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Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Recap & Analysis | Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 1 “Cold Snap”

DexterDaily's recap & breakdown for the series premiere, by Nick Henderson!


SPOILER WARNING! The following contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the premiere episode of ‘Dexter New Blood’ titled ‘Cold Snap’ - Proceed with caution. I have also sprinkled in some notes about how the crowd responded to certain moments at the premiere and how the episode honors certain elements of the original finale.

In the opening moments of Dexter New Blood, Dexter Morgan runs through the woods, rifle in hand, as he tries to catch up with his prey; A beautiful white Buck. Iggy Pop’s ‘Passenger’ plays over the dramatic sprint and brings us rushing into Dexter’s new world in style. He takes aim through his scope, locks eyes with the magnificent creature, and then takes his finger off the trigger… He can’t do it. In that instant, it is clear that Dexter has changed.

Meet Jim Lindsay and his Imaginary Roommate

Rather than rely on an awkward exposition dump that immediately drums up old memories of the original ending, the writers play with the negative space to set the stage; They trust the audience completely so as not to immediately dull the impact of this highly anticipated revival. They drop us right into the mix and trust us to make the important connections ourselves. It’s a move that risks alienating new viewers while rewarding long time fans; a risk that seems well worth taking as it benefits the storytelling greatly.

With a few simple context clues, it’s easy to piece together: Dexter is living far away from Miami, reluctant to shed blood of any kind, and perhaps most importantly, his iconic inner voice is nowhere to be found (Remember Lumberjack Dexter staring out the window in tormented silence? This is one of the first elements of the original finale that is honored in New Blood). We passively watch as he goes through the motions of his daily routine of chopping wood, feeding livestock, setting ice-fishing lures, and cooking breakfast. Despite the outward appearance of peace and tranquility, it is obvious that Dexter is living a somewhat tortured existence.


Suddenly it happens. A voice off camera cuts through the silence and we realize Dexter is not truly alone (This is the first moment the theater lost its collective mind). Deb initiates casual banter with Dexter who reciprocates with relative silence and a quick dance across the floor to indicate that he is ready for his impending social commitment. He takes a seat across from her at the kitchen table and proceeds to eat in silence. She rests her head on the table before a subtle change in camera angle reminds us of the truth: that Deb is long dead and Dexter is actually alone. We knew it was coming but the framing of this scene hits hard and establishes Deb as something very different than Harry… this is a haunting; A constant reminder of what’s at stake if he slips back into his old habits.


While this episode certainly serves as the catalyst for the central conflict, it also establishes the foundation on which the show will tell it’s story for the next 9 episodes to follow. We get a better look at the town of Iron Lake and see just how ingrained Dexter, now going by Jim Lindsay, has become in the community. He is dating (and engaging in kinky role-playing with) the Chief of Police, Angela Bishop; He is well liked by the local butcher who depends on him to keep his knives sharp; He is even working as a sales clerk at the local hunting store under the supervision of the delightful Fred Jr (played by Michael Cyril Creighton). All-in-all, Jim is an affable fellow wearing a very convincing person mask.

My Thoughts: Dexter’s reintroduction as Jim Lindsay is straightforward and effective. But the juxtaposition of Jim Lindsay on the streets to Dexter Morgan at the cabin is heartbreaking (in a good way). Deb’s re-appearance, while not a surprise, was shocking in it’s execution. Dexter comes across as someone who is clearly not sane because Deb is portrayed a lot like an imaginary roommate. She subtly teleports throughout the scene and then vanishes entirely, leaving Dexter alone to eat his breakfast in silence. She exists to guide him and keep him on track rather than encourage his dangerous behavior the way that Harry did. She is a reminder that Dexter, at the end of the day, is a tragic character.

Penance, Meet Temptation

Three times throughout “Cold Snap,” we see Dexter return to the woods in pursuit of the beautiful albino Buck. By the second time, it is fairly obvious that the animal represents something very important to Dexter: his desire to change and to honor his sister’s memory. Running through the woods to catch a glimpse of the animal seems like just another part of his morning routine. So when we first meet Matt Caldwell (the rich and entitled son of a local big shot who has returned to Iron Lake for hunting season), we are expected to immediately recognize the threat that Matt represents to Dexter and his hard-earned sobriety.

After his attempt to purchase an expensive new rifle is temporarily thwarted by a government background check, Matt takes his leave but his encounter with Dexter has already made an impact. In fact, his very presence follows Dexter for the rest of the day, constantly popping back up and feeding him information about his reckless lifestyle that Dexter tries like hell to ignore.


The conflict with Matt finally comes to a head when Dexter is tasked with delivering his new Rifle at his father’s lodge. Dexter reluctantly shows up during a big, drug-fueled party and quickly learns more than he ever wanted to know about Matt’s past. In a drunken rage, Bill (aka Dickface) lets slip that Matt was responsible for the boating accident that left five people dead. The walls holding Dexter’s Dark Passenger at bay start to crumble but he remains steadfast. Despite his steady resolve, Dexter imagines himself breaking Matt’s nose with the butt of his shiny new rifle. Recognizing the dangers of temptation, Dexter removes himself from the situation. Unfortunately though, he is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

My Thoughts: Ever since the larger story started to take shape, I was intrigued by this idea of Dexter being abstinent in the years since the original ending. They briefly explored the notion that Dexter could fight his urges like an addict in Season 2 but it was short lived. With Deb’s death weighing on him, it makes sense that he might finally make a sincere effort to change. In this episode it’s an idea that is fully realized but not one that lingers so long that the show risks becoming boring. The use of the Albino deer in particular really resonated with me. You can tell it genuinely means something to him. Seeing this gentler side of the character is important so that when the walls inevitably come tumbling down, the effect is that much more potent.

