SPOILERS FOR ALL 8 SEASONS OF DEXTER
When I think anti-hero, I think Dexter Morgan. He is quite literally the opposite of a hero—he’s a serial killer fronting as a blood spatter analyst of the fictional Miami Metro. And yet, somehow, he charms his way into becoming not only a character you can sympathize with, but a character you actually root for. The character is revolutionary in completely redefining the way we view those who are morally repugnant. Because when you think about it, it is fascinating that the pilot of Dexter opens with a monologue about how he is a sociopath with no genuine emotions and the ever-present urge to kill other human beings. (Or at least, that’s the story he tells himself, because over the seasons it becomes clear that he does feel love, empathy, guilt, and more.) His adoptive father, Harry, identifies this urge in young Dexter and raises him to follow “The Code,” which specifies that Dexter can only satisfy his homicidal tendencies by targeting other murderers and criminals. In this way, he comes off as more of a vigilante than an outright serial killer, making our affinity for Dexter more palpable.
The original series, which ran 2006 through 2013 over the course of eight seasons, follows Dexter as he evolves from a shell of a human to someone capable of making connections and longing for a life that isn’t guided by his “Dark Passenger,” his self-proclaimed urge to kill. A critically acclaimed series in its heyday, Dexter gradually declined in quality and its series finale is considered one of the worst of all time, leaving dedicated fans with more questions than answers for eight long years.
But Dexter’s back on television this Sunday, November 7th. Not marketed as a ninth season, Dexter: New Blood is a “miniseries” that picks up ten years after the events of the finale. Though not a huge fan of sequels or spin-offs myself, I am genuinely excited for New Blood in hopes that it will give Dexter the ending it deserves. But here’s what the series needs to address to justify its existence:
Unfortunately, Dexter gets notoriety in pop culture for having one of the worst series finales of all time. Though it’s hard for anything to come close to the catastrophe that was Game of Thrones’ eighth season, the final episode of this series was pretty horrific. Generally, the show’s quality began to trend downwards after season four, which featured the series’ best antagonist, John Lithgow’s award-winning Trinity Killer, but also the shocking death of Dexter’s wife, Rita. Something that should have devastated Dexter beyond repair was merely a speed bump in his continued path of death and destruction, and he continues upping his body count for four more seasons. But his knack for putting his loved ones in harm’s way continues and in the series finale, it leads to the death of his sister, Deb. Despite understanding the parallels and the symbolism of what happens in the finale, it’s unthinkable that Dexter would actually dump his sister, possibly the only person in the world he truly loved, into the ocean because he considers her his last “victim.” Not only does he do this, but he also abandons his son, Harrison, and his then-girlfriend, Hannah, in Argentina while he fakes his own death and starts over as a lumberjack somewhere in Oregon. It felt completely out of character for Dexter to run off by himself when his motivation for the majority of the series was to be a good father to his son. His mindset of leaving them behind to spare them from his destructive nature makes sense in theory, but why start over somewhere new? Wouldn’t he have preferred death than this empty existence?
Those Ten Years
Those questions all lead into this: what the hell has Dexter been up to for a decade? Ten years after the entire debacle, Dexter’s going by Jim Lindsay and living in the fictional Iron Lake, New York as a hunting shop owner. Do we need to know exactly what happened in the time between season eight’s finale and now? Not necessarily. But it would be important to know how Dexter’s mentally processed the events of the finale. He must carry the guilt of Deb’s death around with him. Is that why she may become his new “Harry,” i.e., an imaginary iteration of Deb that haunts his memory and guides him in his decisions? Or does he completely pretend his former life never happened? Moreover, what’s his drive to continue living now that his life as he knew it in Miami is forever ruined? Sure, he’d always had a getaway plan if he were ever caught, but isn’t he feeling unfulfilled? Empty? And how on Earth has he managed to subdue his Dark Passenger for so long? We’ve seen Dexter try to suppress his urge to kill several times during the series’ original run, yet he was never successful. What’s his secret now?
We see a hesitant Harrison approaching his father in the final seconds of New Blood’s trailer. And thank God, because what would the point of this entire revival be if we never saw or acknowledged Dexter’s only son? Harrison’s appearance in the trailer brings up a lot of questions, but exciting ones. How does Harrison find Dexter? Is Hannah still raising him, and if so, does she ever tell Harrison the truth about his father’s lifestyle? Maybe Harrison discovers and meets his half-siblings, Astor and Cody (remember them?). Do they give him insight into what Dexter was like? And mainly, does Harrison also have a Dark Passenger? Dexter’s urge to kill stems from how, at three years old, he witnessed his birth mother brutally murdered before his eyes. The same thing happens to Harrison in season four, when Dexter finds Harrison in a pool of his mother’s blood, murdered by the Trinity Killer. Though Harrison is younger than Dexter was, it’s possible that it spawned the beginning of the same homicidal addiction that drives his father. Will he resent Dexter for abandoning him, or look for his approval? And if he does have a Dark Passenger, is he looking for Dexter’s guidance?
This is definitely a biased “need” and most likely not going to come to fruition due to the miniseries’ major change in setting, but I’m curious to see how the other members of Miami Metro are faring ten years later. They’ve faced a lot of death in their unit over the years, with Doakes, LaGuerta, Deb, and (allegedly) Dexter all dying in the show’s original run. Is the unit still riddled with bad luck? Is Quinn still haunted by Deb’s unexpected death? Is Masuka still close with his daughter? Is Batista still the best Miami Metro member of all time?
For me, Dexter’s story should have only ended one of two ways—prison or death. It’s clear how much the writers came to love the character of Dexter and wanted, like we all did, to see him get away with every bad thing he’d done. But that doesn’t make sense or work in long term, because Dexter must atone for his sins eventually. How is it possible that Dexter gets away with being the Bay Harbor Butcher twice? Rather, Dexter Morgan goes down as an unfortunate tragedy, with everyone thinking he drowned at sea during the hurricane. How is it that he gets to live this peaceful existence in upstate New York when Rita’s children are left without a mother, when Deb’s life is cut short at thirty-two, when his father killed himself at the thought of Dexter’s urges, when Harrison essentially becomes an orphan in a foreign country? That may work for a decade, but in New Blood, Dexter has to face the consequences of his actions and finally take accountability for the lives he’s taken and ruined along the way. This blank slate life he’s created for himself is cowardly, and hopefully whatever disturbs his state of peace in New Blood brings him to this final faceoff.
Written By: Deanna Shiverick
Edited By: Jake Zall and Nick Mandala