We are now officially halfway through Dexter: New Blood, and Dexter Morgan/Jim Lindsay’s small-town hideout of Iron Lake, New York, is about to get dangerously smaller. The reemergence of a familiar name from his past, Lieutenant Angel Batista (David Zayas), plants an itchy curiosity in the mind of Sheriff Angela Bishop, and she now finds herself wanting to take a closer look into just who the hell Jim Lindsay is and why he’s a dead ringer for the photo accompanying an obituary she pulls up for a man named Dexter Morgan.
In an unlikely sort of cahoots with Molly Park, host of the viral true-crime podcast Merry Fucking Kill, Angela allows her to tag along on a trip to NYC where she can use the excuse of attending a law-enforcement conference to further investigate the whereabouts of Matt Caldwell. We the viewers know with grotesque certainty that Matt is about five levels past deceased at this point, but according to Matt’s dad, the altogether sus Kurt Caldwell, he’s been staying at the Gramercy Suites in Manhattan. But when Angela strong-arms the hotel receptionist into letting her watch security footage from “Matt’s” checkout time, she sees that some grizzled non-Matt stranger was staying there under his name.
While actively chewing on the question of why Kurt would lie about his son’s location, Angela pops into a law-enforcement conference seminar on the topic of finding patterns in seemingly unrelated cases. In an exciting twist for fans of the original Dexter series, this seminar is hosted by Lieutenant Angel Batista, who finds himself sitting across the table from a very curious Angela at the end of his presentation. After dodging his flirty advances, Angela asks for Batista’s insight on the long-running string of women gone missing from the Iron Lake area. She tells him that something about it just all seems off to her, and he tells her to trust her gut. Right as they’re about to part ways, Batista turns back to her and says, “You know that feeling you have? It reminds me of another case. The Trinity Killer.” As they exchange a few last back-and-forths about this, Angela learns that a sharp young detective named Debra Morgan solved that case. She also learns that Debra died, as did her brother, who, sadly, had a young son at the time named Harrison. Boom. Peanut butter meets jelly. And an hour or so away, Dexter/Jim’s ears are burning.
Seeing as this is just one of several intense story lines being served out in one episode, it’s safe to say that we just watched the best of the batch so far. The first two episodes of New Blood gave us (well, some of us) nothing much beyond a case of the stink face. And it wasn’t until the third and the fourth that things started to get truly interesting. Now, at the halfway mark, we’re knee-deep in chaos, which feels fantastic.
Last week, I found myself unable to believe that episode four was really just handing us Kurt Caldwell as the killer of Hamburger Girl and, likely, many before her and many to come. But it’s looking like that’s precisely the case. During a scene between Angela Bishop and Molly Park that takes place elsewhere in this episode, Molly talks about the Occam’s razor theory that sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. I struggle with this when it comes to television because, as a viewer and critic, I always give showrunners more credit than they perhaps deserve in their innovative and creative revelations of information. I don’t want the solution to be easy. I don’t want a cigar just to be a cigar. But, here it is. Kurt Caldwell is shown, plain as day, as the man who took Hamburger Girl to his doo-wop dungeon and killed her. The same man who entrapped the green-haired girl, Chloe, and did the same. Even as I type this, I’m thinking … but wait. Maybe this is that or the other. No. Occam’s razor. It is what it is. But now that we know who, perhaps the why of it all will end up being more enticingly elusive. Will there be a big exciting reveal why Kurt traps and kills young drifters, angered at their sexuality? Will we be stunned to learn why he’s lying about his son still being alive? If I were to bet yes, I’d probably lose. But I’m gonna bet anyway.
After we see Kurt shoot Chloe in the eye, the bookends of this episode smash together when Kurt comes upon Harrison, making his way on foot out of town. After being confronted by his dad over whether or not he slashed Ethan on purpose, Harrison indulges in a night of teenage rebellion that ends very badly for a key handful of people. Escorted by Zach, the bully to a “kill list party” thrown in his honor, Harrison takes a hit of ecstasy and then chases it with an Oxy that ends up being mostly fentanyl. Found in an OD stupor, he ends up in the hospital, which is seemingly more than enough to send Dexter/Jim on another date with his Dark Passenger. He hunts down the townie trash responsible for making the drugs, and just as he’s about to plunge a knife into his chest, he sees Sergeant Logan outside and makes a quick change of plans. Instead of plunging a knife into the man who almost caused his son to die, he uses it to shove fentanyl up his nose, causing him to OD in a dead way, not just a hospital way.
When Kurt catches up with Harrison and all of the mess that we just covered, Harrison feels that his only option is to return to the streets from which he first arrived. But Kurt has other plans for him. He tells him that he’s got potential, and, in the final scene of the episode, we see a rifle hanging on the wall next to Harrison’s room that hints he might be right about that.
Harrison is back home, but his relationship with his dad is forever changed. It will be even more so when Batista rolls into town and Dexter/Jim is forced to either come clean about his demons, past and present, or escape to a new town and start all over again … again.
On the Kill Room Floor
• Kurt Caldwell dancing like a maniac to “Runaway” on the bar’s jukebox was very Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks of him. How insane would I be at this point to wonder if he’s one-half of a killing duo in the town along with Edward Olsen? You know. Like those two doofuses in Big Sky? I just really want there to be more to this.
• Is Harrison going to have a problem with drugs again now that he indulged on just about every substance he could during the kill list party? Drugs would certainly make it nearly impossible to keep to any sort of code when it comes to judging who/when to kill.
• Deb and Batista were really fond of each other back in the day. Will she use her ghostly influence to steer him toward her brother?
• What is it that Kurt is going after with these murders? When Chloe takes her boobs out while trapped in the doo-wop dungeon, he becomes enraged, telling her, “This isn’t what this is about.” Well, what the hell is it about then? And then later, in the diner with Harrison, he says, “In those moments when all you see is red, go and do something kind for the person who’s pissing you off.” He has some manner of code, similar to Dexter, but his motives are less clear.