“Everyone close to you Dies”


Dexter returns home to find someone snooping around inside his cabin. He approaches the intruder and quickly realizes that the young man standing in front of him (and the person who has been shadowing him all over town) is Harrison. While his first instinct is to run to him, Deb quickly reminds him that everyone around him, including herself, dies. She pulls the bullet from her stomach as a bloody reminder and the camera refocuses on Harrison as a large blood stain spreads across the front of his shirt. Dexter snaps back to reality and politely denies being the person whom Harrison is searching for. He gives him some cash for the bus and sends him on his way.

My Thoughts: Dexter’s choice to turn Harrison away is a tragic but arguably responsible decision made by someone who clearly loves his son. It was made all the more impactful by Jack Alcott’s powerful line delivery and Michael C. Hall’s nuanced performance. In the original series, I always felt like Harrison was a burden on the writers; A wrinkle they never quite knew how to deal with in the later seasons. Now that he is fully grown, his character can actually be involved in Dexter’s arc in a truly meaningful way. For the first time, I am genuinely excited to see what Harrison can add to the larger story.

“Tonight's the Night”

Unbeknownst to Dexter, Harrison’s return is enough to bring his guard down almost completely. In the final encounter with the Buck the next morning, Dexter makes a bold attempt to connect with the deer. He cautiously and respectfully approaches in an attempt to pet the animal but the moment is violently shattered when Matt Caldwell shoots the deer from afar. Blood splashes across Dexter’s face and the wall finally crumbles into nothing (at the premiere, it was almost like the air was sucked out of the room).

Matt, oblivious to the damage he has done, approaches and is quickly knocked unconscious with the butt of Dexter’s rifle. After a shocked pause, Dexter’s iconic voiceover returns in what can only be described as the reawakening of his Dark Passenger (The audience at the premiere erupted in cheers and applause when this happened - It was such an exciting moment to be a part of). Dexter visibly goes into auto-pilot as he prepares to give in completely. He slits the deer’s throat and maneuvers the animal’s head to allow the pooling blood to envelop Matt’s blood spatter left in the snow.


The moment has arrived. Dexter goes to work back at his cabin to prepare a kill room in his shed. He smashes a piece of glass and uses it to create a makeshift blood slide, waking up Matt in the process. The two have “the talk” that fans of the show have been anticipating for over eight years. Dexter’s mannerisms in the kill room are instantly recognizable and his banter with his victim is sharper than ever. Matt wastes his final words blaming his parents and warning Dexter of the shitstorm (or perhaps “Storm of Fuck”) that he is inviting upon himself. The warnings fall on deaf ears as Dexter swiftly raises the knife and brings it down. His inner voice finally delivers the line we have been waiting so long to hear: “Tonight’s the Night.”

My Thoughts: The last fifteen minutes of “Cold Snap” kind of blew me away as a fan. Starting with the sequence with the deer, there was both an obvious willingness to redefine and recontextualize the character and a reverence for the character as we knew him. The moment his voiceover came back, I had a newfound appreciation for his inner monologue as a storytelling device. It was strategically withheld until this moment which made it so much more than just a direct line of communication with the audience. It now feels synonymous with his Dark Passenger which is never the way I looked at it before.

His instinct to use the deer’s blood as a forensic countermeasure felt reminiscent of the Dexter from the early years and it gave me chills. The room scene is staged and lit in ways that used to be reserved for only the most important moments in the show. Michael C. Hall played emphasized the notion that Dexter is “out of practice” and it made for such a fun and playful dynamic between the actors. I especially loved the sharp movements and editing as he raised the knife and prepared to deliver the killing blow. Quite honestly, this whole sequence set the bar high for the rest of the season and I can’t wait to see if they top it.

Where We Go from Here

In the final moments of “Cold Snap,” Dexter throws caution to the wind and invites Harrison back into his world. He sacrifices the comfortable and safe relationship he has created internally with Deb in favor of being a father to his son; something that Clyde Phillips has indicated will be the driving force for the rest of the season. He acknowledges the “positive” impact Harry had on him in his formative years and yearns to do the same for his own son.


Next week, we are bound to get our first taste of Dexter trying to once again straddle two worlds. His apparent sloppiness in killing Matt seems destined to come back and bite him at a time when he is also trying to integrate Harrison back into his life. Meanwhile, Deb seems ready to go on the offensive in hopes of bringing him back from the brink. I am curious to find out if Matt’s body will be uncovered (hiding his body in a frozen lake seems very risky) and if so, how will his father (played by Clancy Brown) react? This episode took it’s time to establish the new backdrop and tone for the show but also wasted no time in setting the stage for a perfect storm of chaos. Coincidentally, watching Dexter attempt to control the chaos is when both the show and the character have always been the best.

My Score:  9 out of 10

Next Week:  Storm of Fuck

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