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Dexter In ‘One Day’ Series, Explained: How Did Dexter Become A Mature Person After Emma’s Death?

One Day on Netflix was one of the best romantic dramas I’ve seen in a while. The series brought back all the emotions from when I watched the movie based on the same novel by David Nicholls. It made me feel nostalgic and emotional and reminded me of the complexities of love and relationships, especially in our twenties. The series beautifully captured the essence of love through the main characters, Emma and Dexter, and I felt like I was living through their experiences. Dexter’s character, flawed yet relatable, showed the importance of taking control of one’s life, especially with the support and sometimes tough love of a partner like Emma. One Day touched me deeply with their bittersweet romance. It resonated with me on a personal level, and I know it will stay with me for a long time.

Spoilers Ahead


What Was The First Meeting Between Emma And Dexter Like?

On July 15, 1988, during their graduation night, Emma and Dexter crossed paths for the first time at Edinburgh University. Amidst the chaos and joyous atmosphere of the celebration, where everyone seemed to be either drunk, dancing, or feeling a bit queasy, their eyes met. Dexter, exuding confidence as the handsome guy he was, approached Emma, who was having a drink with her friends. Initially hesitant, Emma couldn’t believe that someone like Dexter would be interested in her, considering he always seemed to gravitate towards girls who fit society’s conventional standards of beauty. However, encouraged by her friends, Emma decided to go along with Dexter. During their walk, Dexter mentioned that he had noticed her around campus, though Emma felt insignificant in his eyes. As they started talking to each other, their mutual attraction became palpable, leading them to agree to spend the night together. Upon reaching Emma’s dorm, they started undressing, but Dexter saw how Emma was fixated on making the ambiance more romantic by playing an 80s love song in the background. Midway through their intimate moment, Emma brought up the topic of their futures. While Dexter hadn’t given it much thought, expressing a desire to travel without concrete career aspirations, Emma revealed her aspirations to make a difference in the world. This led to a deeper conversation, highlighting their differing perspectives on life. As dawn approached, amidst the serene backdrop of chirping blackbirds, their conversation continued, revealing layers of vulnerability and connection. Dexter remarked that he always found it comforting, a symbol of new beginnings. But Emma disagreed, seeing it as a harsh reminder of potential regrets from the night before. Dexter, however, assured her that he had no regrets, hinting at how much he enjoyed their night together—just talking and connecting on a deeper level. The next morning, Emma woke to find Dexter preparing to leave without saying goodbye. Dexter said that he had intended to leave a note but couldn’t find a pen, but he didn’t want to go without saying goodbye. Emma then proposed a spontaneous outing to Arthur’s Seat, a place Dexter had never been. Despite his initial hesitance, Dexter decided to accompany her, prioritizing her company over his family visit. As some people recognized Dexter, he quickly let go of Emma’s hand, feeling embarrassed, which made her feel awful, although she didn’t say anything. As they climbed to the top, they shared drinks. Emma jokingly said they were celebrating their one-night stand, but Dexter corrected her, saying they hadn’t actually had sex, so it didn’t count as a one-night stand. Then, Dexter asked Emma why she hadn’t wanted to have sex with him, wondering if it was because of religious reasons. Emma disagreed, saying Dexter couldn’t believe that a girl like her could say no to him. Dexter apologized and honestly admitted that he really enjoyed spending time with her. On their way back, they considered going their separate ways, but Dexter invited Emma to have a drink with him. Emma hesitated, not wanting to intrude on his private space, but Dexter insisted, and they ran hand in hand towards Dexter’s apartment, laughing together. However, when they saw Dexter’s parents approaching the building, he let go of her hand again. Feeling like a burden, Emma bid adieu to Dexter, assuming she would never see him again. But as Emma walked away, Dexter came running after her, suggesting they exchange numbers so they could stay in touch. He also invited Emma to spend the weekend with him and his parents after his return from France, which she eagerly accepted.


How Complex Was Their Relationship?

