This Dexter: New Blood review contains spoilers.
Dexter: New Blood Episode 5
If the first four episodes of Dexter: New Blood have been merely table setting, then “Runaway” is the episode in which the meal finally arrives. After last week’s season-best installment, “Runaway” is chock-full of close calls and game-changing reveals that will fundamentally change the second half of the show. Not only is Dexter possibly losing his grip on the newfound connection that he has with his son, but his entire assumed identity in Iron Lake appears to be in serious jeopardy. How the writers decide to deal with the episode’s final stinger will ultimately determine the success of this series and whether any lessons were learned from the show’s shaky past.
While Dexter’s choice to confront Harrison over his “heroic act” is correct, his logic as to why he wants to certainly is warped. His fatherly instincts want to keep Harrison from going down a similar lonely, dangerous path that he traveled, but Dexter is also looking to share his Dark Passenger with another person that understands. Being a monster in disguise is lonely, and Dexter hopes that a clean confession from Harrison will start a dialogue in which father and son can commiserate over their murderous urges. Ghost Deb pleads with Dexter not to confess, knowing that it will likely scar Harrison further or send him the wrong message. The debate is a great showcase for both Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, both combative and oddly tender.
When Dexter does confront Harrison over the knife and the conflicting story from Ethan, Harrison immediately gets defensive. Harrison rightfully has a chip on his shoulder about Dexter abandoning him and Dex likely could have taken a lighter approach. “Why would I trust you? You’re the one living a lie,” Harrison pointedly tells Dexter, and it’s hard to argue with him.
Harrison’s indignation drives him to a “kill list” party and the young “hero” decides to partake in some party drugs. While under the influence, a young girl asks Harrison to carve his initials into her foot, but the minute she begins to wince and bleed, Harrison starts to lose control. The moment is echoed later in the episode when Dexter spots some blood while a cow is giving birth. It’s a nice touch that shows father and son really do have the same affliction. Director Marcos Siega keeps the camera on a woozy Harrison’s face, not a new trick to convey a drug experience, but an effective one here. When Scott offers Harrison an oxy, things go from bad to worse for the spiraling teenager. Audrey tries to help Harrison calm down, but he reveals that Dexter is going by a fake name before he passes out from an overdose.
Officer Logan is the first man on the scene and is able to get Harrison to a hospital in time. Logan tells Dexter that Harrison used Fentanyl, a dangerous opiate that is ravaging communities like Iron Lake across the country. Dexter gets wind of the local dealer’s name, and with no prep or planning in place, raids a vet medicine cabinet for supplies and heads to a local dive bar to enact his specific brand of revenge. Dexter giving in to his urge to kill yet again and using Harry’s Code to target someone that harmed his son is a smart way to explain why Dexter would break his “sobriety” again. Dexter felt weirdly sloppy when he killed Matt, which was explained by him being rusty after so many years. When Dexter is almost discovered in the act by Officer Logan, his fatherly rage can explain why he’s behaving so brazenly and unlike his past, meticulous self.
Dexter is taken into the station by Logan for attacking Miles and he uses his familiarity with the precinct staff to get the name of Jasper Hodge, the drug supplier. Once again, Dexter recklessly enters Jasper’s home with no prior vetting and is again almost discovered by Logan. However, this time Dex is quick on his feet, and forces Jasper to snort his own supply, making his death seem like an accidental overdose. Still, both of Logan’s close-calls with Dexter are positioning him to be something like a new Doakes, and a face-off between these two seems imminent.
Meanwhile, while Dexter is trying to enact revenge, Harrison tries to skip town, only to be stopped by Kurt Caldwell. We get confirmation that Kurt is the white masked killer when his typical ritual goes off the rails and he kills Chloe. It seems his motivation is tied up in a past relationship with a woman, but it is decidedly not sexual in nature. Anyway, Kurt stops Harrison from leaving town and gives him some fatherly advice, also mentioning that he sees potential in Harrison. It would be interesting if Kurt continues to be a father figure for Harrison and pulls him into his own murderous activities, having both Dexter and Kurt competing to be mentor figures for Harrison; one that wants to show him a code and how to keep himself from being caught, and one who’s actions are decidedly more evil. Father figures appear to be the overarching theme of the season, so this battle for Harrison’s soul could take place.
As all of this is transpiring, Angela heads to New York City with Molly as company to investigate the hotel that Matt Caldwell apparently checked into after his disappearance. She also takes the opportunity to attend a Missing Persons Conference. The hotel footage confirms that Matt did not stay at the hotel and that Kurt is lying, but that’s not Angela’s most interesting discovery. At the conference, she encounters Angel Batista, Dexter’s old colleague and perhaps the worst detective in the history of television.
Angela tries to get advice from Batista, who relays things that he learned while working on the Bay Harbor Butcher case. He makes references to Debra Morgan, her brother, and her brother’s son, remembering that the boy’s name was Harrison. When Angela returns home, Audrey reveals what Harrison said prior to him passing out, and the two coincidences force Angela to dig into Debra Morgan and what happened with her brother in Miami. Sure enough, she discovers Dexter’s obituary, with a photo of her boyfriend, “Jim.”
It will be interesting to see how revelation plays out, and whether the show can come up with a plausible way for Dexter to wiggle out of this one. Still, “Runaway” is a stuffed hour of television that moves the story forward in a big way. I’m excited to see if Dexter: New Blood can keep the momentum up.