‘Dexter: New Blood’ Series Premiere Review — Michael C. Hall Returns as the Hero 2021 Needs

Regardless of how Dexter ended, it was the sort of show that fans didn’t really want to say goodbye to. Fans would have welcomed Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall)’s return in any event, but the fact that the series finale was questionable makes Dexter: New Blood even more of a triumph. The new Showtime series is so satisfying it almost justifies the choices made in the previous final season. 

Michael C. Hall splits wood in Dexter New Blood
Michael C. Hall | Seacia Pavao/Showtime

‘Dexter: New Blood’ is a sequel and a new start

Dexter: New Blood introduces Dexter living alone in a house in a snowy forest. He splits some firewood, possibly a skill he honed lumberjacking eight years ago. Dexter seems to live well in the town of Iron Lake. He has a passionate relationship with police chief Angela Bishop (Julia Jones). Everyone knows him and seems fond of him, even if he calls himself Jim Lindsay now. 

“Jim” works at Fred’s Bird and Game store. So he’s working around knives and guns in a hunting context. Spoiler alert: Dexter goes line dancing. Prepare yourselves. 

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He seems to be fitting in more naturally than he ever did in Miami, like it’s genuine, not an act. Maybe lumberjacking was good for him. That increases the drama when he’s tempted to jeopardize it all to return to his old ways. Iron Lake, New York is charming. Sporting goods shop owner Fred Jr. (Michael Cyril Creighton), the butcher Dexter supplies with tools, the local kids, Angela’s deputies, the environmental protesters demonstrating are all endearing. 

Angela especially makes a great impression stepping up for a runaway in need. She also gives her daughter, Audrey (Johnny Sequoyah) space, but calls it when she needs discipline.

‘New Blood’ doesn’t make you wait to address big questions

Dexter fans have many questions about how New Blood will pick up from the previous finale. The very first episode addresses many of them. 

Dexter: New Blood answers the Deb question right away. Jennifer Carpenter confirmed she was returning, and the trailers have given away that she’s replaced Harry as his Dark Passenger. That makes Deb’s return consistent with the series and doesn’t violate continuity. The physical Deb still died in the original series, but Dexter has a history of continuing to converse with loved ones. She’s not cheap fan service. She’s back as an evolution of Dexter.

The new series addresses Dexter’s son Harrison, too. Again, the trailers have shown his arrival as a teenager (Jack Alcott) looking for his father. It’s powerful and it also goes there in the first episode.

There’s temptation all around ‘Dexter’

The premiere of Dexter: New Blood also introduces where Dexter still finds temptation to murder in this remote town. Rich A-hole tourists like Mat Caldwell (Steve M. Robertson) come through bragging about their Morgan Stanely bonuses and acting like dudebros in the local bar. Oil CEO Edward Olsen (Frederick Lehne) also comes to town to do business. 

Suffice it to say, there are plenty of folks worthy of Dexter justice. It’s devilishly fun, but also a sobering commentary on the world. No matter how remote a place you escape to, ultimately toxic dude bros and abusers show up everywhere. So who will it be? 

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Even as Jim, Dexter can handle the dude bros. He acts like he’s deferring to them but he’s really holding all the power. He just doesn’t need to showboat like they do. 

It is a treat to see Dexter contemplate returning to tradition. This review won’t say how far he goes in the first episode back, but every step of it is a macabre homecoming. 

Dexter: New Blood manages to do so much. It honors the past series at every step it attempts to differentiate itself. The snow gives this season a Fargo-y vibe versus the sweaty Miami of the previous eight. Dexter has changed and so has the world, but when the thing you’re nostalgic for is murder, that’s a fun exploration both for the character and the audience.