After season six’s game-changer when Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) finds out about her foster brother’s Dark Passenger, Dexter has put its stars in quite a triangle as the killer with a code finds himself torn between his family and his potential future as Debra has vowed to put Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski) where she rightfully belongs: behind bars.
How will Dexter handle the demands of juggling his personal life when his closest family member has a moral and professional objection to his new girlfriend? Can Deb and Hannah both survive the season? Will Dexter have to pick between the two strong women in his life? The Hollywood Reporterturned to Hall to preview the final two episodes of the season and how Dexter will square off with LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) and Matthews (Geoff Pierson) as the duo inches closer to revealing the truth about the Bay Harbor Butcher.
The Hollywood Reporter: Can Hannah and Deb co-exist?
Michael C. Hall: That’s a hope that Dexter has allowed himself to entertain but it seems to be revealing itself to be more of a fantasy than a legitimate hope. We’ll see. It’s revealing itself to be the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back in terms of Deb’s willingness to accept who Dexter is.
THR: Can Dexter really protect both women in his life considering Deb is hell-bent on putting Hannah behind bars?
Hall: That’s a part of the compelling dynamic that exists as we enter these final two episodes: Is Dexter going to be forced to make a choice between the two and if that’s the case, what will that choice be?
THR: Hannah has gotten not only into his heart but his head and Dexter is wondering if he can close the book on his Dark Passenger. Is that something Dexter could ultimately do?
Hall: I think that’s attractive in its way because we all can relate to reaching a threshold in life where we are seduced by the liberating nature of taking full responsibly of the things we’ve done and everything we’ve been but there’s another side to that. Dexter is the master of compartmentalization and there’s no greater testament to that than his conception of his Dark Passenger. For him to be more a more fully integrated individual is something that’s very appealing to him but it’s also physiologically dangerous at this point because it would mean that he’s not only fully responsible for all the foes he’s vanquished but also fully responsible for the ways in which people in his life have been implicated by his compulsion. He’s in pretty unchartered and hot psychological water right now and I’m not sure how he’s going to find or fight his way out of it.
THR: Can Dexter envision a future with Hannah that doesn’t include his Dark Passenger?
Hall: I don’t know. When he says, “There’s no Dark Passenger, there’s only me,” it’s the first time he really admits it is to Hannah’s father right before he kills him. Dexter saying there’s no Dark Passenger is not necessarily Dexter saying that he’s not going to need to kill. He’s maybe more prepared to consider that it’s all just him, he’s not possessed or afflicted by this shadow force, it’s just him and he has a desire to take responsibility and own it but what that will mean remains to be seen. He seems to think if he can vanquish the final surviving killer of his mother that maybe some door will be closed but at the same time at the beginning of the episode when he’s fantasizing the future, it’s one includes him killing somebody.
THR: LaGuerta is still looking into the Bay Harbor Butcher case — how might Dexter navigate her this time considering she has Matthews working alongside her?
Hall: We’ll see him deal with Matthews face-to-face and start to try and get him off the scent but it’s a tough proposition. I think Matthews lets him in on the details of the investigation on the one hand because he cares about Dexter and doesn’t want to believe it’s true but on the other hand, he’s gauging Dexter’s response to see if there’s anything suspicious about him and Dexter is aware of that. The show is always compelling when you see Dexter backed into corners and he’s in several at this point (laughs). Part of the fun of watching it is to see him fight his way out, whether physically or with his wits.
THR: The timing of Hector Estrada’s release — he’s the last surviving man connected to Dexter’s mother’s death — is very suspect considering LaGuerta’s investigation into Dexter. Might the two be connected?
Hall: Maybe! It’s a good observation.
THR: Will Dexter ever start to question if Deb’s lingering romantic feelings for him are clouding her judgment with Hannah?
Hall: He’s being forced to make decisions so quickly and instinctively that it would probably only be after the fact that he could assess the nuance of her motivation in terms of those feelings for him. While Dexter doesn’t necessarily reciprocate in the same way Deb’s romantic feelings that once existed — she says, “I’m in love with you or I was in love with you; I don’t know if I like you” — things have change since she had that initial epiphany during the sixth season (laughs). Dexter can appreciate that he has a singularly unique connection to his sister and that it’s of value and something that needs to be preserved.
The actress talks with THR about how ditching the “big bad” formula has helped reinvigorate the series now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag on the Showtime serial killer drama.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Jennifer Carpenter to discuss what she says is Dexter’s biggest kill, whether Deb could follow in the paths of those who have learned of Dexter’s Dark Passenger and if her tortured character could eventually find a romantic love that isn’t her foster brother.
