DEXTER: NEW BLOOD Full Season Review; "Delivers The Perfect, Bloody Conclusion To This Story"

DEXTER: NEW BLOOD Full Season Review; "Delivers The Perfect, <font color=red><i>Bloody</font></i> Conclusion To This Story"

Dexter: New Blood was billed as a series that would make up for Dexter's underwhelming original finale, but does it succeed? Despite a few bumps in the road, the show delivers a perfect bloody ending.

WARNING: SPOILERS for the entire season of Dexter: New Blood follow!

Ask any fan of Dexter when the show started declining in quality, and they’ll likely agree it was after that stellar fourth season. Some might argue that it was always going to be difficult to top the quality of the titular serial killer’s battle with the Trinity Killer, but a change in showrunner did the Showtime series no favours. There was still a lot to love about the show, but the story started running out of steam and the eighth and final season has earned the dubious honour of frequently being mentioned on lists of the all-time worst TV show finales. It was bad, so the news that Dexter’s story would continue in Dexter: New Blood was welcomed by fans, albeit with a hefty dose of scepticism. In this series, we find Dexter living a new life in the snowy Iron Lake, New York as "Jim Lindsay." He’s managed to repress his old ways until a chance meeting with an intolerable local named Matt Caldwell pushes him back over the edge. Events spiral from there in typical Dexter fashion, with Dex soon realising that Matt’s father is also a serial killer. Further complicating matters is the arrival of his son, Harrison, and much of what follows from this point on is classic Dexter...for better or worse. 

There’s no denying that over the course of this ten episode revival, a lot of the show's biggest mistakes are repeated. Characters still don’t talk to each other when a simple exchange could resolve so much (an infuriating trait of this series from the start), coincidences abound, and subplots often underwhelm. A lot of time is also wasted early on between Dexter and Harrison, though the show ultimately handles the reveal of who his father really is in a way that works well; it just should have come an episode or two earlier as it’s when Dexter: New Blood reaches this point that it becomes most interesting. Dexter has finally found someone he believes shares his Dark Passenger, echoing his disastrous relationships of the past with characters like Lile, Miguel, and Hannah. His son was also "born in blood" and clearly has an inner darkness, but the penultimate episode drives home perfectly just how twisted Dexter’s actions are. It’s so easy to root for this character that we tend to forget what he is, and it's understandable that Harrison sees his father as a Batman-like vigilante who saves countless lives by removing evil people from the world. However, the truth is that Dexter only kills people like that because it’s part of "The Code" he was taught by Harry, the father who was so horrified by his son’s actions that he took his own life after walking in on him dismembering the body of someone he’d just murdered.
 


Dexter: New Blood emphasises the horror of what Harry once witnessed as we watch on alongside Harrison as Dexter kills his latest victim. Arguably the best moment in this series, Harrison's reaction to seeing his father’s pleasure at delivering the killing blow to Kurt Caldwell (the aforementioned local serial killer) and then the horror of watching him cut the body apart as blood pools around his feet drives home just how f***ed up - as Deb would say - him doing this in front of the son he’s known for weeks really is. Dexter removed himself from Harrison’s life to protect him, but at his first opportunity, he relishes the prospect of making his son just like him because he's always selfishly wanted to find that connection, no matter the cost. It’s wrong on so many levels, and by stripping away the glamour of the kills we've so often witnessed in the series, the stage is perfectly set for the finale. 

So, does the series deliver the satisfying ending we were robbed of so many years ago? Some fans won’t be happy, but that’s likely inevitable after 8 years of speculation about how the show should have ended has led to them hoping for some sort of "perfect" conclusion where Dexter is marched through Miami P.D. with all those characters from the past finally learning who he truly is. Oh, and the last scene would, of course, feature him winking at the camera as he receives the lethal injection in a world divided over whether he’s a hero or villain. Simply put, though, that wouldn't be the right or best ending. 

