Critics offer lacklustre reviews after premiere of Dexter: New Blood


It has arguably one of the most reveiled series finales ever, with even the titular character played by Michael C. Hall questioning ‘what happened’ to the anti-hero.

But viewers have finally been given a second shot at Dexter’s ending, as the vigilante returns 10 years after the final episode in a reboot dubbed Dexter: New Blood.

The revival sees original showrunner Clyde Phillips – who produced the much-loved first four series of the crime drama – return to the helm of the programme after many fan were left disappointed with the subsequent series.

He's back! viewers have finally been given a second shot at Dexter's ending, as the vigilante returns 10 years after the final episode in a reboot dubbed Dexter: New Blood

He’s back! viewers have finally been given a second shot at Dexter’s ending, as the vigilante returns 10 years after the final episode in a reboot dubbed Dexter: New Blood

Critics of the series admitted they felt positive about the return of the anxiety-inducing cat-and-mouse drama after learning Phillips was making a comeback.

However the reviews following the private release of the first four episodes to critics have received a somewhat lukewarm response, with Rolling Stone confessing they ‘didn’t know who the revivial was for’ after watching the first episodes.

The first episode – which premiered to the public on Sunday November 7 – opens with Dexter living in fictional town Iron Lake, New York, as a Lumberjack.

Dexter has slotted into small town life as a well-liked sales associate at a fish-and-game store under the name Jim Lindsay, which is a nod to Jeff Lindsay, creator of the Dexter novels.

He is dating police chief Angela Bishop [Julia Jones] as a way of keeping up to date with local crime, while attempting to put his former life as a murderous vigilante and his ‘Dark Passenger’ [the childhood trauma that defines him] behind him.

Father and son: Another character appearing in the renewed series is Dexter's now-teenage son Harrison (pictured left), who he abandoned during series eight

Father and son: Another character appearing in the renewed series is Dexter’s now-teenage son Harrison (pictured left), who he abandoned during series eight

Dexter’s late sister Deb [Jennifer Carpenter] also makes a ghostly return to the reboot as his conscience, which was previously played by his father.

Another character appearing in the renewed series is Dexter’s now-teenage son Harrison, who he abandoned during series eight after realising that everyone he cares about ends up dying.

Viewers see Dexter trying to balance his continued role as an American Everyman, while battling his inner demons and also attempting to forge a relationship with Harrison, who is filled with angst after being ditched by his dad.

After watching the first four episodes, one critic for Rolling Stone admitted they were unsure who the audience for the show was – ‘Phillips lovers, those wanting an apology for the final seasons, those who love every version or crime buffs?’ 

They said: ‘New Blood seems simultaneously designed to appeal to all of those constituencies and none of them. It is competently told but a bit dull. And, like its title character at this stage of his life, it seems too conflicted about all this blood and gore to enjoy any of it.’

‘Phillips is better at basic storytelling craft than many of his successors. Deb is a figment of Dexter’s imagination, and Harrison may as well be a new character, given how sparsely the old show used the little-kid version of him. So Phillips basically has to build a new supporting cast from scratch, and does a solid job of that.’ 

Rolling Stone touches on a ‘meta joke’ made by Dexter during one scene where he says: ‘Sorry about the mess; I’m out of practice’ when he falls off his zero-violence bandwagon.

They stated that although it is clearly meant as an apology for the ‘messy final season’, that the character and new series don’t feel ‘sharp enough’ to justify its return. 

They concluded: ‘Whatever conclusion Phillips writes for this miniseries almost by definition has to be better than Lumberjack Dexter, but is clearing the lowest of bars enough to justify returning to our man and all his old rituals?’

Conscience is clear? Dexter's late sister Deb [Jennifer Carpenter] also makes a ghostly return to the reboot as his conscience, which was previously played by his father

Conscience is clear? Dexter’s late sister Deb [Jennifer Carpenter] also makes a ghostly return to the reboot as his conscience, which was previously played by his father

A critic for Indie Wire revealed that they don’t think much ‘closure’ awaits viewers, who are no doubt hoping for a more well-rounded finale than season eight.

Seemingly not holding out much hope, the writer refused to admit that the first few episodes held out for a ‘promising’ ending to the show.

However despite this, they said that viewers will be reassured to know that ‘Dexter’ is still ‘Dexter,’ and Dexter is still Dexter. 

Adding: ‘Many of the ensuing story beats will feel familiar, even soothing. Watching Dexter scramble (rather expertly) to cover his tracks is still engrossing.’

They added that while there is little of Dexter’s ‘dark humour’ it is still there – with promise that there is more on the way in the coming episodes. 

They said: ‘Hall remains a talented two-face, able to convey a separation from other human beings even when Dexter’s ‘pretending’ to enjoy their company, just as he’s capable of twisting his character from a man crushed by his own urges to a monster who’s only alive when he succumbs to them.’

However it was also noted that there are some ‘unwelcome’ hallmarks, including ‘thinly sketched’ supporting actors and superficial nods to local custom as well as the ‘ugly trope’ of a female journalist sleeping her way to a story. 

Giving Dexter a C+ overall, the critic concluded: ‘Almost all of these red flags may be reined in (to various degrees) in the back-half of the season, but isn’t that level of unsubstantiated hope reminiscent, as well? Isn’t that the same misplaced faith that led so many to watch ‘Dexter’ to the very end? Should audiences really reinvest in this character, after nearly a decade of much-needed distancing?’