The Hollywood Reporter: Will holding Batista (David Zayas) back from reopening Mike Anderson’s case continue to eat away at her?
Jennifer Carpenter: Yes. Especially because Batista has been more like family to her than her own family. It’s toxic behavior that she’s taking on and it’s going to start to feel like a disease. She’s confused as it is and this is just going to make things dirtier and messier and make it tougher soil to till.
Considering Deb continues to save Dexter — finding the wedding photo connecting him to a Bay Harbor Butcher case LaGuerta was investigating. How much is too much?
I don’t think Debra is someone who’s ever gone to the dark side, so to speak, but for the first time, it’s like she’s cracked a door and is peeking her head in a little bit and maybe it’s partly rebellion. She spent her whole life doing things right, by the book, at least by the one that Harry gave her. So maybe this is her acting out a bit. Deb is in a position of power now and unfortunately the way that a lot of politicians have to work these days a decision has to be made and you have to choose the best of the worst.
Does Deb have a breaking point with how much she can handle when it comes to Dexter’s “misdeeds”?
The scene in the elevator where she has a cussing marathon, I requested that. I thought that it was unfair not to show her in a moment of privacy struggling, so in the middle of the day, they just set the cameras up in the elevator and I just went off. That was useful for me to keep moving forward in the season. You watch that scene and think, “Wow, that would be a lot of fun to play,” but it was pretty horrible because it was really necessary. I really needed it for the audience’s sake to let everybody know that she’s not a robot, she’s not some sort of machine.
Is Deb losing trust in her brother after she learns that Dexter interfered with her cases?
The map is constantly being shredded and redrawn again, that’s the nature of season seven. I don’t think his work will lose creditability at the station because at the end of the day he’s always been right. However, his motives are in question now. Deb has to wonder if he trying to mislead her or the department. That’s why Deb puts Masuka on lead — so she can watch Dexter and trust the results.
Will that create more of a rift between Dexter and Deb?
For sure. It’s insane. Dexter has been able to engage in a way this year that I haven’t felt like he’s been able to in the past simply because he’s made proclamations that’s he’s not a real boy, that he doesn’t have feelings. Now that he’s got what he’s always wished for — which is to be real and have feelings — he is like the rest of us riddled with shame, guilt and regret. It finally feels like Deb is looking at somebody and there’s something going on behind their eyes, like he’s finally present. You know how sometimes you can look at someone and you just know without them really saying anything that they’re crazy? It’s that feeling, it makes you want to move in closer, but also it’s just like this lake of crazy.
Earlier this season, Deb feels a sense of justice after she learns that a murderer who slipped through Miami Metro’s fingers winds up in an incinerator thanks to Dexter. Could Deb ever take advantage of Dexter’s skill set?
People are questioning if Debra will start to be more like Dexter because we’ve seen Prado (Jimmy Smits), Lumen (Julia Stiles) and Lila (Jamie Murray) do it. But that is not Deb. I refuse to go against everything we’ve told the audience is true about Debra. We have worked really hard to build a real person and she has been living, breathing and fighting in this show for the sake of the story and I will protect that. So I don’t think that she’s going to; I think she may end up being the superhero at the end of the day, but it won’t be through actions like Dexter’s.Deb is the one who’s the superhero. Her fiancé tired to kill her, the love of her life was shot in front of her and she can’t seem to get access to the one person in her life that is supposed to still love her. She does everything right and shows up again and again with as much conviction as the last time and because Dexter is who he is and does what he does, she fails. If you go back and look at all the instances where he could have saved her pain, he’s cost her so much emotionally. He’s been such an expense.
Deb and Dexter spend the night in a hotel together, does she still have romantic feelings for him or could we see her move on?
I don’t think she was decorating a house or planning a wedding, but that Deb is someone who has been bankrupt as far as it goes with intimacy. Dexter is a narcissist and he’s addicted to his struggle. He’s happiest when he’s in his pain because that’s the place he knows the best. So, when someone who is so preoccupied with darkness when they swim to the surface and have a moment of respite, you feel angelic. There are moments when Dexter swims to the surface and meets Deb and she feels like a lot of women do when they’re falling in love. While she knows she’s not in love with him, she’s in love with that feeling that she can make it better; that she’s special and can save him and in return, that saves her. I think she’ll have a hard time separating those feelings from romantic feelings, but once she sifts them out, I think she’ll move further away from that.
Might we see Deb move on romantically this season?
Yes. I think when she’s meets a man, it would be really cool to watch her be taken care of and fall in love. We have one more season and I feel like if we don’t get a sendoff with this character that honors who she is it’s going to haunt me forever. I would like to think that she’s going to get her happily ever after and that would certainly involve a man with a capital M.
Would you want it to be Dexter?
