How Dexter New Blood Looks Different From the Original Series - VRGyani News and Media

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

How Dexter New Blood Looks Different From the Original Series

When fans of Showtime’s Dexter last saw the titular forensic blood spatter analyst/vigilante serial killer Dexter Morgan, he was living off the grid as a lumberjack in Oregon, far away from his family and Miami roots. It was a depressing ending for a show and character that was fond of black humor. And for a time, it seemed like the only ending the character would receive.

When it was announced in late 2020 that the show would be returning as a 10-episode limited series set 10 years after the 2013 finale, fans began to speculate about the revival’s plot. Now that we’re approaching the revival’s fall 2021 premiere, its promotional materials are hinting at a drastically different iteration of Dexter than we’ve seen before. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

RELATED: 'Dexter: New Blood' Set Image Reveals First Look at a Grown-Up Harrison

The initial trailer showed that things are definitely not what we’re used to seeing in the Dexter-verse. Gone is the Miami setting, with its vibrant colors, tropical crime scene locations, beachside bars, and yes, Dexter’s signature short-sleeved Oxford shirts. As returning showrunner Clyde Phillips told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, “the moment the first frame comes up, you can see we’re in a whole new world… This is a completely, wholly new environment.” While Dexter devotees might have grown accustomed to the same stylistic flourishes and setting year after year, these bold changes to Dexter’s “house style” actually give the show a chance it never had before: to break free from the confines of its previous iteration and transform itself (and the character of Dexter Morgan himself) into something new and fresh. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the revival is subtitled New Blood.

The revival omits familiar elements in favor of a chillier season, both in climate and visuals, taking place in the fictional small town of Iron Lake, New York. There are snow-covered landscapes, darker colors of muted greens and blues, and scenes set in vast forests that convey a deep sense of isolation. The frigid visuals seem to seep their way into viewers’ bones. The trailer depicts scenes where sunlight has been omitted in favor of cloudy skies and faces and locations draped in murky shadow, giving the show a more somber and suffocating atmosphere. It’s almost as if, through this new visual language, the show is letting us know that it’s only a matter of time before Dexter is swallowed whole by this new town and his new life comes crashing down, even if Dexter himself is not yet aware.

Despite the return of Dexter’s dark humor, as seen in the trailer (“Easy there,” Dexter says with a knowing smile as he recoils from someone waving a knife in a sporting goods store. “I kind of have a thing about blood”), these new stylistic flourishes and changes give the impression that both viewers and Dexter himself have greater reason to be on edge. In the original series, Dexter faced constant risks of his Dark Passenger being revealed to those closest to him; here, the sense of risk is further heightened given that Dexter, according to Phillips, “has no connection to his previous life,” including any friends or family who might have been able to help him keep his Dark Passenger in check. His son, Harrison, is removed from his life, his girlfriend, Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), is out of the picture, and his sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), is dead. Although Deb will appear in the revival in some fashion and could possibly provide her brother with sisterly love and advice through dreams, visions, or hallucinations, any help in physically covering Dexter’s tracks that she might have been able to provide ten years ago is off the table. For the first time since we’ve last seen him, Dexter appears to be fully on his own in terms of hiding his secret life and covering his bloody tracks.

This is especially evident in the new setting. Among the 400,000 people of Miami, Dexter had a little more breathing room to hunt, kill, and hide. But in the small, woodsy town of Iron Lake, it stands to reason that Dexter, by necessity, has to be more careful with his eventual kills. A small-town setting offers less protection, fewer places to hide, and a greater risk of someone discovering that Dexter is not who he claims to be. Furthermore, with a handful of new characters added to the mix such as Jamie Chung (Lovecraft Country) as true crime podcaster Angela, and Julia Jones (Wind River) as the town’s chief of police and Dexter’s girlfriend, Dexter seems to be dancing on the edge of danger and complacency more than ever.

Narratively speaking, watching Dexter breaking laws while simultaneously engaging in a romantic relationship with someone who enforces them promises a much richer viewing experience for the audience, while also making it a more dangerous experience for Dexter. While Dexter’s profession as a blood-spatter analyst with the Miami police department put him in close quarters with law enforcement, Dexter was always able to leave work and return to his own space without the fear of rousing his co-workers’ suspicions or attracting unwanted attention from his police captain, Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez). His home was private, a place where Dexter could truly be himself without worrying about his Normal Human Being mask slipping and revealing his darker instincts and true, murderous nature. However, he no longer has that separation of work and home — by his own choice — as he allows Angela to get closer than Maria. But if Angela is beginning to share time and space with Dexter, it’s only a matter of time before she starts to probe deeper into Dexter’s mind (and finds something off), forcing Dexter to go into mental overdrive to keep his true self concealed. It raises the question of how long he can keep it up. He’s been a killer since his adolescence, and now that 10 years have passed since we’ve last seen him, it also means he’s had 10 extra years of the pressures of burying his truth from society. It’s a continuously inflating balloon, and it’s only a matter of time before it pops.

