The season finale of Dexter debuted nearly 10 years ago to significant criticism, and for good reason. The plot was sloppily written, the direction the whole season went in seemed aimless (as did the 7th season), and bonehead choices were made to quickly wrap up plot points that did not feel satisfying in the slightest. So after sitting on that for close to a decade hoping for some sort of resolve that we were never promised nor expecting, the prospect of a sequel series seemed incredible. We would finally get what the fans deserved and that would be a carefully crafted, respectful, and satisfying resolution to everyone’s favorite serial killer, right? Well…
This Does not feel like Dexter.
To get you up to speed, assuming you didn’t read the TL;DR, Dexter: New Blood introduces you to Jim Lindsay, Dexter’s new identity in the town of Iron Lake, New York. He has been living here for about 10 years under his new name and profession selling hunting equipment in this tiny residential area after washing up on shore (presumably) post-season 8’s hurricane finale. He has made a life for himself in a small shack, surrounded by ice and snow where he lives off the land by hunting and fishing and staying out of people’s way. During this time, Dexter- Jim has started a relationship with the police chief, Angela Bishop. You would think that maybe this was a tactic to keep his eyes and ears on the comings and goings of law enforcement in order to avoid being captured while out killing but surprisingly, this isn’t the case as Jim has been able to abstain from killing since assuming his new identity.
Things are going well for Jim throughout his time in Iron Lake but eventually, the past catches up to us all. Without warning, Dexter’s son Harrison arrives at his front door and attempts to connect with him which turns Jim’s world upside down requiring Jim to embrace Dexter Morgan once again. To make matters worse, Jim has a relapse and kills a local named Matt after an altercation and attempts to cover it up. Unfortunately, Matt’s father is relentless in trying to locate his missing son. Enlisting the help of the local residents and the police department, including Jim’s love interest Angela Bishop, which complicates matters further.
As Jim comes to terms with the mistakes and demons of his past, along with the resurfacing of his Dark Passenger, he must try to keep his world from falling apart as Jim Lindsay and rebuild the leftover fragments of his past life as Dexter Morgan with his son, Harrison while uncovering a deadly secret spanning decades in Iron Lake.
Okay, so the premise sounds as if it has some promise, and it certainly does at points. The problem here is that very rarely does New Blood feel like a true extension or sequel to the original Dexter. Not even in spirit do the two series feel related. At least, that is how I felt about it. Dexter’s actions in New Blood never feel on point to the character he once was and maybe that is because of the time that past and people change and blah blah blah. Look, I am all for character development but that doesn’t feel like what this is. I don’t want to spoil anything but there are a handful of moments where it feels like Dexter is regressing, not progressing. His choices are not ones he would have made based on what we know about the character over the previous eight seasons. He is not likable, redeemable, or even someone you want to root for. Maybe in the beginning but as the episodes go on it seems as though Dexter is on the fast track toward being just another killer that would end up on his table. Harry’s Code seems to just be gone completely despite the countless references to it and the suggestions that Dexter will teach it to his son.
With Dexter not feeling like Dexter, it is hard to invest in the character. New Blood just doesn’t have the charm and delight that one could never expect from a show that kills and dismembers human beings like its predecessor. And as the plot goes on, major plot points are flimsy at best as they attempt to nail Dexter to the wall rather than redeem him, or more specifically, redeem itself as a series due to the blunders under Scott Buck’s lousy vision.
And I feel bad about this.
Looking back on the entire season of New Blood, I can say that I quickly stopped rooting for Dexter or Jim. The show felt bleak, dark, and devoid of any feel-good moments like the original series. It didn’t feel right rooting for Dex by the end. He simply became another selfish serial killer with all the charm and lovability almost completely absent from the start. I hated that. I hated that I started to lose a connection to the main character, that I began feeling like he should fail and fall. It didn’t feel right and that is not a fun feeling to have watching a show like this.
From here, I have to mention major spoilers in order to paint the picture on the canvass of emotional letdown that I feel deep in my soul. You have been warned.
Toward the end, like, the very end of New Blood, I started to wonder where things went wrong. At first, I immediately thought it was due to Dexter breaking the code for his own sake and killing office Logan, something he would never ever do in a million years. The issue with this is ten-fold in that not only would Dexter never do these things, as it goes against the code he has lived by his whole life despite not needing it for the last ten years, but it also was completely unnecessary.
