shot.
In Miami Metro Homicide he worked as both detective and supervisor. He was often paired with other prominent characters like Angel Batista or Debra Morgan and also worked with Vince Masuka and of course, Dexter Morgan.
Although he rarely smiled and could often come off as a bully, especially towards Dexter and Masuka, audiences often perceived him as a comedic character because of his caricature-like over the top presence and use of strong language.
Who can forget the legendary Surprise Motherfucker line?! That was used in pop culture so much it even got it’s own internet meme spin-off with the word surprise being replaced with some fries, revise or supplies. Ah, those were the good days.
The core of his likeability was probably the fact, apart from Batista and Debra, that he was a very relatable and flawed character with a quick temper and a big heart.
Is Doakes a Hero?
Now that we have a quick overview of his character, we can ask the question is Sergeant James Doakes a hero in an anti-hero world?
Yes and no.
Although he has all the predispositions to be characterized as the hero such as a strong physical appearance, the ability to use guns, fight, strong moral code and so on, there are some things that a typical hero would never do.
You know how Batman and other superheroes would never kill their enemy? That is because they all have a very strong moral code that prevents them from taking the law in their own hands.
And this is where we get to the problem.
Seargent Doakes is a part of the police force and is obliged to kill if necessary. Also, he has to have a certain kind of keen intuition and the ability to come to conclusions based on facts and evidence.
But what does Doakes do instead?
He sort of murdered Jacques Bayard and distracted criminals several times in order to push them into the line of fire. Why does the killing of Jacques Bayard count as murder? Well, we mentioned before that he was a special ops trained soldier who knew how to handle a weapon and could have simply shot him in the leg or something similar and let the Justice Department do their job.
A classic superhero or a hero for that matter would never do such a thing.
A hero is someone who is often referred to as “a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities”.
Does Doakes have these qualities?
To a certain amount, yes, but he is far from being the noble hero we are used to seeing on television or movies.
Dexter and Doakes – Two Sides of the Same Coin?
We mentioned that Dokaes had a keen intuition and was probably the only character who could see trough Dexter’s facade of being the “normal shy guy”.
He often referred to Dexter as “creep” and didn’t like to be around him.
But is this hunch enough for someone, let alone a police Sergeant, to accuse someone of some criminal behavior just because they give off a creepy vibe?
We as the audience know Dexter’s nightly shenanigans but he doesn’t and he doesn’t have any proof apart from his intuitive feeling.
So we come to the question does it take one to know one?
Both Doakes and Dexter are after the “bad guy” and would love to see criminals at least behind the bars. Although Doakes is more on the law side of things they are in a way both vigilantes who take the law into their own hands.
The main difference between these two characters is that one enjoys torturing his victims and the other doesn’t. For Doakes, his job is to catch the bad guy and that is that.
Because he (unsuccessfully) caught Dexter and proved his hunch does make him a sort of hero. Afterall he did catch the murder, didn’t he?
The first couple of seasons were really a crazy ride. The main protagonist is a psychopathic murderer and one of the main antagonists is a charismatic Seargent. But this only shows that in a world were the anti-hero is the protagonist, the hero although very flawed can only be the antagonist.