It’s the end of the road for Jim Lindsay, and it’s certainly the end of the road for Kurt Caldwell, but what will become of Dexter and Harrison Morgan? Now that Kurt is gone, Harrison has been taught “the code,” and Molly Park is forever silenced, Dexter/Jim has no one left to battle but himself.
The timing of New Blood has felt off in many ways, and that fact is wrapped up with a nice little bow on top with its second to last episode taking place on Christmas Day but airing on January 2. It’s depressing to get a Christmas gift after the holiday itself has come and gone, and it feels sloppy for a show that’s been doing this long enough to know better not to have the presence of mind or desire to tighten up the storyline so that the episodes fall on, or at least closer to, the real-time holiday they’re playing out. Just one more in a series of missed opportunities in New Blood that we won’t have to pretend not to notice for much longer.
While the original Dexter series was exciting during its 2006-2013 run, a lot has changed in eight years, and there’s less room in 2021 for a show about a smirking white man doing vigilante shit. The premise of this show, and the title character’s whole deal, has gone past its expiration date in a way that’s made sifting out moments of enjoyment from each episode feel like a chore of loyalty. But there’s nothing sensible to be loyal to here, especially when Dexter isn’t even loyal to himself anymore. As taught to him by his adoptive dad Harry as a youth, his code indicates that he can (should) only kill people who are bad to the bone, and only if there’s 100 percent proof of their misdeeds. But Dexter’s choice to kill Matt Caldwell, a doofy daddy’s boy townie whose darkest crimes consisted of a boating accident and the heartless hunting of a white deer, stretches that code to its breaking point. And once the code breaks, which it eventually will, Dexter will be no different from the hundreds of bad guys he’s killed. And it seems like his own kid is headed towards that conclusion as well, now that he’s gotten the answers to more questions regarding his dad than he even knew he had.
Once you see your dad happy as a clam, hacking away at a body and stuffing limbs into garbage bags, it’s hard to still feel good about wanting to align yourself with the family biz, even if you were once so inclined. My dad worked his whole life as a butcher, and I grew up fully on board with his philosophy that animals are for eating until I watched the 2018 documentary Dominion, which goes in HARD on animal agricultural processes, and it turned me into a vegan in one day. Sometimes, literally or metaphorically, seeing how the sausage is made can change your tune real quick. Harrison was struggling with dark inclinations, sure, but maybe all it took for him to choose a new path was to see his dad slicing his way through the gristle and gore on his own.
When Dexter/Jim sits Harrison down to open up about the darkness they share and the code that is intended to keep that darkness in check, ghost Deb is close at hand to attempt to preserve the goodness that’s still left in Harrison by pleading with his dad, her brother, not to reveal too many truths related directly to killing. She’s fine with Dexter/Jim telling Harrison about how back in the day he discovered a grizzled clown working at a horrifying hellscape called Mr. Wiggles Playland and how he found evidence that he was torturing and killing children via a stack of polaroids concealed in a metal ‘Ride ‘em Cowboy’ (shudder) lunchbox concealed behind a mirror in the employee room, but she pumps the breaks on Dexter/Jim revealing that he killed the guy by plunging a huge knife through his chest. But Dexter/Jim eventually sees no problem in telling Harrison that he’s killed hundreds of people and breathlessly hopes that his son will join him in killing even more because Dexter/Jim is a killer. He’s a psycho. This is all he’s ever been. And Harrison is seeing the reality of that and allowing it to sink in, just as I think many of us are.
On Christmas morning, after Dexter/Jim gifts Harrison a rifle for the purpose of fitting in (nice) and the two of them head over to Angela and Audrey’s to exchange gifts with them and eat monkey bread, the doorbell rings, and Kurt’s standing there with an unhinged look in his eye, holding out a box of peppermint bark that’s probably definitely poisoned. Dexter/Jim and Kurt exchange their “I’m gonna kill you” facial expressions and then make their separate attacks later. Kurt burns Dexter/Jim’s cabin down, and Dexter/Jim and Harrison discover his menagerie of taxidermied dead ladies in his underground lair. One of the ladies is Molly Park, which is sad. She was the only one in this whole show with even a lick of sense. Who’s going to make a podcast episode about her murder? This would have been a perfect opportunity for a Karen and Georgia cameo.
The reveal of Kurt’s hall of trophies is a dynamic reveal, but it’s quickly washed away in the ick factor of Dexter going elbow deep in his newfound transparency by allowing Harrison to see him gleefully kill a man and dismember his body. As he’s turning Kurt into something more easily disposable, Harrison’s face turns pale, appearing to be either on the verge of crying, puking, or both. As he watches the man he’s emotionally called out for his whole life do monstrous things, he flashes back to his mom’s murder and how he cried being bathed in her blood. Viewers are probably reminded here that one of the last things Kurt did, just prior to Dexter killing him, was to make an attempt to bend Harrison’s ear to the fact that his dad is actually a piece of shit. He seems to know that now. Maybe Harrison will find reason in this to give his newly learned code a few tweaks.
On The Kill Room Floor
• It seems like Kurt was the one who left that letter in Angela’s mailbox containing Matt’s surgical screw. He likely did that as insurance so that even if Dexter caught up to him, the truth of what he did to Matt would be out there. But what if, somehow, Molly put it there just before Kurt snatched her up? She always seemed to be on the fence about Dexter/Jim.
• A curse upon the writer who came up with “Mr. Wiggles Playland.”
• “Hey Fuck-o” — Harrison
• I love the idea of thinking that the chief of police, who’s already done with your ass, is going to believe you were out in the snow with your teenage son for eight hours looking at the blood moon.