Review: Dexter: New Blood Season 9 – Episode 10 – “Sins of the Father”

Before you read on, there are massive spoilers ahead for this week’s finale review of Dexter: New Blood. For a comprehensive recap of Dexter: New Blood’s story, then head on over to Flickluster’s review page here.  Fifteen years later, and here we are. After the show’s original ending received heavily polarised reviews from fans and critics alike, Dexter would commonly appear in polls ranking TV shows cursed with the worst endings of all time. Last year, following the announcement that The Walking Dead would conclude after its eleventh season, Gameluster’s very own Nirav compiled his own list of ten shows that became terrible to watch, and Dexter appears in this list.

So when it was reported that Dexter: New Blood, a limited-series revival would seek to redeem the show’s woefully disappointing ending almost a decade earlier, the showrunners, led by Clyde Philips, who returned since departing after Season 4, faced a big challenge. Find a story worth telling and give the fans the ending we’ve all been waiting for. So the question remains, did they pull it off?

Let’s start with Dexter’s cabin. We pick up the action from where Episode 9, a thrilling and disturbing penultimate episode left off, with Dexter and Harrison dealing with the fallout from Kurt’s arson attack on the cabin. Angela is suspecting foul play, while Harrison points the blame towards the same kids that confronted him in revenge for the wrestling incident a few weeks prior. The police chief is however far more absorbed in her investigation into the mysteries surrounding Dexter Morgan to focus on the fire. The mounting theory is that the man she once loved and recognised as Jim Lindsay is, in fact, the Bay Harbour Butcher. Dexter proposes the idea of moving away with Harrison to start afresh in Los Angeles as he remains hopeful for a father/son team up to embrace their dark passengers together and take out bad guys. Harrison has other plans. He wants a normal life in a normal place where he’s grown content with good friends and Audrey, his love interest.

Dexter - Dexter: New Blood.
Dexter – Dexter: New Blood. (Pic: Showtime).

As they sweep through the ruins of Dexter’s burnt-out cabin, Angela makes a discovery. This leads to a dramatic scene in her kitchen as she forces Dexter to surrender and reveal he’s under arrest for the murder of Matt Caldwell. Dexter’s even contemplating lunging for a knife block before Logan sweeps in with his gun raised. Dexter is led out to a police car in handcuffs, soundtracked perfectly by Radiohead’s ‘A Wolf at the Door’. It’s beginning to look like the game is up. Dexter is bought into the station for questioning and swiftly assumes the role of angelic innocence, a role Michael C. Hall has mastered to perfection. He has an answer for everything despite Angela’s pressing persistence, spinning a well-crafted story that Kurt had, in fact, killed Matt and set him up to take the fall, planting the titanium nail from his son’s leg (found by Angela in the ruins of Dexter’s cabin). Kurt orchestrated these events in revenge for being humiliated following his arrest and questioning into Iris’s death, Dexter claims.

With Logan appearing swayed by Dexter’s argument, Angela, however, is having none of it. The police officer, at this point, has not revealed her Ace, the theory that Dexter is the Bay Harbour Butcher, Miami’s most notorious serial killer, calling Miami Metro’s Angel Batista to discuss theories. David Zayas makes his second cameo appearance in the revival series, the first coming midway during the fifth episode. It’s so wonderful to have him back again, particularly for the finale. 

As they discuss theories into the long-dormant BHB case, it leads Batista to mention his late wife Maria LaGuerta’s suspicions of Dexter, who rumbled his serial killer alter ego in Season 7, only to be shot to death by Debra. Angela reveals a photograph to Angel that leaves him stunned, and it’s a wonderfully powerful moment to watch. After all these years, Angel discovers his old friend, Dexter Morgan, is still alive. He swiftly makes arrangements to arrive in Iron Lake for the following day with everything LaGuerta had complied on the case in a folder. As we know, Dexter’s arrest for the death of Matt Caldwell is a part of a much larger picture, and this culminates in a line that’ll take your breath away. Angela questions Dexter on the identical weal marks discovered in victims from Miami to Iron Lake, before coldly declaring that she believes Dexter is the Bay Harbour Butcher.

Angela Bishop - Dexter: New Blood.
Angela Bishop – Dexter: New Blood. (Pic: Showtime).

She confirms he’ll be arraigned for Matt’s murder and with Batista arriving in a matter of hours, will be extradited to Miami to stand trial and potentially face the death penalty as the BHB. Dexter plays the only card he has left and urges Angela to visit Kurt’s bunker, where she discovers the bodies of Kurt’s 25-year killing spree. It’s a haunting few minutes for Angela who painfully recites the names of each runaway victim preserved within the cabinets inside his bunker, as we see flashes to her Homeland investigation-style board, a coin termed by Molly Park, the true-crime podcaster who Angela further learns, was killed by Kurt. Poor Molly. Angela fails to raise Logan at the station, likely knowing in her heart that her friend and colleague is gone, before drafting in the authorities with news on the bunker. 

