Spoilers ahead as we discuss the “Dexter: New Blood” finale as the Showtime limited series comes to an end….
SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE ‘DEXTER: NEW BLOOD’ FINALE
It’s been nearly nine years since “Dexter” finished its eight season run on Showtime and there’s rarely a time when the best and worst series finales are discussed that this show doesn’t make an appearance.
Unfortunately for such an iconic character as Dexter Morgan on a show that was largely a pop culture phenomenon for several years, the series ending was a critical disaster.
Thankfully, “Dexter: New Blood” was not only a resurrection for the character but the series finale gave longtime fans a flawless conclusion.
For those short on memory or perhaps forgotten out of sheer anger about how “Dexter” ended — the original series came to a close after Deb Morgan was killed and her brother Dexter took her body before driving his boat head first into a hurricane that was on its way to hit Miami. Then in a final scene, Dexter reappears alive and well and working as a lumberjack in some random forest after he obviously survived the hurricane.
The finale was slammed by fans and critics alike because not only did Dexter Morgan seemingly get away with all of his crimes but sticking him in some nondescript forest where he would supposedly live out the rest of his days as a lumberjack was just mind-numbing and to be brutally honest, it was rather stupid.
Fast forward to 2019, original “Dexter” showrunner Clyde Phillips — who left the series after season 4, which was arguably the best of the entire run — was approached by Showtime about reviving the characters and reprising his role in the show. Phillips got excited about the chance to not only return to the show he helped create but also the opportunity to re-do that finale, which he had nothing to do with yet he understood just how much people really seemed to hate it.
Phillips then asked series star Michael C. Hall if he’d be interested in returning but only after he explained his idea for how the show would end this time around. Hall instantly said he was ready to return and with that “Dexter: New Blood” was underway.
But how exactly did the series end and why was it so much better than the original?
“Dexter: New Blood” spent an entire season showing how Dexter Morgan had restarted his life in a small upstate community in New York called Iron Lake where he was working as a sales clerk at a local gun and outdoor shop while also dating the local police chief. He had found away to keep his Dark Passenger tucked away but Dexter’s urge to kill eventually came back to the surface after he encountered a man named Matt Caldwell — an over privileged spoiled rich kid, who never had to take responsibility for anything he’d ever done wrong in his life.
That all changed after he encountered Dexter but Matt’s murder then set off a chain of events that put the former forensic blood splatter analyst in a direct path of the boy’s father — a local businessman named Kurt Caldwell, who was actually quite a prolific serial killer in his own right. To make matters even more difficult, Dexter was visited by his son Harrison, who had returned to find him after his stepmother Hannah had died from cancer.
Dexter then spent the majority of the season trying to play father to his son while also attempting to cover up his own murder and find out Kurt Caldwell’s true nature. Eventually, Dexter discovered that his son Harrison has his own Dark Passenger and together they started to explore that so he could help curb those deadly urges the same way his own adopted father Harry had done for him.
Dexter and Harrison discovered Kurt’s many murders and finally made him pay with a knife through the chest before disposing of the body. Sadly for Dexter, he was unaware that his girlfriend Angela was getting closer and closer to discovering that her boyfriend was not actually a guy named Jim Lindsay but in fact he was a supposedly dead forensic expert named Dexter Morgan with a body count around him that never added up right — at least to those who previously suspected him.
Angela’s research finally led her to conclude that Dexter killed Matt Caldwell and through additional cases, she began to believe that he might actually be the infamous Bay Harbor Butcher. That’s when Angela places a call to Angel Bautista — Dexter’s former friend and colleague, who she met at a police conference earlier in the season.
After revealing that Dexter was alive and well, Bautista books the first flight to New York in order to be reunited with his old friend while also investigating his hunch that perhaps his ex-wife Maria LaGuerta died by his hands. But Bautista never got that reunion because Dexter ended up escaping police custody by killing an innocent cop and then attempting to swoop up his son so they could both get away.
That’s when Dexter’s luck finally ran out.
After revealing that he killed the police officer named Logan, who was also his son’s wrestling coach and by all accounts just a really good guy all around, Harrison can’t help but question if his father was actually a righteous vigilante or perhaps really just a serial killer hiding behind an icy gaze.
Harrison began to realize that his father was justifying his own actions to remain free rather than face the consequences of all the innocent people that died by his hands. Dexter then flashes to all those people — James Doakes, Maria LaGuerta, his sister Deb and his wife Rita — who only died because they happened to encounter him.
Dexter tells his son that it has to end now and he gives Harrison permission to shoot him dead right then and there because it’s the only way either of them will escape this situation. Dexter knows it’s finally time that he pay for his numerous crimes and Harrison will never have any sense of a normal life with his father still alive.
So with a single shot from a rifle, Harrison kills his father Dexter Morgan.
As Dexter bleeds out on the ground, Angela arrives and actually covers for Harrison, handing him some money and telling him to hit the road and never come back to Iron Lake. She then calls in an officer involved shooting as Angela takes responsibility for killing Dexter and ending his reign of terror.
Dexter Morgan is dead and there’s no coming back from that.
“I have three words for you: Dexter is dead,” Phillips told Deadline when asked to verify that the character truly met his demise. “I wouldn’t do that to the audience. It would be dishonest. Here, there is no question that this is the finale of Dexter. Dexter is dead.”
“Dexter: New Blood” was everything that the original series ending wasn’t — not only because there was an actual conclusion this time around rather than an odd open ended mystery about what happened next but also because as beloved as Dexter Morgan might have been as a character, he eventually had to pay for all that he had done.
Yes, Dexter killed a lot of truly awful criminals — some of whom would have skated away after the law failed to stop them — that that still didn’t give him the right to act as judge, jury and executioner. Even if you justify the murders of all the criminals, Dexter still managed to kill an honorable cop like Doakes and then frame him as the Bay Harbor Butcher.
Dexter got involved with Rita to help his cover and protect him from being discovered as a serial killer but that relationship eventually spiraled into a family where they had a child. Then Dexter managed to get close to the Trinity Killer, who eventually murdered Rita thus orphaning her two other children while Harrison was found in a pool of his mother’s blood after her death.
There’s a long list of ways that Dexter fucked up his sister Deb’s life over the years and she also died in the wake of her murderous brother’s survival.
The point being, Dexter was already living well past his expiration date and he finally figured out that his continued existence would only serve to damage Harrison — perhaps to the point where his son truly discovered his own Dark Passenger and started the deadly cycle over again.
According to Hall, he was completely satisfied with the way Dexter’s life ended and that was actually a huge part of the way the series was pitched to him in the first place.
“The way the season concludes is one that resonates with me,” Hall told the LA Times. “It feels justifiable. As upsetting as it may be, I hope audiences will appreciate the resonance of Dexter dying this way at the hands of his son.
“People moaned about an ending that was admittedly open-ended and without any sense of closure. I guess you have to be careful what you wish for.”
Now, Dexter Morgan is dead, Harrison is free to start a new life away from his father and the series has closure that the original ending failed to provide.
Of course, Phillips has said that he might be interested in continuing the story from Harrison’s perspective to see where he goes next and “Dexter: New Blood” was a smash hit for Showtime so it’s entirely possible that the network will want more of these characters in the future.
At least this time around, Dexter’s run has come to a fitting end and that’s a finale for the ages.