‘Dexter: New Blood’ pretty quickly gets back under your skin

‘Dexter: New Blood’ pretty quickly gets back under your skin
Seacia Pavao/Showtime

“Dexter” finished on such a dreary note in 2013 that the first reaction to a planned revival was “Why?” Yet time has helped expunge the bad taste, as the limited series “Dexter: New Blood” infuses new, um, juice into the old serial killer with a code, placing him in a different climate while probing the age-old question of whether it’s truly possible to escape the past.

Much of that has to do with Michael C. Hall’s mastery of the title role, speaking volumes with strained expressions and lovingly tending to his knives. The show also has considerable fun with planting Dexter Morgan in an environment completely different from Miami, with the character having taken refuge in a small wilderness community where he works at the fish-and-game store and is dating the local sheriff (Julia Jones), which seems unnecessarily risky given the “Dark Passenger” within him.

After the terrible decision to kill his sister Debra, the producers have managed to incorporate Jennifer Carpenter by having her serve as Dexter’s unseen conscience, filling the role that his late adoptive father once did.

Of course, the idyllic nature of Dexter’s existence can’t stay that way for long (or there’d be no blood, new or otherwise), but the premiere takes its time building toward what might trigger its protagonist to fall off the wagon, while sweetening the mystery with a number of missing persons in the area. Assuming someone is responsible for that, well, that’s the sort of situation that Harry’s “code” — channeling his impulses into killing those that he deems deserve it — was designed to address.

Introduced in 2006, “Dexter” came out amid a wave of TV antiheroes, and in advance of suave sociopaths like “You’s” Joe Goldberg in mixing corpses and comedy. The series also contained an intriguing nature-nurture aspect regarding the roots of evil and whether it could be channeled into more prosocial expressions if not eradicated — an element cleverly incorporated in this latest run in a way that circles back to the earlier series.

Hall has said he felt fans deserved a better sendoff, but let’s face it, Dexter and his Dark Passenger could have just as easily stayed anonymous and encore-free without anyone shedding a tear.

Nevertheless, now that it’s here, through four episodes the show effectively pulls viewers from chapter to chapter. And given the Hollywood mindset that anything worth doing is eventually worth redoing, if Dexter had to come back, “New Blood” pretty quickly justifies the visit by getting back under your skin.

“Dexter: New Blood” premieres Nov. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

The-CNN-Wire
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