It seems to be official: The recent iteration of the life of Dexter Morgan has atoned for the mistakes of its past. And there were a number of them—
“He worked in the police department and never got caught!?”
“That incest plot-line between him and his sister!!??”
I agree. Totally jumped the shark. And most of all—
“The finale of the original series was…”
Well, I think I’m one of the few fans that actually liked the ending of the original show. Buenos Aries sounds lovely, I don’t mind Oregon, and I knew in my heart that Dexter would come back.
And he did. The recent, 10-episode series Dexter: New Blood on Showtime was a hit. I, for one, really liked the characters, particularly Alano Miller as the beloved wrestling coach and ill-fated cop, Sergeant Logan, and Jack Alcott as the now-teenaged Harrison, Dexter’s son. But, there was one character that stood out to me the most — Police Chief Angela Bishop, played by Julia Jones. I need to back-up a bit to explain why.
In an early episode, Chief Bishop’s daughter, Audrey, played by Johnny Sequoyah, was wearing a t-shirt with the letters “MMIW” written across the front. This was a bit of an Easter egg, I think, for those aware of the MMIW movement, and a callout for those who don’t.
#MMIW stands for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. As explained at the Lakota-based website, Sicangu CDC, these crimes against women, girls, and two-spirits have been going on for generations. It’s a modern-day problem, not just a throwback to 1492.
Indigenous femmes are killed 10x more frequently than other American women. Minnesota Law Review reports that –
Native American women suffer sexual assault at a much higher rate and with more serious consequences than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Further, such rapes are overwhelmingly committed by individuals outside the Native American community.
As Sicangu CDC explains, the MMIW slogan and hashtag were established “to give voice to women whose stories have not been heard.” In recent years, it seems that “mainstream” entertainment may be starting to pay attention, just a little bit. For instance, the 2017 movie Wind River, set in west-central Wyoming, dealt heavily with the MMIW topic. New Blood highlighted the problem via the character of Angela Bishop, a Seneca woman in charge of an off-reservation (read “white”) police department. (And how cool is that?)
Sidenote: She is also Dexter’s girlfriend, and therefore it is probably no surprise that her story begins tragically. When she was a teenager, her best friend, Iris, went missing. Folks chalked her up to a runaway, but Angela knew that even if Iris did run, she would not have left her loved ones to worry for so long. Over the decades, in addition to Iris, Angela charted the disappearances of dozens of girls and women, many of them Native American, on a huge bulletin board in her office. She kept their files open long after the higher-ups declared their cases cold.
As New Blood progresses, we learn that small-town big-guy Kurt Caldwell, played by Clancy Brown, was actually a serial killer himself (Which really wasn’t that surprising. You know when Clancy Brown shows up, some shit is going to go down). Not only did Caldwell kill the women on Angela’s board, he preserved their bodies in glass cabinets in an underground bunker. When Angela steps inside and sees the victims, she is naturally horrified, but she does something else, too—she says each of their names, first and last. Even if she didn’t know them personally in life, she makes sure to honor them in death. This seems like such a small plot point, but if you know, you know. I’m not Indigenous, so I can’t know, but I can care.
I think that Julia Jones’s Angela Bishop needs a series of her own. Just because her boyfriend’s story is over, doesn’t mean hers has to be.
Dexter Morgan is dead. Long live the Chief.
To learn about MMIW, you can visit the Sicangu CDC site here.