Dexter: New Blood brings Deb back as the show’s new Dark Passenger, and here’s why a dead family member always plays that role for the titular killer. The Showtime reboot recently premiered, setting up Dexter Morgan’s (Michael C. Hall) new life as “Jim Lindsay” in the snowy, sleepy town of Iron Lake, NY. Though the original dramedy left plenty of characters behind, the revival brings back the likes of his son, Harrison, and the ghost of his adoptive sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). Of course, the timeline/location shift also sees Deb return as Dexter’s new Dark Passenger (what he’s always called his compulsion to kill) in lieu of the duo’s father, Harry (James Remar) – who always served as part of the star’s inner voice in the original show.
Dexter seasons 1-8 aired from 2006 to 2013, following the namesake character during his time as a Miami blood-spatter analyst who doubled as a vigilante killer by night. In addition to wrestling with his own homicidal demons, he was also plagued by the deaths of those close to or around him throughout the series. Dexter even felt himself to be such a danger that he faked his own death and started a new life in the original finale to protect Harrison. Deb famously died at the series’ end as well, when Dexter took her off life support while she was stuck in a gunshot wound-caused coma.
Related: Dexter: Why Deb Is The New Dark Passenger (And Not Harry)
Of course, the event was a significant character loss; Deb was always one of the most important people in Dexter’s life – and she knew him better than anyone else ever did. Interestingly, Deb returns in Dexter season 9. Haunted by her death and his role in the circumstances leading up to it, a ghostly version of her exists in her brother’s psyche, rooting for and praising his restraint in the face of seemingly inescapable blood lust. It’s certainly not shocking that Deb returns for the reboot, but it’s intriguing that Dexter’s Dark Passenger is, once again, a dead family member. It seems to be a very intentional choice; not only were Deb and Harry some of the only family he ever had growing up, but they were also the people that knew Dexter and his dark urges the best out of anyone in the show.
As a clever coping mechanism, the titular character internalized both of them as components of his conscience. Harry was the only father he ever knew, and he gave Dexter a code to channel his Dark Passenger. Harry was also the first person to support him while he grappled with his violent demons. Deb, on the other hand, was more of a grounding force for Dexter during his adult life, post-Harry’s death. However, though there’s a certain sentimental pseudo-sweetness to Harry and Debs’ ghostly manifestations, there’s an eerie and haunting aspect to their past and current presence, as well. Both characters had deaths that were connected to Dexter – Deb was shot while chasing the Brain Surgeon and Harry took his own life (a fact revealed during the original series) after being completely horrified by who he had helped his son become.
Part internalized conscience and part searing guilt, Dexter: New Blood features the return of Deb’s character by bringing her back as the star’s Dark Passenger. It’s a smart choice, which fans appreciate. But, even so, that choice has dark undertones, and further emphasizes how the show’s namesake killer can’t even escape his past years later, as a new person in an entirely new place.