Scott Reynolds is a writer and executive producer on Dexter: New Blood. With Warren Hsu Leonard (former lawyer for the LA Dodgers), Reynolds wrote Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 6 -- "Too Many Tuna Sandwiches" -- which sees every major character reach a turning point in their journey.
We sat down with Reynolds to get the behind-the-scenes scoop of this riveting hour of television. MAJOR spoilers for Episode 6 ahead!
If you haven't seen it yet, or want to enjoy it again, you watch Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 6 online right here on TV Fanatic!
Mary Littlejohn: This was my favorite episode of the season -- so far. The editing, the pacing, the suspense, the big shocking moments, the character exploration, it was all top-notch.
Scott Reynolds: All these are people looking for connection, and they find it in ways they don't expect.
What were your favorite scenes in this episode to write, and which scenes were you most pleased with how they turned out?
The therapy scene! Warren and I were scared to write it, but we also couldn't wait! Therapy scenes in television feel ubiquitous these days. Deb wasn't originally there in the first outline we had. [Showtime President] Gary Levine had the idea to inject her in the middle of it. Throwing this agent of chaos in there made it more fun.
At this point, Dexter is trying to be private, but he's also trying to be open, so it was the perfect moment to have Deb there. The way Marcos [Siega, director of the episode] shot it and the gung-ho-ness of Jennifer Carpenter -- one moment she's seated in the therapist's chair, and then she appears next to Dexter, and then she's gone!
That was one of my favorites because you're just aching for Dexter. You want him to connect with his son. We all do. That's what makes it so human and beautiful. Here he is genuinely trying to connect with his son, but knowing that there's nothing he can say.
Within that, one of my favorite moments is when Dexter shares that he was an orphan too, and he was adopted. They share a look. I got goosebumps on the day, watching Jack Alcott look to his dad and realize this is someone he can connect with, who understands him. Then Dexter wraps it all up with, "And then that marriage fell apart..."
There are so many moments where we're just pulling for Dexter, we want him to make this connection with his kid, but he keeps failing. What he shared in his scene with Angela earlier might have even worked.
Couldn't he have said in the therapy session, "My wife was murdered. I had a hard time, and I just needed to escape all that death"? That could have built a bridge.
He's very protective of that past, and rightly so. He doesn't want the world to find out that he's a guy that faked his own death. He experienced that with Angela, and it didn't go well, so his guard was up.
That was another scene that I really loved, too. When Dexter was sitting across from Angela, and he's able to share a truth -- not the whole truth -- but it's a truth, and it's edging him closer to being accepted by her. Then he continues with, "Maybe we can talk about this over dinner tonight?" [laughs] like he feels like he's done his part.
And she's just not ready. Originally we'd had a longer sequence of him looking at everybody in the bullpen trying to decide who gave her the information, but we just decided to cut to the chase.
Is there a reason he didn't just flat out ask Angela how she found out?
He was able to read the room. We had a version like that but talking it through with Michael [C. Hall], we thought that was maybe a step too far. He understands that. He's like Pinocchio -- he's becoming a real boy! Maybe in season six, he would have asked that question, but he's a bit more human now.
Dexter isn't Walter White, Breaking Bad -- Dexter is breaking good in some ways. But conflict resolution is hard for him.
There was a lot of subversion of expectations at play here, which made for some great suspense. Once Dexter believes it's Molly, we're all worried now that he might kill her. We know he's got it in him -- but then, maybe he doesn't! And it wasn't even until the very end that he realized it wasn't her.
Did you ever consider Dexter -- once he kinda figures out that Kurt is probably a serial killer -- just letting Kurt "take care" of Molly?
That was our intention when Dexter was following them. I really love that scene, too. Rather than having Dexter sitting at the bar, Dexter got to be cool and smart and record it, and then we were able to travel with the action, where he's following and listening at the same time.
The editing of that sequence was so well done.
That was a pitch in the room! It just hit me how we could make it work. And Marcos never blinked. He was all for it.
When Dexter is standing on the hill, and he's watching this true-crime podcaster being led down into a cabin, and it all hits him. He knows the truth that there's nobody down there -- there's only one reason Kurt could be doing this.
Dexter has that moment where he's like, "You know, this could solve all my problems," and I really wanted the audience to think, "It really could, Dex!"
And that sequence in the tunnel worked so well. I thought Marcos Siega did a great job with that.
It was so tense. It was scary to see Molly go in there. As a viewer who knows more information than her, I was yelling "What are you doing?" at the TV. At the same time, you'd think she would notice something was off -- and she did, but just a second too late!
She had her finger on the mace! But again, this goes that need for connection and finding the whole truth. I love podcasts. I'm a podcaster. In the pursuit of a story, you will go places you shouldn't go.
Whether you're a writer or a reporter, the joy of writing stories and going places you know you shouldn't go, the exhilaration of coming out on the other side of it is sometimes worth it!