As Logan pointed out, the evidence against Dexter killing Matt and being the Bay Harbor Butcher was incredibly thin and circumstantial at best. On top of that, Angela managed to obtain evidence that was made up for New Blood. Ketamine? A traceable drug that was not used nor mentioned in the first eight seasons of Dexter all of a sudden being the singular tool used to subdue his victims? Uh, not only was this M99 in the original series, an untraceable substance, it was also not something that was ever known to be used by the BHB. Dexter covered that up. Not to mention the evidence of a needle injection in the throat of the BHB victims, something that was never discovered because Dexter destroyed the cooling tent that maintained the recovered bodies during season three and therefore destroyed practically all the bio-evidence on the remains.
There would have been nothing to nail Dexter to the cross here in terms of this flimsy evidence and all signs pointed to Caldwell planting his son’s surgery screws since the town suspected he killed his own son in the beginning. Not to mention how he, you know, had DNA evidence that nearly proved his guilt for killing Iris and then of course, the catacomb of victims he has taken over the last nearly 30 years. In what way would a killer like that not be suspected of killing his own son? Why would Dexter need to kill Logan to escape when there was nothing that could possibly be pinned on him. Okay, he faked his own death but he had a good reason that he gave to Angela. He couldn’t reuse that?
In the show’s final moments, we also see Harrison kill Dexter. Not because it was the right thing to do. Not because Harrison was motivated to put him down after seeing him kill Caldwell, but because Dexter killed someone he cared for- Logan. Sure, Dexter dying in the end is probably the right choice but considering how cool Harrison was with the idea that Dexter killed hundreds that resulted in saving thousands, this sort of confused me. Partly because Dexter would never have killed Logan, but also because it seems the writers chose to have Dexter break the code and kill Logan for the sole purpose of motivating Harrison to kill his father. Couldn’t they, I don’t know, have gone with something more akin to Harrison seeing him chop up Caldwell and having that be some sort of motivation to put Dexter down?
Sure, Caldwell deserved what he got, but actually seeing the swift blade of justice come down upon his limbs would surely mess you up. I would have bought that as a reason rather than having Dex kill Logan. Adding to this is also how shocked Logan was that Dexter proved to be what Angela suspected all along meaning that even Logan himself had doubts that Dexter could do those horrible things which means that there is no way a jury would convict Dexter if Logan, an officer of the law had doubts. Regardless, the hormone-driven psycho that Harrison is would not have even had the thought to kill Dexter nor the opportunity if it wasn’t for Dex killing Logan to begin with.
Which reminds me- how is Harrison suddenly a high school student in this series if he was only three or four by the end of season eight? He would be 13 or 14 years of age at the oldest and 12 years at the youngest if they stuck to that timeline.
Look, I wanted to see Michael C. Hall return as Dexter but this just isn’t it. This isn’t Dexter Morgan. In fact, the show would have probably been better as a mini-series based on all-new characters not set within the Dexter-Universe. Alter some small plot points here and there and you have a winner. Small-town resident Jim Lindsay meets his long-lost son who shows psychopathic tendencies while murders around Iron Lake occur and Jim aims to prove his son’s innocence. If you do that, New Blood would have been brilliant. It simply fails to be a proper extension of the original Dexter series.
In my final thoughts, I want to ensure that you make no mistake- the performances from all the cast are stellar. It was great to see Michael C. Hall again and Jennifer Carpenter returning as a conscience to Dex in the form of his late sister Debra was a refreshing take (even if her role was a little too zany and over-the-top at times, which it most certainly was).
I just wanted to make it clear that in no way is this in any form an attack on the actors and actresses. They all nailed it. I just think showrunner Clyde Phillips lost perspective along the way. Which is a major shame considering the writing, acting, directing, cinematography, and tone of New Blood are all just so stellar. The one thing it needed that it is truly missing, however, is staying true to itself rather than morphing into something else entirely while keeping around some familiar names and faces.
As I said before, New Blood has all the right pieces to stand on its own as a non-Dexter-related series. Unfortunately for me, it was not the story I was looking forward to even if the ending had to go down the way it did, although I maintain a strong stance that while I am okay with the ending, I don’t like how we got there.
Maybe I am alone in this, and that is okay as this is just my hot take on a series I love but New Blood is not something I ever expected to receive so it was certainly a welcome surprise when it was announced. I did enjoy the show but not as a Dexter sequel and maybe that should be enough.
For those that feel the way I do about the plot points above, we simply have to hope that we will get something else from Michael C. Hall someday, though I doubt it would be another Dexter: New Blood season. However, due to the revitalization’s massive success, it is certainly possible to get a series based on Harrison with Dexter following him around as his conscience. I just don’t know if Jack Alcott’s Harrison is worthy to take up the mantle or a strong enough character to carry a series on his own. Although it looks like it may end up happening if rumors are to be believed.
Just remember one thing- just because I did not like it, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Take that as you will.