There’s a certain dark irony to recapping the second episode of a Dexter continuation on the same week as the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Comparisons come quickly to mind here with one screen flashing images of 18-year-old Kyle sobbing on the witness stand, trying his hardest to plead a case for himself and why he found it necessary to shoot and kill two men and wound another with a military-style automatic rifle during protests over the police shooting Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And on the other screen, there’s Dexter Morgan/Jim Lindsay, pulling on the mask of evolvement and scrunching it up like a sleeve of saltine crackers in a mime of equally feigned empathy. In real life, Kyle inserted himself into a moment of chaos, heartbreak, and confusion and used the setting as an excuse to unload his inner demons. Now he’s making up a fictional storyline for why his own “moral code” justified those killings. On TV, Dexter is doing that same song and dance. In both cases, the defense isn’t convincing. God may love a penitent man, but they don’t make for good television. We’ve seen way too many seasons of way too many shows for “I’m not like that anymore” to work. If you’re a killer, just say you’re a killer so we can see you coming and step out of the way. Otherwise, save your tears for your racist incel reading group.
If the main arch of Dexter: New Blood centers on him trying to “be good,” it’s not going to work. First off, he’s not good, never was, and never will be. Secondly, as I said in my recap of episode one, 2021 needs a lot of things, but one of them certainly isn’t a prestige TV show about a white male killer turning his life around. Since the first frame of that first episode, we’ve been foaming at the mouth to see Dexter kill again. In the words of his son Harrison: “So why all this Jim bullshit?” Just kill or get off the pot. We know it’s coming anyway.
The return of Dexter/Jim’s son Harrison leaves our main character with even fewer places to hide. Turning over a new post-killer/current-killer leaf for himself in the relatively small town of Iron Lake, New York, and dating the town’s chief of police seems risky, and risky just got riskier now that his teenage spawn is living in his … checks notes … closet? For a character like
Dexter/Jim, who could, with one lite push of the imagination, easily be read as gay, this is pretty rich.
“You got big,” Dexter/Jim says to Harrison from across his cozy cabin table. “Cold? Hungry? Want some blueberry pancakes?”
Harrison is understandably frigid to his deadbeat dad but clearly wants to stick around and make up for the years and years of lost time. He’s curious about who his dad is now and why he acts like a vial of full-blown AIDS when Harrison has few but fond memories of him from their brief years spent as father and son in Miami.
We come to learn that Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), the serial killer slash girlfriend that Dexter ditched Harrison with, died of pancreatic cancer in Argentina three years ago and that Harrison bounced around a few foster homes before eventually setting out to find his dad. He tracked him down after coming across a photo of him and his bowling buddy on Instagram, and now he wants some answers. What will those answers be, though? “I used to kill people, and kind of still do?” Picture using the phrase “my dark passenger” to your teenage kid. They’d laugh you into the nearest old folk’s home and then TikTok about it.
While Dexter/Jim is playing house with his kid that he only recently decided to give a shit about, the ghost of his sister Deb keeps close at hand to heckle his every move. She laughs at him for making mistakes that he would never have made in the past. Blood in the snow? Rookie move, Dex. And she’s furious with him for letting Harrison in, warning that nothing good could come from this and that he’ll only end up messing up his life or doing something that causes his life to come to a violent and abrupt end. I think Harrison has a long career in law enforcement ahead of him because showrunners can’t avoid stuff like that. Son of a killer? Oh, he’s either gonna be a priest or a cop, no doubts about that. And if things do end up going the other way and this season kicks off to a Harrison show of his very own, one where he’s the “new Dexter,” the only way we’ll logically get there is if Harrison kills his dad which, I’d be kinda into that, honestly. It’s episode two, and Dexter/Jim isn’t quite cutting it (see that?). Maybe some literal New Blood would be good. Is that the point here? Did we just land on the point of this continuation together? Look at us.
While all of this dad/son/Vincent Van Goat nonsense is going on, the drifter girl from episode one, who I have in my notes as “hamburger girl,” is in some trouble. As I suspected, Iron Lake has a missing persons problem, and she was the next to go missing, but since she was a drifter and not an actual townie, how will Chief Bishop even know to look for her? She seems to have made her way to some sort of hotel/cabin, and after a night spent chugging cheap champagne, she wakes up to find that there’s no longer a workable door to her room, and her phone is missing. In mid-freak out, she looks up and notices the camera that her captor has been using to spy on her in the room, and written underneath it is the ominous message “you’re already dead.” Dexter will probably come in to save the day, killing the creep who is holding her in that room, but that’s so boring to even think about. At this point, I’m rooting for someone to kill Dexter, and that’s a very bad sign for this show. If an audience that’s spent the last untold amount of years cheering for Hannibal Lecter, Villanelle, Loki, and similar popular villains of the time turns against the main character of a show marketed in a very “bad guy you hate to love” sort of way, then that show has lost the plot. Let’s hope they get it back in the remaining episodes.
On The Kill Room Floor
• Shows rarely mention any character detail without having a reason for doing so. The fact that we learn in this episode that Harrison used to have a drug problem was definitely a setup for something to come into play down the line, but what?
• Dexter has modern fears now. Drones weren’t a big concern of his ten years ago. Wait till he sees what DNA technology can do!
• I’d like to call 911 on the following line from Dexter/Jim: “We need to talk. Words you never wanna hear from your doctor or your girlfriend.” Give me a breeeeeeeak.