Hey guys, Jen and Korbi here. We're proud to introduce a new voice in the section. Drusilla Moorhouse is one of our intrepid copy editors, and we love her to pieces (metaphorical pieces, not severed body-part pieces). Anyway, while we were off at Kristin's wedding the other weekend, Dru was kind enough to hit the Showtime TCA to do one-on-one interviews with the actors and producers of Dexter.
By the way, yes, her name really is Drusilla—and can you believe Julie Benz didn't bat an eyelash at that? I mean, how many Drusillas could the woman know? Anyway, here's Dru's very-much-better-than-we-deserve report on our favorite serial killer...
Spoiler Warning! Do not read this until you have seen the entire first season of Dexter!
The next two months are going to be exciting ones for Dexter fans: The first-season DVD is being released Aug. 21, and the second season premieres Sept. 30 (and the third Dexter book is being published Sept. 18).
The second season resumes 38 days after the conclusion of the first season, with Dexter feeling somewhat stifled by (a) Sgt. Doakes' constant surveillance and (b) having his sister as a roommate. It's no wonder he's having some trouble performing. As Dexter says, "Maybe I'm just a little rusty after killing my brother."
My Sister's Keeper: Poor Dex. Not only is he being stalked by Doakes, but since Deb's now-dead boyfriend turned out to be a serial killer, Deb has been calling Dexter's (very small) apartment home. That must mean she was oblivious while Dexter and Rudy debated slicing her up while she lay etherized upon a table, right? Not necessarily.
Michael C. Hall notes that Deb was "arguably unconscious...when Dexter had this crucial interaction with his brother." Says Jennifer Carpenter, "I believe Deb has some degree of posttraumatic stress disorder...Something is living in her, walking around and occupying space in her. I think triggers are going to come along this season [forcing her to remember more about what happened with Rudy]."
Sink or Swim: Deb's returning to work, with many questioning whether she's ready to be out in the field. Soon, however, everyone (except maybe Doakes) will be much too busy investigating the Bay Harbor Butcher to pay much mind to Deb's emotional problems.
You might recognize those neatly packaged parts found by divers in the deep waters off Miami, because, you see, the authorities have discovered Dexter Morgan's body dump.
Lt. Frank Lundy (the divine Keith Carradine) is the FBI specialist brought in to lead the task force investigating the grisly killings. The body count keeps climbing, and Debra can't hide her glee that a new mass murderer has come along, supplanting the Ice-Truck Killer circus in everyone's minds.
Will Lundy be a Rudy rebound for Deb? Probably not, thinks Jennifer Carpenter: They're about halfway through shooting for the second season, and, she reveals, there's been "no kissin' yet." However, Lundy does select Deb for his task force, so let's hope for Dexter's sake her brother manages to fool her again. Or is there a chance she becomes complicit in keeping him safe from suspicion? The show runners haven't ruled out this storyline, which is explored in the Dexter books. Meanwhile, Dexter must cope with another threat presented by—believe it or not—his girlfriend, Rita.
Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop: Fortunately, we don't have to wait long for the show runners to address the issue of Paul's shoe. Rita's newfound confidence enables her to stand up to Paul—with unpredictable consequences. As Julie Benz says, "We see a stronger Rita, a Rita who starts to clearly define what she really wants in her life [and] to take control." JoBeth Williams is joining the show as Rita's mother, Gail, who apparently doesn't approve of her daughter's new boyfriend (though how he can be anything but an improvement after a violent rapist is beyond me). Still, as Michael C. Hall says, "As far as Dexter goes, [Gail is] an unanticipated foil."
Addicted to Love: Another interesting consequence of Rita's assertiveness is that Dexter finds himself in an addiction recovery program. (For drug addicts, not serial killers—but hey, at least he's getting some kind of treatment, right?) Alas, it's in this support group that Dexter meets another woman…and finds himself in the middle of a love triangle. Executive producer Daniel Cerone says Lila (played by British actress Jaime Murray) is "someone Dexter can truly connect with—someone cut from the same cloth as him (in spirit—not necessarily a killer) and who understands his darkness. One thing we explored deeply last season was Dexter's search for connection, [and] Dexter's darkness connects to Lila's darkness."
