The Dexter: New Blood Premiere Makes Its Case for Redemption

“Cold Snap”

Dexter gets out of his truck in Dexter: New Blood
Image courtesy of Showtime

This article contains major spoilers for Dexter: New Blood Episode 1, “Cold Snap”

I really missed the closing theme from Dexter. It struck me as I sat down to watch the first episode of Dexter: New Blood  that I really wanted to hear that theme close the show. Not because I was longing for nostalgia because I wasn’t, but rather because that theme symbolized to me what the show was all about. It conjures feelings of tragedy, of pain and loss, feelings of fear and unrest. All of the things that made Dexter great before the wheels fell off.

I headed into this first episode of this new saga hopeful but not exactly optimistic. Like so many others, I adored the first four seasons of the original series. I would venture to say that it was some of the best television of the last 20 years, which is saying a lot when you consider how much great television there’s been in that time span. The second half of Dexter, Seasons 5-8, never came anywhere close to the highs of the first half of the series. And don’t even get me started on that final episode. But in the day and age of reboots and remakes, Miami’s favorite fictional serial killer was also getting a second chance. If you haven’t seen the premiere episode for Dexter: New Blood yet, I’ll say this: Watch it. It’s definitely worth watching. If you have seen it, let’s get into the episode. Heavy spoilers from here on out.

A Man & His Rituals

Its been almost 10 years since we last saw Dexter Morgan, as we’re told a few times in the episode. We start our return into Dexter’s world with a scene of him running in the snow, rifle in hand. Dexter is a hunter and fisherman we see early on, ice fishing and chasing a large white buck in the woods. Dexter gets up close to the buck, prepares to shoot and stops himself. Little do we know then that Dexter repeats this exact same ritual daily, as part of his regime to no longer give into his dark passenger and need to kill.

Within the first two minutes of Dexter: New Blood, we see the deceased Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), filling the role that Harry previously had. She’s the voice from the beyond speaking to Dexter, acting as a conscience of sorts. Deb’s purpose seems to be keep Dexter focused on his routines to keep him from killing again.

Dexter and Deb speaking in Dexter: New Blood
(L-R): Michael C. Hall as Dexter and Jennifer Carpenter as Deb in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD, “Cold Snap”. Photo Credit: Seacia Pavao/SHOWTIME.

Dexter’s living a new life as Jim Lindsay. Jim appears to be beloved by all in the small northeastern town he lives in. We see him engage with people on the street, doing favors for people and being a genuine part of people’s lives. He seems to be much more integrated into the world around him than when we previously left him, all part of his new routines and rituals designed to keep his dark urges at bay.

This Feels Different

The first half of “Cold Snap” spent a lot of time speaking to our subconscious. The use of disco era music when Dexter / Jim went line dancing (yes line dancing), seeing Dexter seem to enjoy listening to Blue Oyster Cult’s “Burning for You” on the radio while he drove and a deliberate effort to fill the first 30 minutes of the episode with uncharacteristic for Dexter music created an atmosphere completely unlike what we’ve come to know from the series before. We were being told that this series was different and to put our hard feelings from the past aside. A lot has changed in ten years time.

In many ways, the first half of the episode felt more like the beginning of a film than it did an episode of television. Lots of establishing shots, frequent use of music and a drawn out introduction to the world we were now in, where small town snow replaced fast paced and sunny Miami, were carefully weaved in to act as palette cleansers of sorts. This is a new show, with new issues and faces, centered around a character who has changed a lot since we last saw him.

The Life of Jim

We learned early on in “Cold Snap” that Dexter is in a relationship with Angela, the town’s Sheriff. This in effect combined two hallmarks of the Clyde Phillips era of being Dexter’s showrunner: having Dexter try to maintain a romantic relationship and also, being dangerously close to law enforcement. This danger of being so close to law enforcement resulted in much of the show’s tension before, primarily with Doakes in the first few seasons. Now in Dexter: New Blood, we get a new spin on an old story.

This is a small town, where animals entering farms they aren’t supposed to be on is the type of crime Angela has to deal with, but we also learn that there’s a series of missing women. No bodies, just missing. Dexter seeing these photos triggered him but he was able to regroup well. It was proof that he’s committed to this new way of life and his new “code”, to adhere to his routines and rituals to refrain from killing.

