‘Dexter: New Blood’s’ theme is fathers and sons

Award-winning drama “Dexter” aired for eight seasons on Showtime from 2006 to 2013, earning four Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Television Critics Association Award during its original run. Now, everyone’s favorite serial killer is back in “Dexter: New Blood,” a follow-up series that picks up 10 years after the original ended, but with all the major players (from both in front of and behind the camera) reuniting for this special event series — star and executive producer Michael C. Hall, original showrunner Clyde Phillips, executive producer Scott Reynolds, director and executive producer Marcos Siega and star Jennifer Carpenter. 

Plus, the character Harrison, Dexter’s son, returns for the sequel, though he is played by a new actor — and that leads into the theme for “New Blood.” Dexter’s relationship with his late father, Harry Morgan (James Remar), was a key throughline in the original series. But now the mantle has been passed.

In the follow-up, Dexter’s sister Debra (Carpenter) takes over as Dexter’s conscience, and the new father-son relationship is between Dexter and his now teenage son. A big part of why Hall decided now was the right time to come back to the show and the character is because Harrison would be old enough to be a major player on the show.

“A big part of [returning] was that enough time had passed … for Harrison to be of a certain age to be plausibly someone who has the wherewithal to track down his father,” Hall told the 2021 Television Critics Association summer press tour.

Dexter’s son thought he was dead

When the show picks up, Dexter is living in upstate New York in a town called Iron Lake, where he is “cobbling together a semblance of a normal life … he’s doing more than just existing here,” said Hall.

Early on in the 10-episode series, Harrison (now played by actor Jack Alcott of the Showtime limited series “The Good Lord Bird“) finds out that his father is alive, and that quickly sets the stage for the show’s over-arching theme.

“When we sat down and figured out what we were going to do, the theme of the season quickly became fathers and sons,” revealed Phillips. ” And you can’t do a show about Dexter … with the theme of fathers and sons, without bringing back his son.”

He continued, “Dexter had left his son when he was five years old, and the son has always thought [his father] was dead, and then found out he was alive and has a great resentment. And Dexter has a lot of work to do to win his son back and prove that he’s a good father. And we think we get there.”

The producers also praised Alcott, saying he came in to audition and “nailed it.”

“There’s an enthusiasm about him, a cultist shift about him, and a great depth of character to his character. And he’s a great kid,” said Phillips.

The series explores the idea of the sins of the father

The original “Dexter” definitely explored the idea of the sins of the father in a couple of different ways. First, the show explained Dexter’s dark behavior as stemming from watching his mother, Laura, be butchered by drug dealers because they found out she was an informant for the police through Harry Morgan, with whom she was also romantically involved.

Harry decided to try to mold Dexter’s dark urges and help him become the “good” kind of serial killer; throughout the series, Dexter interacted with several father figures, who oftentimes pulled him in different directions. When Dexter became a father himself, he was terrified of what Harrison would become after Harrison experienced a similar situation to what happened to Dexter’s mother, Laura, Harrison’s own mother, Rita, (Julie Benz) was murdered by Arthur Mitchell — aka the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow), who was also a father figure to Dexter.

When the series returns, it will pick up that thread with Dexter worrying about Harrison’s life.

“It goes to the other part of the theme of the season, the sins of the fathers. How these things are sort of passed down to our kids,” said EP Reynolds. “There was a great deal to explore there.”

But ‘New Blood’ does not necessarily mean Harrison is the new Dexter

The subtitle “New Blood” was “a network decision,” Phillips revealed, adding that viewers should not necessarily jump to the conclusion that Harrison is about to become a serial killer like his father.

“This is not the ninth season of ‘Dexter.’ This is a whole new embodiment of the show, a whole new imagining of the show,” said Phillips. “I keep using the word ‘new,’ because it’s new blood.  Obviously, blood has a lot to do with the show. It is, after all, ‘Dexter.'”

But, he continued, “Harrison is not necessarily the new blood. It is the fact that almost a decade has passed since the finale and we want to acknowledge that.”

EP Reynolds also wanted to make it clear that, along the lines of “new blood,” the show is not the “body of the week” it once was.

“We sort of stepped away [from eight to 10 bad guys each season] and made it much more personal. It’s about Harrison, it’s about family life. It’s about a father who is a serial killer and the effect that has on everybody around him,” said Reynolds.

“Dexter: New Blood” premieres Sunday, Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. (EST) on Showtime.

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