Dexter: New Blood review: Episode 108, “Unfair Game”

While Dexter is hunted in the woods, Harrison faces off with Kurt Caudwell in the latest episode of Dexter: New Blood. Things are getting tense.

As Dexter: New Blood barrels towards its conclusion, things are beginning to crash down around our antihero’s ears in episode 8, “Unfair Game.” While Dexter is hunted in the woods, his son Harrison in danger, and Angela proves once again she’s the best cop Dexter has ever met. Just how badly is the deck stacked against “Jim Lindsay”?

Much of “Unfair Game” centers on the game of cat and mouse between Dexter and Kurt Caudwell’s proxy, Elric Kane, who kidnapped him at the end of last week’s episode. The scenes in the woods are well done and show Dexter in a light that we’ve not often seen before: as prey. However, there is never any sense that Dexter won’t prevail, which lessens the tension. The hero never falls victim to a henchman, and Dexter does indeed get another kill.

Pressed for time, he leaves evidence all over the summer camp, including a corpse and knife with his fingerprints on it. While understandable, it’s inevitable that this will eventually come back to haunt him, underlining the idea that Harrison has made Dexter sloppy. It’s also odd that Dexter has to be told that Kurt and Harrison were at the abandoned cabin. It feels like a plot device that allows Dexter to ride in like the cavalry at the last moment.

Harrison’s fate is more up in the air. Dexter remains torn between horror and excitement over his son’s potential as a serial killer, which is perfectly encapsulated in the opening dream sequence. Harrison’s need for an actual father figure leads him to Kurt Caudwell. However, any sense that Harrison might become the killer’s new protege or a substitute for Matt Caudwell evaporates when it becomes clear that Kurt wants revenge.

Harrison is to be Kurt’s next victim, which in some ways is disappointing. The game of manipulation — using Harrison to get to Dexter — has yielded a lot of great stuff, with both Clancy Brown and Jack Alcott giving outstanding performances throughout the series.

The relationship between the two is given one last opportunity to be explored, however, when Harrison tries to impress his potential mentor in the batting cage. Kurt’s initial pleasure at Harrison’s success fades as he continually fails to hit a curveball, driving home that he will never be the athletic son that Dexter murdered. But Harrison keeps at it, refusing to quit in front of Kurt. As Harrison may have psychopathic tendencies, his motivation isn’t as inspiring as it otherwise might be.

But the hints that Harrison has been manipulating others have dropped off as the season went on. When he’s looking down the barrel of Caudwell’s gun, he is very much a frightened teenager. His hug with his father is real enough, although whether Dexter is making a huge mistake in opening up to his son remains to be seen; processing the fact that a loved one has murdered and cut up dozens of people isn’t something most people ever have to deal with. What that might do to a young man with an already broken and confused psyche…it could be catastrophic, as Debra predicted earlier in the season.

While it might be possible for Harrison to accept who his father is, Angela and the Iron Lake PD certainly won’t. After some offhand comments from Detective Batista, Angela is now on the verge of realizing Dexter is the true Bay Harbour Butcher. With Molly having done a podcast on the case, it seems likely that the two will work everything out soon enough. With Kurt Caudwell still at large, it may seem something of a cop-out for him to kill them just as they learn the truth. While Dexter could never break “the code,” perhaps Harrison won’t feel so constrained. Or maybe this truly is an end for Dexter; after all, showrunner Clyde Philips did say he would have ended the original series with Dexter being arrested for his crimes.

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels