“Dexter” has forever changed the way people think about plastic wrap and Henley shirts. The show also pushed the boundaries of the anti-hero, creating the seeming oxymoron of the sympathetic serial killer.
Eight years ago, when the series debuted, it was edgy and controversial. Now there are so many shows with serial killers as protagonists, from “Hannibal” to “Bates Motel,” that they are almost their own genre. “Dexter’s” eighth and final season premieres this Sunday, June 30, at 9/8c. The first episodes are dark, even by “Dexter” standards, with Dexter and Deb both struggling with the consequences of her decision to protect him by killing LaGuerta in the Season 7 finale. The show’s cast and producers previewed the final season and discussed the show’s enduring legacy.
“The writers and producers have been planning for it [the end] two and really three seasons before it came, so a lot of it is about harvesting seeds that were planted many years ago,” said Showtime president David Nevins. “How do you create a satisfying ending and an emotional ending to a show about a fundamentally psychopathic human being? I think it’s an interesting challenge and I think they’ve done it beautifully.”
As for the show’s final episode, “My hope is that when they’re done seeing it, people will feel emotionally depleted but emotionally satisfied.”
“Two years ago, we sat down in the writers room and figured the arc out for our two-season ending,” executive producer Sara Colleton told xfinityTV. “We knew where we wanted to end up and we knew what we wanted to explore along the way and all the themes and what we wanted to cope with and what we wanted to say about Dexter’s eight-season journey and all of his experiences.”
This season explores how Dexter’s father, Harry, came up with Dexter’s famous code that stipulates that Dexter can only kill other murderers. “It’s one of those things our very, very talented writer’s room came up with, a very natural way to introduce a new piece of the iconography in the eighth year that felt real and didn’t feel imposed,” said Colleton. “I think it was a stroke of genius and I think it’s really, really working and we’ve really been able to use it to our advantage.”
“One of the main themes [of Season 8] is, can you be two things at once?” revealed Aimee Garcia, who plays Dexter’s nanny, Jamie. ”Up until now, Dexter’s really been a psychopath, which means that you lack empathy, and he’s been able to be a vigilante and almost be a shell of a person, going through the motions of being a father, going through the motions of being on the board of the school, going through the motions of having girlfriends here and there, so he hasn’t really connected to his human side until this season. I think the overarching question this season is, can he be a psychopath and a human simultaneously?”
Garcia also had strong opinions about “Dexter’s” place in television history. “I think that this show was able to create shows like ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘The Following.’ I think it’s an iconic show that will stand the test of time. Nothing like this had been done on television when it came out; a serial killer killing other serial killers. The only person who could pull that off was Michael C. Hall and a network like Showtime. So I think that’s its legacy: opening the doors of creativity to what we have today.”
Sean Patrick Flanery, who plays Deb’s (Jennifer Carpenter) new boss Jacob Elroy, says, “I think the legacy is going to be that it’s at the forefront of the TV revolution. It was one of the first shows that made everyone go, “Wait a minute. Some of the best writing and execution is actually on cable. That’s going to be one of their legacies. ’Dexter,’ ‘The Sopranos,’ those are the two revolutionary shows that started it all.”
The final season of “Dexter” returns Sunday at 9/8c on Showtime.