How will Deb help Dexter as LaGuerta continues her quest to absolve Doakes as being the Bay Harbor Butcher?
She can do anything she wants — she runs the entire department. LaGuerta and Deb butt heads, because they’re so much alike: Deb’s easily manipulated by her and she’s easily manipulated by Deb so it kind of becomes this dance between like the two fighting fish in a fish bowl. It’s certainly a delicate dance.
Dexter wants things to go back to the status quo, do you think Deb could ever do that?
Absolutely not. They cannot go back to the way they were. Never. He’s always just been just out of reach, so it’s almost like he finally walked Deb into that church and to see him drop that blade was like ripping the rest of a band aid off and exposing the relationship for what it was. Now Debra has the permission to live her own — excuse me — f—-ing life, which I think she will. It’s no longer about what Harry would do, what would LaGuerta would do; it’s her department, it’s her life and they’re her rules. I’ve always wondered what would happen when Deb finds out and the answer was either she’ll arrest him or she’ll fall in line. And the writers didn’t make her question it. It’s a simple as that. It’s become a fact-finding mission. Everyone expected to get their results off the top in the first episode of the seventh season and they may not get it until the finale or beyond. For the first time in a long time, the show’s unfolding like real life, which is why it’s been so satisfying to play and the easiest season to promote because I can’t stop. I obviously can’t shut up about it (laughs). I think the best kill we’ve ever done on this show is killing the big bad — that whole formula — because everyone really is operating without a map. There’s no navigation to think that’s going to take you through the season. You have to show up every week and hold on.
Jennifer Carpenter on Deb/Hannah Drama and Her ‘Incredible’ Co-Star Yvonne Strahovski
Miami Metro heroine Debra Morgan and newly-minted murderess Hannah McKay have yet to cross paths on Showtime’s Dexter (Sundays, 9/8c), but an intro between the two is imminent and - according to Jennifer Carpenter - it’s not gonna be pretty.
Question: The Dexter premiere was fantastic and more than makes up for the uneven previous two seasons. Please tell me the next couple of episodes will have this same energy? —Nate
” — Discussing season 7 of Dexter on TVFilmNews. (via a-girlish-silhouette)
Ausiello: I’ve screened the next two episodes and I’m happy to report that they maintain the high qualify of the premiere. And this is coming from someone who, as you know, despised last season with a fiery passion. But be warned — the Oct. 14 ep features one of the most terrifying sequences the show has ever staged.
Insider.com: I was thrilled to see Debra come to this conclusion by episode’s end. Were you glad this whole season wasn’t about her coming to this realization?
Jennifer Carpenter: I thought it was a really believable timeline, and, truthfully, it was something we couldn’t ignore for too long given how we left everyone hanging at the end of last season. We had to pick up from that next breath. I’m glad I wasn’t hunting him. I’m glad it just sort of happened. And, honestly, in the real world, that’s probably how most family members of serial killers find out. They just find out. There’s no search. One day, you just know.
Insider.com: What was it like to finally be holding Dexter’s slidebox?
Jennifer: When we rehearsed that scene, the director told me the room would look like Deb had just torn through it, so I actually tore through it. It was so liberating to reach into that box and throw the slides over the table, knowing what it would do to Dexter. We shot that scene at 4 a.m. and did all of Michael’s coverage first. Then we turned the camera around to me and Michael was right behind it — I couldn’t see him. Then I say, “Did you kill all these people?” Somewhere between “Did you kill all these people?” and “Are you a serial killer?” Michael fell asleep! [laughs] By the time we woke him up, I was like you mother f*cker! It did nothing but make me feel Deb so much more in that scene.
Insider.com: Does episode 2 pick up right away?
Jennifer: Yeah, pretty much. It’s where reality sets in for Deb. And Dexter. It’s no longer about piecing together the moment of truth at the church, and what she initially thinks is one kill, it’s about realizing that every word is up for debate. Every thing he’s ever told her is questionable. Every ounce of support is all up on trial now. Deb begins to feel like he’s manipulated her for her entire life and she knows it now.
Insider.com: Beyond the shock, there are clearly feelings of hurt and betrayal — but also the inability to mourn this loss.
Jennifer: I keep waiting for there to be some sort of numbing effect where she can’t be penetrated emotionally given all the pain she’s gone through. But that hasn’t happened. Sometimes I question what is it about her that keeps showing up. As the actor, I experience such fatigue because of what the dynamics of this show call for — all the places I have to take myself are so taxing. It just makes me fall in love with Deb even more. She’s not a fighter, she’s a warrior. But I think she still holds out hope that he can be good.
Insider.com: Last season dealt a lot with her potentially romantic feelings for Dexter. Will those come into play again?
