Recap & Analysis | Dexter: New Blood Season 1 Episode 5 “Runaway”

DexterDaily's recap & breakdown for episode 5, by Nick Henderson!


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

After last week’s slam dunk episode, “Runaway” has big shoes to fill. Aside from picking up the layup, it also serves as the halfway point for the season. While the episode delivers some of the biggest surprises thus far, at times, it relies a bit too heavily on contrivances to get where it’s going. With that said, it ultimately leads us to the first game-changer of the season so a few small transgressions are easily forgiven. Despite having all of the major components of a classic Dexter episode, “Runaway” will likely be remembered most as the beginning of the end for this highly anticipated revival.

“What Harry did to you was child abuse.”

In the opening moments of “Runaway,” Dexter contemplates how much his son could actually remember about his mother’s death. He stares at the straight razor as Deb reminds him that despite all odds, he remembered the traumatic murder of his mother and it certainly isn’t out of the question that Harrison could as well. He argues with himself (Deb) about the pros-and-cons of coming clean about his past with Harrison; Justifying it as some sort of twisted display of parental support. It’s here that Dexter expresses the tragic nature of his character. He knows that he can’t be honest with anyone and that makes for an incredibly lonely existence.


When Deb unleashes on him in a desperate plea to spare his son the burden of knowing, she once again displays the dichotomy of her character in New Blood. Dexter recoils from the attack but she re-appears behind him to provide comfort and support as the tension in his mind starts to boil over. It’s a scene that emphasizes the conflict at the heart of the season: Dexter wants to be a good father but he also wants connection and he knows that he can’t have both.

First and foremost, I want to praise this episode for finally acknowledging the elephant in the room: That Harry is the real villain of this entire story and that what he did to Dexter was an extreme form of child abuse. It’s come up a lot in conversations among fans for years but it has never been addressed in such a straightforward manner as it is here.

Vulnerability seems to be a major recurring theme of this episode and Dexter demonstrates this in this opening dialogue with Deb. He comments that if anybody knew the truth, they would lock him up and throw away the key. He comments on how lonely his existence is and he sees Harrison as someone who may accept him. I appreciate this because it speaks to the core of why Dexter works with audiences. He may be a serial killer but his longing for genuine connection and acceptance are fundamentally human.

“I just humbly ask that you pay it forward.”


When we last saw Kurt, he was escorting a young girl named Chloe to his cabin. This week, we learn that he has offered to set her up while she gets back on her feet. When she eventually realizes that she has been lured into a trap, she proves to be a bit more capable than Kurt was prepared for. She creates a weapon from a broken mirror and then tries to tempt Kurt into the room by posing and stripping for the camera. While I certainly wasn’t expecting Kurt’s motivations to be some sort of sexual deviance, I was genuinely surprised by his visceral reaction to her attempts at seduction. He ventures well past being dismissive of her advances and instead tells her to stop before flying off the handle completely.


When Kurt returns to the cabin a little later, he sets Chloe up for the kill by unlocking the door to her room and waiting for her to leave. When she doesn’t take the bait, he enters the room and drags her out by the hair. When they make it outside, he picks up his rifle and tells her to run. Chloe weighs her options and in a moment of reclaimed power (and desperation), refuses to go down without a fight. In a matter of seconds, she charges Kurt who is then forced to gun her down at short range. The bullet hits her square in the eye and kills her instantly. It’s another unexpected curveball that destroys his ritual and sends Kurt spiraling out of control once again.

Throughout this episode, we are drip fed more of Kurt’s story and while the bigger picture is starting to come into focus, there are still a ton of questions. While we now have 100% confirmation that Kurt is the masked sniper, his motivations are becoming murkier. As the episode unfolds, we come to understand that Kurt has an infatuation with the song “Runaway” (much like Trinity and Saxon), his ritual is not motivated by sex or thrill seeking, and the phrase “Pay it forward” seems to hold some sort of significance to him. By the end, I was left with the impression that this guy isn’t just some sicko with a god complex but someone who feels compelled to commit these horrific acts.

“Either he’s crazy… or I am.”

