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Dexter: New Blood Can’t Quite Bring Its Madcap Antihero Back to Life: Review

Showtime's revival of the droll serial-killer drama tries (and fails) to recover from a disastrous series finale

Dexter New Blood Review
Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)
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    The Pitch: Over a decade after the original series’… let’s say controversial finale, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) has been living off the grid. Last we saw him, he was a lumberjack in the Pacific Northwest; now he’s packed up and moved to the sleepy, snowy upstate New York village of Iron Lake. He’s set himself up as Jim Lindsey, the unassuming town sweetheart, who mans the local hunting shop and brings cinnamon rolls to his customers.

    He’s even dating the town sheriff, Angela Bishop (Julia Jones), and has successfully tamped down the so-called Dark Passenger that drives him to kill. (Instead of his adoptive father Harry, it’s taken the shape of now-deceased sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), the devil in his ear who acts as his grim anti-conscience.)

    But naturally, Dexter: New Blood isn’t about to saddle us with eight episodes of ol’ Dex going ice fishing and generally being a nice guy; before long, he’s set his sights on a juicy morsel of a new target, a rich failson who totally get people killed on a boat a few years ago. That’s not all: his bloodlust coincides with the arrival of a new serial killer that’s set up shop in town, not to mention the untimely arrival of Harrison (Jack Alcott), Dexter’s now-teenage son, whom he abandoned in the finale to keep him away from his murderous life. Now he’s back with a chip on his shoulder, and more in common with Daddy than he might care to admit.

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    Back in Crimson: To a certain extent, Dexter: New Blood recognizes how redundant it is. The original series, based on the books by Jeff Lindsey (Dex’s new nom de plume is a clear nod to him), started out as a riveting, darkly funny take on the vigilante antihero before descending into madness, chaos, and a notoriously sloppy finale by the time it reached its eighth season. New Blood feels like an attempt to correct that sin, not to mention a convenient way for Showtime to revive a beloved IP and give Michael C. Hall more time in the role, right down to bringing back Clyde Phillips, the show’s original showrunner. Based on the four episodes provided to critics, New Blood has some of the DNA of Phillips’ original run; in its best moments, it’s sly and cheeky, and approaches the surrealistic verve of the show’s early seasons. But in switching the Miami heat for New England chill, it’s left the show feeling somewhat frozen as well.

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