The location: Debra's target practice.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. An open field, near a river.


Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Somewhere in Miami.


Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 6 (of Season 1), "Return to Sender".

    Dexter is thinking about his relationship with his sister, Debra, and he has a flashback to their childhood.

    Dexter's adopted father (Harry) asks him where his sister is.

    Next, we see teenage Debra out in a field, practicing shooting tin cans with her father's pistol. (Large, red & white smokestacks loom behind her).

    We learned in an earlier episode that the father has been taking Dexter out alone on hunting trips, to let him take his warped killing instincts out on wildlife instead of people.

    Obviously, he can't take Debra (or anyone else) along on these bizarre expeditions.

    But young Debra doesn't know that, and is naturally jealous of the time Dexter gets to spend with their father, and hopes that by practicing with the pistol and demonstrating her new-found shooting skill, she can convince her father to take her along on the hunting trips.

    Suddenly, Harry and young Dexter appear.

    Her father takes the gun away from her and reprimands her for touching it without his supervision. She tries to explain, but he ignores her pleas and tells her he is disappointed in her, before stalking off.

    In a later scene, outside the Morgan family home, we see Debra get angry with Dexter for betraying her.


Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A field next to a power station, and far from Miami.


Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. The four red & white smokestacks are part of the Valley Generating Station (sometimes known as "Four Stacks"), at 9430 San Fernando Road, in Sun Valley, CA.

    The smokestacks are bordered by the 11000 block of Glenoaks Blvd (on the east), the 9000 block of San Fernando Road (on the east), and the 11000 block of Sheldon Street (on the south)

    The river or stream you appear to see behind her (in between her and the smokestacks) is actually the Tujunga Wash, a channel that begins at the nearby Hansen Dam and runs down through the Valley to join later with the Los Angeles River (in Studio City).

    Debra appears to have been standing in an empty field area to the north/northwest of those smokestacks, with the camera looking south/southeast.

    "Dexter" shot three other scenes nearby in Sun Valley:

      • The auto salvage yard where Dexter kills the couple who were murdering illegal immigrants.
      • The trailer where the Ice Truck Killer copycat lived.
      • And the Pink Motel where that same copycat was arrested.

    The smokestacks are literally right between the auto salvage yard (on the east) and the Pink Motel & the copycat's trailer (both on the west).

    Here is an aerial photo of the smokestacks (with the channel also marked). And here is a map link.


    Sun Valley is in the northeast corner of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley, about half a mile south of Hansen Dam, and about six miles south east of the San Fernando Mission (and its cemetery, where Bob Hope is buried).


Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. It took me almost two years to find this one, and when I did, it was the best example of pure serendipity since Columbus bumped into North America while looking for a quick route to India.

    The four red & white smokestacks, seen behind young Debra, are the key, of course.  When I first saw them, I assumed they were either the smokestacks near LAX (which have appeared in many films), or perhaps the ones near the Redondo Beach Pier. But when I compared the screencaps with those two locations, they didn't quite match.

    During the first season, "Dexter" was still using scenes actually shot in Miami, so I spent a long time searching Florida for similar smokestacks, to no avail.

    Cut to 2009.  I was searching for a new location for a new show. I had heard that a scene from "True Blood" had been filmed at a junkyard in Sun Valley.  The problem is that there are a zillion junkyards in Sun Valley, and I was trying to track down the right one. I eventually turned to Live Local's Birds-Eye view (aerial photos), and I was having no luck finding that junkyard. But then, what did I see?  Four red & white smokestacks!

    Then I remembered that Dexter had shot at least two other scenes, at junkyards, out in Sun Valley.  Could these be Debra's long-lost smokestacks, I wondered? I knew that there was what looked like a river or stream running between Debra and the smokestacks.  So I quickly looked to the north of the smokestacks, and there it was, part of the Tujunga Wash channel, right where it should be. Then I matched up the huge electrical towers seen to the right of the smokestacks. Again, a perfect match.

    And the real irony is that it was hiding in plain sight, right in between the auto salvage yard scene and the Pink Motel scene.

    A long time coming, but another "Dexter" location gets added to my list.



 
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The Dexter screenshots from the show and all related characters & elements are trademarks of and © Showtime.
All other photos & text are Copyright © 2009-Gary Wayne and may not be used without written permission.



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