Warning: The following review contains major spoilers for the series finale of Dexter: New Blood.
Dexter Morgan is the quintessential anti-hero. Yes, he’s a psychopath who cuts up people in his murder room, but we love him. This was true for the eight original seasons of the show and the Dexter: New Blood event special. Fans have loved his dry quips, wanted him to succeed in building a personal life, and of course, wanted him to get away with his crimes. By not giving us that last one, the finale of Dexter: New Blood fails after an exceptional nine episodes.
If you’re reading this review, you must expect spoilers, so let’s address it straight away: Dexter dies. There’s no log cabin to run to this time, no hurricane, just a cold icy death in the wilderness at the hands of his son Harrison. While it brings Dexter to a final end and offers closure to a series haunted by the maligned season 8, it simply isn’t what fans wanted to see, as the social media reaction overnight has shown.
Make no mistake: “Sins of the Father” is an excellent episode of television that ends the show well. Yet it feels weird throughout, as Dexter is suddenly cast as the villain. This sense that the viewer is supposed to be rooting for Angela and later Harrison is absolutely morally correct, with Angela representing law and order and Harrison wanting an everyday life that doesn’t involve murder. Yet it completely misjudges the audience’s loyalty to the character of Dexter Morgan.
The audience does not want Dexter to come to trial, nor do they want to see Harrison shoot his father. After nine episodes of the audience being behind Dexter, there has been no setup for the idea that Dexter should die. Having him kill Sergeant Logan certainly isn’t enough to turn people against him. Harrison riding away from Iron Lake has none of the feel-good emotion that the episode wants it to, given that he has just killed the “hero” of the show.
It was no big shock that Angela found the screw; we’ve been waiting for something to happen there ever since she discovered that Dexter was the Bay Harbor Butcher. However, under interrogation, Dexter makes a fair point in that it could easily have been planted by Kurt Caldwell, which points to the episode’s major problem: Dexter’s actions.
His desperation is built on the premise that Angela will prove that he killed Matt Caldwell and that he is the Bay Harbor Butcher. Yet Dexter panicking to the point of openly killing Logan is illogical and out of character. The only proof that Angela offers is the screws and the use of ketamine. We know there is no evidence in Miami as we spent eight seasons there and Sergeant Doakes is still officially named as the Butcher. So why all the panic over something that would never make it to a trial?
And the out-of-character behavior isn’t limited to Dexter, with Angela — somebody we know to be a good cop — willingly turning off the camera to somebody she suspects is a serial killer. And then she leaves Logan alone in the station with him. Angela and the rest of Iron Lake PD waffling between competence and incompetence depending on the needs of the plot is something that’s happened far too often this season.
Is the Dexter: New Blood finale a success or a failure?
But with that all said, what the audience wants to see isn’t always what’s the best for the narrative. In many ways, Dexter is experiencing the same issue that many shows suffer after their finales, most notably Game of Thrones. When fans have very set ideas of what the ending should be, and those ideas differ so much from the showrunner’s vision, it’s bound to cause conflict.
“Sins of the Father” is in many respects the perfect ending for the show. Dexter, who had been growing closer to his son throughout the season, finally broke through their barriers when he revealed his dark passenger. Dexter finally understands genuine human emotion at that moment before he dies, fittingly with Debra at his side. Could it really have ended any other way?
“Sins of the Father” will not erase the memory of “Remember the Monsters?” with some fans displeased enough to have called “Sins of the Father” even worse. That is an overreaction, yet it remains to be seen how people will feel when tempers have settled. Will “Sins of the Father” be seen as an excellently produced and written hour of television that ended Dexter in a fitting way, Or as a betrayal of the fans who simply wanted to see Dexter and Harrison ride off into the sunset? Time will tell.