What I love about Dexter: New Blood is its sense of humor. It’s funnier than the original series, and really leans into its strengths in that regard.
Even the title sequence—“Dexter: New Blood” encased in ice—is goofy and over-the-top.
Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has always narrated his adventures, but there’s a level of cheese in his narration these days that feels purposefully ludicrous, and it’s great fun.
It’s also just a very clever (and nostalgic) return to a show that we never really expected to make a comeback. A new setting—icy Iron Lake is about as different from Miami as you can get—with familiar characters.
Even though most of the cast is new, we still have Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) reprising her role—this time as a voice of reason inside Dexter’s head. A voice of doubt and caution manifesting itself as his dead sister. A figment of his twisted imagination that constantly berates him. It’s very clever and it’s clear that both Hall and Carpenter have a lot of fun filming these scenes.
The Family Business
In episode 9, The Family Business, Dexter comes clean—albeit gradually—with his son, Harrison (Jack Alcott). The episode opens with Dexter telling him a story about a serial killer clown named Wiggles who would torture and kill children before dressing them up as miniature clowns and snapping polaroid pictures of them, which he’d keep as trophies.
The whole thing plays out with lots of fourth-wall breaking. It’s not a straight flashback, it’s a story, and we spring back and forth between Dexter and Harrison in Dexter’s log cabin and the clown’s creepy shop.
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(Honestly, Wiggles is so damn creepy I’m not sure any parent in their right mind would bring their children within a thousand feet of the guy, but that’s all in keeping with the over-the-top nature of this show).
In any case, ghost Debra convinces Morgan not to tell Harrison about the killing, so he offers up a flimsy version of the story. He just confronted Wiggles, scared him straight—as though such a thing would ever be possible with a serial killer. Hardly justice, but Harrison buys it. Sort of.
Christmas In Iron Lake
It’s weird that this episode aired a week after Christmas, since it’s the actual Christmas episode of the limited series. Dexter and Harrison exchange gifts and then head over to Angela (Julia Jones) and Audrey’s (Johnny Sequoyah) house to open more presents. They wear ugly Christmas sweaters and Dexter seems truly happy—unaware, at this point, that his girlfriend didn’t let sleeping dogs lie.
Angela is a cop, after all. She already discovered that Dexter wasn’t Jim Lindsay. He thought that’s where her digging stopped, especially after he helped her with the body of her friend in the cave. But after talking with the podcaster Molly Park (Jamie Chung) her Spidey sense started tingling and she dug deeper, discovering that both the drug dealer Dexter beat up and his supplier had been jabbed with a needle.
Piece by piece, she’s been putting the puzzle together, slowly linking Dexter to the Bay Harbor Butcher. A mysterious letter shows up at her house on Christmas morning that says ‘Jim Lindsay killed Matt Caldwell.’ It’s from Kurt Caldwell (Clancy Brown) and contains the titanium pegs from Matt’s leg, just like the one Kurt sent to Dexter.
Kurt even shows up at the Bishop home that morning with a gift—purportedly a peace offering after his arrest and subsequent release, but almost certainly just one of his many manipulative intimidation tactics. Dexter and Harrison do themselves no favors by immediately rushing out of the house after Kurt leaves. If Angela was suspicious before, she’s well past that stage now.
Things keep getting worse.
Burning Down The House
The Morgan boys head off to find Kurt’s trophies and figure out where he disappeared to the night before, using the drone Kurt himself bought for Harrison. They see what appears to be a vent coming out of the ground outside Kurt’s cabin, and head over to investigate.
Kurt, meanwhile, has plans of his own. He shows up at Morgan’s cabin and—assuming they’re both inside since the truck is out front—sets fire to the place and then waits outside with his rifle trained on the door.
Dexter and Harrison find a trap door and Dexter picks the lock, revealing a ladder to a hidden underground bunker. They notice a camera and a tripwire which they set off on purpose (perhaps not so wisely) and Kurt gets a notification on his phone and sees Harrison climbing down the ladder. He panics, fleeing the burning cabin.
Inside the bunker, the Morgans find Kurt’s ‘trophies.’ Dozens and dozens of young women, preserved and dressed in white, standing in display boxes lined up in rows. It’s like an art gallery. As they walk down the long corridor, lights flicker on. At the very end, we see Molly in a box. Dead. Kurt killed her offscreen without us knowing.
