Dexter: New Blood is in full swing, and there’s one character we need to talk about: Debra Morgan. Since the news broke of her return, Deb has been one of the most highly anticipated aspects of this show. Viewers last saw her when she was very dead, and Dexter dumped her body in the ocean. So, the big question was how Deb would return. It’s a simple answer, really. Like Harry before her, Deb serves as a personification of Dexter’s (now Jim Lindsay) thoughts. From the premiere episode alone, it’s clear Deb is quite different from Harry. Up through now, we didn’t have such a wide picture of her role. As the series is currently airing, we still don’t know the FULL picture. But in just three episodes, Debra provides an intense look into Jim Lindsay’s psyche.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
From a Whisper
Deb returns in the beginning of the premiere, popping up throughout the episode. Even with the early moments of reintroduction, it’s obvious she won’t be in Jim’s life the way Harry was. Rather than a guide, Jim seems much more haunted by Deb. Those early scenes in the cabin hold a certain heaviness and loneliness. (Did anyone else feel that stab of pain when she disappeared from the table?) It doesn’t take a genius to see that Dexter misses his sister. After all, she was a massive and important part of his life. But more than simply missing her, Deb quickly becomes a manifestation of everything Jim is trying to suppress – his guilt, his fears, and his doubts. Soon, that becomes exceedingly apparent.
First, one of the most striking aspects about Deb is the way she personifies Dexter’s lingering guilt. Remember that freaky ice creature (aka his Dark Passenger personified)? Even in his dreams (well…nightmares), Dexter is helpless to save Deb. He couldn’t then and can’t now. Deb only reminds him what he did. When he wakes, he remembers how Deb relied on him. She tells him it was better she went first. Dexter was more equipped to live a life without his sibling. However, that doesn’t mean he feels any less miserable about it.
Meanwhile, Harrison returns. For a moment, Dexter is ready to reunite with his son. That is until Deb emphasizes his guilt about the people in his life who died because of him.
“Doakes. LaGuerta. Rita … Me.”
He then sees Harrison bleeding from the chest. Deb evokes that previous fear that prompted Dexter to abandon Harrison in the first place. So, what does he do? He turns Harrison away. He can’t take that risk. Of course, it’s only a matter of time until he finds Harrison and brings him home.
To a Scream
By episode 2, Deb is quite literally in Dexter’s face about Harrison. She believes there are only two viable options here: 1) Dexter will kill Harrison. 2) If he doesn’t kill Harrison, he will severely mess this kid up. She drives the point home by forcing a bullet down Dexter’s throat. Later, she laughs at him, citing that he’s being ridiculous for thinking Harrison won’t find out about the whole “Daddy kills people.”
Deb is still on Dexter about killing. This time, there’s the added factor of Harrison. In the original run of Dexter, he often worried about how his darkness would affect Harrison. In this episode, we see just how intense this fear really is. First, she laughs at him as he covers his tracks, thinking he’s only fooling himself. But he brushes it off, denies everything she says. A little later, though, it hits him. Deb makes sure of it as she shouts:
“You f*cking love that you’re getting away with murder. You can’t wait to kill again. You are a f*cking serial killer. You are gonna fail this boy a thousand different ways because of it.”
It’s after this that Dexter finally snaps and screams back, yelling at her to stop. On some level, he knows she’s right. Even so, he can’t afford to believe it, not after 10 years of not seeing Harrison. Deb reiterates Dexter’s gnawing paranoia that Harrison will learn the truth. Those seeds of doubt bloom into poisonous flowers as he tries to remember how to be a father. Every “what if” leaps to the surface again. And through it all, Deb is there to ensure he never forgets the mistakes of the past.
And the Shadow of The Dark Whatever
In episode 3, we begin to see a small shift in how Deb reacts to Dexter. One of the most blatant indicators comes when she shoves a gun (yes, a GUN) in his face. The search for Matt is heating up. ILPD brings in search dogs. Deb is absolutely livid. Sure, Jim creates a false (and temporary) scent trail. But still, Deb remains adamant that Jim is and always will be Dexter Morgan. Not only that, but Jim also still must deal with Matt’s body. He needs a more permanent solution. He can’t have anyone discovering Matt’s body. And he tells Deb as much. Only, Deb isn’t convinced that this doesn’t also mean he wants to kill again.
For all her scathing reminders to Dexter, Deb never eggs him on. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t the real Deb. This is Dexter doing one of the things he does best: compartmentalizing. It’s that ever-present guilt from his past refusing to take a back seat. The part of him that can never forget who he is but doesn’t want to give in. Still, old habits resurface (thanks, Matt). So, what’s so interesting about Deb is how it almost seems that Dexter is hoping she will give him permission. But will Deb be the one to do that? Maybe he’ll completely ignore her and give in to the whims of that old playmate. (Read: definitely. This is DEXTER we’re talking about.) Regardless, this tiny shift sets up an interesting dynamic moving forward.
Seven episodes remain, so there’s plenty of time to see how this new dynamic with Dexter and Deb evolves, even if she’s only a product of his guilty subconscious. With Harrison now in play and a persistent search for Matt, the inner battle between Jim and Dexter rages on. How will Jim’s relationships be affected? Will Dexter begin to sway Deb? Or will she keep pushing back against his homicidal urges? How long until Dexter kills again? We just have to wait and see.