This article contains spoilers for Dexter: New Blood.
Regardless of what some fans and critics thought about Showtime’s Dexter revival, Dexter: New Blood has officially become the network’s most-watched series of all time. The show’s 10-episode run averaged around 8 million viewers a week. That’s more than Showtime’s previous signature series, Homeland, and the 3 million viewers that watched the Dexter: New Blood finale helped the revival overcome Homeland season 3’s finale in 2013 to become the most watched season finale on the network. Further, two million of those viewers came from streaming and on-demand platforms, setting another new record for Showtime.
“We’re thrilled by the overwhelming response from the millions of fans of Dexter: New Blood these past 10 weeks,” said the entertainment president of Showtime Networks, Gary Levine. “Whether they loved the finale or couldn’t bear to see it end, we so appreciate their passion.”
Dexter was certainly revived exactly for this purpose. New Blood and the success of new series Yellowjackets has led to the biggest increase in new Showtime subscriptions in the past year. Coupling familiar intellectual property with a hot new series worked like gangbusters and will likely lead to the network trying to replicate the formula in the future. However, with Dexter Morgan officially dead, playing the exact same hand next year could prove to be difficult.
That said, there’s always the possibility of a Dexter spinoff centered on Dexter’s son Harrison, who featured heavily in the Dexter revival. Fan reaction to the character has been somewhat mixed, with most praising young actor Jack Alcott’s performance, but bristling at what they presumed to be his positioning to lead the series in the future. While there are no current plans for a spinoff, executive producer and New Blood showrunner Clyde Phillips seems more than open to the idea.
“I’m open to the possibility [of a Harrison spinoff] if they wanna pursue it but there are no plans at the moment for that. Jack Alcott is a great actor,” Phillips told EW. But in a separate interview to TV Insider, Phillips seemed more than open. “I would love to do it. This show is Showtime’s number one asset and if they come to me and say, ‘We want to pursue Harrison.’ I’ll say yes in a heartbeat.”
While Alcott has more than proven he can anchor a series, the question becomes what would a Harrison spinoff look like? While the character’s origin story is eerily similar to his father’s, Dexter: New Blood’s conclusion proved that the younger Morgan did not share his father’s primal blood lust. Though Harrison may have to contend with violent urges and the trauma of witnessing his mother’s death, the character doesn’t appear to be driven to kill.
Inversely, Harrison seemed quite intrigued at the idea of delivering vigilante justice to criminals who have escaped prosecution as a means of channeling his anger and violent urges. Before Harrison was able to see that Dexter’s code was loosely defined and mostly self-serving, the concept seemed to excite him. While the latter seasons of Dexter largely treated the character as a superhero to their detriment, Dexter writers finally have a character that could appropriately carry on the Dark Defender idea.
Harrison could be positioned as a vigilante that follows the same code as his father, but simply doesn’t kill his victims. Much like Batman, Harrison would have to grapple with the fact that ridding the world of these offenders would make the world a better place but carrying out the executions would make him no better than the criminals themselves. Constantly fighting the urge to take his methods to the extreme could generate a lot of internal conflict. The procedural element of Dexter that most of the fans craved — choosing a target, finding evidence of their crimes, stalking the prey, and delivering “justice” — could still take place, just without all the plastic wrap.
Still, there’s a large part of the audience that comes for the blood, gore, and kills. Removing that macabre aspect of the show would make this a decidedly different series, and fans of Dexter simply may not want to follow Dexter’s son. No matter how great Jack Alcott is, he’ll never be Michael C. Hall, which is something that certain fans will always hold against him. While Alcott could eventually be given the space to craft something as layered and compelling, a large portion of Dexter’s audience may not be willing to give him the chance. Perhaps a Harrison show could overcome this obstacle by having Hall appear similarly as Jennifer Carpenter did during New Blood, as a representation of the side of Harrison that sees killing his targets as a simpler way to enact change, an actual demon we can watch him wrestle with, but would that be enough of a hook for the Dexter faithful?
The other option would be to reboot the series as a faithful adaptation of Jeff Lindsay’s source material, which takes the character into supernatural, and often much darker and pulpier territory. While TV audiences certainly were not ready for developments like Dexter’s Dark Passenger being revealed to be the embodiment of Moloch, a Middle Eastern deity worshiped in Biblical times, back in 2006, today mainstream audiences are much more accepting of genre television.
Using a character that fans are already familiar with would make some of the wilder aspects of the book series go down smoother. It doesn’t solve the Michael C. Hall problem of the equation, but at least it keeps the tone the same and the series about Dexter. Admittedly, a reboot would likely require a lengthy bit of separation between the two series, so it doesn’t help Showtime in the immediate future.
Superhero programming is hot and not going anywhere any time soon. Combining the genre with an enticing piece of IP like Dexter for a grounded vigilante series focused on Harrison could be a way forward for a spinoff, should Showtime want to go there. But there’s no guarantee that fans of Dexter would be interested in a series like that, because it would miss two of the key elements that made Dexter what it was. Showtime is right to not currently be exploring the idea of a spinoff, as it would cheapen and hollow the definitive ending to Dexter’s story, but there’s a way to extend the Dexter property if the network wants it.