Review: Dexter: New Blood Season 9, Episode 8 – “Unfair Game”

Before you read on, there are some massive spoilers ahead for this week’s review of Dexter: New Blood. If Dexter was a fish, then Angela Bishop would be the fisherman above the waves, setting her net to catch unsuspecting prey. As the weeks trundle on by, Angela is beginning to creep closer and closer to rumbling the most infamous serial killer in the U.S. With only two episodes remaining of Dexter: New Blood, the net looks to be closing in on Dexter Morgan once and for all, provided that Clyde Philips and his writing team can stick the landing. Angela is becoming increasingly suspicious of the man she once knew as Jim Lindsay, as the accounts of his incriminating antics begin to come in thick and fast. For the past few weeks, Iron Lake’s police chief has started to suspect there’s more to Jim Lindsay than meets the eye, and she’d be right.  For a comprehensive recap of the show’s most recent events, then head on over to Flickluster’s review page here.

There are various accounts from people all across Iron Lake that shine an unwelcome spotlight onto Jim Lindsay this week, and with each one, Angela becomes more and more suspect of the man she’s dating. The first is a conversation with police colleague Logan, who reveals that a few weeks earlier, while Angela was away in New York making some interesting small talk with one Angel Batista, Dexter had tracked down Miles, the drug dealer responsible for Harrison’s fentanyl overdose at a house party. In the moments before Dexter could abduct Miles, a police cruiser draws up and prevents him from killing the drug dealer. To cover his tracks and avoid suspicion, Dexter openly attacks Miles as a cover, ditching the needle he’d used on him in the snow. After Angela confronts Miles, the dealer reveals that before Dexter started to rain blows down on him, he swears he felt a needle in his neck. There’s even a puncture wound to corroborate Miles’s story. 

Angela takes a quick picture and returns to the station. The next damning account is the revelation that Jasper, the dealer above Miles in their criminal enterprise, is dead, having overdosed on his product. As we know, Dexter killed the dealer, disguising the death as an accidental overdose, but Angela is on the case, and she won’t be missing a single clue. She discovers an identical puncture wound similar to Miles’s own. Angela is further informed that Dexter was released an hour after being bought into the station with Miles following the fight. The dealer was interrogated and kept for twenty-four hours, swiftly selling out Jasper who was subsequently found dead ten hours later. Angela’s quickly putting two and two together and dreading the potential outcome. In the closing minutes of the episode, Angela is making searches online into ketamine, a substance found in Jasper’s system the day he died. Soon enough, she establishes a connection between the ketamine and a cold case from Miami: The Bay Harbour Butcher.

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

Now we’ll move on to the weakest aspect of this episode, and perhaps the entirety of the Dexter: New Blood saga so far. It’s Clancy Brown’s antagonist, Kurt Caldwell. For several weeks, Harrison has been conflicted by the two father figures in his life. With Harrison increasingly estranged from his father, this week, Harrison bonds with Kurt, bringing the two closer than ever together. Oddly, Harrison’s connection to Kurt is far more believable and considerate than with Dexter. Kurt is actively encouraging Harrison to pursue what makes him happy in life, regardless of what it is (becoming a mini Dexter perhaps), teaching him how to play baseball, and sharing a Scotch at his murder cabin where Harrison admits all he wants with Dexter is a connection, a notion nearly nonexistent. 

While it can be said that Kurt and Harrison share some eerie commonalities, from their desire to hurt others and feel like outsiders, Kurt Caldwell is relatively lackluster in every other regard. If John Lithgow illustrates everything great about a Dexter villain (serving as Season 4’s The Trinity Killer), from his performance through to the development of his narrative, or to the fact that Lithgow was the only villain to best Dexter by season’s end, then Clancy Brown, as wonderful an actor as he is, has to illustrate everything terrible in a Dexter villain.

He can be as charming as can be ruthless, and the conflict he creates as a secondary father figure to Harrison makes for compelling television, but that’s about it. We do establish some nuggets of information from Brown’s bad guy, notably that he was rejected by a girl he’d asked out as a teenager to a school dance. There’s only one redeemable aspect to his character in Episode 8, and that’s in his attempt to kill Harrison with his sniper, intending for Dexter to serve as a witness to the murder, who has been abducted by Elric, a local hunter, and associate to Kurt.

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

Dexter bests Elric after a lengthy chase through woodlands, hiding out at a desolate summer camp, before bursting through a glass mirror to surprise the hunter before stabbing him to death. Despite Elric’s protests that the abduction was not personal, Dexter affirms that when it involves his son, it mostly is. This line gives me chills. It’s honest and affectionate and full of vengeful menace. It’s Michael C. Hall at his best.

Dexter takes Elric’s truck to Kurt’s cabin and saves Harrison moments before Kurt succeeds in killing his son. While Dexter and Harrison reunite, Kurt reveals a hidden talent for being magic. He runs across open ground toward some trees and disappears. On the drive home, Dexter opens up to Harrison and admits that he was born in blood, had the same urges, and talks about Harry’s code. He affirms that he’ll tell his son everything before Harrison embraces him. It feels meaningful, honest, and a perfect way to lead us into the penultimate chapter of the New Blood saga. 

Despite being the shortest episode of the series so far, “Unfair Game” covers a lot of ground and delivers us to a satisfying cliffhanger in preparation for next week’s ninth and penultimate episode. Angela’s alarming progress into the mysteries surrounding Dexter Morgan gives a distinct impression that Clyde Philips may provide the show an ending it deserves, a payoff worth the eight-year wait. What do you think of Dexter: New Blood so far? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!

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

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