Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Cold Snap

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It's fan service at its finest.

On Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1, we are introduced to a kinder, gentler Dexter, existing in a climate as different from Miami as possible. 

It's not long until the bloodlust kicks in, and Dexter is back to his old ways. But that's why we're here, isn't it?

Dexter in the snow - Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1

After Dexter's poorly resolved "final season," viewers were left with a bad taste in their mouths. When Showtime announced that the series would return with a limited run, fans remained skeptical but intrigued.

With Clyde Phillips, showrunner of the first four seasons (widely considered Dexter's best), heading the production, we needn't have worried. Dexter: New Blood feels like a return to the old Dexter we knew and loved.

There are many differences, but the tone feels the same as in the original series. There are enough callbacks to remind us how we got hooked without feeling gratuitous.

It's hard not to get a satisfying shiver down your spine when Michael C. Hall breaks out one of Dexter's signature catchphrases.

Tonight's the night.


Dexter chopping wood - Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1

Dexter Morgan is the defining role of Michael C. Hall's career. It makes sense that he would want to return to it. It's like he's putting on an old glove with this role -- he's so natural and comfortable. He inhabits Dexter. 

Hall invites us into Dexter's mind and makes us feel like we belong there. We see the world through his eyes. We're on this weird journey with him. We can't look away as he does horrible things.

It's such a fitting choice to withhold his voiceover until he finally gives in to the urge to kill again. 

The conflict and tension have always ridden on the question of how he's going to get away with it. He always does, to the point where we realize that maybe he shouldn't have. He left a real mess in Miami.

But Michael C. Hall is just so damn charismatic in that awkward, unassuming way, with the undercurrent of an edge that slips out sometimes. Every line has a double meaning.

You're looking at the guy where secrets go to die.


Jim Lindsay - Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1

The episode starts off with a wholesome feel. Iron Lake is just your average, inclusive, small-town community.

There are a few playful teases. Dexter methodically sharpens knives -- but they're for the local butcher. Dexter gets pulled over by the police chief -- but she's his girlfriend, just having some fun!

It's interesting how Dexter seems to gravitate towards law enforcement. You'd think he'd want to stay as far away from them as possible, but he just can't help himself.

His father and his sister were his moral compass, and he probably has a compulsion to fill that void with people who will keep him on the straight and narrow.

Deb - Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1

Jennifer Carpenter is the only other prominent cast member to return from the original series (so far) in a role that's clearly a "reboot" of James Remar's Harry. She's the voice in Dexter's head -- his "light" passenger, constantly checking in with him. 

Carpenter hones in on the fragile and precarious nature of her character. She's not playing Deb -- she's playing the other half of Dexter, the increasingly anxious part of him that's terrified of what might happen if he gives in to his urges.

Her appearances are edited in a crisp and jarring way. She's there, and she's not -- a visual manifestation of intrusive thoughts. Her declarations of love are slightly disturbing but not unprecedented. One imagines that Dexter is hearing Deb's words to hype himself up, to convince himself he's worthy of affection. 

How much control does he have over this presence in his head? 

Angela Bishop - Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1

The supporting cast members are all immediately engaging. There's Dexter's boss Fred Jr (played with delightful camp by Michael Cyril Creighton, fresh off Only Murders In The Building), the friendly rag-tag police team (David Magidoff, Alano Miller, and Katy Sullivan), and of course, the love interest.

Chief Angela Bishop is a warm-hearted, concerned mother who takes pride in her community. Julia Jones plays Angela with an easy-going strength, no-nonsense attitude. She has a heart of gold, and though they have great chemistry, she's too good for Dexter.

I don't see things going too well for that transient girl she helped out at the tavern. With the mention of missing women earlier in the episode, Angela's concern is grounded in a dangerous reality. There's always a "big bad" in every season of Dexter, so this seems like the obvious direction it will take.

The question is whether Dexter will let his very competent girlfriend do her job to hunt down whoever this person is, or will Dexter take matters into his own hands? 

Harrison - Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1

Surprise, motherfucker! Harrison is back! 

If you've watched any of the trailers for the season or read any press about it, this reveal was never going to be a shock. Jack Alcott plays Dexter's now-teenaged son Harrison. How he found Dexter and why he's showing up now is anyone's guess. What happened to Hannah McKay, and why didn't she come with him? 

Dexter's Deb voice is right in telling him to send Harrison away. This will probably end in tragedy. It always does. But it's this kind of tragedy that keeps us coming back. Dexter is always much more fun when he's scrambling, trying to cover up, and dealing with the ramifications of his actions. 

It's only after Dexter kills and re-connects with his Dark Passenger that he feels compelled to take Harrison in and tell him the (partial) truth. Both are important parts of his past, and if he's going to have one, he might as well make room for the other. 

Setting up - Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1

Matt Caldwell (Steve M. Robertson) makes for a typical "Monster Of The Week," reminiscent of Dexter victims of old.

Matt rubbed Dexter the wrong way from the beginning. What's more, Matt was utterly oblivious to Dexter's contempt. Dexter was looking for an excuse to justify killing this guy. How convenient that Matt's friend Bill got high and told Dexter everything, about how Matt intentionally crashed a boat and killed five people.

You know, you break a rule sometimes you might even have a little fun.


The scene was a little too set up to be totally believable, but Dexter somehow had to get that information. Let's hope it doesn't come back to haunt him, forcing him to kill Bill to keep it covered up. 

It wasn't the information about the boat that sent Dexter over the edge. It was when Matt shot the white stag. Dexter took it personally. On the kill table, Matt's final words were prescient -- if his father finds out, there will be hell to pay. It is a small town. Secrets are hard to keep at the best of times -- take the church's missing pecan pies.

It wouldn't be the first time Dexter killed someone that would be missed.

Like you said -- life is short, dude.


Pat Down - Dexter: New Blood

Many of the shots feel cinematic in scope, showcasing the starkness of the landscape. The white stage sequences are breathtaking -- when Dexter connected with this magnificent animal in the wild, one could sense he had achieved a brief moment of peace within himself. 

New Blood is the Dexter we know and love, albeit ten years older and in a different location. His demons and struggles are familiar and ongoing. The winks and nudges to the patient fanbase are enough to keep us cautiously optimistic for now. 

It's a fine start, but the most crucial test will be to see if Dexter: New Blood can stick the landing. Let's enjoy the ride for now.

What did you think? Are you hopeful for some Dexter redemption, be it for the show or the character? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Cold Snap Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (26 Votes)

Mary Littlejohn Mary Littlejohn is a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She loves television, cinema, and theatre (especially musicals!), particularly when it champions inclusivity, diversity, and social justice. Follow her on Twitter.

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Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

You know, you break a rule sometimes you might even have a little fun.


You're looking at the guy where secrets go to die.