Review: Dexter: New Blood Season 9 – Episode 9 – “The Family Business”

Before you read on, there are some massive spoilers ahead for this week’s review of Dexter: New Blood. We begin with a trip down memory lane, and we’ve returned to sunny Miami, as Dexter recounts to his son in the present day, a story of a very bad clown. We meet Mr. Wiggles, a children’s entertainer and spitting image for Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck, and one of Dexter’s victims. After discovering that Mr. Wiggles harbours a murderous secret connected to the children he entertains, he prepares to kill the clown.

It’s a unique storytelling technique as Dexter breaks the fourth wall to explain how he puts Harry’s code into practice. Right before he’s set to plunge the knife into Mr. Wiggles, Deb cuts into the memory, cautioning him on the fallout from admitting that he in fact does not only abduct people but then go on to kill and dismember them. It’s perhaps not the ideal way to bring yourself closer to your son over the Christmas holidays.

Dexter changes tact and leads Harrison to believe he only scares sense into those he’s abducted. So, despite his claims of telling Harrison everything, Dexter cordons off certain parts of his true identity from his offspring, because, in reality, it’s far easier to imagine the conversation in your head than actually having it. As the Christmas holidays get underway, Dexter and Harrison are closer than ever, as they exchange presents and later meet with Audrey and Angela (more on the latter later) to open gifts. Harrison is given a rifle by Dexter (perhaps not the ideal gift for a would-be killer), a police handbook for Angela, and some atrociously loud Christmas jumpers. With the picture-perfect image of domestic life looking a bit too good to be true, something’s bound to go wrong.

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

Right on cue, Kurt makes an appearance at Angela’s house. He’s full of Christmas cheer and camaraderie, and we can all feel the underlying tension as he gives his well-wishes. With Harrison clued in by his father that Kurt has in fact been killing runaway women in Iron Lake for the past twenty-five years, the two team up to find evidence that Kurt is truly guilty of the crimes.

Meanwhile, Kurt is busy burning down Dexter’s lodge in an attempt to lure them out into the path of his sniper. It’s established that Kurt’s magic disappearing act from last week’s “Unfair Game”, was courtesy of a doorway leading into an underground bunker, where the full scale of his crimes are revealed, as Dexter and Harrison descend into his lair.

Kurt has preserved the bodies of the women within velvet-lined cabinets with glass windows, where Dexter and Harrison discover, to their horror, the scale of Kurt’s deviance, and in a fateful twist, that Kurt has killed podcaster Molly Park. I’ve been largely critical of Clancy Brown’s antagonist throughout New Blood, in that an actor of his calibre has been so disappointing, ranking as one of the weakest Dexter villains. While Dexter believes Kurt’s motivations have been centred on power, Kurt explains that he’d cared for the women, and to prevent them from leaving, he’d preserved them. Sadly, this is as far as the explanations go, because Dexter swiftly kills Kurt and brings an end to Clancy Brown’s wasted villain.

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

There’s a fascinating dynamic between Dexter and Harrison that makes this episode one of the best in the series. Following Dexter’s feeble admissions that he’d channeled his dark passenger urges by abducting and ‘scaring’ bad guys into giving up their evil desires, and Harrison’s admission that there’s no justice in the tactic, he finally puts the pieces together in Kurt’s lair, realising that his father had killed Mr. Wiggles the clown. This is a moment that takes your breath away right before Dexter admits to his son that he is a serial killer, despite Deb’s afterlife persona protesting to the contrary. He admits to killing not only Mr. Wiggles but Trinity and Matt Caldwell.

In one of the most dysfunctional and near-unwatchable scenes of the series, Dexter completes his ritual in front of Harrison, dismembering Kurt. Harrison appears content, at least on a surface level to watch his father kill Kurt, but as Dexter dismembers him and blood pools on the floor, Harrison suffers flashbacks to the night his mother died. In Dexter’s eyes, working with his son to take down Kurt is everything he’s ever wanted, but this particular moment might be alluding to the idea that Harrison is in fact disturbed by the reality of his father’s brutal nature.

Elsewhere, Angela is creeping closer and closer to the truth as she investigates the Bay Harbour Butcher case. She’s able to discern identical needle marks on the necks of previous victims discovered during Lundy’s investigations back in Season 2, and they serve an unmistakable familiarity to a series of events happening within Iron Lake. The common connection: Jim Lindsay. Angela’s growing suspicions are supported this week by the local town vet, seen once in Episode 1, who recalls that Dexter had signed out ketamine from her drug supplies, the same drug used by the BHB.

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

With everything Angela already knows, there’s almost no chance she hasn’t worked it out by now. In the Dexter of old, this is the exact moment where everything would fall apart. Once it’s all out in the open, courtesy of a series of narrative miracles, Dexter would successfully evade capture and get away with his crimes for another season. On this occasion, it feels like the opposite. Every step in Angela’s investigation feels methodical, purposeful, and further leads us into a finale that may just, possibly, if Clyde Philips and his production team pull the rabbit out of the hat in style, execute the ending we were so sorely denied in Season 8.

Then, of course, we need to discuss the final scene of the episode. As Dexter and Harrison temporarily hang their hats at Angela’s home, the police chief discovers a letter addressed to her in her mailbox outside. In it, she discovers a note which reveals that Jim Lindsay had killed Matt Caldwell, and the titanium nail from his leg, the very same one Kurt discovered after Matt’s remains had been burned in an incinerator. Much like Arthur Mitchell’s Trinity Killer, the only thing worthy of redeeming Kurt’s villain is his ability to best Dexter after death. It’s plausible that Kurt’s central role in the series was in fact destined for this very moment, the man to bring an end to Dexter Morgan’s reign after years of keeping undetected. 

The titanium nail could be, pardon the pun, the final nail in Dexter’s coffin, and bring everything crashing down around him. “The Family Business” is a Dexter episode for the ages, packed with revelations and the show’s signature dark humour, compelling character developments, and one absolutely sensational cliffhanger. This is killer television at its best. What do you think of Dexter: New Blood? Give us your thoughts in the comment section below!

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

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