Dexter kicked off its eighth and final season on Sunday with an unrelenting installment that left viewers with a slew of burning questions: Will Dexter ever be able to salvage his relationship with his estranged sister? How far gone is Deb? And what is the deal with “psychopath whisperer” Dr. Evelyn Vogel?
Here, Dexter executive producer Sara Colleton chats with TVLine about the premiere (why is Miami Metro’s new doc so knowledgeable on The Code?) and beyond (spoiler alert: there is still hope for Dex and Deb moving forward).
TVLINE | Talk about the genesis of Dr. Vogel and the importance of bringing her on this season.
You’re always looking at the pieces that you have that were set up in Year 1 and how, in a way that feels natural, they can be expounded upon. It’s a very sophisticated idea behind the code, and Harry is a deeply emotional, generous-hearted, loving soul. The notion that there was someone with a more scientific bent to be involved felt real. And not to take anything away from Harry, because he saved Dexter’s life. It was his love and his dedication that gave Dexter his life, and that can never be reduced.
TVLINE | Will Harry explain to Dexter why he never mentioned this outsider?
I feel like that’s a three-parter question. [Laughs] Harry’s sole wish was to protect Dexter and to have him feel as real as possible. So, to bring in a neural psychiatrist at that early age would have made him feel like a specimen. It was out of the very best intentions and love and desire to protect Dexter that he never shared this with him.
TVLINE | Can we trust Dr. Vogel? Or should we worry about her true agenda?
Well, you know… it will unfold, but she has an agenda. She has come back into Dexter’s life because she needs his help, and she is highly seductive because she’s trained on how to work with someone like Dexter. Plus, she knows he’s extremely vulnerable at this point, so she’s able to manipulate him. But for our fans, it will be interesting to see how that relationship grows or evolves.
TVLINE | How does the presence of this maternal figure impact Dexter?
Don’t forget, at age 3, his birth mother was murdered in the container, and Harry’s wife Doris died when he was very young… So, he’s never really had a mother. When this woman comes into his life, it’s when he is feeling his most lonely. Deb has rejected him and he despairs that he’ll ever, ever get her back in his life. He’s really feeling his human side. He is filled with guilt and remorse and responsibility. It’s hard for him to cope with these things, and by himself, no less. Debra has been his North Star, and all of a sudden, she’s gone… He’s so yearning to feel some acceptance from someone, and when Dr. Vogel eventually says to him, “You’re perfect,” how much more seductive can you get for someone who’s never had a mother and has always felt like he never fit in?
TVLINE | How far down this dark path will we go before Deb and Dexter find their way back to each other?
It’s going to be about mid-season. There is a certain degree of bounce-back, but then it is, oddly enough, more intense and more in sync than they’ve ever been. Because now there are no lies, there are no questions, there’s nothing between them except for the incredible bond that has always existed. And for Deb, the dark and treacherous path that opened up in front of her the moment she walked in the church at the end of Season 6 has been a dark journey of self-discovery for her. In some ways, they are more bound together than ever.
TVLINE | Is there hope for Deb?
There’s definitely hope for Deb. She needed to do her own atonement for the decision that she made, which was either LaGuerta or her brother. And Dr. Vogel becomes very helpful with Deb. Don’t forget, Harry was also very concerned about bringing Dexter into their life and how his having to spend so much time on Dexter affected Deb’s childhood. So, Vogel has an insight into Deb, too, and she becomes enormously helpful in bringing them back together again.
TVLINE | After seasons at odds, have Quinn and Dexter finally found some common ground through Deb’s downfall?
Yes, their mutual love of Deb is something that bonds them. Quinn will never have the capacity to understand someone as complicated as Dexter. But they’ve come to have, not a grudging respect for each other, but a real respect for each other.
TVLINE | Poor Jamie. It seems like Quinn may only have eyes for his ex.
Oh, you know…There is always a one-and-only. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Harrison got a glimpse of who his father really is in the premiere. Is that something that will continue to come up?
We wanted to examine it in a way that is more adult, so we needed to make a little bit of leap so that Harrison could have the cognitive ability to be able to think that through and be able to say that. It makes his scenes with Dexter have real emotional impact. If it’s a completely unaware child who’s not really verbal yet, then Dexter can get away with a heck of a lot more. But when the kid is smart and aware and watching everything and verbal, then Dexter has to be very mindful of what he’s doing, and it throws some interesting complications throughout the season. And it allows for father and son to have some really lovely chats, you know?
TVLINE | Angel and most of Miami Metro seem to be coping with LaGuerta’s death fairly well. Has that been pushed to the backburner, or should we expect more fallout?
We’re jumping ahead, so we’re moving past that, but it’s not to say that Batista forgets LaGuerta. Their relationship had come full circle from being married to being friends. But it’s the irony that you give everything, your life included, and what, you get a cement bench? [Laughs] It makes you aware that you have to do it for yourself, because you’re never going to get any glory, you’re never gonna get any acknowledgement. You have to do it for the love of the game, and if there’s one thing that Angel has decided, it’s to come back for the love of the game. When Mike was murdered, it flipped him out and wanted him to get out of the force, but now it’s made him, more than ever, want to be on the side of the angels. No pun intended. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Showtime boss David Nevins recently said that this season is “harvesting seeds that were planted many years ago.” Does that apply to more than just Dexter’s origins and Harry’s code?
I think it is Harry’s code and the fundamental questions that were really presented in that first year. But nothing major. For Season 8 to bring in anything that’s more major than the Dr. Vogel character would be trickery, I think, and none of us would want to do that. What he meant, and what we’re doing, is that anything that was introduced in that first season — which was all mythology — we will be wrapping up in the course of this year.
TVLINE | Will we see any nods to, say, Trinity or Rita or Brian Moser?
They all informed who Dexter is, but we’re very much in the present tense in Season 8. If there’s a Dexter voiceover about something, fans of the show know what that’s in reference to. They know what he’s learned in past years, but without going back in a very specific kind of way.