This Dexter: New Blood review contains spoilers.
Dexter: New Blood Episode 10
“Open your eyes and look at what you’ve done!”
When it was announced that Showtime would be reviving Dexter after almost a decade, I was more than dubious. One of the first prestige dramas that I truly loved, I jumped at the chance to review the series when I started writing for Den of Geek in 2012. Unfortunately, the seasons that I covered could be described as disappointing at best. The show was responsible for many sins. Between clearly telegraphed twists, interesting threads stopped dead in their tracks for no apparent reason, and inconsistent characterization, the series’ chief issue was the esteem that the writers had for their lead character long after he deserved any.
On more than one occasion, writers of Dexter would compare their darling to a superhero, and many fans of the series, including in this site’s comment section, learned to see the character that way. “By only killing bad guys, he’s saving countless innocent lives!” they would reason, ignoring the fact that Dexter’s “code” was all bullshit. Dexter killed because he had to; the code may have made his addiction palatable to his surrogate father and the audience, but if someone stood in the way of Dexter feeding his addiction, it didn’t matter if they were a good guy or not. The lives shattered and lost as collateral damage didn’t matter either. Dexter’s addiction, narcissism, and lizard-brain survival instincts became at odds with the way that the audience saw the character and how he saw himself. That should have been the dramatic throughline that drove the show after Rita’s death, but Showtime and the fans needed a hero that you could root for.
As New Blood was announced, I wrote how the only way a revival would make sense was if Dexter was held accountable for his crimes. However, I didn’t expect the series to go there simply because how could Showtime expect an audience to follow the character once his irredeemable qualities were interrogated? How could you keep the IP alive if Dexter is put in prison, or worse, executed? So extreme kudos must be given to showrunner Clyde Phillips and Showtime for “Sins of the Father,” an episode that at once shows Dexter for who he is and holds him accountable, asks fans to reconsider their devotion to the central character, and overall is just a gripping, well-executed hour of television.
The episode begins with Dexter suggesting to Harrison that they take their father-son murder duo act on the road. He suggests Los Angeles, and as Harrison begins to question the logistics of such a move, Dexter reassures him with little more than “we’ll kill bad guys and save people.” Never mind the fact that Harrison was experiencing stability and community for the first time in his life — Dexter needs to leave before things get too hot, and he leans on the juvenile vigilante vision that Harrison has to sell the move.
However, the unthinkable happens; for the first time in nine seasons, Dexter Morgan is put in handcuffs for murder. At once, Dexter’s eyes focus on a nearby knife, proving yet again that the code doesn’t matter; Dexter absolutely would have killed Angela to save himself had Logan not entered the room a moment later. With a tasty Radiohead needle drop, Dex is booked and Angela begins interrogating him on camera. She reveals the screws from Matt Caldwell’s leg that Kurt sent her and tells Dexter that she found a matching screw in the debris of his cabin.
At once we see the gears start to turn in Dexter’s cold-blooded head. He smarmily tries to deflect, using Angela’s mental state and Kurt Caldwell as outs, but they don’t work. When Angela gives him a second to talk to Harrison, he excitedly decries that he’s been in tougher spots and tries to manipulate his son once again by playing on his sense of duty. “The world needs us,” he tells Harrison. It’s startling in its arrogance. Usually, we only see Dexter behave this way in private when he has someone on his kill table. It looks a lot more gross when Dexter’s the one in the vulnerable situation.
After a call to Angel Batista (In true Dexter fashion, New Blood had its fair share of plotholes and flaws. I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but it feels like a misstep to have Angel in the episode but not allow him a final face to face with Dexter), who is ready to come to Iron Lake with corroborating evidence, Angela returns to Dexter and really nails him on the Bay Harbor Butcher case. As Angela shows him the evidence of the injection sites (fans have been up in arms over a seeming continuity error of Dexter using M99, not Ketamine, during the show’s original run. While it’s certainly inconsistent, it seems negligible in the long run), Michael C. Hall plays the moment flawlessly, clearly squirming, but refusing to crack. Dexter finally throws a Hail Mary; asking Angela to turn off the camera, he reveals where Kurt has hidden the missing girls that Angela has risked her reputation and spent her career trying to locate. It’s the only thing that would allow her to take her focus off of Dexter for a moment. While she goes to investigate and eventually discover Kurt’s victims, Dexter makes his plans to escape.
Dexter murders Deputy Logan and slips out of prison, arranging to meet with Harrison where they can finally escape. When Dexter arrives to meet his son, Harrison finally begins to put all the pieces together. Realizing that his father has killed his coach, an undeniably good man, Dexter’s whole vigilante façade cracks. “It’s not a passenger, it’s driving you!” Harrison declares, before stating that the anger that they feel is different, because Harrison’s is driven by his abandonment, not his birth by blood. Harrison refuses to be a “caretaker” for his father, a catalyst to keep him on the straight and narrow, after everything the man has done. He asks his father to finally take stock of the wreckage that he’s left in his wake, and the many innocent victims of Dexter during the show’s run flash across the screen. It’s an extremely effective moment driven home by the best acting that Hall has ever done as the character. It’s the best scene of the series by a wide margin.
Harrison cannot let Dexter flee, and without speaking it clearly, the father and son realize what must be done. Harrison must follow the code. Harrison points his rifle at his father, and for the first time in Dexter’s life, he feels genuine love for another person. Harrison fires, and as Dexter dies in the snow, his hand reaches out for Deb’s as she slips away. It is a beautiful, fitting end for the monster and one I never expected to see play out. Angela arrives and allows Harrison to slip away, because we have to keep the idea of a spin-off alive somehow, but the montage of Harrison driving away hits harder than expected.
When I started at Den of Geek, my first two review assignments were Dexter and Breaking Bad. While the latter series never lost sight that the show was ostensibly following a villain, Dexter writers fell in love with their character and turned him into a hero. It was a misstep that led to some truly awful seasons of television. If nothing else, Dexter: New Blood rights that wrong and gives the character the ending he deserves.