Friday, January 28, 2022

‘Dexter: New Blood’: A Closer Look at Episode 4 “H Is for Hero”

Last night, Dexter: New Blood aired its fourth episode of the season. In the first three episodes, ILPD searches for Matt, whom Dexter killed. We (kind of) meet another unknown baddie in town. Dexter also reunites with Harrison. For the most part, the build-up has been slow and steady (can’t reveal all the cards). However, last night, we saw a shocking episode that heightens the stakes. Join us as we take a closer look at the episode and that ending.

Warning: Spoilers beyond this point. Read at your own risk.

So, What Just Happened?

dexter new blood episode 4
Dana Starbard/SHOWTIME

The main plot of the episode focuses on an incident between Harrison and Ethan at school. According to Harrison, Ethan was planning to kill their classmates (which is true). When Harrison tried to get Ethan to talk to someone, Ethan got angry. So, he attacked and stabbed Harrison, who got the knife and in turn slashed Ethan’s leg (near where Trinity slashed his bath victims). Soon, Jim figures out the truth: Harrison attacked Ethan then stabbed himself.

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In the final sequence of the episode, Jim searches Harrison’s room for the knife he used. Finally, he finds it. Only it’s not a knife. It’s a straight razor reminiscent of Trinity. Deb stares in shock, while Dexter flashes back to the night of Rita’s death. Deb reiterates that Harrison was born in blood, just like Dexter. Meanwhile, Dexter doesn’t seem particularly torn up about this discovery. (I’ll get into that in a bit.)

Harrison Shaped Breadcrumbs

While the ending of the episode was certainly shocking, was it entirely unexpected? I don’t think so. Let’s jump back in time for a moment to Dexter season 4. With Harrison coming back into play, season 4 is the season New Blood had to revisit. For starters, Trinity was pivotal not only to Dexter, but Harrison, too. He killed Rita, after all. Of course it’s going to affect Harrison on some level. Infant or not. Harrison never had the chance to grow up with Rita, who was a genuinely kind, compassionate, forgiving, and loving person. While Hannah seemed to care for Harrison, she wasn’t Rita. And maybe she gave Harrison the best life she could. But more than anyone, Harrison needed his mother. He needed Rita. And while Dexter didn’t believe it, Harrison needed him, too.

Next, the season 4 finale paints a striking parallel to Dexter’s “birth” as a serial killer. Like his father, Harrison is “born” as he sits in a pool of water stained with Rita’s blood. However, unlike Dexter, Harrison was raised differently. We don’t really know much about his upbringing with Hannah. However, we do know she never tells him about Dexter or Harry’s Code. Additionally, Dexter was always afraid his darkness would get into Harrison. Like father, like son, right? And, as we see through Deb in New Blood, this fear still exists. Thanks to this most recent episode, that fear was validated.

Seacia Pavao/SHOWTIME

Jumping closer to the present, Harrison’s had his fair share of downs. In episode 2 of New Blood, we learn about Harrison’s past. First, Hannah died. Losing the only other maternal figure in his life, he’s moved back to Miami and left to mercy of multiple foster homes. Then we learn he struggled with drugs. (He’s clean now.) Dark tendency number one. When he begins school at Iron Lake High, he befriends Ethan. Harrison tells Ethan he’s being catfished and helps Ethan plan his payback. When Zach moves to attack Ethan, Harrison grabs him by the throat and threatens him. Dark tendency number two. All the while, Harrison battles with his anger and pain about Dexter abandoning him. Not a dark tendency, but still formative.

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Finally, Harrison chooses to listen to Molly’s podcast episode about Trinity. It’s understandable; this was a life-altering event in his life. Why wouldn’t he seek out more information? Nevertheless, this pushes Harrison over the edge. It prompts the attack on Ethan. Why? Per Dexter, “He wanted to know what it felt like.” Dark tendency number three. And three’s a pattern.