Leading Angela out to Kurt’s lair is a Hail Mary on Dexter’s part, as he’s left to stew in a cell with few options at his disposal. In a game-changing, and cruel twist, after asking for a bottle of water, Dexter attempts to force Logan to release him from the cell. Instead of reaching for his keys, Logan goes for his gun, forcing Dexter to break his neck. It’s a tragically definitive moment in this episode, a turning point that Dexter cannot undo. He’s gone too far. Killing an innocent goes against Harry’s code, but killing a police officer is a far worse crime. After escaping, he arranges to meet with Harrison, urging him to pack, but he’s using Logan’s phone to make the call. The father and son rendezvous at the same location where Matt had gunned down the deer during the season opener, leading into the most devastating act of the episode.

Harrison smartly cottons on that Dexter had used Logan’s phone and surmises, from the blood on his face, that his father has killed him at the station. His death goes against Harry’s code that Dexter had passed down to his son. It’s here that Harrison realises that the dark passenger is his father’s way to falsely justify his murderous actions, insisting that Dexter hand himself in, delivering the damning verdict that his father may even deserve it. He reveals to his father that his anger is a direct result of Dexter’s decade-long abandonment and dark influence. 

Harrison - Dexter: New Blood.
Harrison – Dexter: New Blood. (Pic: Showtime).

This scene just hits hard and tackles every emotional beat expertly. It’s raw and honest, and far more compelling in a handful of minutes than the majority of the show’s weaker seasons. It’s Harrison’s confession to his father that brings his character arc full circle. It feels meaningful and real. His belief that Dexter should receive the death penalty takes a moment to sink in. It’s tragically earnest. Harrison further questions whether or not Deb, Rita, and so many others would still be alive if it hadn’t have been for Dexter’s killing.

There’s a silent montage of various characters from across the show’s run, including LaGuerta, Doakes, Rita, and Deb. Dexter admits that his son deserves better in life, including a stable father figure, and so, armed with the rifle Dexter had gifted him in the previous episode, Harrison guns down his father with a shot to the heart. In the seconds before his death, Michael C. Hall narrates that he’d never felt love until this moment. Deb’s afterlife persona holds Dexter’s hand before he dies, and then it’s over. After fifteen years, Michael C. Hall bows out from the role of Dexter Morgan. 

The last few minutes take on a sombre, reflective tone. Angela arrives to discover the scene and lets Harrison flee, despite Harrison coolly surrendering. She urges him to take to the road and make no goodbyes, not even to Audrey, someone he could have made a normal life with. That’s a heartbreaking thought. Depleted, Harrison drives out of Iron Lake, seeing Logan’s body being pulled out in a body bag from the station, and a fleet of SUVs arriving to secure the crime scenes in the wake of all the disaster unfolding within the small little town of Iron Lake.

The Letter - Dexter: New Blood.
The Letter – Dexter: New Blood. (Pic: Showtime).

There’s a finality with death, and the decision to kill Dexter is in truth, the only real way they could have ended the show and given it closure. Now, not everyone will agree. There’ll be those who hated it. There’ll be those who loved it. I’m in support of the latter. There’s a tragic undertone to the entire episode, highlighted best during the final sequence as Harrison leaves Iron Lake, soundtracked by The National’s haunting ‘I Should Live In Salt’

Clyde Philips and his creative entourage had identified early on the show’s major bedbugs that plagued the series in its later, more mixed seasons. The Dexter-gets-away-with-it-all trope, tired villain cliches, and generally lazy writing spring to mind. New Blood addressed those issues and redeemed a dying show with a limited-revival concept that works, banishing the tropes of old Dexter from the start. In the beginning, the show treads old ground and it was worrying. Clancy Brown was a major disappointment as the show’s underdeveloped villain. Jack Alcott as Harrison was ruthless and earnest and just fantastic to watch weekly. I can see big things for his future. Michael C. Hall delivered performances full of brutal finesse, comedic charm, and sincerity as Dexter Morgan, supported by some wonderfully funny and dark commentary from Jennifer Carpenter’s Debra Morgan (from the afterlife).

“Sins of the Father” is a tense, devastating final chapter to the revival series. It’s a worthy conclusion to one of Showtime’s greatest dramas. The lumberjack-in-Oregon ending will always scar the show, whereas Dexter: New Blood restores something lost since Clyde Philip’s exit after Season 4 and gives us an end. A proper end. What do you think of the Dexter: New Blood finale? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!

Matt Bailey

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