In the finale, a series of coincidences and right things happening at the right time mean Dexter is firmly in Angela’s crosshairs as both Matt’s killer and the Bay Harbour Butcher. We’re not convinced he’d actually be convicted of either crime, and that is where the show strains credibility to some degree. In fairness, this is acknowledged to some extent, and there’s certainly enough circumstantial evidence to make it so that he’d eventually go down for something. A cornered animal, it’s at this point he again reveals his true colours, murdering local cop Logan so he can escape and continue killing; it’s an addiction, and one he hopes to pull his son into. Their confrontation couldn’t be more perfect; it turns out that Harrison doesn’t have that same darkness within. Yes, he’s a messed up kid who’s clearly got the potential to be violent, and maybe he could have been the next "Dexter" with his dad’s training. However, he doesn’t want that, and making his father realise exactly how much damage his actions have caused (it’s easy to forget how many innocents were caught up in his kills over the years) leads to the pitch perfect conclusion for this character.

With that, a series that looked like it might be setting the stage for the adventures of Dexter and son becomes a story about the horror of finding your father and learning that he’s a mass murderer. His last thoughts are that he finally knows how it feels to love someone, but is that only because guiding Harrison to kill someone who deserves to die - Dexter himself, in this case - will set him down a murderous path as well and continue Dex's work? Possibly, but whatever you take from this, it’s handled perfectly, and this is the right place to end the story (we don’t need a Harrison spinoff, no matter how tempting it probably sounds to Showtime). Some will feel disappointed that the fallout from Dexter’s demise isn’t shown, but common sense says that Angela’s evidence combined with Logan’s murder would be enough for the world to finally learn the truth about Dexter Morgan.
 


Michael C. Hall is utterly superb from start to finish here, and whether it’s his botched attempts to be a father to Harrison or the emergence of the monster beneath the surface we see later in the season, he never fails to impress. The actor clearly relished this opportunity to reprise his most famous role and end the story right, and pitting him against the brilliant Jennifer Carpenter as Deb makes for intense, exciting viewing. As the new imaginary presence he speaks to instead of Harry, Deb is a very different beast, and provides a fascinating insight into what’s going on in his mind as he attempts to quell his dark urges before eventually giving in to them (she appears less frequently later, an indication that his Dark Passenger has won the fight). Relative newcomer Jack Alcott is excellent as Harrison, and his journey proves itself every bit as compelling and surprising as Dexter’s. By the time the finale wraps up, it feels like he’s found the closure he needs to live a normal life...hence why we’d rather not see a "Dexter Jr." spinoff! Elsewhere, Julia Jones is terrific as Angela, while Clancy Brown proves himself a formidable, often terrifying villain (we just wish so much time hadn’t been wasted with the predictable reveal). The entire cast delivers strong performances, though, with Alano Miller and Johnny Sequoyah also impressing. 

Not everything works about Dexter: New Blood, and on repeat viewing, it might be harder to forgive how much time is wasted in these ten episodes on trivial matters and hit-and-miss subplots. We’d have appreciated an even more in-depth exploration of Dexter and Harrison’s relationship after the truth about the former Miami P.D. blood spatter analyst is revealed, as far too much time is wasted on them butting heads. As noted, the series does earn that eventual reveal, but it comes a tad too late, and whether we needed a classic Dexter big bad is debatable. Some might argue that returning to Miami for a true "season 9" would have been better, with Dex pulled back there to protect his son and crossing paths with familiar faces and ultimately being exposed by them. Again, it feels like we’re heading into fan-fiction territory there, and if you loved this show during its first four seasons or from start to finish, there’s plenty to enjoy and appreciate here. A new setting and cinematic approach in Clyde Phillips's revival makes this a stellar season of television in its own right. However, it stills feels like classic Dexter in a lot of ways (warts and all), and by the time all is said and done, we do get the ending to this story that we were robbed of by that eighth season. It’s a mostly satisfying, thrilling conclusion to this serial killer’s story, and one that’s likely to send you away happy in the knowledge that he's not just out there somewhere still working as a Lumberjack.

Dexter: New Blood repeats the odd past mistake here and there, but ultimately gives fans the perfect, bloody conclusion to this story that the original finale failed to deliver. Michael C. Hall, meanwhile, cements himself as one of the greatest actors working today.
 

IF

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