Jennifer: I think a lot of people fall in love with someone’s potential, and that’s what she’s done. But she’s realized he’s not that person at all. Deb now knows she was in love with a fantasy. So at any moment, if she ever gets fed up, she can grab her gun and take the show away from the audience by sending Dexter to prison [laughs].
Insider.com: Does this revelation mean more or less scenes between you and Michael?
Jennifer: It’s funny because we’ve never had more scenes together. I work with him constantly – which is why I didn’t sleep for the first five episodes. We were there all the time. The show doesn’t retreat after this realization.
Insider.com: Looking at the huge journey Debra has gone on over this series run, what’s the one thing you haven’t gotten to do yet?
Jennifer: I feel like I haven’t quite convinced everyone that Deb is a superhero. Dex calls it a Dark Passenger, [but] I call it an addiction. The hardest thing to do isn’t to kill people, it’s to change. When you look at every mountain she’s had to climb, that’s admirable, heroic and I don’t think that’s quite been nailed yet. I want to see her use that power for good in a way that makes the audience shout, “Hooray!” There’s a way to bust ass and kill evil without sliding a knife into their ribcage.
“Are You …?” “Yes.”
After muttering those words, Dexter’s Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) learned the full truth about her foster brother: that Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) comes with a Dark Passenger who, yes, is a serial killer.
The seventh season premiere of Showtime’s Dexter, continuing where the shocking finale ended, completely changed the face of the series now that Deb is fully aware of Dexter’s true nature — a serial killer.
“It changes fundamentally, certainly for her,” Hall says of the permanently altered state of their relationship. “He’s got a real high-wire act trying to defend himself, justify who he’s been, how he’s been and ultimately let her know that he’s going to continue [being a serial killer].”
After covering up Louis’ murder at the church, Deb questions why Dexter was so prepared to kill him (with plastic wrapping, knives and a change of clothing handy) and follows her instincts to investigate the case of the Ice Truck Killer — aka Dexter’s brother, Rudy. Later having flashbacks to her time on the table where she nearly died (wraped in the same plastic), she later ransacks Dexter’s apartment to find everything, including his prized box of trophy blood slides. “As a result, Dexter has to be human in very unsavory ways now: manipulative ways, justifiably paranoid ways,” Hall says of how Dexter will change now that Deb knows everything. “But he’s also examining the nature of love and the connection he has to his sister. He’s perplexed why he can’t just say, ‘Well, you know more about me now, nothing is really different, I’ve always been that guy. You just know now. Isn’t that really better for you!?’
“It doesn’t fully resonate with him what a burden [knowing about Dexter’s Dark Passenger] is for her,” he says of Deb’s reaction. “You see him defending himself in a way that he has had to do and he never apologizes for what he’s done or what he can reasonably expect will continue to do. He has a sense of righteousness about who he is and how he’s managed it and what he does.”
While Dexter went outside Harry’s suggestion that he never tell Deb about his Dark Passenger, how she’ll respond to news of who he really is isn’t his only problem. Louis, Masuka’s (C.S. Lee) ace intern, is a little more than obsessed with Dexter. After rejecting his homicide-themed video game, Louis had the Ice Truck Killer’s hand and sent it to Dexter last season. Matters get worse when Dexter is ticked off when Louis uses his laptop when visiting Jamie, prompting him to cancel his credit card.”Dexter underestimated just how much of a blow it was when he rejected Louis’ game. He will come to appreciate that he’s created a bit of a monster by rejecting him so forcefully,” Hall says. “That’s going to be bit of a monkey wrench for a time for him.”
Beyond that, LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) discovered the Dexter’s blood slide from Travis’ murder at the church and reclaims it after Masuka tells her that the only person from Miami Metro to use blood slides for crime scenes was her old friend Sgt. James Doakes, aka whom everyone thinks was the Bay Harbor Butcher.
“She was close with Doakes and recognizes what that blood slide could mean and is not going to just let it go,” Hall says. “I think we can imagine where that might lead in terms of the possibility of her reopening that investigation. She is one of the many potential, if not very real, threats at this point. So who’s Dexter’s biggest threat? Deb, with her knowledge of who he is and her ability to arrest him at any time? LaGuerta, who could reopen the Bay Harbor Butcher case? Louis, who already is bearing an uncanny similarity to Dexter’s Dark Passenger? THR quizzed Hall, Carpenter and Dexter showrunner Scott Buck to find out.
“It’s between Deb and LaGuerta: Deb because of what she does know and LaGuerta because of what she doesn’t and wants to know,” Hall says. “Ultimately, I think Dexter could hold out some hope that he could enlist Deb in a way that he could never enlist LaGuerta because they’re not family.”
