The series finale of “Dexter: New Blood” hit Showtime on Sunday, Jan. 9, and the Dexter community is still reeling. The shot of Angela (Julia Jones, “Wind River”) running through the snow to her car screaming “FUUUUCK” feels like an accurate description of fans’ reactions. I’ve been planning my words for this moment for weeks, but the finale was a needed reminder that in the world of Dexter, as in life, you can plan for the future as much as you want, but you never really know what’s coming.
I was prepared to tear “Dexter: New Blood” to shreds, along with its predecessor. It didn’t lack entertainment value, but it was insensitive with potentially drastic consequences — this is what I planned to say right up until my final 56 minutes in the Dexter Universe. The original series and reboot gained popularity based upon a single premise: This show may well have you rooting for a serial killer. At the very least, the Dexter franchise took a serial killer and made him, admittedly, somewhat likable. Cool, even. Not only could you understand his reasons for being a serial killer, but you were also compelled to support him — no matter how many knives he plunged into people’s chests with you as a silent witness.
As I’ve grown older, wiser and probably more cynical, that didn’t sit right with me. Regardless of Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall, “Safe”) reasons for being one, he was a vigilante. However, despite the attractiveness of disposing of evil, who is Dexter, or anyone, to decide who lives and who dies? Therein lies the problem: Dexter is a walking ad for vigilantism. Vigilantism is inherently dangerous and has the potential to yield catastrophic consequences.
Regardless of how attractive Dexter and his “code” might seem to be, his so-called hobby puts him in the same camp as Kyle Rittenhouse, Gregory and Travis Michael and William Bryan. Innocent people like Ahmaud Arbery, Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, Gaige Grosskreutz and more are dead because real-life vigilantes took it upon themselves to end someone else’s life. I intended to condemn “Dexter: New Blood” for allowing the glamorization of Dexter and his “hobby” to continue, but at the last possible minute, the finale evaded my fury — to some degree.
When I saw Dexter’s son, Harrison (Jack Alcott, “The Good Lord Bird”), shoot him square in the chest, I kept waiting for the cut where they show the audience that Harrison was only imagining it, and it hadn’t actually happened. It never came. Dexter’s blood pooled in the snow, and with each passing minute, I increasingly grappled with one question: Could this be the end of Dexter? Where the original series, and much of the reboot, had fallen short by not denouncing Dexter for what he was — a killer who brought harm to innocent people, most often the people who loved him — the “Dexter: New Blood” finale finally succeeded, once and for all.
Moments before his long-evaded death, Harrison said all of the things that I wished I could tell Dexter: “Shut up! You don’t really care about saving anybody, do you? You’re just feeding this dark passenger; it’s not even a passenger, it’s fucking driving. And you like it. […] OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE.” As Harrison raised his rifle and Dexter patted his chest, it appeared they both realized it was the only way to move forward. Up until that moment, Dexter really thought, as he had his whole life, that he was going to get away with it.
Unfortunately, in real life, they often do get away with it. Although the “New Blood” finale put a stop to the hemorrhage of vigilante glamorization, the franchise did years of damage that Harrison cannot repair with a single shot to the chest.
TV Beat Editor Emmy Snyder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.