Review: Dexter: New Blood Season 9, Episode 5 – “Runaway”

Before you read on, there are spoilers ahead for this week’s review of Dexter: New Blood. We’ll begin with Harrison. This week, in the wake of his violent attack during “H Is For Hero”. Harrison is now lauded by his peers for preventing Ethan, a bullied high schooler, from committing a mass school shooting. They even go as far as throwing him a party to celebrate him. From the story he tells, Harrison was the one to prevent Ethan from committing the atrocity. What few realise, however, is that Harrison was in fact the one to attack Ethan with a switchblade, staging it to appear otherwise. It’s evident that Dexter’s offspring is struggling to contend with the guilt of his actions while coming to terms with his own identity following the violent outburst.

Being high on ecstasy and drunk on alcohol leads Harrison to experience a bad trip. Soon enough, he admits to Angela’s daughter and potential love interest Audrey that his father is not who he claims to be. Jim Lindsay is not Jim Lindsay. This moment alone has the potential to jeopardise the idyllic, secret new life Dexter has built for himself post-Miami and could bring it all toppling down around him. All the while, I find myself saying, Dexter, you should have sent your son away when he first arrived at the cabin.

Harrison has to be the key to whatever endgame Clyde Philips has in mind going into the last five episodes of  Dexter: New Blood, there’s absolutely no doubt in that. Audrey later relays Harrison’s confession to Angela, the local police sheriff who begins to develop her suspicions of one Jim Lindsay. In a bid to track down Kurt’s missing son Matt Caldwell at a swanky hotel outside of Iron Lake, Angela and true crime podcaster Molly Park (a quirky, headstrong character I’m beginning to warm to) attend a law enforcement conference to find something resembling inspiration with the missing women/runaway case in Iron Lake.

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

This is the moment Angel Batista (David Zayas) makes a speech at the conference. For some time, there was a suspicion that one of the best ways to disrupt the balance of Dexter’s new life would be to introduce an old face from the past, and the theory has proven correct. In doing so, even Dexter will struggle to explain this one away. Batista recounts the tragic events from the original Dexter finale, confirming that Dexter and Deb both died. This in itself means little to Angela, but it’s when Angel mentions the son they left behind, and I’m squeaking anxiously at the screen as Batista thinks, and thinks.

For a nail-biting moment, Batista fails to remember the name of Dexter’s son, before suddenly, his face lights up and he says, Harrison. Jaw drop. Angela looks quietly disconcerted, likely making the connection to Jim Lindsay’s son in Iron Lake. Coincidence, Angela thinks not. To make things even worse (how…?), Audrey then reiterates what Harrison had said about his father to Angela, in that Jim Lindsay is not Jim Lindsay. So Angela returns to her office and prints out an obituary for one Dexter Morgan, and the picture is so obviously the man she’s dating in Iron Lake there’s no chance Dexter can wriggle his way out of this dilemma.

For one, it’s a wonderful surprise to have David Zayas back in  Dexter: New Blood, but his arrival presents such potential for drama going into the last five episodes. There’s a reference to the Bay Harbour Butcher, suggesting the long-dead case (since everyone suspected it was Doakes way back in Season 2) could be reopened. There’s another reference to the Trinity Killer, and we’re still waiting for that cameo, a serial murderer who hid behind the facade of an ordinary working man with a family until it all came undone, perhaps foreshadowing the future for Dexter: New BloodAs for right now, Dexter’s main struggle is the widening rift with Harrison.

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

He’s juggling a lot, contending with the aftermath of Harrison’s ecstasy overdose at the party, encouraging his son with mixed results to see a therapist, later consumed by a vengeful need to kill a drug dealer, and abandoning Harry’s code in the process. At the top of Dexter’s problem pile, is that his son is a killer in the making. He’s lived abstinent for the past ten years, save for a small slip-up after killing Matt Caldwell during the “Cold Snap” opener, so it’s fair to assume Dexter has a vast amount of dark passenger energy bottled inside, and none of the above is helping him return to normality. 

Meanwhile, Dexter is completely oblivious to another antagonist at work within Iron Lake, Kurt Caldwell. For most of the episode, he spends his time, lucidly dancing to his creepy murder soundtrack, Del Shannon’s “Runaway”, heard during the sniper murder sequence in “Smoke Signals”. Frustratingly, Clancy Brown’s villain has yet to be fully realised and feels desperately underplayed. While he’s not dancing at the bar, he’s monitoring his latest victim, Chloe, a hitchhiker he first met in Episode 4. He’s trapped her within the creepy room with no door handle, monitoring her from the camera above the bed.

Chloe, however, is a little sharper than his last target. She disrupts his ritual, much to Kurt’s dismay as he shoots her at close range with the rifle. There has to be deeper reasoning to Kurt’s motivations, but as of yet, we’ve no idea why he does what he does. He later picks up Harrison outside of his diner and over a meal, offers him a work placement at the diner. Eerily, it begins to make me wonder if Kurt intends to make Harrison his next target, considering it was how he picked up Chloe in the last episode.

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

If so, how would that play out, would Harrison turn the tables and kill Kurt? At the diner, Kurt illustrates an interesting point to Harrison, affirming that nobody can outrun the rage they feel inside, a clear reference to his demons, and Harrison’s troubles. Undoubtedly, there are multiple layers to Kurt’s character to discover, it only makes me wish they could begin to reveal some of these a bit sooner.

Dexter: New Blood’s fifth episode does what a mid-season episode should do best, propelling us head-first into the back half of the season with burning questions, intriguing character development, and the first glimmer of an endgame in sight. Angela’s investigation into the missing runaways has taken an unexpected turn as she begins to realise there could be another mystery far closer to home, and it’s superbly executed. Angel Batista has been added into the story at the optimal moment, and his own history and knowledge of Dexter’s past must surely become instrumental in whatever events will befall our lead protagonist leading to the finale.

Then we’ve got Harrison and his emerging dark passenger, whose strained relationship with Dexter threatens to push them further apart, and there’s no telling what Harrison will do next. The story is undoubtedly set to home in on Harrison for the back half of the story, from Ethan’s attack and the Trinity connection to Harrison’s confession that Jim Lindsay is a lie, and a growing friendship between Harrison and one Kurt Caldwell, Iron Lake’s number one bad guy. 

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

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