The following is a review of the mini-series ‘Dexter: New Blood,’ which was developed by Clyde Phillips.
Is it possible to salvage a once-iconic show that once ended terribly? The original run of Showtime’s Dexter (2006-2013), which was based on Jeff Lindsay novels, started great, picked up a massive fanbase in its first four fantastic seasons, and then, after a couple of underwhelming, but still at least watchable (and rewatchable), seasons of television, it ended in a way that has made the original show a textbook example of how not to end a show.
That ending abandoned character logic and side-stepped its core relationships by making the titular character a loner lumberjack, who would willingly abandon his child in South America with a very dangerous ex-girlfriend (with a more than questionable moral code). That ending is infamous for how frustrating it was for fans of the show, which I actually was (so much of a fan that I bought a bunch of the books, helped someone do a presentation on it, and much more).
When you watch this new spin-off show — Dexter: New Blood, a revival or continuation of the original series — the original ending is inescapable. You can feel its echo as you watch this new show, and it feels intentional. Shrewdly, the writers of the revival initially opted for a patient approach that initially makes the show feel a little bit off. The tone isn’t right, the aesthetic isn’t quite there, the structure isn’t right, the music is different, and, obviously, the snowy setting couldn’t be more different from Miami, Florida.
But what occurred to me early on in the first episode was that what we really were missing was the central guide of the show. The titular character, Dexter Morgan (or Jim Lindsay — still played by Michael C. Hall, who is still quite good here), often spoke of his dark passenger in the original show and, without its guiding voice-over in New Blood, the show is strangely unengaging. So, when the voice-over makes its glorious return it is indeed very satisfying.
The patient but assured opening episode was a solid start that highlighted the revival’s changes, let the controversial ending echo throughout it, and then returned to the relatively comforting ‘normalcy’ of the well-trod classic formula of the original show at just the right moment. It left me with a lot of questions, and the show did eventually give me some answers, albeit not all of them were as satisfying as I wanted them to be.
The highlight of the revival is, without a doubt, seeing Michael C. Hall’s character interact with Jack Alcott’s character, who is revealed to be Dexter’s son Harrison. Dexter has to juggle both maintaining his new identity, keeping his old identity a secret, controlling his dangerous urges, and, all the while, repairing his relationship with his teenage son, who he doesn’t really know how to be a parent to. This all leads to a thrilling episode of the show entitled “The Family Business,” which goes very dark places, to say the least.
Over the course of the season, I was somewhat disappointed by how slow Dexter’s relationship with his son was developing. His inability to do anything right for him was frustrating to watch. Still, as I just mentioned, there were moments along the way that really made me remember just how entertaining the original show was at times, and I became hopeful that the ending of this mini-series could actually achieve what the revival set out to do, which brings me to the last episode of the mini-series. So, make sure that you’ve seen the final episode if you choose to read on because I am going to be spoiling the ending of this revival mini-series now.
The last episode of Dexter: New Blood needed to have been spread out a bit more. It, honestly, felt rushed, to me, and so did a relatively sudden change in Jack Alcott’s Harrison. While I understand his change in behavior, I think the show would’ve been better off if it had happened earlier in the season. I don’t think the ending of this mini-series is as impactful as it ought to have been because we hadn’t seen Harrison process his father’s sins for a long enough time.
It also is really frustrating that the series stops just short of showing us the public reaction to both the overarching mystery involving Clancy Brown’s Kurt Caldwell, as well as the series-long Bay Harbor Butcher ‘mystery.’ This revival clearly wanted Dexter Morgan to, in a sense, pay for his sins, which, I think, was a really good idea for this ‘extra season,’ but this new ending robbed us of actually seeing most of the original cast find out about him. Of course, returning character Batista (still played by David Zayas) kind of does, but the show teases us with a confrontation between Dexter and him that never happens, which is just a huge missed opportunity.
So, while I, on paper, think this new ending kind of works, I also don’t think it is the ending fans wanted, and it isn’t a particularly satisfying episode, in general. But it is a better ending than the infamous original Dexter ending. Now, admittedly, that is a low bar to have to clear, but it did, in fact, clear it. The question now remains whether or not this new ending fixes the original ending? Frankly, I’m not sure it ever could’ve. It’ll always be remembered for how illogical and strange it was. However, in spite of my problems with this ‘new ending,’ I really do think that the revival significantly improved upon my own memory of the original show. It really did remind me of just how much I once enjoyed it.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.