Back in Iron Lake, Angela is discovering Molly’s disappearance as well. She goes to her hotel and discovers that she checked out, but left her recording equipment behind in the safe. A dead giveaway of foul play.
I’m a little sketchy on the timeline at this point. Kurt races from Dexter’s burning cabin back to his house—not his secret murder cabin in the woods. But Dexter and Harrison beat him to the punch, somehow getting from the murder cabin to Kurt’s house in time to kidnap him before he can flee, which it appears he was about to do, grabbing money and a pistol and a suitcase. I figured he’d go to his trophy room and try to kill Dexter and Harrison, but he may have assumed they’d called the police at this point.
In any case, stabby stab goes the needle and it’s time for Dexter to reveal the full scope of his “Dark Passenger.” Harrison had already guessed at this point. When they found the dead girls, he confronted Dexter. “You killed Wiggles didn’t you?” he asks. Dexter comes clean. He tells him he also killed the Trinity killer. When Harrison asks how many people Dexter has killed, he tells him: “Hundreds.”
“That means you’ve saved thousands of innocent lives,” Harrison replies, which is about the best possible reaction Dexter could have hoped for.
Still, I’m not sure it was a good idea to include Harrison in the entire kill ritual. Coming clean is one thing, but you should probably ease the boy into the family business, especially given the level of trauma he’s dealing with. But Harrison is there when Kurt wakes up (still doing his best to screw with Dexter even at the end of the line) and as Dexter plunges the knife into his heart and even still, as Dexter saws up the body and stuffs it, limbs akimbo, into black plastic trash bags.
The blood is what does it. Harrison pales. Flashbacks of his mother in the tub, the blood on the bathroom tiles leave him dizzied. He has to leave the scene, head outside for some fresh air. They burn the body in the same incinerator Matt Caldwell was burned in.
Then they head home.
Of course, there’s no home left. The cabin has burnt to the ground and firefighters and police are sifting through the ashes. Angela and Audrey are there, of course. Audrey is relieved. Angela just wants to know where the two of them were all night.
So much for alibis. Granted, the alibi of being home all night isn’t particularly solid, but it’s better than claiming you were out all night long driving around in the dark with your son just to check out the blood moon.
This was a pretty solid penultimate episode of Dexter: New Blood. I thought last week’s was a little subpar. The whole sequence with Kurt and Harrison was just weird, especially the baseball scene. This week’s episode was a return to form.
I was a bit surprised that they got Kurt so easily. I guess Kurt isn’t really the “final boss” after all. Angela is. The question is whether the discovery of Kurt’s murder gallery will distract her enough to let go of the Dexter case or if she’ll try to take him down. Then, of course, the question is whether he’ll get away and how.
There are lots of possibilities. This was a good episode because it showed Dexter and Harrison bonding, but even though Harrison seemed impressed by Dexter’s “vigilante” alter-ego—referring to him as Batman at one point—I wonder if there’s another part of him that is repelled by the Dark Passenger. Perhaps he’ll even start to wonder if Dexter was to blame for the Trinity killer killing his mom (which, of course, he was). Dexter, despite his “code” and the fact that he (mostly) kills bad guys, is still a monster. He was ready to kill Molly himself if she was on to him. The fact that he ended up saving her doesn’t change that.
Will Dexter escape or will the people closest to him bring him down once and for all? I’ll be honest. I hope he escapes—not because I’m rooting for him, really, but because I’d love another season of New Blood even if there’s no obvious way that can happen from a narrative standpoint. He would have to start over again in a new town, and that could very easily come off as contrived.
All told, a really terrific second-to-last episode in what has been, so far, a really terrific return to the misadventures of Dexter Morgan (and son). I’m a little sad it’s coming to an end. But all good things must.
P.S. The similarities between this show and the brilliant Alan Tudyk-led Resident Alien are pretty crazy when you think about it. Both shows take place in remote, frozen mountain towns. Both feature a lot of Native Americans, including young, strong Native women in lead roles (one a cop, the other a nurse).
Both feature men from out of town who are not who they claim to be, who are both hiding dangerous secrets and who are both killers trying to fit in with an unsuspecting community. Resident Alien is much funnier—Alan Tudyk is genuinely hilarious pretty much all the time—and both keep you on the edge of your seat.
They’re both great! It’s just a little crazy how similar they are, and in such short order. The Dexter: New Blood finale lands on January 9th, and the Season 2 premiere of Resident Alien comes out on January 26th. Something to look forward to!