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Dexter: New Blood First Reviews: Michael C. Hall's Return to Killer Role Is 'Riveting,' Critics Say

The sequel is a must-see for enthusiastic fans of the original series, but nearly a decade after that disappointing lumberjack ending, the return to serial killer Dexter Morgan's twisted justice still may be a hard sell for disgruntled former viewers.

by | November 3, 2021 | Comments

When Dexter first premiered on Showtime back in 2006, TV’s anti-hero trend had yet to achieve its final form. The series, which was based on Jeff Lindsay’s book Darkly Dreaming Dexter, followed charismatic sociopath Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), who struggled daily with keeping his murderous urges at bay. To quell his serial killer needs (his “Dark Passenger,” for those in the know), Dexter followed a strict code and focused his blood lust solely on society’s worst, and given the fact that he worked as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department, he had unfettered access to the criminals he found worthy of his blade.

After eight seasons, Dexter‘s story came to a close in a much-maligned finale that left fans overly disappointed. Nearly a decade after Dexter drove his boat into the eye of a hurricane to fake his own death and escape the repercussions of his crimes, only to live out the rest of his life in a sort-of lumberjack-themed exile, Showtime decided to get the band back together. What’s Dexter Morgan been up to all this time? That’s the question Dexter: New Blood aims to answer.


Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD

(Photo by Seacia Pavao/Showtime)

Jennifer Carpenter reprises her role as Dexter’s sister Deb in the sequel series and showrunner Clyde Phillips, who oversaw the first four seasons of the original, is back behind the camera. Joining them is a new supporting cast, including Julia Jones as Police Chief Angela Bishop, Alano Miller as Logan, Jack Alcott as Harrison, Clancy Brown as Kurt Caldwell, and Johnny Sequoyah as Audrey.

With the new series premiering on Sunday on Showtime, you have to wonder, after all this time, is Dexter Morgan’s return to television a worthwhile watch? Here’s what critics are saying about Dexter: New Blood:


HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THE ORIGINAL SERIES?

Michael C. Hall in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD

(Photo by Showtime)

Click to open full-sized poster in a new tab.

​​ Aside from the frostbitten location, complete with crunching snow and icy breath, also comes the ditching of the famed opening credits, the Dexter narration, and a few other hallmarks of the original run. That’s not to say these things can’t return (and be meaningful when they do) but New Blood is out to deliver a mix of old and fresh, and it lands really well here at the start.
– Matt Fowler, IGN

The episodes sent to critics are full of dark — borderline campy — humor and some truly compelling human drama. The vibe of Iron Lake is Twin Peaks–light. The needle drops are cheeky. The tone of the mystery closer to Hulu’s recent hit Only Murders in the Building than, say, Mare of Easttown. (There’s even a murder-mystery podcaster element!) Most importantly, Dexter: New Blood tackles Dexter’s own unfinished business.-  Meghan O’Keefe, Decider

The revival wrestles with some of the same problems that plagued the original, from a penchant for toothless “will Dexter get caught?” fakeouts, to lazy logistical cheats (go ahead and stroll right into that crime scene, Dexter, even though you now work in retail). There’s a decided and familiar lack of subtlety, too. The opening sequence is set to Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” an on-the-nose reference to Dexter’s so-called “dark passenger,” and the writing has its share of groaners. – Kristen Baldwin, EW

Based on four episodes, it can be said that Dexter: New Blood is neither as bad as seasons six through eight nor as good as seasons one through four. It’s a story about a man trying to move on and find a place in a new world, frustratingly told within a show that seems determined to pretend that nothing in the television landscape has changed at all.- Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

What makes “Dexter: New Blood” intriguing — aside from Hall, who somehow manages to work his face into an expression that is just short of a smirk that is exactly what this character needs — is Dexter’s knowledge of his past and his attempt to distance himself from it, spiked with the knowledge that the world is full of bad people who might fit Dexter’s bill.-  Bill Goodykoontz, AZ Central


WHAT ARE THE BIG THEMES THIS SEASON?