Emma works with a theater company named Sledgehammer, acting in plays about women’s rights and feminist agendas for children. However, she feels trapped and purposeless, longing to return to London in September to pursue writing jobs. She misses Dexter terribly, writing letters to him and wondering about his whereabouts and feelings. Meanwhile, Dexter engages in rendezvous with girls and travels. However, during a conversation with his mother, he realizes the need for serious job opportunities to challenge himself. He feels lonely and misses Emma terribly. The next year in London, on July 15, 1990, Emma, once a top literature student, struggles to find purpose, working tirelessly in a Spanish restaurant to pay rent. On the other hand, Dexter secures a job in media and has a girlfriend named Naomi. When Dexter visits Emma’s workplace and tips her, she feels worthless, leading to a confrontation in the park where Emma expresses her lack of drive and desire to return home. Dexter recognizes Emma’s struggles and encourages her to believe in herself, as he has always believed in her. Dexter tells her to spend the night at his place so that she does not feel alone, as he wants to be a friend to Emma and be there for her in her emotionally vulnerable state. But Emma declines his offer to stay the night due to her bottled-up emotions towards Dexter, as deep down inside she knows she has always loved him. The following year, both Emma and Dexter go on a vacation in Greece. Despite their mutual attraction, they make rules to avoid complications. At the seashore, Dexter is being recognized by a couple for being a sort of celebrity host on local channels, which brings him joy, but Emma wonders if fame will change him. During dinner, they reveal secrets, with Dexter admitting to a past encounter with a man and Emma confessing her past crush on him. Later, during skinny dipping, Dexter expresses his attraction to Emma but admits he has always been attracted to various women. Emma’s anger and disappointment lead her to question the validity of her feelings for Dexter, realizing that their perspectives on love differ significantly. His reluctance toward a committed relationship highlights the complexities of their bond, leaving Emma feeling unseen and unfulfilled.


How Was Dexter’s Downfall Shown In The Movie?

The downfall of Dexter unfolds gradually, revealing a stark contrast to his initial success as a TV show host. It’s been a year since Dexter’s life took a dark turn. He’s now caught up in a whirlwind of alcohol, drugs, and meaningless encounters. As he stumbles through his days, hungover and late to meet his ailing mother, the harsh reality of his choices hits him hard. His mother’s disappointment and his father’s anger serve as a wake-up call as he goes to meet them in a drunk state. Dexter realizes that his mom is really upset with how he’s turned out, despite all his potential. Even his dad is mad at him for being drunk all the time. This wake-up call makes Dexter call Emma because he knows she’s always there for him, as she is the one person he can always rely on. He really wants to talk to her and be with her because he values her a lot. It becomes evident that Dexter sometimes takes Emma and their friendship for granted, adding complexity to their relationship dynamics. As the years pass, Dexter’s fame grows, but so does the criticism. Anxious about bad reviews before a live show, he turns to Emma for reassurance. Meanwhile, Emma is busy with her school’s drama rehearsal, but she takes a moment to comfort Dexter, reminding him of his talent and potential and how much she is proud of him. During the live show, Dexter’s self-destructive behavior leads to a disastrous outcome as he appears drunk in front of the television, broadcast for all to see. Emma watches this on live TV in sadness, wishing she could have been there for Dexter. On July 15, 1994, after meeting Dexter for the first time in a while, he took Emma to a fancy restaurant. But Dexter’s behavior highlights his downward spiral. He indulges in drugs, flirts with other women, and belittles Emma’s aspirations. Feeling torn apart by Dexter’s hurtful words, Emma leaves the restaurant, realizing that the person who once lifted her up now only brings her down, and he is not himself, as if she does not understand who this person really is. Dexter accuses Emma of being judgmental, and she decides it’s best to part ways. As they go their separate paths, the contrast between their destinies couldn’t be starker: Dexter’s self-destructive behavior juxtaposed with Emma’s quest for self-discovery and fulfillment.


How Did Dexter Want To Turn His Life Around?

