Recap & Analysis | Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 4 “H is for Hero”

DexterDaily's recap & breakdown for episode 4, by Nick Henderson!


SPOILER WARNING! The following contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the fourth episode of ‘Dexter: New Blood’ titled ‘H is for Hero’ - Proceed with caution.

Despite being one of the shortest episodes in the history of the series, “H is for Hero” is a riveting episode that makes good use of it’s limited runtime. It moves all of the important story pieces into their rightful place on the board and sets the stage for what is sure to be an emotional rollercoaster in the six episodes that remain. What it lacks in action, it makes up for in dramatic tension, beautiful cinematography, and important character development.

“She’s in my thoughts all the time.”

Considering this is the 100th episode of Dexter, it feels like a significant effort was made to ensure that the story celebrated Dexter’s relationship with Deb. Despite being an episode largely about the drama unfolding with Harrison, Deb’s presence looms large over everything. In a welcomed throwback to her days as a detective, the episode opens with Dexter trying to figure out Kurt’s suspicious behavior while Deb connects the dots with a collection of photographs laid out on the cabin floor.


In another subtle but welcomed creative flourish, Deb’s interaction with reality is manipulated to remind us that she is merely a projection of Dexter’s mind. As she verbalizes Dexter’s thought process, she draws on the photos with a marker and then magically removes the marks as Dexter’s theory changes. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of detail but I love it.


Later, as Harrison prepares for school, the father and son reminisce about Deb’s iconic potty mouth and her big heart; In this scene, it is crystal clear that despite being haunted by her death, Dexter is happy to learn that Harrison remembers her to some extent. As a fan, it was bittersweet to see Deb smiling in the background as this heartfelt conversation unfolded. As the conflict of the season ramps up, these moments of tranquility in Dexter’s mind are becoming less common so I appreciate them more when they happen. I never expected to become so attached to this dynamic but I find that it has gradually become the most important tool the writers have to convey Dexter’s state of mind; Never has this been more apparent than in “H is for Hero.”


“I think we should form an alliance.”

After a very brief and somewhat forgettable appearance in “Smoke Signals,” we finally get a proper introduction to Molly Park; The sassy true-crime podcaster from LA. More importantly, her role in the season starts to take shape along with the danger that she poses to Dexter. After several false starts with Chief Bishop, Molly is finally able to form a connection with her by proving her usefulness. Using her “army of armchair detectives” that follow her on social media, she is able to solve one of the missing girl cases very quickly and confirm that several of the other missing girls are in fact, still missing.


Not only does Molly make a fun and lasting impression in this episode, she quickly demonstrates why her unique brand of investigation could ultimately be a huge problem for Dexter. Her olive branch with Angela lands her an unofficial partnership with his Police Chief girlfriend and her (crassly named) true crime podcast reveals that she is already very well versed in the Trinity Killer case; a fact that I am sure will come up again in the not too distant future. Regardless, she has successfully inserted herself into an investigation that is dangerously close to spilling over into Dexter’s extra curricular activities. This is a recipe for disaster and I couldn’t be more excited to see where it goes.

“He’s so different. It’s going to be impossible to have a real relationship with your own son.”

The question at the heart of this episode is whether or not Dexter will ever be able to truly connect with his son. Harrison has proven himself to be in many ways, the polar opposite of his father: emotional, empathetic, personable, popular, etc. The lens through which they explore this question is the centerpiece of the episode: a planned school shooting at the hands of Harrison’s troubled new friend, Ethan.


As Ethan is preparing to take revenge on his tormentors at school, Harrison wrestles with the knowledge of what happened to his mother after listening to an episode of Molly Park’s podcast. Upon hearing Molly Park tastelessly glorify the story of the Trinity Killer, Harrison is clearly left wondering if he was impacted by her violent death. While it is still unclear how much of this has haunted him prior to his arrival in Iron Lake, hearing about his mother’s death definitely troubles him.


Next thing you know, the entire town is hit with a school lockdown alert and concerned parents, Dexter included, descend upon the campus to see what’s happening. When Dexter arrives, Ethan is being wheeled out on a stretcher with a severe cut to his thigh and Harrison is being treated by EMTs for a stab wound to his abdomen. With the event happening completely off camera, we are left to witness the event from Dexter’s perspective completely.


Harrison explains to the police (and his father) that Ethan approached him about helping him commit a school shooting. When Harrison refused and countered by trying to get him help, Ethan attacked him with a knife. With the drawings in Ethan’s backpack and later, the guns stockpiled at his house, everything seems to support Harrison’s story. As the dust from the event settles, Dexter starts to notice the inconsistencies in Harrison’s story.

About the Shooting: It’s sad that in the course of writing this, we in the United States are faced with yet another school tragedy in Michigan. If it weren’t so common here, the timing of this event as it relates to this episode of Dexter would be ironic. As the events in the previous episode started to point in the direction of an impending school shooting, I was a tad concerned. It’s a delicate subject that could have easily been mishandled in a show like Dexter. Luckily, I am relieved that the subject was handled with an appropriate level of delicacy.

While the shooting itself doesn’t actually transpire, the very threat ripples outward and impacts every corner of the community. To me, it felt like a heartfelt look at the impact bullying can have on individuals and communities without distracting from the central story. It is through this brush with tragedy that we see why it is probably a very bad idea for Dexter and Harrison’s worlds to collide.

“You are trying to turn him into a monster like you.”

