Recap & Analysis | Dexter: New Blood Episode 9 “The Family Business”

DexterDaily's recap & breakdown for episode 9, by Nick Henderson!


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

It is hard to believe that we have finally arrived at the penultimate episode of Dexter New Blood but here we are. In less than a week’s time, this limited series will be over and the fate of Dexter will be sealed one way or another. As expected, episode 9 - “The Family Business” - builds off of the emotional connection that blossomed between Dexter and Harrison last week and uses it to do the heavy lifting required to prepare the story for it’s big finish. If that weren’t enough, it is an episode that bears the burden of also justifying the existence of the revival to the fans who feel burned by the original ending. Lucky for them, the result is a well-timed love letter to the original series that delivers some of the most earth-shattering developments of the show’s history.

“It’s a scary world out there.”


In Dexter’s opening monologue, it is immediately apparent that we are taking a trip down memory lane. Whether it’s the chilling tunes of Daniel Licht’s original soundtrack, the sudden shift back to the original aspect ratio, or the obvious Miami backdrop, everything in this scene is meant to evoke deep feelings of nostalgia for longtime fans of the show. In the sequence, a younger Dexter, in his prime as the “Bay Harbor Butcher,” strolls into a children’s “Playland” to stalk his next victim; a horrifying clown (seriously, who trusts clowns?) named Mr. Wiggles who has been hunting and murdering children.

In a scene that could have easily served as the introduction to the character back in episode one, Dexter describes the code and the standard of proof that it requires. It’s an odd but welcome nostalgic moment that suddenly makes a lot more sense when Harrison interrupts to ask a question. In that moment, it becomes clear that Dexter isn’t talking to us anymore. He is recounting this story to his son; at times even changing details at Deb’s behest so as not to overwhelm or scare him.


Since the events of episode eight, the big question has been: “How much of the truth will Dexter actually divulge to his son.” Using the story of the Mr. Wiggles kill, Dexter tries to carefully convey the concept of the code to Harrison; Testing the waters slowly to gauge his reception to the idea. He introduces him to the concept of a “Dark Passenger,” tells him about their shared trauma, and impresses upon him the importance of proving guilt before taking action. While his chosen language carefully avoids specifics, the true story plays out for us to watch in classic Dexter fashion. While Harrison clearly understands the urge Dexter is describing, he seems to stop short of realizing that Dexter is talking about murder.


As Harrison struggles to understand what his dad is trying to tell him, Dexter’s kill room is revealed; Mr. Wiggles lies secured to a children’s slide surrounded by funhouse mirrors with the photographs of his child victims (creepily dressed in clown clothes and makeup) suspended above him. Dexter once again playfully embellishes the scene by breaking the fourth wall while Mr. Wiggles struggles to make sense of what’s going on.


When Dexter goes in with the scalpel to take his trophy, he is stopped by Deb who appears across from him and implores him not to tell Harrison about the blood slides. Dexter agrees and the scalpel magically disappears from his hand. She cautions Dexter that once he pulls back the curtain, there is no turning back. In the final moment, Dexter agrees not to divulge the kill and changes his story; making it instead sound like he attacked his victim and scared him into changing his ways. In the flashback, he shrugs and delivers the killing blow anyways.

The entire “Wiggles the Clown” sequence is an effective and loving homage to the original series but it’s brilliance is that it injects elements of New Blood in really creative ways. Harrison interjects periodically and forces Dexter to choose his words and Deb appears to reign him in and keep him from divulging too much information. It plays into the idea that despite his deepest, darkest desires, there is still a part of Dexter that wants to protect Harrison from the truth. It’s a balancing act that this episode plays with really well, making it a dramatic masterpiece that speaks to the core of both series.

“We are what we are.”

After Harrison goes to sleep, Dexter returns to the summer camp to dispose of Elric’s body. He unloads his truck and cheerfully goes to work while Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” turns this twisted moment into the Christmas special that we never got. Deb stands to the side, poking and taunting him as he moves the body into the kitchen and lays out his tools. Much like the knife moment from episode eight, this is another beautiful shot thanks to the moonlight shining through the vent fan behind him.