Carpenter, meanwhile, thinks otherwise.
“Deb, without a doubt,” she says. “There are moments where we’re having scenes and I’ve got my hand on my badge and you don’t know if that’s it, if it’s ‘That’s enough of this game,’ or ‘I can’t hear it anymore.’ Deb’s hand is always resting over the trigger.” For his part, Buck says Dexter’s biggest threat isn’t either Deb, Louis or LaGuerta.
“It’s himself. Dexter is his biggest, scariest enemy throughout the season,” he says. “That’s part of the fun of the season: When you think he’s stomped out one thing and then another threat comes from another direction. It’s him constantly juggling all these huge threats throughout the season and one episode may be bigger and just when he thinks he’s dealt with another, it suddenly resurrects itself in a much more powerful way.”
Then again, there’s always Ray Stevenson’s new big bad to potentially contend with.
After spending the past six seasons keeping his Dark Passenger in the, uh, dark, Dexter’s titular character will be forced out of the serial-killing closet in the season premiere.
The last we saw Dexter, he had finally delivered his own biblical form of vengeance upon Travis, stabbing him in the closing moments of the finale. Unfortunately, Dexter wasn’t alone in that church, as Deb, planning to profess her love to her brother, walked in on him driving a knife into Travis.
So what does this mean for Dexter now? TVGuide.com turned to showrunner Scott Buck to get the scoop on how this reveal changes everything in the coming season, from his relationship with Deb to whom else might be coming after him.
Somebody finally knows Dexter’s secret! Will we see a more vulnerable side to him this season?
Scott Buck: I don’t think we necessarily have to see a more vulnerable side of Dexter because his every moment is at risk because you never quite know what Deb is going to do in this situation. She loves Dexter probably deeper than he quite realizes at this moment, but even so, she’s a police officer and that’s her job. It’s more than just a job, it’s very important to her; it’s who she is. Click the ‘read more’ button for the whole interview…
How does this information change Deb?
Buck: It’s like a slap across the face because the person who she’s turned to her whole life, and thinks she has known so closely her whole life, is suddenly revealed to be someone who’s very different in a lot of ways. It upends her whole world.
Deb was going to the church with the specific goal to tell Dexter that she’s in love with him. Will those feelings be addressed at some point? Has she lost those feelings or is there a part of her that hates herself because she hasn’t?
Buck: It’s a little bit of all of those. The feelings certainly don’t disappear. If you’re truly in love with someone, just because you discover something horrible about that person, [that] doesn’t make you stop loving them. It’ll be interesting for people to see what her first response is to that and how that will change over the course of the season as well. What’s also interesting about this is … in all these previous seasons, it was Dexter with the big secret and now suddenly Deb has the big secret. Not quite as big, but considerable.
Executive producer Sara Colleton mentioned to us that LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) will reopen the Bay Harbor Butcher case. What can you tell us about that?
Buck: In the opening episode, LaGuerta finds a blood slide and the only other instance that we’ve seen bloodslides like that were those that supposedly belonged to Doakes (Erik King), the Bay Harbor Butcher, but we also know that Doakes stole those slides from Dexter. LaGuerta has always had a very close relationship with Doakes. She never believed he was guilty of being the Bay Harbor Butcher, so this is going to cause her to, in her own private, personal under-the-radar war, to re-open the investigation to find out exactly what this could possibly mean.
So Dexter has Deb breathing down his neck, LaGuerta breathing down his neck and Louis (Josh Cooke) breathing down his neck. How is he going to balance that?
Buck: It’s not just that. As we introduce in Episode 1, he kills someone who is a significant part of Isaac’s (Ray Stevenson) organization. That also tees him off to find out what happened to this person, who killed this person. So Ray’s also onto Dexter all throughout this season. It’s often where we see Dexter at his best, when he’s trying to juggle so many things. We also played a couple seasons in a row where no one was onto Dexter, so this is the season where it all comes crashing in on him.
Going back to Louis, he sent the hand to Dexter. What will we see for the culmination of where this is heading?
Buck: When Dexter receives that hand in his apartment, and when he looks at that, he has no clue what that means. How did this get into his apartment? That was the hand that belonged to his brother, Rudy (Christian Camargo), who’s the Ice Truck Killer, so Dexter is wondering: Is there someone else onto me? If so, why did this person send this to me? What does this mean? In so many ways, it becomes more vital than even Deb because he can at least control Deb, whereas this is some great unknown out there and he has no idea what it means. For the first few episodes, that becomes a big drive to find out where this came from and what it could possibly mean.
He’s always been suspicious of Louis, so that relationship is heightened already. Will that just be volatile when the show returns?