Dexter’s desire to turn his life around stemmed from a series of disheartening experiences and moments of introspection. Upon realizing the shallow and judgmental nature of Sylvie’s affluent family, coupled with his rejection from hosting a beloved game show, Dexter found himself questioning his worth and direction. The accidental injury he caused to Sylvie while playing a game further deepened his sense of failure. Despite these setbacks, Dexter found solace in Sylvie’s love and support, which momentarily lifted his spirits, and he thought of proposing to Sylvie in that moment of vulnerability. However, a lingering sense of longing for Emma persisted, a friend who had always been a source of comfort and understanding to him. Dexter’s heartache intensified as he imagined sharing his misfortunes with Emma, reminiscing about the genuine connection they shared. At Tilly’s wedding, Emma and Dexter, who hadn’t seen each other in two years, were reunited. Upon seeing Dexter, Emma was genuinely happy, though a tinge of sadness lingered beneath her smile. As they finally spoke, there was an initial awkwardness, quickly overshadowed by their mutual longing to reconnect. Dexter, sensing the weight of the moment, invited Emma to a maze behind the church where the wedding festivities were taking place. In this intimate setting, Dexter shared life-altering news with Emma: he was about to marry Sylvie and become a father. Emma’s reaction was a blend of happiness and sorrow. While she was thrilled about Dexter’s new chapter, she couldn’t shake the realization that their friendship would inevitably change. Expressing her deep longing for their past connection, Emma acknowledged that Dexter’s evolving life would lead them down separate paths. In a moment fueled by alcohol and raw emotion, Dexter and Emma shared a kiss, a spontaneous expression of their enduring bond. However, they quickly recognized the gravity of the situation and moved past the awkwardness. Dexter, demonstrating newfound maturity, assured Emma that she would always be her friend, through thick and thin.


How Did Dexter Become A Mature Person After Being With Emma?

Dexter’s journey with Emma was transformative, shaping him into a more mature and loving individual. Dexter met Emma in Paris, where Emma had become a renowned writer of children’s books. Dexter’s life was in a difficult place as he was divorced and unable to see his daughter. Meeting Emma brought him immense happiness, and he expressed his pride in her accomplishments and how much he missed her. As Dexter reminisced about their intimate night together, Emma hesitated, explaining that their actions may have been influenced by emotions and alcohol. She mentioned having a boyfriend, which deeply shattered Dexter, almost bringing him to tears. However, Emma’s underlying love for him became evident when she returned to him, seeking solace and affirming their bond. As they embarked on living together, Dexter’s aspirations of opening a Parisian cafe became a reality, marking a significant achievement in his life. Meanwhile, Emma continued her success as an author with her second book. Together, they navigated life’s challenges and dreamed of marriage and children. However, their journey hit a roadblock when Emma faced difficulties conceiving, leading to a heated argument. However, after confiding in her friend Tilly, Emma realizes her mistake in pushing Dexter away. Recognizing Dexter’s growth and dedication to their relationship, she agreed to meet him at a breakfast bar to reconcile. On her way, she left a message on his phone saying that she was sorry and they still had time to have the baby, and she was very happy with him. But something awful happened. As she was on her way to meet Dexter, riding a bicycle, she was hit by a car and lost her life. 

Through his relationship with Emma, Dexter matures emotionally and realizes the depth of his love for her. Emma’s unwavering support and love helped him become a better person, inspiring him to work towards a brighter future. Her tragic death served as a stark reminder of the preciousness of life and the importance of cherishing every moment with loved ones. Dexter’s journey with Emma taught him the true meaning of love and loss, shaping him into a more compassionate and appreciative individual. It was hard for him at first to get out of the emotional loop with Emma, but Dexter understood that it needed time for his heart to heal. He went to the University of Edinburgh, where he first met Emma on graduation night, and started reminiscing about all the conversations and moments they spent together. He took his daughter to Arthur’s Seat, where he climbed with Emma, and reminisced about how Emma once told him that she was going to be a one-night standby memory to him and would hold no significance, and if they ever met at a party once in their lives, they would look at each other and smile graciously. Dexter started thinking about the irony of it, how Emma has become the most important person in his life over the years, how she made him a better person, and how they grew together. And he is thankful for it.