Dexter chopping wood
Image courtesy of Showtime

But it would not be Dexter if a villain weren’t introduced early on. Would it be the hooded figure following Dexter around, or would it be Matt, the gun obsessed rich boy who felt he was above the law? Matt came into the guns and ammo store Dexter worked at and attempted to buy a $9,000 automatic weapon. His background check was flagged and Dexter refused to bend the rules, despite Matt’s social stature. We would again see Matt at the bar where Dexter, Angela and many other townsfolk were line dancing and it became increasingly obvious that Matt was triggering Dexter. Dexter knew he was a problem but he didn’t want to know why. He wanted to avoid.

Of course, that wouldn’t be an option for much longer. The background check cleared and Dexter’s boss insisted that he deliver the expensive weapon to Matt’s home, which happened to be the location of a large, drug fueled party. It was here that Dexter learned that Matt was responsible for the death of five people several years ago, in a boating accident where Matt had “played chicken” with another boat and then purposely hit them when they tried to back down, resulting in five deaths. And ultimately, Matt’s father paid off his friend Bill to provide an alibi to keep his son out of prison. Despite this information learned, Dexter still left, still committed to his new way of living.


The ghost of Deb told Dexter he was being paranoid about the hooded figure following him around but his instincts were right. Dexter came home one night to see someone inside his home. He snuck up on the hooded figure, who identified himself as Harrison, Dexter’s now teenaged son. Deb appeared, reminding Dexter that everyone close to him dies and telling me to send the boy away.

This was a tough scene to watch. It never sat well with me that Dexter sent his son away in the finale. It seemed to go against what the character was doing. To see him do it again, denying his identity and telling Harrison where to catch a bus, really didn’t sit well with me. Is Deb serving as some sort of defense mechanism to shield him from feelings that would make him self destruct? Is he in so deep with his new persona as Jim that he’s not capable of doing anything outside of his routine? After he got Harrison to leave, Dexter burned a picture of him holding his son when he was perhaps two or three years old and it felt like a gut punch.

A Man & His Rituals Part 2

The next day, we again watched Dexter go through his morning rituals. He got set up in his ice fishing hole. He ran through the woods, rifle in hand, chasing the same white buck. He got close, aimed for a shot he wouldn’t take and lowered the rifle. Only this time, he slowly approached the buck, who let Dexter get close. They seemed to be bonding in a sense, communicating with their eyes. Dexter stuck out his hand when the shots were fired.

Matt, the entitled rich boy, shot and killed the beautiful white buck with an assault weapon. He came dangerously close to killing Dexter. As he approached Dexter and admired his kill, Dexter snapped, hitting Matt with the butt of his rifle, the way he had dreamed of doing earlier. In an instant, he was committing to killing for the first time in 10 years.

We watched Dexter create a makeshift kill room. He used objects around him to best recreate his rituals of years past. He smashed glass so he could get a blood slide, before declaring that he didn’t need trophies anymore. As Dexter prepared to kill this man, it was painfully clear that Matt wasn’t dying because of the people he had killed in years past. He wasn’t dying for almost shooting Dexter. He wasn’t dying because Dexter wanted to kill again. He was dying because he killed the deer, who was at the center of Dexter’s ritual. The ritual that ended every day with Dexter not killing. His daily regime to keep his dark passenger tucked away was ruined and that deer’s death opened a locked door for which there would be many repercussions. Dexter is a man of ritual and Matt died for ending Dexter’s ritual.

The first episode of Dexter: New Blood ended with Dexter cleaning up the body and mess and then getting in his truck. He pulled up at the bus station and found Harrison, telling him that he is indeed Dexter Morgan and asked him to come home with him. Dexter’s voiceover said that Harry took him in, raised him, protected him and taught him how to live and now, he was going to do the same for his son.

Dexter and Harrison reunited in Dexter
Image courtesy of Showtime

As the credits played, the familiar closing theme played. I had a lot of those same feelings that I did in the best years of Dexter. The groundwork was laid for a lot of interesting possibilities and fresh story to tell. There was a tragic feeling that washed over me, knowing that Dexter had spent a decade working to keep his monster down, but he’s such a damaged individual that it didn’t take much to undo it all. And as for his son, also “born in blood”, the same as his father, the writing on the wall seems clear that he’s going to be on a path similar to his father’s. Dexter: New Blood appears to have a very literal meaning.

Written by Andrew Grevas

Andrew is the Founder / Editor in Chief of 25YL. He’s engaged with 2 sons, a staunch defender of the series finales for both Lost & The Sopranos and watched Twin Peaks at the age of 5 during its original run, which explains a lot about his personality.

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