Is it September yet?
With six months standing between now and the season five premiere of Dexter, I tried to pry some serious scoop out of Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter and the rest of the gang—begging didn't work and neither did bribing! And while they were tight-lipped, I did manage to learn a thing or two about what's to come while moderating the show panel at Paley Fest Thursday night.
We also learned how Michael's health is now, and watched him and his real-life wife, Jennifer, answer a question about their marriage for the first time...
Spoiler Alert! If you still haven't seen the Dexter season four finale, please look no further. All of what you'll see after the jump will definitely ruin it for you.
Here are the highlights you Dexter fans need to know:
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1. When I asked if anyone in the audience hadn't seen the season four finale, in which—again, not kidding about the Spoiler Alert here!—Rita was killed at the hands of Trinity, Miss Julie Benz was the first to jokingly raise her hand. Still, she says she's come to terms with what happened and said, "I don't think much about it anymore."
2. There will be no time-jumping, as some fans have speculated. In fact, executive producer Sara Colleton promises we'll "be able to grieve" the tragic loss of Rita and see how Dexter responds to his world being turned upside-down. "I look forward to the comedy that will come along with that, because Dexter has never been pitied before," said Michael C. Hall.
3. We'll "discover that it changes things" between Dex and Deb now that she knows the Ice Truck Killer (Brian Moser) was his real brother. "That's a lot for her to take in," Michael explains. "It's a lot for her to deny."
4. Michael, who announced his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma in January, looked healthy and happy and told the audience that he's doing well. "I'm great on the health front." In fact, he says he just had a treatment last night (pretty incredible he made it to the event) and only has one treatment left, but says he is already cancer-free. Huge round of applause for that. Michael also received a standing ovation—of every single person in the audience—when he came out on stage, which I've never seen in the many years covering the Paley Fest. Earlier on the press line, Michael's wife, Jennifer, told me that his Golden Globe win (amid all the frightening news in January) was "the best night of [her] life."
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5. When a fan in the audience addressed the "elephant in the room" and asked Michael and Jennifer what it's like to be married in real life while playing brother and sister on Dexter, Jennifer told Michael, "You answer," but then cut him off with a "keep it short" as he started to answer, "Well, we met at work..." Then she quickly told him, "That's enough," so he laughed and stopped talking. "That's basically us right there," he said as everyone laughed. It was pretty cute, and I can tell you that backstage these two seem very happy, walking around hand in hand and smiling. She's obviously a huge support to him and vice versa.
6. Ick factor alert! Sara took the focus off the awkward Michael-Jennifer real-life couple Q by pronouncing that Deb and Dex aren't blood related, so a coupling isn't out of the question. Say wha?!? Here's hoping they never go there. Sorry, Dex, but Deb already did the whole serial killer romance thing and it didn't work out so well!
7. According to departing show runner Clyde Phillips, the writers had Trinity kill Rita in the bathtub (instead of having her jump off the building, which seemed to better fit his pattern of kills) to bring the season full circle. "We wanted to end the season in Dexter's house, where it started," Clyde said, adding that they also wanted to return to the iconic image of the baby covered in you-know-what (I can't say it), as Dexter was as a child.
8. Dexter will have to come to terms with what Rita's death means for both his stepchildren, Cody and Astor, and their infant son, Harrison. "When they first told me I was getting killed off," said Julie, "I thought, What about the baby? I forgot it was a TV baby and not real."
9. Are newlyweds Batista and Laguerta already done for? Not yet, but Lauren Vélez is hoping "for this huge wrench to be thrown in the works." Why?!
10. Desmond Harrington wants Quinn to hook up with...Masuka (C.S. Lee)?! Just jokes, but of a possible relationship with Deb, he told us: "They're both wounded people and they definitely have a chemistry."
11. If Julie's stint on Desperate Housewives and her new ABC pilot No Ordinary Family don't pan out, she told me she's destined to be a pop star! Don't act like you don't remember her breathtaking rendition of "Karma Chameleon" in the minivan last season! "That was the most mortifying moment of my life," she joked.
12. Dexter won't automatically be cleared of all wrongdoing in Rita's death. In fact, MCH told me "he's in hot water"—no pun intended. How will he explain all that blood and that Rita's missing when he can't tell the force that he knew Arthur Mitchell? Will Batista remember Mitchell being at the station visiting Dexter? All questions to come.
13. The showrunners wouldn't give me a definitive answer on whether there would be a new big bad in season five, but Sara did hint toward a no, saying the focus will really be turned back on to Dexter and his internal struggle with everything going on—something the series has never done before.
14. Can Dexter ever have any sense of normalcy and suppress his inner demons? For the time being, "the Dark Passenger is definitely back." Waaah!
Check back later for exclusive interviews with the cast and producers of Dexter, but in the meantime, do you think season five has the potential to outdo last year?
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