As he prepares to cut into Elric’s body, Deb reminds him that Harrison is certainly not done asking questions. She tries to get under his skin about how inappropriate his actions are but fails to burst his bubble of happiness. The fact of the matter is that Dexter is high on the feeling of fatherly pride and not even that nagging feeling in the back of his mind (Deb) can get through to him. He shrugs off the self doubt and exclaims “We are what we are” before cutting into Elric’s frozen body. The gleeful Christmas music reaches a crescendo as the scene segways to Angela examining forensic photos of the Bay Harbor Butcher in Miami (uh oh).

“Ask me what the plan is. Ask me if you can help.”


The next day, Dexter gives Harrison the picture-esque Christmas morning he had hoped to find in Iron Lake all along. Harrison is surprised by the gesture but happily proceeds to open his gifts. The last gift he opens is his very own hunting rifle. Harrison is excited and uses the opportunity to dig a little deeper about his dad’s vigilante activities. Of course, Dexter expresses his general lack of enthusiasm for firearms but also explains that guns are loud and messy and make it difficult to follow the code. Regardless, he explains that this gift will help him blend in among other kids his age in Iron Lake.

When the two head outside to try out the rifle, Harrison initially appears inexperienced or uncomfortable handling the weapon. After some quick pointers from Dexter, his demeanor changes and he quickly dispatches the targets. Harrison brings up Kurt and asks if his attempted murder was a result of Dexter going after him. Dexter quietly confirms his suspicions and then uses the moment as an opportunity to spill the truth about Kurt.


Harrison is shocked to learn that Kurt might be a serial killer but the missing pieces of the puzzle continue to fall into place for him. Dexter watches the gears turn in Harrison’s mind. He offers some reassurance that he has a plan to deal with Kurt but then takes it one step further by giving Harrison an opening to walk through the door into Dexter’s world. Before he can take the plunge officially, Harrison remembers the gift he has for Dexter. He opens his bag and hands him a hand drawn portrait of Deb (cue the waterworks); a gift that immediately hits Dexter with another wave of fatherly pride and perhaps a twinge of sadness as well.

The target practice scene provided yet another subtle note of mystery for Harrison. It actually happens at several moments throughout the episode and we’ve seen glimpses of it in the past. In this case, it almost seems like he is pretending to not know how to handle the rifle. After a moment, he switches gears and demonstrates that he is way more capable with the weapon than we thought. It could simply imply a natural adeptness with weapons but I couldn’t help but wonder if this is another glimpse of a big secret that will reveal itself in the finale.

“Peace be with you.”

A bit later, Dexter and Harrison show up at Angela’s house for a Christmas gift exchange sporting some horrendous Christmas sweaters. Despite the recent tensions between the two (and her growing suspicion towards Dexter), Angela’s cold shoulder goes unnoticed by Dexter. Audrey immediately recognizes Harrison’s more positive demeanor and gravitates toward it naturally. If it weren’t for Angela’s weak poker face, the entire event would seem incredibly cordial and relentlessly normal… if not a bit awkward thanks to Dexter’s hilarious attempts to seem normal.


A knock at the door disturbs the festivities and Angela is greeted by Kurt. Dexter and Harrison are understandably shocked to see him show his face at Angela’s house. Nonetheless, Dexter takes charge and engages in a tense exchange of subtext while Angela and Audrey look on somewhat confused. Kurt taunts Dexter with a finger-gun at Harrison before letting himself out. Once he’s gone, the two swiftly provide a flimsy excuse and then leave to figure out their next move. Angela and Audrey find themselves suddenly alone in the house perplexed by the bizarre exchange they just witnessed.


In the car, Harrison catches Dexter off guard by suggesting they go after Kurt the same way he went after Mr. Wiggles. As the two head off to find proof of Kurt’s guilt, Angela visits the local veterinarian to check if she had sold Ketamine to any of the locals. To her dismay, “Jim Lindsay” is on the list which further convinces her that Dexter might be the killer she is looking for.

“What would justice feel like to you?”

Sitting on the bed of his truck, Dexter and Harrison scout Kurt’s cabin from the air using the drone that Kurt gifted him back in episode four. Harrison jumps at another opportunity for a heart-to-heart with his dad and comes clean about what happened with Ethan. He admits to setting the whole thing up to make himself look like a hero; a sentiment that Dexter understands all too well.


Harrison suggests that letting Wiggles go doesn’t feel like justice and then admits to fantasizing about killing Trinity for years. Dexter seems poised to tell him about Arthur’s fate but is stopped by Deb who appears for a flash to remind him of what’s at stake. Instead, he simply assures him that he understands the urges.

