Spoiler alert: Please read on if you’ve seen the finale of DEXTER: NEW BLOOD, or if you don’t care about spoilers
The DEXTER fan in me was terribly sad when Dexter Morgan’s fate was finally revealed in Sunday’s finale of the revival series, but it was definitely a fitting conclusion, as it tackled a very big part of the central character’s journey
When it was announced that DEXTER would be revived, a part of me was glad that we would get a chance to see a conclusion different from what we saw with the end of the original series back in 2013. However, I was more thrilled as a fan of the show, and the captivating world it used to take us into season after season. Sure, the last couple of seasons were quite messy and lacked the quality and sharpness of the first few years, but it was still an entertaining ride, right to the end. The end itself though was way too much of a downer—the darkest part being the death of Debra Morgan, who was my favorite part, and arguably, the heart of the show.
No revival was going to bring her back to life, but DEXTER: NEW BLOOD did a pretty good job of including her. It was a simple but very effective way to bring Jennifer Carpenter back as Deb—using her as the voice of reason in Dexter’s mind, just like Harry Morgan had been through the original series. Moreover, Dexter’s imagining of his late sister was very true to who she was—blunt, sharp-tongued, and always saying it like it is. In fact, Debra’s retorts in Dexter’s mind were significantly more entertaining and fun than Harry’s ever were, and imaginably so, since he was more about the code, while Debra was more about calling Dexter out on his nonsense. It was a perfect refresh to the tool that was used to shed light on the protagonist’s state of mind. And it worked especially in this revival, because there were several moments in it when Dexter conveniently twisted the code in order to suit his urges, while slipping off the wagon, after ‘staying sober’ for so many years.
This was also what led us to question whether one could really root for this Dexter, who lacked a sense of process and slickness, which was what made him such a fascinating anti-hero to root for earlier. In that sense, we could already see the flaws in Dexter that Harrison would eventually see, and begin to question his new-found ‘dark-passenger’ bond with his estranged dad. That, I’ll admit was a little too rushed towards the end of the season. In just a couple of episodes, we went from Dexter telling Harrison the truth, to Harrison leaning on his dad, to Dexter making him view the gruesomeness of his kills and Harrison becoming disillusioned in the end. It was a rich turn of events, and was the right way to go in terms of what was to happen, even if the how of it was expedited a bit too much.
The Harrison angle itself was the best possible hook for a revival series, especially if it wasn’t going to bring back any of the original series’ characters. With Debra dead, of course, there wasn’t much else to bring back. However, Harrison was a link to Dexter’s past that could not be severed, despite a decade between the father and son. And the damaged nature of Harrison as he begins to understand the man that he’s growing into was a perfect way of bringing this character into the revival. Jack Alcott’s extremely sincere and endearing portrayal made the character work almost instantly when he first arrived in Iron Lake. And it probably even helped us suspend our disbelief when father and son all too conveniently slipped into a regular life and routine, after barely touching upon Dexter’s abandonment. Harrison’s need to belong and his desperation for affection and family probably overrode his desire for answers. And then, the show quickly shifted focus to him being more concerned about his darkness than about how his father left him. It’s not like they forgot about it completely, but it was ignored for the most part.
Thereafter, the mirroring of a complicated father-son bond in the whole Kurt Caldwell storyline might have been a bit on-the-nose, but in retrospect, it was simply a driver as a ‘big bad’ storyline that actually wasn’t the focus of the series at all. Still it wouldn’t have hurt if the villain had been a little more compelling and captivating while they were at it. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that Caldwell as a character was among the weakest DEXTER villains we’ve seen in all nine seasons of the original and the revival combined. Hence, it was almost a relief that his story was put to rest before the finale.
The finale itself was intense, and brought out the best in Angela as a character who was a formidable part of the revival. And it was an effective conclusion to the series that was essentially about a very damaged and complicated father-son relationship. Harrison seemed horrified upon seeing Dexter chop up Caldwell more than anything he had already seen, and one got the feeling that he was questioning whether he could really relate with his father, who had probably revealed too much too soon. And Dexter’s killing of Logan did seem like it would be the most off-putting thing for Harrison. Was killing his dad a difficult thing and a bit extreme for Harrison to do? Definitely, but he did have some darkness, a violent streak, and had begun to understand the ‘code’. So it wasn’t too far-fetched, especially if you think of what humans are capable of doing in the heat of the moment, when they’re not necessarily thinking straight (remember when Deb shot LaGuerta?). Even Dexter acted recklessly in killing Logan, but it was clear that he’d been thrown by the mention of Batista, and wasn’t exactly thinking strategically. It was all just the situation getting away from these characters.
Is it possible that Harrison would regret killing his father, even though Dexter pretty much gave him his blessings? Absolutely. There’s a lot to unpack with that character still. While he may have got some closure about his father and the abandonment, he’s still to come to terms with who he is, after he understands it completely, and make peace with what he’s just done. So there is potential for NEW BLOOD to continue. The obvious way forward would be for Harrison to embrace some kind of a dark passenger, while Dexter becomes his voice of reason. However, after he realized how much he disapproved of his father’s actions, would he continue to embrace the darkness and the killer within? That would be a tricky path to tread, if at all there might be more. I’d be up for it, even if I’m not sure what a continuation of this story might look like without the now late titular killer doing what he does.
Rest in peace, Dexter Morgan.