Many anti-hero shows have graced television screens around the globe with the singular aim of letting the audience ‘root for the bad guy.’ Breaking Bad, The Wire, and Dexter’s original series fit this mould with realism that is unmatched. Dexter has brought ‘the realism’ since 2006, and as a die-hard fan of the series, I have been glued to whenever he appears on the screen. Imagine CSI, but the analyst dissects the crime scenes to utilize the obtained techniques as tools to outsmart the law when he kills his own prey.
Ten years later, Dexter graces television again in this revival series that is a true return to form, now called Dexter: New Blood. I have seen the method to the madness. With a new setting and a new cast of characters, the series is a benchmark on how to revive a dormant series. Dexter’s original run did not end the way we the fans wanted it to, but thankfully it didn’t, because then New Blood would have never been made. Quick warning, there are spoilers for the original Dexter Showtime series that follows, as this new series borrows heavily from the original.
Lo and behold, Dexter is back with a new name, and now as a non-lumberjack, as he was last seen at the end of the original series. Everything that the series is known for, tension, lies, Michael C Hall’s inescapable acting is back for a swan song, and fans should be here for it. The series takes the iconic character to upstate New York, and the Miami heat has been replaced with icy upstate coldness.
Jim Lindsay is Dexter’s new persona, and the series begins immediately with tension; viewers are led into thinking Mr. Lindsay wants to kill everything that walks with this always-on edge demeanour. Everyone is friendly to ‘Jimbo’ and, as a nod to the original series, he is seen supplying those close to him with baked goods just like when arriving at the Miami Metro Police station. He would bring donuts then, and now he has evolved to cinnamon rolls, a good choice.
Dexter’s new adopted name is after Jeff Lindsay, the original writer of the novels starting with Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Although the novels go in a drastically different direction than either television series. The first episode treats fans to the same atmosphere the original Dexter does, a light seeming subject material with very heavy undertones makes the viewer unable to shake the feeling ‘something bad is gonna’ happen.’
I admit the acting from this new series had me from the very first episode. Everything that gave the series its original charm was there, and it proved that the show’s original idea can continue to succeed in the right direction. Michael C Hall as Jimbo did not miss a single beat. He is a perfect acting choice as Dexter, although there is no singing from Dexter in the series.
The acting from not only Hall was superb, but the entire cast blew the door off the hinges. This was notably Jennifer Carpenter’s finest acting throughout either series. Her trademark foul language is there, but being as she is a figment of Dexter’s imagination, similar to how Harry was in the original series, she acts as a more tormented soul, which gives Debra Morgan much-needed character depth.
Dexter allows the viewer to immerse themselves into the universe seamlessly. The viewer cannot escape the show’s talons for even a moment much like his victims. A talented cast allows the show to breathe life into the subject matter.
“Dexter: New Blood is a masterclass in storytelling…”
I did have a small issue with Debra’s newly found angst about Dexter. In the original series, Dexter’s stepfather, Harry, would guide his dark passenger to stay on the straight and narrow. This new ‘Harry’, in the form of Debra (Carpenter) berates Dexter at every single turn. In life, she was at peace with what Dexter did, and seemed to really love him. Her character has since had a complete paradigm shift and lays into Dexter, constantly driving guilt. Although her sudden anger makes sense due to her demise in the original series, it is not explained in the show.
The new characters that are meant to be likeable are very enjoyable, and the characters that are meant to make the viewer angry are utterly despised. Jack Alcott does an excellent job playing Dexter’s long-lost son, and his appearance is a heart-wrench when he first appears. Matt (Steve M. Robertson) is a sociopathic guy who is severely unlikable and when he is ‘taken off-screen’ the audience is meant to applaud like an airplane just landed safely. The support each needed cast member gives each other is remarkably well done. Scenes between Dexter and Harrison(Alcott) are hard to watch sometimes, due to Dexter having abandoned him for the past 10 years.
Although the original series cast was very well written and highly missed, the show flows perfectly without them. The original series’ DNA is all over this revival, but that is an excellent thing. The show grips the viewer with tension and suspense the way very few other shows can do. For anyone that does not know the series, Dexter hallucinates about killing while speaking to people. This device is used to show what he truly wants to do, and how he has sobered from his former lifestyle, which lasts only episode one. When Dexter finally reaches his breaking point to kill again, the show really highlights what made the series so noteworthy in the first place.
Usually, Dexter is calm and collected when hunting his prey, but in a turn of events, while watching an all-white stag, he becomes unhinged and brash. When Matt shoots an innocent white deer while Dexter is trying to bond with it, he absolutely loses it. The imagery of this breathtaking scene is the most powerful driving point in the series thus far. The paleness of Dexter’s skin meets the deer, and he feels the innocence of the animal.
He wants to be regarded by the animal as human and maybe even forgiven for his mistakes. When the deer decides to stick his neck out literally and figuratively, a person Dexter delivered a rifle to, Matt shoots that animal in the neck, dousing Dexter in blood again. As is a constant with the former series, Dexter is reborn blood once again.
Dexter sees in this instance all the death that he accumulated. As death rides on a steed of white, Dexter was connected with a white stag. The first kill room is reminiscent of the entirety of the series. Dexter shows his prey his true self, and it embodies both series’ in one fell swoop. He acts sarcastically and even screams in the person’s face about the loss of his deer. This is truly masterful storytelling. The suspense leading up to this moment was built with care, and the climax of the moment is both parts a ‘finally’ for fans, and Dexter.
With the attention given to the cast of characters and the constant suspense building for the main villain of the new series, the show has overcome its stupid lumberjack ending and breathes new life into a beloved series that didn’t deserve the same fate as the deer.
Dexter: New Blood is a masterclass in storytelling, hiccups happen like with all shows, but these don’t infringe on the overall quality of the show too much. The series is a true return to form for Dexter. Tonight is truly the night.