A Special Dexter Gift From Showtime: Analyzing The Official Script For Episode 1, “Cold Snap”

Let's break down the official script of Dexter: New Blood episode 1 "Cold Snap"!

Nick Henderson | DexterDaily.com

Last week, Showtime reached out to a handful of dedicated Dexter fans on social media with an offer to mail them a special gift as thanks for their excitement and dedication leading up to the release of Dexter: New Blood. The Dexter gods shined on me once again as I was among those selected. Fast forward a week or so and packages started to arrive in mailboxes. What we received, I was not ready for...

Nick Henderson | DexterDaily.com

Showtime sent printed copies of the teleplay for “Cold Snap” (Episode 1 of Dexter: New Blood) complete with a list of dated revisions, cast members, music, and sets. The manuscript arrived in mailboxes in a brown envelope with a “Fred’s Fish & Game” stamp in the top left corner and the cover sheet included smeared blood that differed from copy to copy (Based on photos from other fans, it’s clear the blood itself was applied to each individual copy and was not photo-copied). The package also included a personal note from Clyde Phillips that reads:

Dexter: New Blood’ would never be as special without loyal fans like you. And it’s because of you that we strive every day to try harder - to do better. I can promise you one thing - This season is going to be killer! All best wishes

- Clyde Phillips

The teleplay was written by Clyde Phillips and based on a story he co-wrote with Adam Rapp. As someone who has now watched that first episode 4 times, sitting down to read the script was a fascinating window into the development process of the show. Not only does it show how the final product reflects what was written but also where it diverges. While the episode that aired on November 7th is a faithful adaptation of the script we were sent, there are plenty of instances where scenes or dialogue were altered either in the moment on set or in a revised version of the script that came later (the version we were sent was dated March 29, 2021 and was labeled as “Double Blue Revisions”).

Nick Henderson | DexterDaily.com

What I found most fascinating while reading was how much it felt like a window into Clyde’s vision. The script occasionally describes sets or character behaviors in ways that indicate certain aspects of the production may not have been set in stone yet. It also draws a clear picture of what Dexter is thinking or doing while the episode itself had to rely on providing context clues to the audience. Below are a few of the big takeaways or differences that caught my attention:

Clues about Iris

Page 16 | Scene 12 - Dexter looks to Angela’s desk and sees a framed PHOTO of a teenage Angela and another indigenous girl (IRIS, 16). Arms linked. Matching beaded friendship bracelets. Standing in front of the ‘Seneca Nation’ gateway sign.

With the show three episodes deep now, we are still largely in the cold about the identity and history of Iris. Her name has come up several times in relation to Angela but the nature of her relationship is being slowly drip fed to us through context clues. My initial thoughts were that Iris was may be Angela’s biological daughter who disappeared. However, the script gets right to the point and identifies Iris as a childhood friend who clearly was very close to Angela when they were teens. Following her disappearance, her fate is unknown and it seems like the Seneca Nation levels some of the blame at Angela.

Nick Henderson | DexterDaily.com
Life. One Bite at a Time.

Page 19 | Scene 13 | Deleted Scene - Dexter at a small table eating his modest lunch: tuna sandwich, chips, ice water. Here’s the thing - Dexter eats his meal in REG-MO while everyone else moves at HYPER SPEED. Kids scramble. Waitresses zoom by. The cook places a dish on the bar. Rings a bell. Dexter slowly munches. Looks straight ahead. No interaction. No laptop. No book. Just… lunch. An island of tranquility in a roiling sea of humanity. This is what his life looks like when he’s not a serial killer. This is his life one bite at a time.

I’m not sure if this scene was ever filmed but it definitely didn’t make it into the final cut of the episode. It’s kind of a shame because I like the concept and I think it would have been another out-of-the-box means of illustrating Dexter’s mindset and his new relationship to the world around him. At the end of the day, it was probably cut because it didn’t contribute a lot and ultimately dragged the pacing down and further delayed the episode’s big moment in the last 20 minutes.

A Calming Ritual

Page 27 | Scene 20 | Deleted Scene

CLOSE ON: RED INK DRIPS from the broken marker at stipples the floor. Landing next to a few DRIED INK SPOTS. Evidence of previous bad days.

Dexter takes a yoga breath and riffles his finger over the completed calendars. A calming ritual. Much like he used to do with his blood slides. For a moment, it seems to work.

Dexter looks at the calendar. Todays’ diagonal slash now looking like a cut dripping blood - Eerily reminiscent of his old cheek slices.

Another scene that was cut from the final cut of the episode. However, this time we have a scene that was featured prominently in the trailers. While I can understand why this scene may have been cut for pacing purposes, the script highlights some interesting references to classic Dexter; Likening the way he runs his fingers across the calendar to his ritual of running his fingers along the tops of his blood slides. I especially like how they intended to use the drops of dried marker on the floor to infer that he has struggled with his compulsion before. It doesn’t add a lot to the tapestry of the show but it is definitely a reference that long time fans would have appreciated.

Nick Henderson | DexterDaily.com

In this Together

Page 44 | Scene 36

Dexter feels terrible about all of this. Deb recognizes this.

DEB: It’s okay. It’s okay. I love you.

That lands on Dexter. Maybe the only thing that could’ve assuaged him in this moment. She gives him a soothing hug.

DEB: (CONT’D): We’re in this together.

Dexter lies back. Deb spoons him, rubbing his head.

DEB (CONT’D): Shhhh…

CUT TO OVERHEAD SHOT. Dexter lies alone in the fetal position.

Dexter’s nightmare about Deb being taken by the Dark Passenger might be my low-key favorite sequence from this episode. Not because of what happens in the nightmare itself but with what immediately follows. It’s a heartbreaking scene but the dialogue from the scene was written a little differently. I especially enjoy the sentiment she expresses when she says “We’re in this together” as it becomes clear that she is the one keeping him on the straight and narrow. When the angle cuts to the overhead shot, much like the cut in the kitchen at the start of the episode, my heart sank.

Nick Henderson | DexterDaily.com

Tonight's the Night

Page 50 | Scene 39With that, he plunges the kife into Matt’s chest. STAY on Dexter. The release of years of pent-up urges. Of denial. Then he looks to CAMERA and, at last, his V.O. comes up.

DEXTER (V.O.): Tongiht's the Night

Perhaps the most noticeable and impactful change I noticed between the written script and the final product is the in the timed reveal of Dexter’s voice over. In the script, it doesn’t happen until the moment he kills Matt and he says “Tonight’s the Night.” -- However, in the final cut, the voice over returns after he knocks Matt to the ground and makes the decision to give into his darker impulses. I think this was ultimately a really smart decision; It made for an incredibly impactful moment as a fan and a viewer and it avoided the cliche of saving it for the actual kill which a lot of people were probably expecting.

These were just a few of the more noticeable differences that jumped off the page at me while reading through the script. Overall, I love this episode so to have this piece of Dexter history directly from the folks at Showtime is an honor. It is just another element that makes this whole season feel even more special than it already is. Now I just need to figure out how to preserve and display this thing…

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