Buck: It will play very big in the first four episodes, yes. It will play out throughout the season, but that’s where we’ll hit it really big.
Will Dexter be more careful now that Deb knows his secret?
Buck: You would think Dexter would be more careful in this situation, but the way that Dexter has typically dealt with stress, and the way that he has handled any kind of emergency in his life, is to try to regain control. The way Dexter typically knows how to regain control is to find the calm of a kill room. Yes, he should put the knives down and walk away from them for a while, but that’s just not what the voice inside of him is saying to do at this point.
Is his sister finding out not enough to change Dexter?
Buck: Dexter is who he is. I don’t know that Dexter is capable of change. We’ve actually seen him slowly evolve throughout the series, but to suddenly stop becoming a serial killer, it just doesn’t seem to be something he is capable of.
What can you tell us about Yvonne Strahovski’s character?
Buck: She plays a character named Hannah McKay, who, when she was 15 years old, hit the road with Wayne Randall on what ended up being a crime spree. He killed a number of people on the way before they were finally arrested. She was arrested as well. Because he did all the killing, she was sent to juvenile hall for six years and was released at the age of 21, and has since then lived a very calm, reclusive life. But with the reemergence of Wayne Randall, who has been in prison all these years, now saying that there are actually more bodies out there that he can lead the police to, the case becomes news again, and it forces Hannah to come out in a way that she had much preferred not to. Because of that, she will cross paths with Dexter and it becomes very volatile in an interesting way.
You’re saying she’s trying to life a quiet life, but intersecting with a serial killer probably doesn’t help.
Buck: No, not in the least. [Laughs] They’re not particularly good for each other, but at the same time, they’re the best possible thing for each other. They find themselves drawn to each other in a way that they both wish they weren’t.
"It’s the first season where I’ve felt like I need a voiceover; I need the writers to tell me where I am because I have no map for it," Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter says of her experience shooting the game-changing seventh season of the Showtime drama.
During last season’s shocking finale, Carpenter’s Deb walked in to profess her feelings of love for her foster brother only to find Dexter (Michael C. Hall) plunging a knife into the body of last season’s big bad, Travis. The revelation came after six seasons of close calls for Dexter, with Deb coming thisclose to seeing Dexter’s Dark Passenger first hand.
Season seven picks up immediately where the finale left off, with Deb questioning why Dexter would not only kill Travis but wrap his body in plastic before killing him. Subsequent teasers have revealed that they’ll team to burn the church down as Deb helps him out of what she thinks is an end of the world-type jam but she’ll keep a close guard over him as she begins to grow more curious about his unexplainable behavior. Read the rest after the jump…
"The harder my job is, the more fun it is to watch; that’s my hope," Carpenter says of Deb being torn between her job as Miami Metro’s top dog and protecting the only person she considers family (besides Dex’s son Harrison, naturally). "It certainly doesn’t back us into a corner; if anything it opens up all kinds of amazing doors."
Hall, meanwhile, says the evolution of both characters — Deb rising from an gangly inexperienced cop to lieutenant and Dexter slowly realizing he’s capable of feeling more of a humanity than he thought possible — puts his alter ego between a rock and a hard place.
"It’s a real shit situation," Hall says with a laugh of how Deb’s knowledge will affect Dexter. "It’s fundamental: Dexter over the life of the show has been initially someone who claims to be without the capacity for authentic human emotion and we’re meant to be suspicious of that. Deb knowing what she knows reboots the whole landscape and Dexter is now human — but he’s not compartmentalizing his humanity."
And while Deb knows what she’s seen, the question of how much she’ll learn about how deep Dexter’s secret life stretches will be explored during season seven, creating a situation that Hall can best summarize in two words: “It’s bananas!”
"In the pilot, when we’re getting to know Dexter in his world, he talks about his sister and says, ‘If I could have feelings at all or for anyone, I’d have them for Deb,’" he says. "We see her come into an awareness of some sort of deeper, more conflict-laden feelings for him. It’s undeniable to him that he has a genuine connection to her and that he does genuinely care about her and about other people close to him, namely his son, in ways that he can’t deny yet he does maintain an allegiance to his compulsion."
Which is where Yvonne Strahovski’s Hannah McKay will play a role. Dexter showrunner Scott Buck notes that Hannah will be brought in to Miami Metro as part of a larger police investigation — that Deb opens.
"There will be a strong connection between Deb and Hannah," Buck says of the character who turns out to be more complex than anybody anticipated. "In a professional sense, they very much zero in on each other in a very big and powerful way and it takes very unexpected turns."
Bearing in mind, the last time Miami Metro brought in someone to help with a case — RIP Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) — Deb fell in love and the relationship ended in death, Buck warns that Deb won’t be the only one with a big connection to the mysterious Hannah.