Rita, by contrast, represents "the woman we want Dexter to be with—she's the light. Plus, her children are very important in Dexter's life." According to Clyde Phillips, "He has a great, deep affinity for the childhood he never had and finds that in other [children]." Jennifer Carpenter adds, "It must feel nice [for Dexter] to be a teacher and a rock and comedian [to Rita's children]. He knows what it is like to [be traumatized] as a small child. He wants to offer them comfort and security." In fact, as Clyde Phillips reveals, "When Deb finds out Rita had broken up with Dexter, she tells him, 'Go back there. You are like a father to those children.' And this really presents a profound dilemma to him."
Not by the Book: The actor playing Rita's son Cody was recast, but not because the producers intend to follow a storyline developed in the second Dexter book—in which Cody begins to exhibit signs that he, too, might want to be a serial killer when he grows up. Cerone says, "We talked about it, and it felt a little sensational and a little convenient. Cody didn't have the background that Dexter did...We always said that that's what turned Dexter into what he is. Next season, who knows?"
Nature vs. Nurture: So, if Dexter hadn't witnessed his mother's violent murder—and sat in her blood for three days in a shipping container—he wouldn't be a serial killer today? Michael C. Hall says, "I think Dexter's experience as a three-year-old has a great deal to do with what he ultimately becomes. But the sort of outside-the-box parenting style of his foster father did its part to solidify and specify [it]. I think it's crucial, and so ingrained, that even when he discovers it, or comes to conscious awareness of it, the compulsion remains."
Deconstructing Harry: We're going to be seeing more of Dexter's foster father and his unique parenting lessons this season. As Michael C. Hall points out, "Chinks in the code start[ed] to emerge" when Dexter learned that Harry lied about Dexter's birth father and brother.
In season two, says Hall, "the shadow side of Dexter's relationship with his father—and the shadow side of his father—is explored. [This is a] big part of [Dexter's] journey, [and he] has to rethink his relationship to the code as a result." The show runners say, "Last season Harry was an iconic, mythic father figure, [but] the arguably crazy person in all this is Harry. Harry could well have said, 'This boy is deeply troubled, and I'm going to get him help.' He chose another path. We'll learn why. We'll learn a little bit about [the choices he made involving Brian]." James Remar, who plays Harry Morgan, adds, "As Dexter comes to terms with his past, what the hell made him this way, more memories are being revealed to him."
"Stupid Chief" Syndrome: Even the most dearly devoted Dexter fans acknowledged that season one wasn't perfect. The station-house scenes, for example, were pretty frustrating, recalling what Homer Simpson shouts to his TV when the conventional bureaucrat on his favorite crime procedural tries once again to thwart renegade cop McGarnagle: "It means he gets results, you stupid chief!"
"One thing we discovered," admits show runner Clyde Phillips (below, with Daniel Cerone), is that when Dexter's onscreen, the power's there...The show's called Dexter, [so] what we tried to do this year, more so than last year, is have storylines intersect with Dexter's world. We have a wonderfully diverse—in every sense of the word—cast, [and] we're working this year [to have] their stories conflate with wherever Dexter is."
Serial Killer Rehab? So, will we ever see a rehabilitated Dexter? Both Michael C. Hall and the show runners say that's virtually impossible. (What a relief! Wait—is there something wrong with me that I want to see his vigilante killing continue?) Hall says, "There's inevitably a momentum with the character and the show with Dexter coming to a greater awareness of his own humanity. However, he can't totally get on board with that, or there'll be a resulting psychic break." And the show runners are adamant: "That's the tragedy of the character: If he ever becomes a full human being, it's over. He could never live with himself, or he'd have to turn himself in." This is a Shakespearean dilemma, and Hall, the veteran theater actor, masterfully portrays this character's conflict between his dark side and his emotional yearnings for human connections.
Keith Carradine adds, "Its moral ambiguity...reflects on our own daily conflicts. There are no easy answers, and that forces you to look at the nature of morality."