Before you read on, there are spoilers ahead for this week’s review of Dexter: New Blood. The eloquently titled “Storm Of F***”, is unfortunately slightly below par from the standards set by last week’s opener, “Cold Snap”. Last week, we were reunited with Michael C. Hall’s Dexter Morgan assuming a new identity in the town of Iron Lake ten years after the tragic events in Miami led him to fake his death.
Episode 1 was a compelling hour of television for the way it handled Dexter’s struggle with conforming to a quiet life of solitude while contending with a decade-long intermission from serial-killing. Episode 2 picks up the action one day later, in which Dexter ended his ten-year sabbatical from kill rooms and sharp knives. With his latest victim, Matt Caldwell dead and gone, Dexter’s beginning to realise his first kill in a decade wasn’t as clean and routine as he’d planned. There are blood trails leading from the spot of woodland where he’d attacked Matt and more so outside his remote cabin, and to add to his to-do-list before the police catch me out, the town’s local police force descends on his cabin to set up a search and rescue operation, a nail-biting moment perfectly encapsulated by Dexter describing it as “one storm of f***.”
It begins to feel from the onset that some habits die hard as Dexter is left on the back foot with a mountain to climb if he intends to avoid persecution. He’s back in the deep end, and despite an eight-year gap since the show’s original season finale, it’s as if nothing has changed and no time has passed. “Storm Of F***”, follows a narrative structure we’ve become accustomed to throughout Dexter’s original eight-season run. We’ve got a missing person, and Dexter’s at the heart of the investigation, even if everybody around fails to notice it.
He’s hastily wrapping up his dark deeds and narrowly keeping himself one step ahead of the police at every turn, all the while he’s brazenly keeping the dismembered remains of Matt Caldwell not thirty feet from his cabin beneath a fire pit, and no one seems any the wiser. Then he’s forced to manoeuvre his way out of a domestic tangle, from the return of Harrison, his suspicious and embittered teenage son, to his girlfriend (also a police officer), making headway on the missing person investigation while also coming to terms with Dexter’s secret past.
In the short space of about forty-five minutes, Dexter has unsurprisingly, and quite impossibly, tidied up the crime scene and diverted attention away from him by discarding a glove. Iron Lake’s inept police force appears keen to accept that Matt gunned down a deer and made a run for it, with everyone other than Angela displaying about as much intelligence as their useless remote-controlled drones. If we had drones during the original run of Dexter, he’d have been caught from day one with no need for a second season. It’s a scene-stealing moment as a smug Dexter relishes the idea that he’ll get away with his crime as he watches the drone fall from the sky.
If you were to dip into one episode of Dexter: New Blood after years of dissatisfaction from the show you once knew and loved, merely as a means to find out if they’d learned from the show’s past forthcomings, then you’d most likely switch off pretty fast. There’s little here we’ve not seen here a hundred times before, but that’s not to say that Episode 2 repeats the show’s tried and tested formula. Most significantly, a handsome but weirdly dead-eyed Harrison’s return raises some huge questions. His strained relationship with Dexter takes centre stage throughout the episode. There are some fascinating interactions between them.
Chief among which, Harrison’s discovery of a letter referring to Dexter’s fears of Harrison developing “dark tendencies”. Unbeknownst to Harrison, Dexter is referring to his own dark passenger and the idea that his offspring could follow in his father’s footsteps. This, of course, is something Harrison is unaware of. Dexter comes close to spilling the truth about his serial killer alter ego, but it’s Harrison’s admission of Hannah’s death to pancreatic cancer three years that hits home hardest The seductive serial poisoner and Dexter’s love interest throughout Season 7 and 8, is dead.
Following a period of bouncing between foster homes, Harrison successfully tracks down his father in Iron Lake. It comes as a huge surprise that Hannah is dead, but leaves me with the dreadful thought of… wait a minute, has Harrison discovered his own dark passenger and killed her?
We later learn Harrison has a history with drugs and he’s keen to keep the police at bay, remarking that he doesn’t want them “up in his business.” Suffice to say, Dexter’s son has a few dark secrets of his own. A season of Dexter would not be complete without the introduction of yet another warped serial killer lurking in their midst, better known as Kurt Caldwell (Clancy Brown), and the father of the recently deceased Matt Caldwell. With strong roots in Iron Lake, he’s wealthy and has a tendency to remind the townsfolk of all the good he’s done for them in return for favours. His appearance is short but he makes his mark, demonstrating power and influence over the townsfolk, insisting that they continue their investigation into Matt’s disappearance, ironically promising to leave no stone unturned in his search, while a smug Dexter looks down at the fire pit where Matt’s remains are concealed.
Throughout the story, our antagonist watches Lily in a hotel room, the down-on-her-luck, hitchhiker from the line dancing bar drink champagne and eat chocolate in a hotel room. It’s later revealed she’s actually trapped within the room. The door handle is missing and a creepy message has been written in blood above the CCTV camera, reading “You’re already dead.” It’s a sinister, run-of-the-mill subplot the show repeats season after season, and there’s nothing entirely original or unique about it, but Clancy Brown seems like a prime choice for the show’s antagonist, and I for one can’t wait to watch more.
“Storm Of F***” offers enough thrills and chills to get us by. It’s not hugely original and much like last week’s opener, retreads a familiar path to get us through each act of the story. Highlights include Clancy Brown as the show’s emerging antagonist, Harrison’s questionable history, a growing subplot concerning missing girls, the return of the show’s iconic theme to play us out, and a goat with the greatest name of all time – Vincent Van Goat.
What do you think of Dexter: New Blood so far? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!