"Hannah becomes a big part of Dexter’s journey throughout the season because he has met someone who understands him in a way that Debra perhaps will not," he teases, noting that there are no current plans to bring Julia Stiles’ Lumen back but that "anything could happen later on."
While it’s still unclear if Dexter’s two-season renewal will stretch beyond an eighth season, Hall says this year feels like “a culmination.” “It’s so completely served by all the water that’s under the bridge, and all the story we’ve told up to this point that it feels as weighty as anything we’ve done,” he notes.
Which brings the big question: If it is the end, could the series wrap with both Dexter and Deb surviving?
"It could, I don’t know. I imagine it ending like a Shakespearean tragedy: With a pretty high body count," Hall says. "I can imagine him being alive but not walking off into the sunset. I think maybe alive and living in the bottom of a well or something. Or just hit by a bus!"
Michael C. Hall is about to slice into another season in the life of TV’s most beloved serial killer.
When “Dexter” closed out its sixth season – last cycle spoilers ahead – the show was staring down the barrel of some profoundly explosive changes to its status quo: Just as Dexter’s adopted sister – and police superior – Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) began to wonder if she’d actually developed romantic feelings for him, she was shocked when she discovered him having just ended the life of Doomsday Killer Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks). Season Seven launches from that presumably game-changing revelation, and Hall carves into what to expect from Dexter’s disturbed psyche in the episodes ahead.
As the ideas started gelling for this season, what was the one that hooked you most?
Just knowing that we ended [Season Six] with the revelation, and that we weren’t going to pull any punches by the end of that first episode. All the cards are on the table, and the thing that compelled me is that. It’s this secret no longer just being his own, and he has to manage not only his own feelings about it inasmuch as he has them, but the feelings of the person closest to him.
Is that an extra shot of adrenaline in the scenes that you share with Jennifer Carpenter?
Yeah. It’s all infused with a new energy, a new dynamic, a new thing to manage. He’s not hiding anymore. I think Dexter is justifiably paranoid and manipulative in ways that we’ve never seen him have to be. I think at this point we are convinced that Dexter is arguably human, but our sense of his humanity has been compartmentalized and always so sweet to his son. He’s human in some pretty unsavory ways, too, and we see that.
What did you think when they told you that Deb was going to find out?
I thought that’s rough for Dexter, but as an actor and as someone who’s excited about new storytelling possibilities I was very thrilled.
Is that a double-edged sword for your character?
At least. If a sword can only have two edges then this one has two. It might have more than that. I think both for Dexter and Deb, in very different ways, the revelation is simultaneously a huge relief and as terrifying as anything that could happen.
How do you avoid navigating this discovery without coming off as silly?
I think our writers have always been willing to back themselves into storytelling corners and then write their way out of them, and I think this is probably as tricky a corner, but also juicy a corner as we’ve ever backed ourselves into. Yeah, Jennifer and I and the directors and the writers and everyone involved are always aware that we’re telling something that on paper seems pretty far-fetched – if not implausible. We’re trying infuse it with some sense of real life.
I think the fact that we have Deb come into some sort of – perhaps misguided, but some awareness of her deeper feelings for her brother at the end of Season Five, however you might of felt about that it softened her in a way that might make it, if not more palatable, more acceptable. We see in her a character who’s more eager to find a way to understand why her brother might be this way, and to challenge herself to if not embrace it to accept it. Every scene we have feels like another sort of brick in the house that we’re building.
What can you tease about Yvonne Strahovski coming on this season?
Not much, but Dexter first comes into contact with Hannah McKay, Yvonne’s character, because Deb is trying to fill his time with work that would otherwise be filled with stalking and killing people, but as a result he comes into contact, getting a DNA sample, with her character. From the first time they meet they’re circling one another to a degree. As you can imagine, Dexter has always been someone who’s been a magnet for chaos. He finds it and he finds it with her character and what happens between them.
What have you learned about yourself through this character?
I think I’ve learned that we all tell stories to ourselves, about ourselves, about our lives that allow what’s happened in our lives to make sense to us. Dexter is certainly someone who tells himself the story about who he is and how he’s managed his compulsions that allow him to feel justified – if not even righteous – about how he behaves. I think maybe we all do that.
Well, yeah. I think I try to be a bit more self aware and less completely indulgent in my darker impulses and things. Hopefully they’re not as formidable as Dexter’s, but yeah, I think we all do that.
Are the pieces are getting lined up for the series’ end game?