Just a few scenes later, Dexter witnesses Kurt behaving strangely at the local tavern. In what is surely another part of Kurt’s killing ritual, he strides into the bar with confidence, plays “Runaway” by Del Shannon on the jukebox, and seems to have an intense and euphoric reaction when the song kicks in. Despite still not knowing his son’s true fate, Kurt dances happily around the room with Tess. While the rest of Iron Lake remains oblivious to Kurt’s lie, Dexter finds himself viewing Kurt’s behavior from a unique perspective.


The arrangement of these scenes is meant to clue the audience into the ritual that Kurt cherishes. It’s a ritual that has been drilled into us for eight seasons prior and for once, we are seeing the alarm bells go off long before Dexter does. Kurt’s joyous, almost childlike, celebration at the bar coincides with the capture of a new victim but this new, abstinent version of Dexter is a bit slow on the uptake. With that said, it’s not surprising considering Iron Lake is the last place he expected to find an active serial killer. Regardless, I am really enjoying watching Dexter slowly shake off the cobwebs because when the gloves finally come off, I suspect it will be immensely entertaining to watch.

Some of my favorite storylines in Dexter have blossomed from a singular kill that gives Dexter a unique perspective for the season that follows. It’s the secret that he shares with the audience that makes the show such a joy to watch. Oscar Prado in season 3, Boyd Fowler in season 5, and Viktor Baskov in season 7 all come to mind as kills that stirred up enough conflict to fuel an entire season of storytelling. It’s a trick that Clyde Phillips has used before to great effect so I’m happy to see it make a return.

The difference in Dexter New Blood is that the dynamic has shifted slightly. Rather than using the inciting kill to directly create the conflict, it is used as a tool to slowly clue Dexter into the fact that something isn’t quite right while both parties remain oblivious to each other. While Dexter and Kurt are obviously destined to collide, the slow build to that confrontation is fun to watch. The result is a slower paced season but one that I think suits the show (and the character) better.

“Why are you the only person here who understands me?”

When Harrison returns from the school assembly (from the previous episode), he finds Dexter, straight razor in hand, waiting to have a heart-to-heart. With his privacy obviously invaded, he goes on the defensive and the conversation ends without any progress being made between the two. This betrayal of trust pushes Harrison away and straight into the welcoming arms of Zack and Scott who whisk him away to a drug-fueled house party. When he arrives, he is shocked to discover that the party is for people on Ethan’s kill list and he is the guest of honor. He walks into the house and is immediately awash with the love and support that he had hoped to receive from his father.


In an obvious act of teenage rebellion against his father, Harrison willingly takes ecstasy. As the drugs take hold, Harrison takes in the party and ends up having a bizarre encounter in the kitchen. In what is either a drug induced lapse in judgment or a bizarre hallucination on Harrison’s part, a girl asks him to carve an “H” (for hero) on her foot with a kitchen knife. In a daze, he cuts into her and watches as the blood runs down the side of her foot. She immediately regrets the encounter and Harrison (hilariously) walks out of the room. When he runs into Scott, he willingly accepts yet another random pill which sends him spiraling.


Audrey recognizes Harrison’s rapid decline and she does her best to reign him in to no avail. In this moment of vulnerability, he appeals to Audrey’s good nature and makes an earth shattering reveal. He expresses his anger toward his father for being a liar and tells her that “Jim” isn’t even his real name. Before he can say any more, he collapses on the floor which sends Audrey rushing to call 911.

While Logan arrives in time to help revive Harrison and flush his system with Narcan (drug used to treat suspected overdoses in emergency situations), the damage has already been done. Harrison’s strained relationship with his father has officially lit the fuse for Dexter. I am continually impressed by how natural and compelling this relationship feels this season; Especially as it pertains to the series-wide arc and what it means for Dexter’s fate.

Dexter’s downfall has always felt like an inevitability that the original series was afraid to address in the later seasons; Perhaps (understandably) out of fear of letting go of one of their flagship characters. Regardless of whether or not the show continues in some form, this season feels like it is finally building to that inevitability and Harrison is going to be the element of chaos needed to get there.