In this way, New Blood offers up a tantalizing concept in the increasingly precarious house of cards that Dexter has constructed for himself. In the previous series, Dexter was just… Dexter. But now, there are past sins to conceal along with a new name and completely different identity. Whereas Dexter once had a second life moonlighting as a serial killer, the life of Dexter during the 10 years since is a complete lie and total fabrication. The question of if (when?) it all comes crashing down adds another layer of dramatic tension to the series and also gives its main character added depth. Dexter has always been someone that makes it difficult for the audience to root for. He’s charming and uses humor to deflect others’ attention off him and away from his true dark nature, but he’s also a murderer who has managed to lie, deceive, and hurt every morally “good” character who has dared to place their trust in him. But now that Dexter has buried his old life and built an entirely new one (on lies), the show is asking us to once again question our allegiance with him. Can he really change? And if not, how much slack are we willing to give someone who continues to begin new loves and friendships with lies — and murder? It’s a question posed during the earlier seasons that now seems to be reaching a tipping point.

New Blood offers the unique opportunity to answer this question. As Dexter conforms to life in Iron Lake by adopting the alias Jim Lindsay, working in a sporting goods store, and befriending local high school students (what could possibly go wrong?), he hides his past from his new acquaintances. Unlike the residents of Iron Lake, though, we do know about Dexter’s past life, his Dark Passenger, and how each time he is given the opportunity to build meaningful, real, honest relationships with people, he consistently chooses the same path of lies and deception. In a way, it can be viewed as an act of self-preservation; Dexter utilizing an instinctive, almost animalistic sense to protect himself from the judgment of others while ensuring that he is able to continue scratching the itch inside his brain that can only be relieved by killing. But in doing so, he’s also risking, yet again, the audience’s sympathy and willingness to continue to give him the benefit of the doubt because of his traumatic childhood and the amount of loss he has endured (much of which, admittedly, was caused by Dexter himself). He couldn’t live a normal life in Miami amongst thousands, and if he proves he is as unsuccessful in the much smaller and more rural town of Iron Lake, the show might be communicating that this is Dexter’s last stand.

New Blood and Dexter’s self-exile and relocation to Iron Lake feels like a new (and maybe final) chance for Dexter to make a normal life for himself (but do we really expect him to successfully resist the pull of his Dark Passenger?) and for him to prove to the audience that he’s changed. Because if he hasn’t, if he continues to lie and misguide and hide such a significant part of his life and self away from those closest to him, the show seems poised to do something interesting in showing that just because Dexter Morgan is the show’s titular character, he might be undeserving of our desire for his happiness and continued hopes that he finally manages to see the errors of his ways. If he is unable to face the uncomfortable truths that may come from the people closest to him discovering his true nature, he just might have blown his last chance at getting anyone — characters or the audience — on his side.

By setting the series 10 years after the much-maligned finale, Phillips and star/executive producer Michael C. Hall are effectively giving the show a fresh start and, in doing so, permission to break free from the oft-tread storytelling elements that it had fallen into during its latter, formulaic seasons. Now, instead of following its tired “Big Bad of the season” scenario, or playing out the tired question of whether or not Dexter’s sister will finally discover his murderous tendencies, Hall and Phillips have freed themselves up to address and answer much more interesting questions: Has Dexter managed to tame his Dark Passenger? Can he really start fresh somewhere new despite his new life in New York being built entirely on lies? Does time really make you forget your trauma — and the bodies you’ve hidden? After all, just because Dexter has left Miami behind doesn’t necessarily mean that his family, emotional baggage, and crimes will not find him. Changing settings and decades allows enough years and miles to pass to allow bigger dramatic questions — and, hopefully, bigger dramatic payoffs — than in its latter seasons.

The changes on the horizon with New Blood also give the show a chance to right some of the wrongs of its final season, especially its controversial series finale. After spending eight seasons with the same characters, fans expected some sense of emotional and narrative closure. But instead of closure with Dexter mourning over Deb’s death or having to part from Hannah, there was a mad sprint to the finish line as Dexter quickly eluded and eliminated the numerous enemies he had racked up during the season, instead of carefully plotting an ending with real emotional resonance. Fans were left with the camera pulling back from Dexter, alone and silent. A limited 10 episode order gives New Blood both the chance at more focused storytelling and at giving Dexter the final word in his own story.

With its new style, tone, and fresh plot, there’s plenty of new elements in Dexter: New Blood to distinguish itself from its previous iteration. The bold shift away from its house style and stale procedural elements gives the show a rare second chance to up the ante in terms of stakes and dramatic questions, and give legions of dearly devoted Dexterites the ending they had hoped for nearly ten years ago. As Phillips said during the show’s [email protected] panel, “The ending of this one will be stunning, shocking, surprising, unexpected, and without jinxing anything, I will say that the ending of this new season that we’re doing will blow up the Internet.” The details of the shocks and surprises in question remain to be seen. But until then, fans will be left guessing about what, ahem, sticky situations TV’s favorite serial killer will find himself in next.

Dexter: New Blood will premiere on November 7th, 2021 on Showtime.

KEEP READING: Michael C. Hall on ‘John and the Hole’ and How the New Season of ‘Dexter’ Is "Starkly Different"



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