||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2011)|
|First appearance||Book Series:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Pilot episode: Dexter
|Last appearance||Book Series:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
|Created by||Jeff Lindsay|
|Portrayed by||Lauren Vélez|
|Spouse(s)||Ángel Batista (ex-husband)|
Captain María Esperanza del Alma LaGuerta (// or //; Spanish: María LaGüerta), is a fictional character in the Showtime television series Dexter. The character is known as Migdia LaGuerta in the novels by Jeff Lindsay upon which the television series is based. She was portrayed by Lauren Vélez in the television series. She is a lieutenant (and later captain) in the fictitious Miami-Metro Homicide Department, and the superior officer of Dexter and Debra Morgan.
Discussions between LaGuerta and Angel Batista in the first and fourth season give minor insight into LaGuerta's backstory; her family is said to reside entirely in Cuba, and she mentions being alone in a strange land, implying that LaGuerta was sent to live in America on her own.
In the series' beginning, she is introduced as a tough, ambitious woman skilled in political gamesmanship. She harbors an intense dislike for Debra, and flirts constantly with Dexter, much to his discomfort. After the first season, however, it is suggested that she sees him more as a great friend (she is, of course, unaware that he is a serial killer). At the end of the first season, she is removed from command.
Early in season two, she continues to struggle with her demotion and annoyance with her replacement, Esmee Pascal. She resorts to sleeping with Pascal's fiancee Bertrand, which quickly drives Pascal toward paranoia and instability. The woman's increasingly erratic behavior results in Captain Tom Matthews being forced to take her out of the Lieutenant position and reinstate LaGuerta.
When her friend, former partner and former lover James Doakes becomes the prime suspect in the Bay Harbor Butcher case, she tries to clear his name. She learns from a questionable source of two Special Forces missions Doakes took part in that directly conflicted with the deaths of two Butcher victims. In the season finale, Doakes is found dead in a seemingly accidental explosion, along with drug dealer Jose Garza, and the case is closed. The evidence LaGuerta finds is ignored. After his death, LaGuerta starts a memorial fund for him, asking police officers for donations, and refuses to think of her deceased friend as a serial killer.
In season three, as she recovers from the trauma of Doakes' death, she leads an investigation into the murder of Oscar Prado, the brother of her ex-boyfriend Miguel Prado. She also develops a close relationship with defense attorney Ellen Wolf, and is devastated when she is found murdered. Thanks to some personal investigative work, along with Dexter's input, she discovers that Miguel killed Wolf. She confides in Dexter, as he is the "only other one who knows". After Miguel's own murder (ostensibly at the hands of the Skinner, but in reality by Dexter), she becomes distraught that the Cuban community is thinking about naming a highway after Miguel. She wants to find admissible evidence to prove he killed Wolf, but Dexter is able to convince her that doing so would only hurt Miguel's family and the Cuban community, and that even then the case would be weak. Reluctantly, LaGuerta drops it.
At the start of season four, she is shown to be romantically involved with Angel Batista. They keep their romance hidden from the rest of the staff within the homicide department, aside from Dexter, in whom both Batista and LaGuerta confide. Their relationship hits a roadblock when she tells their superiors about their relationship so that it cannot be used against them during a trial. The consequence of her disclosure is a threat of reassignment; either Batista or LaGuerta will have to move out of Homicide. Deciding that their jobs are integral parts of who they both are, the two decide to end their relationship, and sign affidavits to that effect. Staying away from each other does not prove easy, however, and they begin having secret liaisons once more. In order to circumvent a reprimand from higher up, they secretly get married with Dexter as witness.
In season five, LaGuerta and Batista are married, but they begin to have problems, as she becomes too bossy with him and he becomes more impulsive. Their problems intensify when she publicly and unfairly blames a mistake she made, which led to several civilian deaths, on Debra, who tried to prevent her from making the mistake in the first place. This eventually causes Batista to look at her even more negatively. However, they make up by the end of the season.
Maria has recently divorced Batista after realizing they want different things. She is promoted to Captain in the first episode after blackmailing Matthews over a Madam's contact list which includes his name. Matthews assigns Debra Morgan as the new Lieutenant; this angers LaGuerta, who had promised the position to Batista. Debra is unsure of herself at first and goes to LaGuerta for advice. LaGuerta gives Debra unsound advice in order to undermine her, but Debra soon grows confident enough in her own abilities to survive on her own.
When Matthews is discovered to have been with another prostitute, LaGuerta initially tells Debra to cover it up. When Debra finds proof of Matthew's involvement, LaGuerta makes it clear that she will depose her if she steps out of line.
At the beginning of this season, LaGuerta discovers a blood slide containing serial killer Travis Marshall's blood at the scene of his death. Realizing this is reminiscent of the Bay Harbor Butcher's MO, she begins to investigate whether the Butcher is still alive, and sets out to prove Doakes' innocence; eventually, she begins to suspect Dexter when she learns that Dexter moved his boat, during the Bay Harbor Butcher investigation. She enlists help from Matthews, who tells her that her suspicions are unfounded.
As they dig into the case, they revisit the cabin Doakes died in and discover that Santos Jimenez had rented the cabin, prompting Tom to realize who he is and reveals to LaGuerta Jimenez is responsible for the death of Dexter and Brian's mother. This causes LaGuerta to, after hearing Jimenez's disappearance and Dexter's background, immediately suspect Dexter even more. They search the area and find evidence of Doakes's involvement. LaGuerta still believes otherwise stating Dexter could have planted it (which is actually true) despite Tom's refusal.
Eventually, LaGuerta forms a plan to finally confirm if Dexter is a killer; she pulls strings to have Hector Estrada, the man who ordered Dexter's mother killed, released from prison in hopes that Dexter will go after him. Sure enough, Dexter finds Estrada, and is about to kill him when he realizes that LaGuerta has set him up. He reluctantly lets Estrada go so he can escape but LaGuerta deduces what was about to happen when she sees the killing room.
LaGuerta has Dexter arrested for killing Estrada, who is in fact still alive, but is forced to let him go when forensic specialist Vince Masuka provides evidence proving Dexter's innocence. This turn of events only strengthens LaGuerta's resolve to arrest Dexter, even as her career teeters on ruin, especially after she finds circumstantial evidence that Dexter and Debra were near the scene of Marshall's death. She confronts Debra with this evidence, but Debra fends her off.
As this situation escalates, Dexter decides the only solution is to kill LaGuerta. He kidnaps and kills Estrada, and then drugs LaGuerta unconscious when she arrives at the scene. His plan is to shoot her before staging the situation to make it appear as if she and Estrada killed each other. Just then, Debra finds him and begs him not to kill LaGuerta, who regains consciousness shortly after Deb arrives. LaGuerta pleads with her to shoot Dexter, saying she's a good person, unlike him. Dexter resigns himself to his fate, drops his knife and tells Debra to "do what she has to do". Debra then shoots LaGuerta in the chest, killing her. Debra then drops her gun and falls to the floor, cradling the dead body of Maria LaGuerta.
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Difference From Novel
In the novels, LaGuerta's first name is "Migdia". In Darkly Dreaming Dexter, LaGuerta is portrayed as a spiteful, manipulative woman skilled only in political gamesmanship. In the TV series, however, she is cast in a more sympathetic light. In both the novel and the TV series, she flirts semi-openly with Dexter, much to his annoyance. In the first book, LaGuerta is stabbed to death by Dexter's brother Brian; in the TV series, LaGuerta remains alive and very much a factor in Dexter's life until her death at the end of Season 7.