‘Dexter: New Blood’ — Michael C. Hall Addresses What the White Deer Means
After an eight year wait, Dexter fans were finally reunited with Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall). Dexter: New Blood premiered on Nov. 7 and showed people where he’s living now. It involved the remote setting of Iron Lake, New York and a special relationship he had with a deer in the woods. In a recent interview, Hall addressed what the white deer means for Dexter.
[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the season premiere of Dexter: New Blood.]
Hall participated in a Television Critics Association Zoom panel for Dexter: New Blood on Aug. 24. Reporters who had seen the season premiere early asked Hall’s thoughts on the deer. Now that viewers have had a chance to see it, we present his answer, as well as those of co-stars Jennifer Carpenter, Julia Jones and showrunner Clyde Phillips. Dexter: New Blood airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
What Dexter’s white deer represents to Michael C. Hall
Living in a cabin in the woods as Jim Lindsay, Dexter goes out hunting, but never takes a shot. He chases a white deer and aims his rifle, but never pulls the trigger. Hall expanded on what this routine means to Dexter.
That ritual for him is one that’s therapeutic, tracking this animal, not killing it. It represents some aspiration to goodness, to purity, one that he wants to cultivate and wants to come closer and closer to, and wants to figuratively and literally touch, if he’s able. It’s also a way to push himself to physical exhaustion and to maybe exercise the muscle of restraint and cultivate his restraint. That’s his new sense of power, at least when we meet him. And yeah, I think it works on a sort of therapeutic level both in terms of him managing his impulses. It’s like methadone to the heroin of killing maybe, chasing a grounded deer in the woods and not shooting it.Michael C. Hall, Television Critics Association panel, 8/24/21
‘Dexter: New Blood’ finds Dexter losing his peace
It has been eight years since Dexter left Miami. He seems to be maintaining a productive life in Iron Lake, until Matt Caldwell (Steve M. Robertson) comes to town. Caldwell already tempts Dexter to return to his murdering life by being smug and abusive. Then Dexter learns about the boating accident he caused and got away with. When Matt shoots his deer, there’s nothing stopping Dexter anymore.
“And, also, on a more sort of psychological or even spiritual level, it represents some sort of aspiration toward purity,” Hall continued. “I think his whole life when we meet him is one that is facilitated by his abstinence, the internal relationship and good graces that he enjoys with Deb, or has enjoyed, have everything to do with his abstinence. He’s in a state of, sort of, protracted penance, I think, when we meet him.”
‘Dexter: New Blood’ cast and creators weigh in
Jones plays Iron Lake police chief Angela Bishop. Angela is also Dexter’s girlfriend, though she knows him as Jim Lindsay. A new character, Jones looked back at the original series and saw the difference between its protagonist and New Blood.
“I’m realizing how much more humanity Dexter seems to have in this than I saw or felt in the original series, and to me, that buck is a symbol of that,” Jones said. “And I think in a way, there’s a connection I made between Angela and their relationship and just this sort of humanity that I feel in him that didn’t exist in the same way.”
Carpenter returns as Deb, now replacing Harry as the voice of his Dark Passenger. Carpenter thinks the death of the deer is consistent with his theme.
“It’s a friendly reminder that everything beautiful that Dexter touches, it always ended up disfigured or deformed, in spite of himself,” Carpenter said.
Phillips returns as showrunner for Dexter: New Blood. He was proud to see his cast articulate the theme of the deer so well.
“Dexter is trying to connect with Julia’s character, with the people in town, with the people he works for,” Phillips said. “But he’s also trying to connect with nature, with the world, in that he’s a part of nature. And the connection between Dexter and the white buck is primal, and there’s a lot about Dexter that is primal.”