So Dexter fans, anybody get any sleep last night?
Didn't think so.
Last night's fourth-season finale shell-shocked viewers with one of the most surprising and horrifying deaths ever on television. (Get our reaction—and group therapy—here.)
It was so shocking that many fans are asking: Is there any chance it's a dream?
Rita's gruesome bathtub death at the hands of Trinity was not, I repeat not, a dream. At least, that's not what the writers were thinking, according to executive producer Phillips.
"It's not something we're contemplating at the moment," Phillips tells me.
We met up with a few of the castmembers at a finale screening party in Los Angeles last night, where the genius that is John Lithgow also told us that as far as he knows, Rita's death is most certainly real. "Trinity left his calling card," John explains. "He got his revenge on Dexter. That's the undercurrent in the scene [where Dexter kills Trinity]. He says to Dexter, 'You're like a child. You dream of a heaven you'll never know.' Trinity knows something that Dexter doesn't know and he knows he's going to die, but he's going to get his vengeance on Dexter."
Lithgow, who stunned audiences this season with his masterful performance as Dexter's mentor turned nemesis Trinity, says he's pleased with how his storyline ended. "Trinity not only got what he deserved, he got what he wanted. The thing that fascinated me about this character is that he's a serial killer who absolutely hates what he's doing and wishes that somebody would stop it. In fact, he attempted suicide himself just to put an end to all this. The strange, almost melancholy tone of that last scene [where Dexter kills Trinity] is 'Thank God it's over, do it now, put an end to this.' That was fascinating to me."
Lithgow told us all this at last night's fan event at the W Hotel, where the lovely and now dearly departed Julie Benz also was in attendance, but she refused to talk about anything regarding Rita's death. "I haven't seen the finale," she told us. "I don't know what happens." (We later found out Benz has an exclusive with another media outlet.)
Still, Julie did admit her pride in the season that was her last, saying to us: "This year I felt it, it's much more of a feeding frenzy, people are frothing at the mouth to find out what happens next. People have cornered me, but my lips are sealed. I can't say anything. So there's been a much greater intensity among the fans and I love it. We're getting the attention the show deserved in the very beginning.”
So what happens next? Where will Dexter go? What about Harrison, Astor, Cody? Who will take care of them? Will Dexter continue his newfound journey toward "the light" or backlash into a darker monster after Rita's death? Will Deb find out everything?
The sad truth is, no one knows anything yet. "Everybody's on hiatus," Phillips says of his writing staff. "We haven't begun thinking about last year. Generally what happens is everybody gets back together in February and we have a little bit of a retreat and we start talking about all the ridiculous ideas we might have had during the off season and out of those what-ifs grows the story. So we haven't thought about if we're gonna have what we call a big bad—Jimmy Smits was a big bad, John Lithgow was a big bad—there may not even be a big bad next year, I just don't know."
In the meantime, we can all just stand by and watch the awards pile up for Dexter, Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow, right? The first should be this Tuesday, with the Golden Globes nominations, and after that the SAG and the Emmy.
"I'll let you do the Emmy talk," Lithgow says with a laugh. "It just thrills me that the series has had this kind of impact, and I feel it all around me. It's been an appalling character, very scary, terrifying, appalling, and yet people rush up to me. They've enjoyed it so much. That's a nice feeling."
So will Lithgow keep watching the show?
"Oh yeah. Oh, I'm not going to miss Dexter for as long as it's on from now on, whether I'm on it or not."
Hmmm...Is there a chance Trinity could return somehow? Or Rita? We know Dexter likes to commune with the dead (Harry)...
You heard the man above. Nothing has been decided and I happen to know that Phillips himself might just read your comments below, so feel free to sound off with your thoughts on last night's finale, and what you'd love to see happen in season five…
—Additional reporting by Megan Masters