Saturday, December 4, 2021

Dexter: New Blood Review: Michael S. Hall’s Killer Evolves

Favorite serial killer Dexter Morgan (Michael S. Hall) is back to kill another day with the appearance of the 10-episode Showtime miniseries Dexter: The New Blood.

The sequel, which will premiere on Sunday, takes place 10 years after the last episode of the original Dexter, one of the most watched cable dramas of the 2000s, despite its infamous season 8 finale. We now find Dexter in his new life under the assumed name of James Lindsay, a resident of the sleepy, snow-capped Iron Lake, New York. “Jim” is a clerk at Fred’s Fish and Game, where they sell large weapons and knives. Unsurprisingly, he is the chief expert on all weapons issues. It is noteworthy that he has not killed anyone in ten years. But for the sake of this new series, that will soon change …

Jennifer Carpenter as Deb in a scene from Dexter: New Blood.

(Seacia Pavao / Showtime)

Fans of the original show have expressed nervousness about a revival featuring a socially awkward anti-hero, a former Miami Police Department blood spatter expert, who has committed more heinous crimes than he revealed. The series was devilishly clever at portraying Dexter’s moral bargain: since he couldn’t suppress his deadly impulses, he used them forever, eliminated the bad guys, and protected Miami’s innocent people like the bloodthirsty Robin Hood. As disgusting as he did, fans of the show often found Dexter more likable than his reprehensible victim. Hardly any ending would have been good enough to end Dexter’s eight seasons, but it was particularly unfortunate to blow it all away. So can Dexter Morgan, the harbinger of death, bring history to life?

He can and does, along with show creator Clyde Phillips and a cast that includes recurring characters like the memory of his sullen sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), who was killed in the finale, and the creepy Arthur Mitchell, aka The Killer. Trinity (John Lithgow). Fresh faces include Dexter’s son, now a teenager, Harrison (Jack Alcott) and a new love interest, the super-competent Police Chief Angela Bishop (Julia Jones). This miniseries revives old themes, but provides enough new conflicts – internal and otherwise – to pull storytelling forward into a new locality.

When Dexter moved into the woods, he tried to leave his “dark passenger” in Florida (home to other famous serial killers). He figured it would work if he just sticks to his daily routine – a morning stop at a candy store, hours at work, dinner with a girlfriend, and then home. But when circumstances get out of his control, he finds the old habit returning.

The man and the cop in Dexter: New Blood.

Michael C. Hall as Dexter (left) and Alano Miller as Logan in Dexter: New Blood.

(Seacia Pavao / Showtime)

“I have become rusty in my abstinence,” he admits to himself after the first murder in many years. The miniseries, like the main character, also seem out of touch with practice, but this awkwardness wears off by the end of the first episode. The pace picks up when Jim’s carefully orchestrated life falls apart and the real Dexter emerges. Intense and logistical nightmares (where will you bury a body when the ground is frozen and a bear is guarding an old abandoned mine ?!) create a high drama as the story branches into multiple mysteries and crises: missing and murdered indigenous women, another potential supreme a predator and a new generation of killers in the making.

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“New Blood” in tonality corresponds to the original series, but has a different psychological note. Dexter is now a single parent and father of a stinging teenager. He needs to protect and guide his son like his late adoptive father, Police Officer Harry Morgan (James Remar), did for him when he was a boy, so add a mentor to the list of roles he plays by clearing body parts in his wake. Unfortunately for viewers, Harry is no longer the ghost and / or conscience that guides Dexter like in the previous series. Now it’s up to his late sister Deb. She prefers verbal tirade and slaps on the head to measured advice and patience, and her intensity annoys even Dexter at times.

But these days he really doesn’t need much guidance. He changed, although his dark passenger still forced him to unpack and use a plastic tarp, duck tape, and a set of knives. Now Dexter does not need to collect a blood sample of his victim on a glass slide, as before. “I don’t need trophies anymore,” he says. “I may be a monster, but I am an evolving monster.”

“Dexter: New Blood”

Where: Show time
When: 21:00 Sunday
Rating: TV-MA (may not be suitable for children under 17)

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