After several failed attempts at questioning Harrison further about his suspicions, the episode delivers what is sure to be remembered as one of the most memorable set pieces of the entire series. Dexter returns to the High School theater department to try and reconstruct the crime scene in classic Dexter fashion. As he runs through the different scenarios, Deb berates him for doubting his son’s honesty. With his signature calm confidence, he places the knife in her hand and tells her to prove to him that Harrison is telling the truth. From there, the two re-enact the scene, exchanging knife blows and watching as imaginary blood is spilled; Never quite lining up with the patterns left at the scene.


It’s only when Dexter enacts his version of events that the blood on the floor perfectly mimics the dried stains left by the actual victim. Despite Deb’s desperate pleas to stop, Dexter turns the knife on himself and proves that Harrison not only attacked Ethan from behind but also that he stabbed himself afterwards to sell his story to the police.


In this moment, Dexter recognizes pieces of himself in Harrison as the truth comes into focus. Deb crumbles and demands to know why he would attack Ethan unprovoked. It’s here that we can clearly see that Dexter understands because he remembers what it was like for him at that age. He approaches Deb, touches her face, and tells her the hard truth: “He just wanted to know what it’s like [to hurt someone].”

This scene is a masterpiece: Not only is the scene in the theater beautifully crafted from a visual storytelling standpoint, it lands thematically on so many levels. With Deb serving as his human side, Dexter is free to be himself in this scene. He speaks very matter-of-factly and doesn’t let emotion stop him from getting to the unpleasant truth. In a lot of ways, he hasn’t been this pure as a character since maybe Season 3 or 4 of the original series.

I especially love the light touches of manipulated reality once again. Dexter doesn’t flinch when he’s stabbed in the stomach, blood spatter fades away after each scenario plays out, and the knife itself teleports between Dexter and Deb as they squabble and take turns acting out the scene.

I especially appreciate how much it feels like watching two stage actors feeling out a scene (an irony I am sure wasn’t lost on the writers who used an actual theater stage as the backdrop). As the scene ends, Dexter kneels at Deb’s side, touches her face, and then delivers his dramatic final line before exiting stage left. It’s a scene I am sure fans will remember fondly for years.

“This guy’s fishing and I just nibbled.”

Considering how much ground there was to cover with Harrison and establishing a whole new world for Dexter to inhabit, it’s not surprising that the “Big Bad” (still waiting on that snappy nickname) hasn’t quite made an impression yet. With that said, Kurt does get a considerable amount of screen time this episode. In the last 10 minutes, to nobody’s surprise, we even get confirmation that he is involved in the disappearing girls case. Though the episode stops just short of telling us exactly how he is luring these poor women to their doom.


As Kurt continues to spread his lie about talking to Matt, the central mystery seems to be in deciphering his motivations. While he is most certainly trying to derail the police investigation for his own nefarious purposes, it is still hard to make heads-or-tails of how much he actually cares about his son. On one hand, he wants the police to call off the search, but on the other, he appears to display genuine remorse for the way his son turned out.


We know that Clyde Phillips wrote this season around the theme of “fathers and sons” and that theme, as it pertains to the villain, really starts to come into focus in this episode. Kurt shows up unannounced at Dexter’s cabin with the intention of hand delivering a gift to Harrison for his heroics at the school. He seems genuinely impressed by the boy and perhaps even jealous of Dexter for having raised such a good kid. With Harrison at the center of everything this season, it’s starting to look more and more like he will find himself in between Dexter and his intended prey.


Before leaving, Kurt and Dexter engage in a conversation about their responsibility as parents for the way they turn out. It’s a juicy conversation that gives us our first real sense of how Kurt feels about his son. Despite being openly ashamed of his son for his reckless and dangerous behavior, he is also noticeably defensive when Dexter divulges a little too much of his knowledge about Matt. As always, Dexter is able to think on his feet and diffuse some of the tension but in the end, he acknowledges that Kurt was digging for something. While the conflict between these two is barely starting to simmer, I’m intrigued by the dynamic.

“He was born in blood… just like you.”

As Harrison attends a school meeting for Ethan’s intended victims, Dexter digs through his room at home to see if he can find the weapon he suspects Harrison used at school. Harrison delivers a short speech and uses the opportunity to publicly shame his classmates for torturing Ethan. As we flash back and forth between these two scenes, I found myself both reminded of the apparent goodness in Harrison and the deceptive goodness in Dexter in his adolescence. Is Harrison as empathetic as he appears to be or is he merely hiding his lack of empathy really well?


At least part of the answer to this question comes when Dexter discovers a knife hidden in the battery compartment of Harrison’s flash light. Deb stands in the door frame and breaks down as Dexter unfolds the straight razor; The same kind of weapon Trinity used to kill his mother. It’s a crushing moment but one that is filled with beautiful symbolism.

What I love about the dynamic of this episode is just how heavily the writers leaned on Deb to convey the war going on in Dexter’s mind. With Deb representing his desire for his son to be normal and kind-hearted, the Dexter we see on screen is pure “monster.” He is reaching for and clinging to any sign that Harrison might be like him because he knows that it is the only way that they will ever truly be able to connect.


In this final scene especially, we can see this dichotomy pictured in a single frame: Dexter in the foreground, clutching the straight razor and smiling proudly while Deb sobs in the background. The scene itself is beautifully conceived and executed and ends the episode on one hell of a cliffhanger.

Where do we go from here?

In that final moment of the episode this week, we are reminded that despite being a fun character to root for, Dexter always loses the battle against his darker tendencies. He’s not a hero to be admired when you consider that he now stands at an important fork in the road in regards to his son. His actions from this point forward will either serve as an opportunity for his own redemption or the potential downfall of his own son. The stakes are steadily rising and the next six episodes seem poised to continue on that trajectory. It’s an exciting time to be a Dexter fan. Stay tuned.

My Score:  9 out of 10

Next Week:  Runaway

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