With the drone, they spot a peculiar looking structure beneath the snow on Kurt’s property. They even notice a pipe vent protruding from the ground. Harrison seems excited to go in for a closer look but is stopped by Dexter who reminds him of the first rule of the code: “Don’t get caught.” The two agree to return after dark to investigate.

This was another huge moment for the episode and the show. It’s a conversation that we have been dying to see playout for ages. Harrison, finally comfortable in his own skin, opens up to Dexter about his attack against Ethan and his desire to seek vengeance against the man who murdered his mother. It’s a quiet moment that baskes in the serenity of the outdoors and it’s a heavier scene because of it. Deb makes a brief appearance to keep Dexter on track but it is especially effective because we can see how badly Dexter wants to open the flood gates to tell his son everything.

If this is in fact building to a spin-off about Harrison, this may end up being one of the most important moments of the entire show. It suggests that despite having his own darkness, Harrison may be fundamentally different from his father. While Dexter understands and appreciates the idea of justice, it was never his number one motivation. Harrison’s questions and admissions throughout this episode might suggest that the concept may play a bigger role for him. Of course, the future is still uncertain so we will have to wait and see.

“It’s time for Kurt to know that all his secrets are out.”


Back at the cabin, Dexter is gathering his tools for the hunt while Deb pleads with him to turn back before it’s too late. He insists that he only wants to help his son the way that Harry helped him but Deb is quick to point out that there were alternatives to what Harry did (institutionalization, therapy, prison, etc) that all would have been preferable. At the thought of going to prison, Dexter lashes out, clearly disturbed by the thought of himself or his son being robbed of their freedom. His mind is clearly made up so the plan continues.


As Dexter and Harrison arrive at Kurt’s cabin to investigate the underground structure, Kurt shows up at Dexter’s cabin with a plan to ambush and kill them both. He douses the cabin in gasoline, lights it on fire, and then takes aim with his rifle from a vantage point that covers the front and side entrances. When nobody emerges from the cabin, he starts to realize that nobody is home.

Meanwhile, Dexter and Harrison begin their descent into the hidden structure under Kurt’s property. Dexter tells Harrison that it’s time to send a message to Kurt that his days are numbered so he stops to intentionally trip one of Kurt’s surveillance cameras. As Kurt watches the cabin burn to the ground, he gets the alert on his phone and watches as Harrison descends into his secret bunker. The gig is up and he knows it.


“Merry. Fucking. Kill.”

The moment of truth has arrived. Dexter and Harrison make their way into the underground bunker, triggering a series of motion activated lights overheard. They find the table that Kurt has been using all season to dress and embalm his victims before turning a corner and walking into a long dark hallway. As Harrison steps forward, the first overhead light is triggered and the truth is revealed. The hallway is lined on both sides with wooden display cases and rectangular viewing windows. Inside each case, propped up against a purple velvet lining, is a carefully preserved but lifeless victim.


Harrison, shocked by what he’s seeing, slowly proceeds further down the hall. As he walks, the lights crackle to life and illuminate more and more victims. Dexter, unsure of how Harrison will react, follows from a few feet back. When Harrison reaches the end of the hall, the final light illuminates the newest edition to Kurt’s grisly museum: Molly Park. Overwhelmed by the truth, Harrison turns to Dexter and asks him the question he’s been tiptoeing around the entire episode: “You killed Wiggles didn’t you?” Deb clutches Dexter tightly and begs him not to cross the threshold but the pull is too strong to suppress.


Dexter steps forward confidently and answers with (almost) complete honesty. He tells his son that not only did he kill Wiggles, he killed Arthur Mitchell for what he did to his mother (LIAR). The walls come down and Harrison says what Dexter has been yearning for all along: “This mother fucker needs to die too.”

When I look back on the season, I expect this scene will rank very highly for me as one of the best scenes of the revival. It’s a tremendous visual set-piece that delivers several powerful emotional moments that fans have been waiting for all season. While the music of New Blood has been noticeably subdued, the original tracks from Pat Irwin strike such an effective emotional tone.

I adore the shot of Deb clinging to Dexter in desperation as she tries to stop him from crossing the point of no return. When she vanishes, he steps forward and nods with an unmistakable confidence, finally admitting to his son that he’s a serial killer. The whole scene gave me chills and reminded me why I love this show.