Let’s Put a… SMILE?! on That Face

Now, back to Dexter. Just after he says, “[Harrison] has my Dark Passenger,” he cradles the razor he found. Just before the scene cuts to credits, a smile begins to form on his face. So, this creates an interesting position, especially as it relates to how Deb exists within New Blood.

Deb and Dexter have two starkly contrasting reactions, which means that Dexter’s brain is really working overtime. First up is Deb’s reaction. She begins to cry, heartbroken at this new revelation. She was wrong and Dexter was right. Taking into consideration that she’s Dexter’s conscience, this also means the part of Dexter that always feared Harrison would carry darkness is also feeling that devastation. But Deb’s not in the foreground of this scene, nor does Dexter seem too concerned about her response. Not only does this continue to exemplify Dexter’s mastery over the art of compartmentalization, but it also reaffirms Dexter’s willingness to give into the seductive whims of the Dark Passenger.

Thanks to Deb, we know how that part of Dexter views himself. As we’ve seen, Dexter would also much rather try to ignore her. It comes as no surprise he reacts the way he does. Finding the truth vindicates him. While Deb claims he and Harrison couldn’t be more different, this is Dexter’s chance to prove otherwise. He now has something in common with Harrison. Dexter finally has a thread he can follow to connect with his son.

Where We’re at and Where We’re Going

So, where does this leave us? Before I get into it, let’s remember this episode isn’t even the halfway point. With showrunner Clyde Phillips promising a finale that will “blow up the internet,” the build-up has only just begun. Regardless, episode 4 offers a great foundation moving forward. Not only that, but it also opens a lot of questions.

First, I need to reiterate that Harrison used a straight razor. That’s no accident. His attack on Ethan wasn’t some spur of the moment action. On some level, it was premeditated. While Harrison does harbor some of Dexter’s darkness, he doesn’t seem to have quite the same propensity towards psychopathic behavior. (Well, not yet, anyway. He is about the right age…) Even so, this event will continue to shape Harrison. But how? Based on the episode 5 description, Harrison likely falls into an old vice. Perhaps he becomes overwhelmed by what he did, seeing no other coping method available. His visit to Ethan also suggests Harrison does feel some remorse. Yes, he wanted to see what it felt like. But it sounds like he didn’t enjoy the feeling. He now carries a heavy, guilt-laden burden.

Seacia Pavao/SHOWTIME

This will also shift Dexter’s relationship to both Harrison and Deb. For starters, Dexter will have to confront Harrison. It probably won’t go all that smooth, either. Dexter invaded Harrison’s space, and Harrison lied about attacking his friend. The two are at a crossroads. Knowing Dexter, the instinct he wants to follow isn’t necessarily the one telling him to discourage his son’s behavior. However, he’ll make an effort first. In the promo photo above, Harrison and Dexter (and Deb) appear to be in a therapy session together. So, it seems that Dexter finally realizes that, despite his new connection, Harrison desperately needs professional help.

Dexter still must also contend with Deb. Both were correct about Harrison. Deb’s persistence that Dexter would mess up Harrison isn’t inaccurate. And, clearly, Dexter was right about Harrison’s darkness. Things will only continue to escalate between them. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll listen to some reason from her. There’s still some part of him that wants to be a good father to Harrison. A father who wants to protect what (extremely) little innocence his son has left. Deb can help him do that.

There’s also another path: Dexter reveals his true self to Harrison, or Harrison finds out some other way. Because, at some point, it makes sense that Harrison will find out. One way or another. If Harrison does find out, will Dexter follow Harry’s footsteps and teach Harrison the Code? Or will he try to keep the Dark Passenger at bay, only suggesting some sort of guidance as an option for Harrsion? Perhaps Harrison will find his own risky method of coping if therapy proves ineffective.

It’s still early in the season. With the general ambiguity, it’s difficult to firmly predict what might happen. And with a finale title like “Sins of the Father,” anything is possible. Regardless, we’re (im)patiently waiting on the edge of our seats to see what comes next.

Dexter: New Blood airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Showtime. Keep up with our weekly recaps here, and the rest of our coverage here.

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