“Sometimes you have to say yes to drugs.”


Dexter rushes to Harrison’s side at the hospital and quickly learns from Logan that the drugs were provided by a street dealer in a neighboring town. Despite Logan’s good-natured advice, Dexter, who is clearly rattled by the whole situation, lashes out in frustration. He eventually leaves the hospital with Harrison as Deb blames him for everything. In an especially nice touch, Dexter turns to confront Deb but finds that she has vanished leaving him to look at nothing but “Memorial Hospital” sign behind the sliding glass doors -- a subtle nod to the guilt he feels for Deb’s death back in Miami. When he turns back to his son in the parking lot, Dexter realizes Logan is right and switches into “Dad mode.” He tells Harrison that he’s going to see a therapist and he’s not to leave home except to go to school or to the doctor.

Logan really shines in this episode. He demonstrates his competency as both a police officer and a role model for the kids that he obviously cares deeply about. I especially enjoyed him shooting down Scott when he tried to call him “Coach” after Harrison’s overdose. Between this scene and his interrogation of Miles, he is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with for Dexter while also proving to be a good guy worth rooting for.

With Harrison safe at home, Dexter sets out to take matters into his own hands. With a name and location for the dealer, his first stop is at the local veterinarian. I loved his quip about the dogs barking at him - “Still got it” - because it clued us into the fact that he was getting some of that old confidence back.


He finds the Vet in the barn delivering a baby cow and flinches at the sight of the blood covered floor. He snaps back to attention and makes up a story about his goat needing pain medication and the small town Vet tells “Jim” to help himself to some Ketamine and syringes from her office; An offer he happily obliges before setting off to find Miles.

One thing I really like about the idea of relocating Dexter is how they are poking holes in his thought process. He originally came to Iron Lake to avoid temptation and to make it harder for him to kill. When everyone knows everyone else, it probably seemed like that would make it impossible to do what he does.

As Dexter starts to give into temptation, he is quickly finding that the small town lifestyle is actually more enabling than he thought. The Veterinarian in this episode is a prime example. She demonstrates the kind of trust and kindness that you often find in a small community. On top of that, being the monster that he is, Dexter finds the small town folks of Iron Lake much easier to manipulate than the street smart people living in the big city. At the end of the day, Dexter might have actually made it easier for himself to fall off the wagon.

With Iron Lake PD working on finding a positive ID and a last name for Miles, Dexter plants himself at the local dive bar in Moose Creek. Thanks to his well developed lizard brain, Miles isn’t hard to sniff out. Using one of his classic Dexter personas, they venture out to his car to make a deal. Unfortunately, Logan shows up at the precise moment Dexter makes his move with the Ketamine and has to change his plan on the fly. He unleashes on Miles and plays the part of the vengeful father until Logan eventually separates them.


“I'm a great f***ing father!”

After an intense and intimidating interrogation from Logan, Miles gives up the name of the dealer who makes the Fentanyl. With a little light sleuthing, Dexter is off to the races once again in the hopes of eliminating Jasper before the warrant comes through for Iron Lake P.D. Deb is quick to point out that this kill doesn’t feel right - It’s not about following the code or feeding his urge to kill, it’s about vengeance - a notion that Dexter casually confirms before slipping into Jasper’s house through a bathroom window.


In the house, Dexter quickly finds the pill mill and then slips downstairs and drugs Jasper in the kitchen. He wakes up later in a kill room Dexter has prepared upstairs - complete with photos of locals who died by overdose. Michael C. Hall delivers another electric performance as he explains to Jasper why he has found himself in such an unfortunate predicament. When he prepares to deliver the killing blow, Logan pulls up and parks on the street and appears to be waiting for backup. Forced to think on his feet yet again, Dexter uses the tip of his knife to force Jasper to ingest powdered Fentanyl through his nose, effectively killing him by overdose and leaving him for the police to find.

