Review: Dexter: New Blood Season 9, Episode 3 – “Smoke Signals”

Before you read on, there are spoilers ahead for this week’s review of Dexter: New Blood. This week, the investigation into Matt Caldwell’s disappearance, Dexter’s first kill in ten years, ramps up, and it’d appear the net could be about to close in on Dexter. His biggest issue is when the serial killer learns that the woods in which he’d attacked Matt are covered with heat-sensor cameras to track wildlife. To Dexter’s surprise, they’ve picked up not only Matt but a second figure, Dexter himself. Conveniently, while the cameras pick up Dexter’s movements, the cameras detect heat and as such, keep Dexter’s identity obscured.

He’s quick to identify Matt with the rifle he’d bought from Fred’s Fish and Game, yet looks uneasy later on when asked if he can identify the second figure in the footage. Dexter remains as cool as Iron Lake’s winter weather under pressure, keeping control while being questioned and throwing search dogs off the scent with a piece of Matt Caldwell’s clothing. As the search gathers pace, the police forces are none the wiser to the fact that Dexter has Matt’s remains beneath the fire pit right outside his lodge, and this is yet another problem for Dexter to contend with. There’s a comedic moment involving Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) as they discuss the possible means to dispose of Matt’s body, including Deb lobbing Matt’s body parts into a tree shredder.

Dexter discreetly burns Matt’s remains at a nearby plant, before later picking up a drunk Kurt from outside of a bar. Clancy Brown’s unnerving, hot-headed Kurt Caldwell is under the illusion that Matt is alive, despite receiving a phone call from local town sheriff Angela Bishop to confirm the blood they’d found in the woods belongs to Matt. The more I watch Clancy Brown as Kurt, the more uneasy I become. Along with his temper, Caldwell is the type of man who spends most of his life getting his way, but he’s also a man harbouring a dark secret. I refer to the hitchhiker in the hotel room, Lily, who met Angela at the line dancing bar during the season opener and spent the entirety of Episode 2 trapped in a hotel room monitored by Brown on a camera.

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

This week, for the fleeting few minutes we see her, she’s released from the room. We’ve got all the hallmarks of a deadly Dexter antagonist in the making. We have Brown preparing ritualistically for the kill, sporting a white balaclava and a sniper with a laser scope. There’s a neat contrast between the grisly murder sequence as Lily runs out into the snow only to be gunned down by Brown’s sniper, while the entire scene is backed by Del Shannon’s “Runaway”. We’re no closer to understanding Brown’s motives, but there is a fleetingly brief, equally grisly post-kill sequence connected to the poor hitchhiker as our killer drains her blood into a metal tin. 

Let’s also talk a little bit about Harrison. Dexter’s dead-eyed but handsome offspring, as commented on during Episode 2, could potentially be a killer. He made the admission to his father that Hannah had died of pancreatic cancer three years earlier, but if we know anything about Dexter, a character doesn’t simply die of natural means, especially when in the company of the son of a serial killer. So whether or not Harrison has inherited his father’s dark passenger, remains to be seen, but there are certainly some early suggestions to the theory.

This week, he’s defending Ethan, a bullied student. Ethan reveals fantasises of exacting retribution against the bullies, reflected in a book of violently dark artwork. But it’s the look from Harrison as he drinks in the details of the art that support his dark passenger theory. He likely did kill Hannah and we’ll later learn of her fate in a flashback episode. I’ll put that prediction and eat my shoe if it doesn’t pan out this way by about the midpoint of the season.

Dexter's New Big Bad - Dexter: New Blood.
Dexter’s New Big Bad – Dexter: New Blood. (Pic: Showtime).

To pile more concerns onto the pile, Harrison successfully tries out for the school wrestling team, physically attacks a student, and passes exams with flying colours, twice. This is not a clear-cut sign that Harrison has murderous tendencies, but displays an intelligence a budding killer would need. Dexter’s intelligence, supported by dodgy writing kept him out of prison for eight years. This brings me neatly onto the show’s writing, and most importantly, Damien, a CSI from Albany drafted in to investigate Matt’s disappearance. 

At first, Damien is your run-of-the-mill, inept crime scene investigator who’ll steer the plot to conveniently benefit Dexter’s story. We’ve seen it time and time again. The writers would betray characters to ensure Dexter would escape persecution and move on to a new season. The best examples include Joey’s suspicions of Dexter in Season 4, and Angel Batista’s ignorant dismissal of CCTV footage confirming Deb and Dexter’s involvement in covering up a crime scene. Damien from Albany starts as a bit accident-prone.

He’s dropping things, he’s a bit of a bumbler. Dexter is basking in the belief Damien will fail to piece together what he already knows has happened. Damien, however, does exactly…, the opposite. He’s swiftly putting the crime scene together leaving Dexter with egg on his face. There’s a sense that Dexter: New Blood is actively trying to avoid the cliche bugbears that made Dexter so predictable to watch in its heyday, with characters such as Damien and Angela Bishop serving as strong examples of this idea. 

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

“Smoke Signals” moves us forward at a steady pace, welcoming new characters into the fray, from Jamie Chung’s crime podcaster Molly Park to Clancy Brown’s deadly showcase as a sniper. Episode 3 further builds on Harrison’s mysterious back story and provides some unexpected laughs with Deb and the wood shredder. What do you think of Dexter: New Blood so far? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!

Matt Bailey

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments