Saturday, November 06, 2021

Dexter: New Blood

In movies and TV, there are some serial killers who need only one name to be identified, like Hannibal, Michael, and Jason. Dexter Morgan was definitely like that, especially since his show was simply called Dexter. After his disappearance at the end of his 8-season run, he has been known as Jim Lindsay (in honor of the author of the source novels, Jeff Lindsay). For ten years, Morgan/Lindsay has kept his predatory urges in check. Of course, killing is like riding a bike. It all immediately comes back to you. However, he is a little rusty on the cover-up afterward in Clyde Phillips’ Dexter: New Blood, which starts tomorrow night on Showtime.

After slipping away under the cover of a hurricane in the previous series’ conclusion, Morgan is now living as Lindsay in Iron Lake, New York (it will not be very placid there). He works at the local sporting goods store, where his knowledge of knives and guns comes in handy. So will his budding romance with Angela Bishop, the town’s chief of police. He thought he cut all ties to his past, so he is shocked when his son Harrison comes looking for him. The teen does not know his father’s shocking secrets, but he is enough of a Morgan to keep his mouth shut regarding family business.

Morgan managed to keep his “Dark Passenger” at bay through conversations with the interior projection of his late sister Debra, but the obnoxious and entitled Matt Caldwell will sorely test them both. Honestly, the mean-spirited wastrel is just asking to be murdered, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top. Meanwhile, there is another, more traditional serial killer also operating in the woods around Iron Lake, but we only see the mystery perp heavily bundled up and in shadows, at least during the first four episodes supplied for review (out of ten).

If you are new to
Dexter (aside from a general awareness of the premise), Phillips and his writers make it pretty easy to dive into Morgan’s new world and catch up on relevant backstory along the way. It is also really grabby thanks to the protagonist’s sly and admittedly twisted voiceovers. Morgan/Lindsay remains an enormously intriguing character, whom Michael C. Hall plays to the hilt. He still has the ironic smirk and the piercing death stare, but this Morgan is also haunted by the things he has seen and done. There is a lot to this character that Hall fleshes out nicely.

Pre-existing fans should be psyched by the return of Jennifer Carpenter, who is terrific offering Dexter her relentlessly tough love inside his head. We only just start to see the great Clancy Brown as the father of the missing Caldwell, but it is enough to show he brings his usual compulsively watchable craftiness. Jamie Chung also promises to be a scene-stealing wild card as true crime podcaster Molly Park.

The chemistry between Hall and Julia Jones (as the amazingly unintuitive Bishop) should in itself be sufficiently strong to sustain the limited series. She might have questionable taste in men, but the performance is appealingly intelligent and forceful. However, Jack Alcott plays Harrison Morgan as such a suspiciously cold fish, it is hard to see how he could charm anyone in Iron Lake, especially Bishop’s popular adopted daughter.

The deceptions and cat & mouse games are already a good deal of fun, but it is clear Phillips and company will keep raising the stakes with each episode. It is definitely going to be one darned thing after another for Dexter, which plays to his strengths. The tone is dark and so is Dexter’s attitude, but the energy level is high and the humor is wry. Recommended for fans of twisty serial killer thrillers,
Dexter: New Blood premieres tomorrow (11/7) on Showtime.