Love life: Dexter is dating police chief Angela Bishop [Julia Jones] as a way of keeping up to date with local crime

Love life: Dexter is dating police chief Angela Bishop [Julia Jones] as a way of keeping up to date with local crime

While Rolling Stone questioned the need to bring back the once hit show, Variety revealed that they thought the answer was obvious – it gives key players a chance to revisit that ending. 

They noted that Hall acknowledged as much at San Diego Comic-Con this year, referring to the original series ending ‘mystifying at best to people’.

The Variety critic noted the charming familiar ‘conversational double meanings that remind Dexter is a serial killer’, but also admitted that the ‘tone has changed’  

They said: ‘The genuine coldness of the location (it was filmed in Western Massachusetts) feels like it has sapped a lot of the energy out of the series. At the same time, the setting and its unpleasantness also feel strangely necessary for Dexter in his challenge of abstaining.’ 

Despite the somewhat ‘energy-lacking’ feel, Variety did say that Hall’s performance is ‘unsurprisingly good’, and Dexter has become a role he can ‘nail in his sleep’.

They also claimed that Carpenter played a winning part, writing: ‘Jennifer Carpenter arguably gives the most compelling performance of the series, somehow even livelier as Deb in death, while still being recognizable.’

Low-key living: Dexter has slotted into small town life as a well-liked sales associate at a fish-and-game store under the name Jim Lindsay, which is a nod to Jeff Lindsay, creator of the Dexter novels

Low-key living: Dexter has slotted into small town life as a well-liked sales associate at a fish-and-game store under the name Jim Lindsay, which is a nod to Jeff Lindsay, creator of the Dexter novels

The critic concluded: ‘Dexter: New Blood can’t undo what the original series finale did. It follows up on the new world order it established but doesn’t follow down that lumberjack path. Dexter: New Blood’ is still ‘Dexter,’ though, so all the strengths are there as well as all the weaknesses. 

‘(There are also surprisingly more needle drops here than there were in the original series.) It’s possible this is the redemptive season that the series’ needed — and even one that the fans wanted — but it doesn’t change the long, messy road it took to get here.’

Also weighing in was the Hollywood Reporter, who decribed Phillip’s revival as a ‘recalibration’ of what he created in the show’s early seasons. 

The critic said: ‘It attempts to redeem some of the dumb aspects of the closing installments and to craft a more fitting resolution than one that finds a serial killer with 130-plus corpses to his name living out the rest of his life engaged in intermediate woodworking.’

Balance: Viewers see Dexter trying to balance his continued role as an American Everyman, while battling his inner demons and also attempting to forge a relationship with Harrison

Balance: Viewers see Dexter trying to balance his continued role as an American Everyman, while battling his inner demons and also attempting to forge a relationship with Harrison

‘Based on four episodes, it can be said that Dexter: New Blood is neither as bad as seasons six through eight nor as good as seasons one through four.’    

‘Dexter: New Blood is trying to move the franchise forward and backsliding at the same time.’

They added that while Dexter arrived on TV as a ‘creative vanguard’ he is now at the back of the pack, following the evolution of charactres such as Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley and Netflix’s Joe from You. 

The Hollywood Reporter admitted that while the show isn’t so far ‘coasting’ it is relying on the sense of relief that Dexter isn’t at the place where viewers left him in season eight.  

They added: ‘It remains to be seen whether New Blood will steer the franchise to a better resting place or into another hurricane of disappointment.’

While critics were left uncertain over Dexter’s return, fans of the show welcomed the character and show’s revival with open arms as they celebrated the first episode of the programme on Twitter.

One person, who admitted the first episode was a promising start, said: ‘Dexter: New Blood. Good start… looking forward to how it develops.’ 

Reaction: While critics were left uncertain over Dexter's return, fans of the show welcomed the character and show's revival with open arms

Reaction: While critics were left uncertain over Dexter’s return, fans of the show welcomed the character and show’s revival with open arms

Another wrote: ‘Just finished Dexter: New Blood & he’s baaaack!’

A third raved: ‘Today I watched Dexter: New Bloody first episode… I was surprised how this seris of 9.6 rating now I know why!!’

Referencing the poor reviews, another said: ‘The critics who are panning Dexter: New Blood must be the same dips***s who panned Joker.

‘The premiere was great, which so many emotional callbacks to the original series, but introducing enough new elements to create a very different vibe.

‘Absolutely loved it. Enthralling’

Another excited viewer, wrote: ‘AHHH. Watched Dexter: New Blood today. AHHH!!! yessss! So f****g excited. Looking good so far. 

One other noted the disappointing final season and sadi: 'The first episode of Dexter: New Blood is better than the entirety of Season 8'

One other noted the disappointing final season and sadi: ‘The first episode of Dexter: New Blood is better than the entirety of Season 8’

A different person wrote: ‘Dexter: New Blood fire asf, can’t wait for ep 2.’

Another said: ‘Dexter: New Blood… oh boy.’

One other noted the disappointing final season and said: ‘The first episode of Dexter: New Blood is better than the entirety of Season 8.’

Another added ‘Dexter: New Blood has me hooked already!’ 

Another added 'Dexter: New Blood has me hooked already!'

Another added ‘Dexter: New Blood has me hooked already!’

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