Before you read on, there are some massive spoilers ahead for this week’s review of Dexter: New Blood. As we roll into the seventh week of Dexter: New Blood, it’s all beginning to get quite tasty and dark within the town of Iron Lake. There’s an imminent showdown between Dexter and Clancy Brown’s Kurt Caldwell, some damning revelations between Dexter and Harrison, while others within Iron Lake are beginning to twig that one Jim Lindsay may not be as innocent and unassuming as he seems. If all of this isn’t enough, there’s also one huge cameo to discuss. Yes, that one.
Following the grisly discovery of Angela’s high school best friend, Iris, the Iron Lake police chief drafts in Dexter Morgan to investigate the body. Quickly, he ascertains that she was shot in the back by a sniper and had been buried alive within the caves. Most intriguing of all is the discovery of DNA on a tooth after Iris bit her attacker. This DNA is matched to none other than… Kurt Caldwell. He’s swiftly arrested and interviewed under caution. He’s caught bang to rights and goes against his lawyer’s advice to make a statement and reveal that the DNA in fact belonged to his father. Kurt is cool and calm under pressure during the interview, recounting a story of a troubled childhood to the police. As a child, he would frequently witness his father attacking women on the road at truck stops, drowning out the sounds with music from a record player, which creepily churns out Del Shannon’s “Runaway”. This offers us an insight into his pre-murder ritual, first established during “Smoke Signals”.
On the fateful night of Iris’s disappearance, the young hitchhiker is picked up on the road by Kurt’s father, or so Kurt says. The flashback reveals that it was in fact Kurt behind the wheel, as he gives his name to Iris in the cab. Events escalate as Iris flees from the truck, only to be gunned down by his sniper moments later, a methodology Kurt has mimicked throughout the series so far. His story holds up and there’s enough reasonable evidence for Kurt to be acquitted and the DNA to be thrown out of court. As cool as Iron Lake’s wintry climate, Kurt offers a hand to Angela and apologies for her loss, and Angela rebukes him with an equally cold stare of hatred. She’s out for him, and this matter is most certainly not over. While Kurt contends with the police, the same man captured on the hotel footage posing as Matt Caldwell (real name Elric Kane) approaches Harrison for help at the diner with heavy barrels from his truck. After paying him for the job, Kane gives Harrison an envelope, instructing him to hand it to Dexter.
The envelope contains, oddly, a single titanium nail. It transpires that Kurt knew all along that Dexter had killed Matt and incinerated his body, taunting Dexter with the nail that had come from Matt’s leg following the boating accident, first hinted at during the season opener, “Cold Snap”. What we come to discover is that titanium does not burn, and as such, Kurt was able to recover the nail from the incinerator and realise the truth. On the same night Dexter disposed of Matt’s body and picked up Kurt drunk from the bar, Kurt discovered that it wasn’t snow falling from the sky, but in fact ash. After Kurt’s release from the police station, he’s later seen stalking Molly leaving the bar, and in the episode’s final moments, Dexter is abducted, most likely, by one of Kurt’s henchmen. As villains go, Kurt has felt weak, despite a sterling performance from Clancy Brown week in, week out. He has the power, the money, the influence, and the intelligence, but most of these characteristics had gone to waste until now.
From one villain to the next, we dive into the most significant moment from Episode 7, the long-awaited cameo from John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer. After breaking an opponent’s arm during last week’s wrestling match, Harrison has angered those on the rival team. Harrison lashes out with the same razor he’d attacked Ethan with during “H Is For Hero”, before Dexter swiftly disarms the situation. This in turn leads to some damning revelations from Harrison, who admits he’s been plagued with nightmares over the years. It was only until he listened to Molly’s podcast on the Trinity Killer, that the connection to his nightmares is made.
Throughout this sequence, we catch flashes of a bloody bathtub and a crying baby, the iconic image from Rita’s death years before. This is when John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer steps into frame, who after murdering Rita in the Season 4 finale, chillingly reassures Harrison that his father would be home soon. While only a baby, Harrison reveals to his father that he remembers everything about that fateful night.
Lithgow has always been a marvel to watch as the Trinity Killer, a home-grown, highly resourceful, and disturbed killer who bested Dexter in the worst imaginable way, the only time in the show’s history a villain ultimately won. Lithgow’s cameo was hugely anticipated prior to the revival’s debut, and the payoff has been worth the wait as we consider the weight of Harrison’s revelations after the end credits. Harrison’s rage and his compulsion to hurt others have been borne out of his memories from that terrible night. Meanwhile, Harrison’s personal relationships suffer as Audrey puts some distance between them following the incident at the wrestling match, and there’s an eerie image of Harrison preparing for his first day washing trucks at the diner. Sporting a black rubber apron and face visor, Harrison bears an uncanny resemblance to both his father and the Trinity Killer pre-kill.
In an earlier review, I’d made the point that Clyde Philips and his team have attempted to avoid betraying character arcs to conveniently benefit Dexter’s story, ensuring he’d avoid persecution and make it to a new season. There’s a growing trend that Dexter: New Blood is actively trying to avoid the cliche bugbears that caused the original series to become so predictable, and it’s best illustrated during a particular scene between Angela and podcaster Molly Park at the local bar. As Angela contends with Kurt’s revelations and what it means for the investigation into Iris’s death, Molly reflects on her experience at Kurt’s cabin. Lured there under the promise of an interview with Matt Caldwell, Kurt in fact intended to kill the podcaster, only to be saved by Dexter at the last second.
Angela reveals to Molly that Dexter had followed them to the cabin after overhearing them at the bar and became concerned for Molly’s welfare. Well we know that’s a lie. He actually bugged the bar under the pretence of putting his phone on the charge to listen in to Molly’s interview with Kurt. Molly proposes this theory to Angela, who questions why Dexter would do so. One thing, however, is clear. Molly points out that Dexter could not have overheard her interview with Kurt, given the distance from the table he’d sat at to the bar. To illustrate this point, they attempt to listen to a conversation from their table at the bar and fail to hear a single meaningful word. So how did Dexter manage to?
Molly remarks that if Angela had no romantic connection to Jim, she’d investigate him further. Angela does, however, point out that Dexter was sat with Kurt eating pie at the diner after Kurt had been made prime suspect, right before his arrest. Perhaps after ten years of staying abstinent, Dexter Morgan is just not as good at this serial killer business as he used to be. “Skin Of Her Teeth” sets the stage for the showdown between the forces of good and evil as Dexter and Kurt come head to head. Episode 7 begins to pull on a thread that threatens to unravel Dexter’s secrets while delving into Harrison’s traumatic memories and establishing a chilling connection originating with John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer.
What do you think of Dexter: New Blood so far? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!