That cabin is actually based on my grandmother's -- no, she wasn't a serial killer [laughs]. She lived in a cabin in the woods, and she had a room just like that. We'd go down through the storm doors, go through this tunnel, and whenever we would stay with her, I always thought, "This would be a good secret lair."
I think Dexter made the right call in that we still have Molly, and he now has a lot of information on Kurt. Unfortunately, it means that Kurt now suspects that Dexter is suspicious of him. It's almost reminiscent of Trinity.
We know Dexter loves killing and misses the killing, but he also seems to relish that cat-and-mouse game with a worthy adversary. How will that manifest? Especially with Kurt's interest in Harrison. Can you touch on that and hint at where that could be headed?
We planned this whole season as a battle for Harrison's soul. As we, the viewers, watch Dexter interact with his son, we wonder if Harrison has a Dark Passenger and who will win out?
We wanted to have these two amazing father figures. Kurt's "cover story" of who he is in this town is a very wonderful guy, the guy you want to hang out with. He likes to coach. It's even in the way he picks his victims.
If he gives them money and they leave town, they've left town. If he offers them a job and they take the job -- we did have a sequence where someone took the job, maybe Susan was that person -- then everything's fine. But If they try to sink their hooks into him because they think he's a good get for money, that's when it changes for him.
He wants to help people, and I think that's genuine. People can be a lot of things at once -- look at Dexter. He cared for Hannah, Deb, and he clearly loves his son.
Meanwhile, Harrison is looking for a father figure, and here's this guy that's offering him everything. Kurt is a great coach. When Harrison breaks Jeremy's arm, that makes him lean into this kid even more because that's the kid he always wished he had -- one who has a lot more potential than his fuckup of a son, Matt.
When we shot that wrestling match scene, it was still in the middle of COVID. Everything was awful. The crew had been around each other, but the people in the stands hadn't been around large crowds like this. We managed to get the most people we could have on set on that day, and they were really into it.
When Jack [Alcott] was wrestling this guy, he was really throwing him around. He trained really hard, and the guy he was wrestling with was an actual wrestling champ. They were way into it.
So when Dexter and Kurt start coming at each other, and they're just about to come to blows, the stands are going wild, completely losing their minds. I think that was a lot because of COVID. We hadn't had that communal experience in like a year and a half. You could feel it. Our actors fed off it. It was a good day.
Let's talk about Harrison. The connection you mentioned is really present between him and Audrey. They had this beautiful moment, and then they started making out. Just before you cut away from that scene, we see the razor in his pocket. When he went to Audrey, did Harrison have any intentions other than what happened?
No, he just carries that razor with him. He doesn't leave it at the house because his dad goes through his stuff. Harrison is finally connecting with someone who's sharing about her life, and they're seeing that they're both outsiders. When you're a teenager, you feel things deeper than at any point in your life.
We purposefully had that in the script that you saw the flash of that blade as they're making out. It's a reminder that this isn't just a sweet kid. This sweet, hurt, vulnerable kid isn't 100% who he says he is.
Jack Alcott is so great as Harrison. He's such a good match for Michael C. Hall/Dexter. As you said, he's got so much going on and so many levels.
I appreciated the parallel of his and Audrey's stories, how they both had a real connection with their stepmom(s), and that was who raised them. Audrey is just lucky to still have Angela, whereas Harrison, unfortunately, does not.
That's the result of who Hannah was, someone who dealt with poisons all her life. My grandfather on my dad's side worked in a factory where he was basically poisoned his whole life. You deal with that stuff, and that's going to catch up with you.
Audrey tells him, "I get it, I feel it this anger, too," but now he's actually broken someone's arm in public. If she pulls away from him, the concern is that it will drive him more towards Kurt, which can't be good. There are so many horrible directions this could go in for Harrison. Is it going to get worse before it gets better?
Yes [laughs]. But it's going to be exciting, and it's all wrapped in that need for connection.
We show that where Audrey sees that moment of the arm break. At that point, Johnny [Sequoyah] wasn't seeing it happen -- we had the camera on her and said, "And... break!" and she nailed it. You can see it in her face, this question of "What is this? What have I done?"
Another favorite moment in this episode is when Dexter tries to have this awkward talk with his son about spending the night in his cop girlfriend's daughter's bedroom [laughs]. It doesn't go well. It was essential to me to have this warm moment between Dexter and Debra -- the imagined Debra.
Dexter needs the connection, and so they have this jokey moment of "Good thing he knows about sex because you'd be terrible at the sex talk!" and Michael had that great smile and laugh.
You can sense why they loved each other so much, which is why Dexter keeps her around. The way they were laughing together, you really saw that connection.
Sometimes we can get so swept up in the darkness of it that we forget how funny this show actually can be. It's not a comedy, it's still about a serial killer, but you all do such a good job of achieving that balance between light and dark -- finding the funny moments that stem from the humanity of the characters.
I have no interest in pure dark. I don't mind downer stories, but I like it to have that funny human aspect because that makes us connect to it even deeper. Like, Pulp Fiction [gestures to Pulp Fiction poster on wall] -- you can laugh that Marvin just got shot in the face!
