Why 'Dexter' needed to kill again

Neal Justin
Star Tribune (TNS)

Dexter Morgan wants a do-over. You can't blame him. Even die-hard fans despised the supposed end of his adventures in 2013, especially that parting shot in which we learned that TV's most ethical serial killer had ended up as a lumberjack.

Now comes "Dexter: New Blood," a 10-episode series debuting Sunday on Showtime that's as much of an apology as it is a new chapter.

"I think the way the series ended has a great deal to do with why we're revisiting the show and the character," said lead actor Michael C. Hall, who has earned five Emmy nominations for playing the title role. "The show did not end in a way that was definitive for people or gave anybody a sense of closure. We didn't hear from Dexter. He didn't say anything to us when the show ended. I think it left audiences, if nothing else, in a sense of suspended animation. I think a big part of our motivation was to definitively answer the question: 'What happened to this guy?'"

Here's what: After chopping wood in Oregon, he's set down roots in a small New York town that couldn't be more different from his former home in Miami. Instead of cruising the Atlantic Ocean in his fishing boat, he's feeding goats.

Michael C. Hall is back as the Robin Hood killer in "Dexter: New Blood" premiering on Showtime Sunday. (Kurt Iswarienko/Showtime/TNS)

His Mayberry lifestyle includes a new girlfriend — the local chief of police — and visits from his sister's ghost, who helps keep him from answering his inner demons.

But Morgan can only be a good boy for so long.

"Of course, this is Dexter. People are going to die," said original showrunner Clyde Phillips, who has returned for the revival. "He will find himself struggling with the urge, struggling with his dark passenger, struggling with the fact that he was born in blood, and finally give in to that struggle. But the whole point is to put him in this tiny town so that everybody he passes is a potential victim. He's really got to do the work to find who deserves a stab, as we would say."

In addition to temptation, Morgan has to deal with the sudden appearance of his son, Harrison, whom he abandoned when the boy was just 5 years old.

"Dexter has a lot of work to do to win his son back and prove that he's a good father," Phillips said during a virtual news conference with cast members.

Persuading Hall to return to his most famous character also took some work. Not that the actor had ever abandoned the idea.

"Occasionally he would be interviewed somewhere, and somebody would ask about 'Dexter' coming back, and he wouldn't deny it," Phillips said. "I would see it and call him and we would talk about a couple of things. But the timing was never right for Michael. And it had to be. It had to be right for Michael, Michael's psyche, Mike's character, Michael as an actor, as a man."

Hall, who spent part of the past eight years doing the Broadway musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," said he entertained all kinds of pitches. His mom even floated the idea that the character would be in a monastery, meditating 10 hours a day.

"Honestly, I think from the day the show ended until we started this revisitation, it's been percolating," Hall said. It's been somewhat of a conscious, maybe unconscious, preoccupation. There's been a sense of it being unfinished business."