Starting to, yeah. I think we’re going to go back to start shooting the final season earlier than usual. We’re going to be a bit ahead of schedule. We’ll start shooting in February. So I think the writers will maybe have a long weekend and get right back to it. As a result I think everyone is thinking about what the end game is. Nothing definitive is on the books, but the conversation feels a lot more real than it’s ever felt.
Is there any way that this story ends with Dexter being happy?
Yeah, there’s a happy ending. At a massage parlor. I don’t know, that’s a difficult thing to imagine, that the ending will be happy for him, unless he gets lobotomized. I think he is going to be perpetually saddled with the management of his compulsion. He certainly defines himself primarily, or most authentically, as a killer. Everything is in service to that and I think he’s resigned to that. So I guess I could’ve just said no.
“You’d think I’d know how to slash a throat,” Hall says, breaking character. You’d think. But you’d also think meticulous Dexter would have locked the cathedral door behind him last season before plunging a sword into poor Colin Hanks’ chest on the church altar. In Season 6’s unholy finale, Dexter offed Hanks’ Travis “Doomsday Killer” Marshall with his trademark efficiency and calm. Only this time, there was a witness — Dexter’s saucer-eyed sister, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter).
For Dexter, Deb and breathless fans alike (not to mention shrink-wrapped Travis), it was a stunning twist — years in the teasing — that instantly reinvigorated a so-so season just as it ended. It also sets up the series for its conclusion next season. As Hall says, “It was, like, knife-in-chest, Debra sees it, reset-button-on-the-show. Everything is suddenly reframed, recontextualized, more complicated and more layered, not just for the audience but for us as actors.”
That sure sounds like hype — until you watch the first episode of Season 7. Last year’s pas de deux between Hanks and his religion-professor kill buddy, played by Edward James Olmos, was so far-fetched (the deux turned out to be un: Travis and his delusions alone), you needed a Biblical concordance to understand it. But the opener brings back the sort of stripped-down tension not seen since Sergeant Doakes pegged Dex as the Bay Harbor Butcher in Season 2.
The season picks up a split second after Deb catches Dexter, her gun still drawn, and gets more deliciously uncomfortable from there. Unspeakable questions are answered, the darkest of family secrets exposed, and we eventually meet a hulking Ukrainian villain with exquisitely tailored suits. Suffice it to say Dexter is back on track and bloody good again.
“The audience deserves this — they’ve earned it,” says Carpenter, leaning forward in her trailer. “I didn’t want anything contrived this time. I didn’t want Deb to become a Lumen or Prado or Lila, where I stand alongside Dexter and pick up a knife. And nobody wants ‘This season: Dexter on trial.’ I just wanted it to be honest and believable.”
The series is never more believable than when Dexter himself is in trouble, and frankly, the Miami crime fighter/serial killer had grown a little soft in recent years. As Daddy Dexter, he had to juggle diaper duty with his killing urges. And he has slowly backed away from his father Harry’s “code” by getting closer to people, whether it was Lila or Rita, Lumen or Brother Sam. Last season, Dexter reacted so emotionally to his friend Sam’s death, he iced the guy who killed him. That’s so not the Dexter of Season 1.
“Every year, Dexter has become a little more human, a little more evolved and a little more empathetic,” says executive producer Scott Buck. “Now we’re showing the flip side of his humanity. You’re seeing Dexter becoming more spiteful, jealous, vengeful and angry than he’s been in a long time.”
What’s driving him is the gotcha moment from last year’s finale. Season after season, Deb came close to discovering her adoptive brother’s true identity, only to fall off the scent. Then again, it’s hard to turn in your bro when you secretly want to have sex with him.
Carpenter puts her palm on her forehead when asked about that plot revelation from last season. “Was I icked out by Debra’s romantic feelings for Dexter?” she says. “Well, yes and no. From the pilot episode, Dexter and Deb have had this awesome connection, so it didn’t feel out of left field. I just don’t want it to go any further. I don’t think audiences do, either. If it does, I’m heading straight to therapy and sending the bills to Showtime.”
Dexter premieres Sunday, Sept. 30 at 9/8c on Showtime.
For more with the cast of Dexter, pick up this week’s issue of TV Guide Magazine on newsstands Thursday, September 27!
Since Showtime released the first few minutes of the seventh season of Dexter online at Comic Con earlier this summer, it seems like we have had ample time to dissect the moment the sociopath completely switched back on within Dexter (Michael C. Hall). Though many viewers and fans of the show may have cut him a lot of slack—may have even rationalized his behaviors and personality—the instantaneous manipulative of his supposedly beloved sister when she caught him at the altar spoke volumes about just how sure of who—or what—he actually is. After a tumultuous (at best) season where Dexter uncharacteristically tried to find something better in religion, the show, and the vigilante we have all come to know and love, is back and better than ever…