That's the line we're always trying to hit with Dexter. I'm laughing, but I shouldn't be laughing. And we all are -- we're all complicit.
Angela discovers her best friend Iris' body, who's been missing since high school, which results in a major shift in Angela's priorities. Before, Angela didn't want to deal with Dexter, but now, she turns to him. Why does this discovery trigger her to go back to him?
That was our arc for this episode. Everyone's trying to find their connection. At the top of the episode, she says she doesn't want Jim because he's really Dexter. At the end of the episode, she says that she doesn't need Jim, but she needs Dexter.
This was the core of Julia [Jones]'s performance, the loss of Iris. At that moment, she realizes she has access to this great CSI person who lived in a big city and solved major crimes. In our story, when she was researching him, she saw all these crimes he had solved. She saw Dexter Morgan, the good guy.
Angela lives in a small town where she's chief of police, but she doesn't really have a team -- she had Teddy, who's been there for three weeks, and Logan, who's a great cop, but that's it. With Dexter, she could have a team. So she and Dexter will now find this deeper connection.
We didn't want to sever this relationship because we care for these two. It's a big hurdle when you're a cop, and you find out that your boyfriend faked his own death, and you had no idea.
Dexter really seems like a narcissist in that he thinks he knows better than everyone and that he can outsmart everyone. Otherwise, why would you date a cop if you're an ex-serial killer?
I'll tell you why! Because he is a narcissist/sociopath, he wants to control his life. He wants some semblance of what he had before, so he wanted to be involved with the police. He wanted to have someone slightly opinionated and strong like his sister Deb was.
Even when he looks at his son, it's like looking in a mirror. He's defining the world by his own needs and wants.
We all do this as parents when we look at our children. I look at my kids, and I think how cool it would be if they ended up in the entertainment industry. My dad wanted me to be a golfer, so I failed him miserably! [laughs] But he still likes me.
Dexter just wanted to be a part of that world. He can't resist it -- he's a creature of habit.
Does this mean Dexter wants Harrison to be a killer as well? It feels like he's struggling with that -- he wants his son to have these tendencies because it would be easier to connect with him on that level, but he recognizes it would be so much easier for Harrison if he weren't like that.
Dexter hopes for goodness for his kid.
At the end of [Dexter: New Blood Season 1] Episode 4, Dexter finds Harrison's razorblade. Jennifer Carpenter actually pitched that, having the razor blade hidden in the flashlight. Deb is standing behind Dexter just sobbing, and Michael [C. Hall] was just supposed to stare at the blade, looking inscrutable, which he's very good at.
On the day he opened it and kissed the blade, and she was weeping behind him. It's our little homage to In Cold Blood, with Robert Blake looking out the window, and he can't cry, but the window is crying. We were trying to go for that sort of thing.
Molly is trying to keep her investigation of Kurt/Matt away from Angela, but it feels like the three of them need to work together to bring down Kurt, assuming now he's the one responsible for the missing women. How will Dexter navigate his relationship with Molly now that he knows what she knows?
The minute that Dexter was complicit with Molly in the lie when she asks him not to tell Angela, Dexter's got the upper hand. She doesn't want Angela to know what she did. As far as knowing who Dexter really is, she's done like 200 episodes of Merry Fucking Kill, and Dexter technically was just a footnote on one of them in Trinity.
And now Angela sort of knows, and she's complicit, too. She doesn't want to go around town saying this guy lied to me the whole time because that makes her look terrible as chief of police.
Dexter works well in the world of lies. He works better than most people. He's very comfortable in it, whereas other people are a little nervous. By the end of this episode, Dexter understands that Angela's not going to share his secret, and Molly doesn't know his secret.
This allows him to drive forward do what he's going to do. The question of what he will do with Kurt is definitely a struggle for him.
How does he move forward with all this new information?
Episodes 7, 8, 9 are a roller coaster. We explore all of that. Dexter is open to a lot of options when it comes to how to handle Kurt and how to keep his relationship with Angela alive. He's not concerned with Molly anymore. As long as she's not digging into his life, he's totally fine with her.
Is there anything else that we haven't covered that you'd like to touch on?
I remember when the network read the episode, they thought it was a lot. On [Dexter: New Blood Season 1] Episode 5, with the obituary coming out, they asked us where we could possibly go from here? Did we reveal it too early?
We like to write ourselves into a corner as much as possible. Our best seasons are the ones where we do that. Look at Season 2, all of Dexter's bodies come up, and that's just the beginning. To me, it's thrilling and exciting to write ourselves into corners and then write ourselves out!
It's so much fun. We love having Dexter back on our screens and revisiting this character in a new setting. Thank you so much for taking this time to delve. We're excited about the ensuing roller coaster!
Dexter: New Blood airs Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.
Keep up with Scott Reynolds for more behind-the-scenes Dexter: New Blood content by following him on Twitter.
Interview has been edited for length/clarity.
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.