If the opening episode of Dexter: New Blood lacked the humor of the original series, “Storm of Fuck” makes up for it immediately with some awkward tension between Dexter and Harrison, as our sociopathic hero attempts to bond with the son he hasn’t seen for nearly 10 years.
Dexter, who isn’t eager to explain why he left, learns that Hannah — his love interest in the final seasons of the original series — died sometime after season 8. Hannah got a mixed reception from fans at the time, some of whom made her a scapegoat for the show’s downturn in quality. While she was often poorly written, it would have been interesting to see what original showrunner Clyde Phillips could have done with her character on New Blood. Still, her absence is probably wise since the show is looking to move away from the troubled final seasons, instead making Harrison the way Dexter’s past life comes back to haunt him.
Alongside the return of the dark comedy, we also get the return of foul-mouthed Debra after she played a more subdued role as Dexter’s conscience in “Cold Snap.” Here she is furious at her brother for taking in Harrison and putting him in danger, or rather, Dexter is mad at himself. However, Dexter soon discovers his son is more like him than he thought, expertly covering for his dad with Angela. It shouldn’t escape anyone’s attention that the title of the show, “New Blood,” is a pun that refers to Harrison. Will he become like his father?
The relationship between Harrison and Dexter is almost symbolic of the show itself. Dexter is desperate to right the wrongs he committed when he abandoned his son, and New Blood is desperate to right the wrongs of a series finale that is often cited as one of the worst ends to a show in TV history. The show will explore whether Harrison must follow in his father’s footsteps, and whether it can leave fans with a better impression than the last time it ended.
However, it isn’t Harrison’s mistakes that should worry Dexter, but rather his own. He manages to cover the blood trail at his cabin before the police arrive en masse, but for a moment it looks like modern technology may be his downfall as police deploy a drone to search for Matt Caldwell, who Dexter butchered last week. This isn’t Miami, and Dexter has no access to police forensics to cover his tracks, which means that resuming his former life is a whole lot more dangerous.
After being teased by our seasonal “big bad” last week, we finally get to see him in action, watching Lily, the backpacker. Lily, it seems, has checked into a motel and, finding champagne and chocolates in her room, decides to drink and eat them. Of course she has been drugged and upon waking finds her phone gone and the door locked. Spotting the camera, Lily sees the words “you’re already dead” scrawled underneath. The show is building up nicely to the reveal of the killer.
Not the Dexter of old
Meanwhile, at the scene of the deer shooting, Dexter is desperately trying to remove the rest of Caudwell’s blood and knowingly enlists Harrison in his scheming. It looks like he’ll get away with it as he has so often before.
Here we get introduced to members of the Seneca Nation, as the deer was illegally shot on their land. A brief conversation at the crime scene reveals that the mysterious killer is evidently responsible for the disappearance of many native girls, which has drawn little police response; they’re busy investigating the vanishing of the obnoxious but wealthy Caudwell. Having touched on climate change with the character of Edward Olson, here Dexter taps into issue of unequal treatment by the police.
The show once again proves that it’s reading the headlines. Matt Caudwell’s boating “accident” was seemingly inspired by real-life events, and so too is the killer murdering Seneca girls; the crisis of murdered and missing Native American women made headline news very recently.
We don’t yet know how important Olson is to the plot. He had a bit of a menacing manner when meeting Angela, but not so much that we can assume the absolute worst. Still, he’s a prime suspect to be the serial killer.
Meanwhile, Audrey and her friends break into an abandoned summer camp with the help of Harrison; clearly the young man has some criminal ability, not to mention a former drug problem, or so he says. However, if they thought that Angela wouldn’t know, they’d be mistaken; Dexter points out that she’s one of the few actually talented cops we’ve ever seen on the show.
Dexter would be making a mistake in underestimating his girlfriend, or overestimating his own abilities years after his last kill. His smugness at getting one over on law enforcement was always a feature of the original show. But as he himself points out, he’s not the Dexter of old, and it won’t only be Angela he has to deal with.
As we close the episode, we meet Matt’s father Kurt Caudwell. While Dexter may not feel any remorse, viewers might feel a few pangs of regret after we wanted Dexter to return to his old ways. Kurt is seemingly a good and charitable man for whom the community has a great deal of respect. His presence also reinforces that Dexter is still an outsider in Iron Lake, with Kurt talking about how everyone looks out for each other and what the community means.
Promotional material for New Blood revealed that Kurt Caudwell will be the primary antagonist for the season. Most assumed that meant he would be a killer pitting his wits against Dexter’s. However, there’s no suggestion of that here, so he may be a heartbroken father determined to uncover what Dexter has done to his son. That could be a fresh creative avenue to take.
While the series opener “Cold Snap” was building toward the old Dexter returning, “Storm of Fuck” is classic Dexter in every way, hitting all the beats that fans know so well. The old themes of nurture vs. nature, the morality of the vigilante, and the question of what a monster truly is are all here. So too is the dark humor and Dexter’s efforts to appear as an ordinary family man all while keeping the worst possible secrets. Even Debra is again the profane woman we all loved.
Yet this is also a very modern Dexter. Gone are the “kill of the week” episodes, with the killing of Matt Caudwell and the mysterious serial killer being the threads that will run throughout the season. Just two episodes in, and it’s hard to remember a time that Dexter stalked the sunny streets of Miami, with his new home at Iron Lake feeling so natural that it seems like we’ve been here all along.