Jack Alcott as Harrison in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD,

(Photo by Seacia Pavao/Showtime)

Like Dexter being lured back to his dark passenger, there are temptations. The father/son story shows an interest in exploring Dexter’s natural vs. learned duality with an earnestness not glimpsed since the first few seasons. Could Harrison hold the answers Dexter has been searching for all his life? Can he save his son and, in turn, himself? –  Ben Travers, IndieWire

The first two episodes set up an uneasy tension between the haves and have-nots of Iron Lake, and Angela is continually fighting for resources to investigate why women around town — including some from the nearby Seneca reservation — keep disappearing. –  Kristen Baldwin, EW

Then there’s the unexpected arrival of long-absent son Harrison (Jack Alcott), who prompts a paternal crisis about nature, nurture and the inheritability of that Dark Passenger. Knowing what we know about Dexter, it’s charming to watch Hall’s version of insecure fatherhood, though any sense of freshness requires that you forget Dexter spent multiple seasons obsessing about how much of his legacy he was passing on to his son. – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Setting it in a community near a Seneca reservation and prominently featuring Native and Indigenous talent allows it to discuss plights against those communities as well as the disrespect they are often given by outsiders.- Whitney Friedlander, Paste Magazine


HOW IS MICHAEL C. HALL’S PERFORMANCE?

Michael C. Hall in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD

(Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/Showtime)

Hall remains a talented two-face, able to convey a separation from other human beings even when Dexter’s “pretending” to enjoy their company, just as he’s capable of twisting his character from a man crushed by his own urges to a monster who’s only alive when he succumbs to them. –  Ben Travers, IndieWire

Hall, as the ultimate good bad guy, is as riveting to watch as ever. From the jump, we’re rooting hard for him to maintain this beautiful new life he’s built, and, because he’s so appealing, hoping he’ll get away with his crimes. –  Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, The Wrap

Michael C. Hall slips effortlessly back into his old sociopath role as time away, and change of scenery, has done wonders to revitalize this once-omnipresent pop culture icon. – Matt Fowler, IGN

Hall’s charming charisma, voice tone, and presence are always a joy to watch. – Jason Escamilla, EskimoTV


WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE CAST?

Dexter: New Blood cast

(Photo by Kurt Iswarienko/Showtime)

Deb, man, she is a necessity. And the way that she appears, very early (and regularly) in this revival, is perfect. She might very well prove to be the lynchpin before all is said and done. – Kimberly Ricci, UPROXX

Carpenter unsurprisingly brings a strong, bold, and relentless performance that is fun to watch. The way she clearly articulates the frustrations Dexter thinks she would have is tremendously satisfying. – Jason Escamilla, EskimoTV

Angela seems less inept than most of the old detective unit at Miami Metro, Clancy Brown makes his usual strong impression as a local businessman with a mysterious agenda, and the townsfolk as a whole feel believable, if not that exciting. – Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

Newcomer Alcott brings a melancholy allure to Harrison, a self-sufficient outsider who both resents Dexter for abandoning him and longs for his love and approval. –  Kristen Baldwin, EW


ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?

Michael C. Hall in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD

(Photo by Seacia Pavao/Showtime)

Actually, there’s plenty to love here, but I get it if you feel reluctant to let go of finale resentment. I felt the same way, but I would encourage O.G. Dexter fans to not be afraid of being excited about this revival. Clyde Phillips and Michael C. Hall (along with everyone involved) did not go into this endeavor lightly. They know their butts are on the line if they pull another lumberjack affair, and from what I’ve seen so far, they’re committed to making things right, all while putting the leading man on the hot seat, as he very well should be. – Kimberly Ricci, UPROXX

Dexter’s new adventures are a bit more crisply-told than when last we saw him, but he still feels all used up. – Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone

We may not mind if Dexter keeps killing, and will likely keep rooting for him no matter what he does. But it would be nice to get some answers this time. –  Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, The Wrap

Compared with where we left him, Dexter is back on firmer footing. It remains to be seen whether New Blood will steer the franchise to a better resting place or into another hurricane of disappointment. – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Dexter: New Blood is not trying to revolutionize the art form, nor does it. The limited series is instead circling back to a beloved TV character to give him — and fans — a proper send off. In that, Dexter: New Blood is a triumph. It’s a pulpy, witty, bloody fun time. –  Meghan O’Keefe, Decider


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