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Clyde Phillips is rewriting the last four seasons of Dexter by granting fans a present-day incarnation worth killing for, an Entertainment Weekly exclusive reveals. Michael C. Hall and the cast and crew of Dexter: New Blood, a 10-part special event miniseries set eight years after the series finale, spoke with Lynette Rice of EW on September 9 about the circumstances behind the revival show. They discussed the details of Dexter Morgan’s life following the much-reviled season eight, and how much of Dexter is changing to correct four seasons’ worth of crooked kitchen knives, plot twists, and character development.
Dexter: New Blood is neither a ninth season nor a rehash of the eighth; it’s a standalone chapter in Dexter Morgan’s (Michael C. Hall) present that features a self-contained plotline existing entirely outside the events of the original series. It references all eight seasons, even the controversial last episode, but offers an alternate take on the vigilante murderer’s future that doesn’t see him fleeing to the wooded backroads of Oregon after dumping his sister Deb’s (Jennifer Carpenter) corpse in turbulent Miami waters. Think FX’s Legion in the context of Fox’s overarching X-Men universe; New Blood is a meaningful side-story where chronology blurs. “We’re not going back in time,” Hall tells Rice.
Check out the trailer for Michael C. Hall’s new Dexter show if you haven’t seen it yet:
In ambiance, pacing, and tone, Dexter: New Blood already diverges significantly from the original. It resembles neither Clyde Phillips’s first take nor the four seasons he wasn’t around. The miniseries is set in the chilly, boreal expanse of upstate New York, a far cry from sunny Florida, where winters are harsh, mountains abound, and residents are shut-ins seeking warmth from the bitter cold. In the eight years (ten, according to some outlets) since the series finale, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is now Jim Lindsay; no longer a grieving lumberjack south of Columbia River. He is starting over in the fictional town of Iron Lake, where he has abandoned forensic work and serial murdering for a peaceful life in the countryside. Dexter now moonlights as a run-of-the-mill sales associate at Fred’s Fish & Game, peddling seafood and dating Angela Bishop, Iron Lake’s chief of police. The original Dexter is essentially a past life and New Blood feels like an entirely new canvas.
“The first thing I shot was literally on a frozen lake,” Michael C. Hall explains. “The tone of the show is quite different. Most of the building blocks that create a sense of the show’s world have changed. The color palette of the show is different. Every piece of the landscape both externally and internally is altered. We’re not self-consciously thinking about whether it is less or more edgy, but it’s informed by and redefined by a completely different context.” The star of The Defeated recalls the vibrancy of Southern California, where Dexter’s original Miami scenes were shot, contrasting it with Devens, Massachusetts where New Blood is currently filming.
Dexter Morgan is unwittingly thrown back to the wolves, so to speak, when crisis befalls Iron Lake. He meets Mayor Kurt Caldwell (Clancy Brown) and his son, local punk Matt (Steve Robertson), and discovers an ominous darkness hidden within. “Jim Lindsay” can’t help but spring back into action, but this time he is accompanied by the ghost of his deceased sister Debra, who has taken over from their father, Miami police officer Harry Morgan (James Remar), as Morgan’s id or “dark passenger,” as the character often called it. The town soon resuscitates Dexter Morgan from vigilante hibernation. “We’re turning the cameras back on and finding out where he is, what he’s up to, and what kind of life he’s managed to carve out for himself,” Michael C. Hall jokes. “Pun intended.”
Like Michael C. Hall on his character’s newfound shopkeeping duties, Jennifer Carpenter, who plays spectral Debra, has only praises to sing of her new role as the apparition in Dexter’s head. “I thought the only reason to bring [the show] back was to see what would become of an unmedicated, unchecked, unpunished, decoded serial killer,” she gushes.
“What would the dark passenger look like if it had an all-access pass to this man? I wanted to come back and haunt him, comfort him, console him, love him, and ruin him. It’s such a difficult thing to speak about because it happened in such a way, we never shot any [of New Blood] in order. It feels like this encased season happens on a four-lane superhighway, but I’m this strange, weird, spooky kind of side road that goes somewhere totally different.” John Lithgow will reprise the part of the Trinity Killer a.k.a. Arthur Mitchell in Dexter: New Blood, albeit as another ghost.
Showrunner Clyde Phillips is determined to redeem the last four seasons of Dexter by restoring the show’s legacy to its former glory. His departure from the series at the closing of Season Four fostered a banal creative environment that gave birth to a Dexter Morgan that hardly resembled the pull of the original. Villains were largely forgettable and storylines fed Michael C. Hall’s Dexter with clueless stereotypes rather than characteristic wit and charm. Hall has defended the series finale to death since the show concluded but admits it “gnawed a little” at him, at Phillips, and the rest of the crew, to the point of considering a relaunch. “The show was untethered, and the character was untethered,” Phillips tells Rice. “I wasn’t in the room, and many factors go into it between executive producers and the network. But as an audience member with a vested interest, the show lost its way.”
“It was so confounding for people,” Michael C. Hall adds. “I can appreciate how it was pretty dissatisfying for anyone who was hoping for something definitive or some sense of closure. The fact that maybe a less-than-savory taste was left in people’s mouths was something that bugged me, for sure.” Phillips reunited with Hall in New York over the past year to pitch Dexter: New Blood and the Raleigh native couldn’t be more ecstatic. The miniseries may spell the end of Dexter Morgan and will feature a returning cast member as well as Dexter and Hannah McKay’s teenage son Harrison (Jack Alcott).
“It took what will, in the end, have been almost a decade to have enough spac to create storytelling opportunities that didn’t exist until now for it to feel right,” Michael C. Hall tells EW in closing. “I had always hoped that something would come together that felt worth doing. And it did.” Dexter: New Blood started shooting in February. The show currently has no release date.