Roush Review: ‘New Blood’ Breathes New Life Into ‘Dexter’

Dexter: New Blood
Seacia Pavao/SHOWTIME.

Everyone deserves a second chance to make a good final impression.

That’s especially true for Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), TV’s most sympathetic serial killer—he only exterminates bad guys—last seen in 2013 faking his death and living as an Oregon lumberjack. Few fans were satisfied by Dexter’s ending, so I’m betting his legions of bloodthirsty followers will eagerly embrace Showtime‘s Dexter: New Blood, which as inevitable reboots go is a mostly clever and suspensefully compelling resurrection of one of the greatest and grisliest antiheroes of all time.

First rule: Call him Jim, as in Lindsay (an homage to Dexter book author Jeff Lindsay). Jim is everybody’s affable best friend in the Upstate New York community of Iron Lake, with its abundant wildlife and a large indigenous population. This is where he’s reinvented himself, keeping a low profile while bringing donuts and good cheer to work at a fish-and-game weapons store. Naturally.

Sight gags involving sharp blades and foreshadowing gore enliven the opener, where we learn that the former blood-spatter analyst from Miami is once again on very good terms with local law enforcement. To his credit, Dexter/Jim has gone nearly a decade without succumbing to his darker impulses, thanks to the nagging spiritual intervention of his dead sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter, as raucously profane as ever), replacing his mentor and father figure Harry as his cautionary conscience.

Michael C. Hall as Dexter and Jenifer Carpenter as Deb in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD

Seacia Pavao/SHOWTIME

Such equilibrium can’t last forever, of course, or there’d be no show. He soon discovers — and so do we (but for now it’s a spoiler) — that there’s no escaping some loose ends of his complicated past, which develops into what in the first four episodes is the least satisfying of several subplots. And while Jimbo tells an obnoxious customer, “I kind of have a thing about blood,” by the end of the first hour, the Dexter we know and love to fear is back in business, seeing himself as an “evolving monster.” Old habits die hard, and so do creeps who cross Dexter Morgan.

And just like in the good old bad old days, Jim’s inner Dexter scrambles to cover up his actions, only this time the crime scene is frozen tundra and there are no alligators to dispose of the evidence. Deb won’t be pleased, but for the rest of us? Nirvana.

Dexter: New Blood, Season Premiere, Sunday, November 7, 9/8c, Showtime