Dexter’s Been Reborn in Blood

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Cast and crew talk to Shock about season five!

America’s most lovable forensic scientist/serial killer is back for a fifth season of dispensing his particular brand of justice, and Michael C. Hall and some of his co-conspirators are here for his own razor-sharp perspective on what Dexter fans can expect this fall. It would be against The Code not to tell you that, especially if you’ve yet to catch up with the previous shocking developments, there are fourth-season SPOILERS immediately ahead along with a cutting look at what’s to come.

Got that? Good. No complaining about any revelations, unless you want to end up in pieces at the bottom of Biscayne Bay.

Right out of the gate in episode one, Dexter Morgan’s plunged into the immediate aftermath of the vicious slaying of his wife Rita (Julie Benz) at the vengeful hands of the Trinity killer (John Lithgow), which Dexter discovered when he comes homes to find baby Harrison awash in a pool of his mother’s blood, just as Dexter himself was discovered when he was a child.

“When we learn what happened to him toward the end of the first season, we know that he was this innocent baby in a pool of his mother’s blood and watched her die,” Hall tells ShockTill You Drop of the show’s evolving tone as Dexter has to deal with the role his murderous moonlighting played in Rita’s death. “Now Dexter is coming home finding his flesh-and-blood son in a pool of his wife’s and that son’s mother’s blood. But Dexter is no longer innocent. How do you get this malicious glee [in his murders] when Dexter has this gentlemanly sense of responsibility, guilt and potentially remorse?”

The tormented Dexter grapples with issues on multiple fronts: his all-consuming guilt, the urge to simply break free from his everyday cover life and flee, the fact that some law enforcement officials view him, as the victim’s husband, as a likely prime suspect, how he’ll handle raising his son and stepchildren without Rita, and the angry response her death provokes in her daughter Astor. And then there’s that pesky urge to kill. With Trinity already dead at his hands, where will Dexter channel his homicidal impulses next?

“Yeah, an appetite remains for killing,” revealed Hall. “I think there’s also an unexpressible, unquenchable vengeance alive in Dexter now because of the fact that he killed Trinity – and allowed himself to express a sense of kinship and a sense of mercy – only to discover that the guy had done in his wife. He can’t bring Trinity back to life and kill him again, so he has to find other victims. But the drug of it is not giving him the same hit. So, we’ll see that. But the appetite remains.”

Executive producer Sara Colleton says the rocking of Dexter’s world prompted its own sense of malicious glee in the writers’ room. “This year we said, ‘All right what happens when a normal person’s wife dies? What do they have to go through?'” said Colleton. “To see Dexter dealing with these things in a way that’s only really unique to him, makes them fascinating and new. We have hit on a motherload of fresh stuff based on what happened at the end of last year that it’s exciting everyone in the room. And everyone who’s working on the show is like, ‘Oh, wow.’ It’s revealed a whole new layer with him that I think everyone is going to be really surprised and intrigued and want to take that journey.”

“I can say that the first episode of this season feels like the thirteenth episode of last season,” said Jennifer Carpenter, who plays Dexter’s refreshingly foul-mouthed cop sister Debra (and Hall’s wife in real life). “It just comes at you fast and furious, and it’s funny and heartbreaking and scary. And even some of the music is a kickback to the pilot. It’s just super fun. In a weird way a weight has been lifted and he is the Dexter that we all met in the first season, you know?”

Along with other pot-boiling plotlines – including Deb leaning on detective Quinn as she struggles to support her brother through his loss and Quinn’s suspicious about Dexter are aroused, and instant strains on the newly minted marriage of cops Maria Laguerta and Angel Batista – a few episodes in a new and mysterious character will make a decidedly dramatic entrance (we will say no more) in the form of actress Julia Styles, who’ll be appearing throughout the season.

“I haven’t had any scenes with Julia Stiles yet, but I met her and she’s wildly intelligent and immensely talented,” said Carpenter. “She and Michael are just a perfect fit for one another. They’re just really good matches, so I think those scenes will be exciting.”

We’ll leave you guessing as to what kind of role Styles is playing, but if you’re already suspecting a romance, Hall’s ready to throw you off that track. With Rita only so recently lost, dating is the last thing on Dexter’s mind.

“I don’t think that word is sort of in his vocabulary at this point,” says Hall. “I don’t think he aspires to it. I’m sure that Dexter will be thrust into unique relationships, but I don’t think he’s seeking out a significant other.”

In fact, Julie Benz fans, Rita’s memory will loom large early on. And that’s all we’re saying, lest we find ourselves drugged and wrapped in plastic on Dexter’s table.

Hall thinks he understands why his conflicted serial killer has become the hero of so many devoted fans: it’s all about The Code. “Without it, no matter how well drawn the character, we wouldn’t be inclined to relate to a guy who was killing despicable people. You’re like, ‘Give him a pass. Well, at least he’s taking some responsibility for his darkness.’ And I think that the voiceover element from the beginning – and now as much as ever – brings the audience into a sense of intimacy with the character that nobody else in the character’s world appreciates. So, you’re kind of on the ride with him.”

“I don’t feel ashamed of it,” Hall says with a sly Dexterish grin of making a killer into a pop culture hero. “That’s what the show aspired to do, initially. And I don’t know, we’re in really uncharted waters. When we made the pilot, I didn’t foresee a character who would marry, have a child, become widowed – all these things. So every season is a whole new world. And I don’t feel a sense of shame because I don’t really think the show is advocating serial murder. I think it’s a meditational morality, really.”

Hall also wanted to offer a special thank you to the fans that showed so much support for his during his personal – and victorious – battle with cancer throughout the year, and he especially touched by the outpouring produced during the Dexter panel at this year’s Comic-Con International.

“It was really gratifying,” he said. “When I found out about [the cancer] I didn’t imagine that I would share it at all. I thought that I could just get through the treatment, but there came a time when it really made sense to just let it be known that it was something that I was undergoing. The collective sense of well-wishes and affection and concern that I genuinely felt was a real goose. It really helped me get through the final third of the treatment. I’m very thankful and feel so lucky that contracted something that was as treatable as it was.”

Source: Scott Huver