Title: Dexter: New Blood
Creator: Clyde Phillips
Stars: Michael C. Hall, Jack Alcott, Julia Jones
Dexter is the “sweet” story about a serial killer that wants to do good, one murder at a time. Ten years ago, Dexter entertained us with the baby-faced blue-eyed, socially awkward killer that always was one step ahead of the competition, exclusively hunting the scum of the earth.
The last run of the series ended with Dexter narrowly escaping being captured and leaving his life as a Miami forensic technician behind. Now we find him living in the small town of Iron Lake. A name that sounds a whole lot like “irony.” That selfsame irony seeps through the first few episodes. Dexter used to dump the bodies of his victims in Miami Bay, and now we find the former hunter of killers selling hunting equipment.
It has been ten years since we last saw Dexter on the TV screens, the fact that Dexter: New Blood does not try to hide. Dexter has aged and grown as a person. He has settled into his new life in a small town, dating the local Police Angela Bishop (played by Julia Jones).
Those first seasons were truly great TV, which means that Dexter: New Blood got big shoes to fill. The original Dexter series is a 24-time Emmy nominee and four-time winner. Michael C. Hall received five consecutive Emmy nominations in Best Drama Actor, playing Dexter (2008-12). The show itself earned four bids for Best Drama Series (2008-11). In addition, the show had one of the best intros I have seen.
First, let us get one thing out of the way. Dexter is about a serial killer. You and I would be disappointed if Dexter: New Blood did not live up to its name. It does – there will be murder, and there is joy in seeing old familiar faces commit murder again, almost a little pre-Christmas miracle. Not unlike the one Dexter experiences when he is reunited with his son.
One of the strangely brilliant things about Dexter is that it has always been, at least in parts, a family drama. In the original run, it was Dexter, his sister and the ghost of the one that raised him (and taught him how to get away with murder). In Dexter: New Blood, it is Dexter, his son and the ghost of his sister. It let the series become something more than the story of a bad man being the anti-hero because he kills worse people. It allows us to see other sides of him, the challenges that come with being an outsider that tries to fit in – without really understanding the rules. Even the challenges that come with raising somebody who won’t fit into society. I am glad to see this thread be picked up, with Dexter meeting his estranged son, making the promise to “not fuck him up.” I can’t imagine many parents have voiced a similar concern, wanting not to mess up their kids.
Following up on that, I am also happy to see that Dexter has grown. He is more mature now and less socially awkward while retaining the same charm I remembered ten years ago. Hall is a skilled actor that manages the balancing act of being dangerous, charming and awkward. Jennifer Carpenter returns to play Deb, his dead sister, and the interactions between Dexter and her really help broaden the character, giving depth where there otherwise would be none. She is a good character; her words and perspectives are flawed. They are making the interactions much more interesting than they would have been if she had been written as omnipresent—my hats of to the creators and actors for these dynamics.
The series adds a couple of new things to the mix, the small-town dynamics and high school. I genuinely hope that high school lets Dexter’s kid live up to his father’s former glory. The high school felt like murder at times back when I was an outsider, a goth kid. Dexter: New Blood does not hold back. It makes school messy, with bullies, complex social relationships – just like real life. These new things give Dexter: New Blood room to grow, to stretch its legs as a new series rather than a nostalgic trip.
Dexter: New Blood is a return to form that was lacking in the last seasons of the original run. It is easily approachable also for those that have not watched the initial run.