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Television

Dexter: New Blood Decimates Expectations with a Renewed Lease on Life

As hard as I have tried, I could not get over the ending of the original series of Dexter. It left me with blood splattered across my face and the question of “what’s next for Dexter Morgan?”. While some people prefer to leave doors closed after someone leaves their lives, I wanted to see what was next. How does a prolific serial killer get away with it all and then continue living? Thankfully, we now have Dexter: New Blood so my thirst can finally be quenched as neatly as a droplet of blood between two panes of glass.

Set 10 years after Dexter Morgan reportedly died in a boating accident, we find our main character in the small town of Iron Lake, New York. He’s now going by the name Jim and he’s just another friendly face in this small town. But the dead don’t stay buried for long as Dexter’s dark passenger appears and the urge to deal out his own brand of justice bubbles up to the surface. When Dexter’s estranged son Harrison shows up at his door step, things begin to spiral far out of control for a serial killer who’s just shaking off his rust.

Picking Up the Blood Trail

DEXTER: NEW BLOOD Key Art. Photo credit: SHOWTIME.

While the original series limped to the finish, Dexter: New Blood returns with the humor, sharp inner monologue, and the feeling the original series had in it’s earlier seasons. I watched the first four episodes and could not help but click play on the next one despite knowing I should space it out. The first episode’s set up of the new location is a much more interesting world than that of the previous Miami. Dexter’s new life is fleshed out with friends, a job, and a name that everyone in town knows. The set up is a perfect balancing act that I couldn’t wait to see how it starts to fall apart.

Seeing Dexter as a normal guy who works at a hunting shop and not a blood splatter analysist is a very nice change of pace. Watching a character that we know is a brutal killer do things like line dance, talk to friends about pets, and mundane stuff is a concept that I love seeing explored. The series is a welcome return when it could have just as easily felt like cashing in on the originals nostalgia. That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of Easter eggs and things for fans to see.

Things Change

(L-R): Michael C. Hall as Dexter and Jennifer Carpenter as Deb in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD, “Cold Snap”. Photo credit: Seacia Pavao/SHOWTIME.

Dexter has changed as much as he can after leaving everything behind including his own son and the life he knew. But his Dark Passenger is still riding shotgun in his mind in Dexter: New Blood. Once it was a visage of his late father, his teacher in the ways of killing, now is replaced by his sister Deb whom he killed. This change brings with it a new style of Dark Passenger who constantly screams in Dexter’s face about what he’s doing. There are some stylized bits that I do not want to spoil but the change to Deb is the best move of the new series.

Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter have always had great on-screen chemistry but this is different. Carpenter doesn’t have to hold anything back as she did when Deb was a cop trying to keep her own life together. Her entire goal now is to point out her brother’s flaws and his missteps. Both give wonderful performances that made me miss seeing them every week for years.

No Secrets in a Small Town

(L-R): Clancy Brown as Kurt Caldwell, Johnny Sequoyah as Audrey Bishop, Jack Alcott as Harrison Morgan, Alano Miller as Logan, Julia Jones as Angela Bishop, Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan and Jennifer Carpenter as Debra Morgan in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD. Photo credit: Kurt Iswarienko/SHOWTIME.

The small town setting is such a strength for Dexter: New Blood to introduce its new cast. Dexter is dating the chief of police Angela Bishop, played by Julia Jones. Her performance is wonderful as she starts learning “Jim”‘s secrets. Everyone in the town smiles and waves at Jim but there is a lot of things going on in town with protests, disappearances, and all of the whispers you find in a place like that. There is so much set up to explore and find out during the season. It feels more contained than the original series does but that is why I think the show is very succesful in honing in on what made Dexter special.

Should You Watch?

Michael C. Hall in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD. Photo credit: Kurt Iswarienko/SHOWTIME.

It’s been a long time since I got to see Michael C. Hall on my screen every week. Dexter: New Blood is a wonderful return for long time fans but is definitely worth checking out for new fans as well who want to unravel the mystery of who Dexter Morgan was.