Is New Blood Better Than Dexter Season 8? | Screen Rant

Showtime's New Blood brings Dexter Morgan back to the screen after the highly controversial original series finale, but is the revival better than season 8? Dexter originally ran on Showtime from 2006 to 2013 centering on Dexter Morgan, a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer. Under the (imaginary) guidance of his deceased father Harry, Dexter uses his “Dark Passenger” for good, only killing known murderers who have evaded the justice system. While trying to track down Miami’s villainous serial killers, Dexter must also hide his secret identity from his family and coworkers.

Taking place 10 years after season 8, New Blood follows Dexter Morgan in his new home of Iron Lake, New York where he lives under the alias Jim Lindsay. Working at a Fish and Game shop and dating the police chief, Dexter has been living a quiet, murder-free existence since faking his death. Dexter’s new life is upended in New Blood when his Dark Passenger creeps back, and his estranged son Harrison returns.

Related: Dexter Already Setup Exactly When He Should Die In Season 9

Although Dexter’s controversial season 8 finale turned off many fans to the original series, New Blood’s announcement gained a surprisingly enthusiastic response. The Dexter season 9 reboot is exciting because Dexter’s return provides the opportunity to amend the original finale’s mistakes while giving a tighter conclusion to the killer. New Blood is a chance to properly end Dexter Morgan’s story, in which it effectively improves upon season 8’s failures.

After seven long seasons of watching Dexter Morgan evade capture and track down Miami’s worst serial killers (aside from himself), season 8 was anticipated as a climactic resolution to the human Dexter tried to be and the performative life he built and destroyed. Instead, it was received as a lackluster attempt to wrap up stories without any real stakes or proper build-up to the ending. There wasn’t a real villain to cause a complex sense of morality within Dexter as the earlier, intriguing serial killers like The Trinity Killer had in season 4, which made the overall conflict of the season feel half-baked.

The most common critique for season 8 was of Dexter’s jarring change in his characterization, with the writing essentially declaring his Dark Passenger cured because he fell in love with Hannah and wanted to be a dedicated father. Dexter had already been a single father for the past four seasons, and recognized he could never rid himself of his Dark Passenger after falling in love with Lumen in season 5. Dexter’s overall conflict in the original series was that he couldn’t get rid of his Dark Passenger — he was born in blood. He could learn to control and suppress it, but his sociopathic psychology can’t simply be turned off by falling in love with another ex-serial killer.

When looking at just the finale episode, audiences and critics were extremely divided on how Dexter resolved the core character arcs. Deb’s season 8 ending was widely disliked, with many feeling her death in the final episode was undeserved and didn’t make much sense. It was used as the final straw to send Dexter into a new life faking his death but wasn’t executed satisfyingly or respectfully. As one of the most important characters in Dexter’s narrative, it felt disrespectful that Deb’s redemption built up over season 8 was never complete and she never received a proper burial or funeral. If Deb was going to die in the series, she also deserved a heroic ending that gave closure to her rollercoaster story. Her life was also already completely upended after she killed LaGuerta to protect Dexter in season 7; the series didn’t need to make it worse by having his mistakes kill her in the finale.

Related: Why Dexter Season 9 Can't Just Retcon The Hated Series Finale

Showtime's Dexter season 8 finale gave poor resolutions to both Morgans, with Dexter finishing his story by abandoning his son, faking his death, and moving to Oregon to become a lumberjack under a different alias. Dexter never paid for any of his crimes nor concluded his humane and conflicted growth in morality the series had been building to. The series was about Dexter wrestling with his own confused humanity and concluded with no real answer to his internal conflict.

It’s difficult to give an absolute judgment after only one episode, but the two seasons do already share several key similarities and differences. Dexter season 8 featured the serial killer highly anxious after season 7’s events and trying to bring a broken Deb home, which is similar to the anxiety Dexter now faces in New Blood avoiding killing and trying to be a father to a broken Harrison. Dexter isn’t the same man he was 10 years ago, but he still hasn’t gotten rid of his Dark Passenger. As he declares in New Blood episode 1, Dexter is an “evolved monster.” Seeing Dexter living a normal small-town life after abandoning Harrison, pulling Deb’s life support, and faking his death is quite jarring in episode 1, but New Blood does a good job of balancing the killer as a changed man while frequently hinting at his Dark Passenger creeping back up.

In episode 1, the white deer played a highly symbolic role in setting up Dexter’s descent back into serial killing for New Blood, properly showing his triggers instead of simply using his voice-over to tell the audience he’s going to kill again. New Blood is also going back to the relationships that made Dexter a more complex character, having his significant other being the police chief instead of season 8 pairing him with another disliked serial killer. Angela is a reminder of the morality Rita brought to Dexter’s inner dilemmas, especially since Angela is also a parent who will be better at keeping Dexter’s errors in raising Harrison in check. The first seven seasons of Dexter documented his attempt at normalcy, trying to blend in, and most of all making sure to not get caught — season 8 essentially threw away these priorities, but they remain of the utmost importance for Dexter’s existence in New Blood. Dexter season 9 may not be as incredibly crafted as season 4, but it's shaping up for New Blood to be better than the disappointment that was season 8.

One of the biggest issues with Dexter season 8 was its pacing problems between too many storylines. The final season was trying to show Deb’s emotional breakdown after killing LaGuerta, Dexter trying to be a father and boyfriend to Hannah, Dex tracking a new serial killer, and the new dynamics at the Miami Dade Police Department. It felt like season 8 had too many storylines for its own good, all the while trying to wrap up the entire series. New Blood will have to balance the time it spends on explaining what happened to Dexter and Harrison Morgan over the past 10 years, documenting how Dexter adjusts back to killing, introducing all of the new characters in town, and grappling with a new villain.

Related: How Deb As The Dark Passenger Will Change Dexter

New Blood has a lot of baggage going into it, so it can’t serve as a succinct first season like the original series. To be successful, New Blood needs to be able to properly give fans a new story while connecting to the old and avoiding any fluff. Season 8 left a lot of storylines unfinished while detailing a rushed change in Dexter’s mindset, which means New Blood has to better balance all of the characters and plotlines it introduces while giving enough time to show Dexter’s change, not just tell it.

New Blood was promoted by giving Dexter the perfect ending he never got, a sentiment shared by both showrunner Clyde Phillips and actor Michael C. Hall. Dexter can’t just change his identity and end the new series in an ambiguous manner in New Blood, it has to be an absolute finale for the character, which likely means his death. Many of the reservations for not killing Dexter in the original series dealt with the main character never being able to return or provide continuations of the story, but now New Blood has Harrison to carry on the Morgan legacy if Showtime so pleases. If New Blood really is the last time Dexter Morgan is seen on screen, the ending has to be clearly built up over the series while properly giving the serial killer the sendoff he never got.

Next: Dexter: The Meaning Behind Their Names Proves The Original Ending Was Better



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