Like any great Dexter episode, the themes are driven home when Dexter is in the kill room; A place where he can be totally open and honest. In this episode however, the defining moment comes after the kill when the DEA arrives. After being forced to change his plan, the SWAT team kicks in the door while Dexter delivers a chilling voiceover about the sacrifices parents must be willing to make for the sake of their children. In this instance, he abandons his kill ritual to ensure he comes home to his son. It’s a sacrifice that Dexter seems far more comfortable making than Kurt which likely illustrates an important difference between the two psychopaths that will likely play a larger role as the season develops.

“Run as far and as long as you want, you can never outrun that rage.”

As the episode winds down, we are treated to one last scene with Kurt but it’s importance can’t be understated. With Kurt developing into a traditional villain for Dexter to dispatch, he is also starting to slip into another unexpected role: surrogate father for Harrison. When the two run into each other, Harrison is preparing to skip town by catching a ride on one of the trucks passing through Kurt’s diner.


Kurt offers to buy him a warm meal before he departs and the two hit it off. As they sit together at the diner, Kurt opens up to Harrison about his life choices and regrets related to his own father. Harrison tries to turn down the advice but Kurt insists and demonstrates the fatherly qualities that Harrison wishes he saw in Dexter. He offers Harrison a job at the diner and seems genuinely interested in nurturing Harrison into a good and kind-hearted person. While Dexter is also striving to be those things for Harrison, his choice to effectively abandon his son for a decade looms large; opening the door for Harrison to find what he needs elsewhere.

A Prediction: At this point, I am convinced that 1.) Harrison does not know the truth about his father (at least not the full truth) and 2.) this growing fondness for Kurt is going to place him right in the middle of Dexter and Kurt when they finally come to blows. This struggle for Harrison’s loyalty is going to be at the center of the story when we reach the final stretch. If you ask me, it’s all going to come down to Dexter having to make some sort of sacrifice for the soul of his son.

“I wouldn’t want to find myself on the wrong end of an axe.”


The last piece of the puzzle this week is Angela’s trip to New York with Molly. The trip brings the new partners to a glitzy hotel in New York to get to the bottom of Matt Caldwell’s disappearance. Of course, what they find is that someone else has been staying there and using Matt’s credit card which once again begs the question: Why would Kurt lie about his son’s whereabouts?


While investigating the Matt situation, Angela jumps on the opportunity to attend a law enforcement conference focused on missing persons cases. In an unbelievable (but poetic) twist of fate, this brings her face to face with Miami Metro Homicide Captain, Angel Batista. The two connect over drinks and Angela picks his brain for help cracking her missing girls case in Iron Lake. It was great watching Angel flirt and get shot down just like the old days; Especially knowing what we know about the boyfriend that she is alluding to.


Angela’s description of the case ultimately stirs up Angel’s memories of the Trinity Killer case. One thing leads to another and Angel mentions Debra Morgan and her brother who both tragically died after being tangled up in a “real fucked up situation.” On the surface, this isn’t particularly alarming until Angel casually mentions Dexter’s son Harrison. When Angela later returns home to Iron Lake, Audrey tells her about the comment Harrison made at the party and her instincts lead her to make the connection.

About Fate: Yes. The odds are astronomical that Angela would cross paths with Batista. However, there is something to be said about the role that “fate” has played in the series as a whole. It’s an abstract concept but the series has always played with the idea of cycles and unavoidable chaos. When I think about it from that perspective, Angel represents an agent of chaos in Dexter’s life. His mere presence, even in this fleeting moment, supports the notion that you can’t outrun your past and sets the stage for all of the dominos to come tumbling down.

Where do we go from here?


The proverbial cat is officially out of the bag. Angela has discovered Jim’s real name and in the final shot, we see that she has discovered a copy of Dexter’s obituary online. At this point, the story can go in any number of directions but I think it’s safe to say that this is the beginning of Dexter’s complete unraveling. What effect will this bombshell have on his relationship with Angela? How much will that obituary reveal about the events leading up to his presumed death? What else will she discover as she digs into the life of Dexter Morgan? Of course, this is the storyline that we have been waiting to see unfold for years so the next five episodes are going to be huge as the landscape of the entire show has now shifted. It’s time to hold onto your butts.

My Score:  8 out of 10

Next Week:  Too Many Tuna Sandwhiches

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