“Go Big or Go Home.”

With the cards on the table, Kurt returns home to grab his “bug-out bag” and make his escape. As he prepares to leave, Harrison emerges and throws Kurt’s finger-gun taunt back at him. Enraged, he reaches for his gun but is quickly dispatched by Dexter who sneaks up behind him with his trusted needle.


Kurt has reached the end of the road. He lies asleep and secured to his own embalming table back in the bunker, flanked on either side by the actual bodies of his victims. Dexter puts the finishing touches on the kill room and uses it as a teaching moment for Harrison; Explaining the importance of leaving no trace so as to satisfy rule number one of the code. It is suddenly very clear to Harrison that Dexter may be downplaying his experience with hunting and murdering predators. With no secrets left to keep, Harrison asks him point blank and Dexter once again answers truthfully; His kills number in the hundreds.


Despite the massive gamble that Dexter takes in telling his son the truth, the risk appears to pay off. Harrison seems proud to know that his father effectively saved the lives of hundreds of innocent people. While Dexter’s motivations have always been selfish in nature, he has always longed to be seen by society as a good guy, even a hero. It’s a sentiment that you can tell pleases him in the moment and reinforces the feeling that he may have found a way to have everything he has ever wanted in life.

“It’s the end of the road Kurt Caldwell.”


Before waking up Kurt and proceeding with the kill, Dexter offers Harrison some fatherly comfort. He ensures that he can leave at any time if he feels overwhelmed but he chooses to stay. It’s a strangely touching moment given the circumstances but one that continues to pull Harrison deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. There is a similarly strange but fascinating moment when Kurt awakens and tries to break free. Harrison seems panicked by the sudden struggle but Dexter very gently reassures his son and then takes control of the situation.


On the table, Kurt gloats about the quality of his “work” which seems to enrage Harrison. As most killers do on the table, he does his best to explain himself and his behavior. He describes his ritual as his own twisted way of preserving the innocence and safety of these women by protecting them from the monsters of the world.


When Dexter calls Kurt on his bullshit, he proceeds to offer an alternative explanation that sounds a lot like projecting. He talks about fear, power, and terror and for a brief moment, it’s apparent that Harrison is picking up on the irony of the situation. Kurt manages to regain some ground when he realizes that Harrison doesn’t know about Matt but Dexter shuts him down and prepares to deliver the killing blow. He gives Harrison one last chance to leave before things get messy and then plunges the knife into his chest.


Harrison looks understandably shook by what he’s witnessing but reassures his father that he is ok. This is where things start to get interesting. Dexter explains the process of disposal and then proceeds to dismember Kurt as Harrison watches. It’s a notably grisly depiction of this process for the first time in the show’s history; A decision that most certainly is used to impress upon Harrison the weight of what is happening. As the blood starts to pool towards his feet, it triggers the memory of Rita in the bathtub and he decides to get some air while Dexter finishes up.

Kurt’s kill scene is a dramatic masterpiece. It delivers an incredibly engaging dynamic between the three actors and is visually stunning to look at thanks to the grandiose backdrop of Kurt’s twisted murder museum. It may even go on to become one of my favorite kill scenes of the show.

The real brilliance of this scene is how it used Harrison to subvert my expectations and leave me completely unsure about where the season is going to end. Up until this point, we have been led to believe that Harrison is comfortable with what’s going on and even eager to follow in his dad’s footsteps. However, in the final moments of this scene, as Dexter is sawing Kurt’s arm off, the nuance of Jack Alcott’s performance and some brilliant camera tricks made me question everything. Is he truly ok with this? Or is he disgusted and remorseful? All I know is that I thought I knew the answers to these questions and now I don’t. Luckily, that’s the way I like it.

Where do we go from here?

As the episode ends, the final pieces start to fall into place for the big finish. Angela realizes Molly is missing, Dexter and Harrison are shocked to find out their cabin has burned to the ground, and Angela finds a handwritten note (presumably from Kurt) that simply says “Jim Lindsay killed Matt Caldwell.” With that final surprise, we’re officially off to the races.


Where we go from here is a more complicated question than normal for obvious reasons so look out for another article coming from me this Saturday in which I dig into my own personal predictions ahead of the finale. For now, all I can say is that Episode 9 may be one of my favorite episodes of the entire series.

My Score:  10 out of 10

Next Week:  Sins of the Father

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