Jennifer Carpenter Will Be Starring in the Dexter Revival—But How?

Despite dying in the season eight finale of Dexter, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) will have a starring role in Showtime's upcoming revival. Here's everything we know about the role...

By Alyssa Ray Aug 24, 2021 9:01 PMTags
Watch: Michael C. Hall's Eight Years on "Dexter"

Jennifer Carpenter is returning to Dexter in a killer way.

On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the Dexter alum confirmed she was returning to Showtime's upcoming revival, titled Dexter: New Blood, which premieres Nov. 7. This news may have some fans thoroughly confused, as Carpenter's character Debra died in the controversial series finale in 2013.

For those who need a refresher, after being shot by Saxon (Darri Ingólfsson), Dexter's adoptive sister Debra was hospitalized and put on life support. Ultimately, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) chose to pull the plug and dispose of her body in the ocean amid a hurricane.

As for Dexter? He faked his own death and relocated to Oregon to become a lumberjack.

And, from what's been teased so far, the revival will pick up with Dexter living life in a new town in Upstate New York, going by a new alias and fighting his killer urges. So, how will deceased Debra fit in here?

Like Harry (James Remar) in the OG series, Debra will return as an imaginary presence—but don't call her a ghost!

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2021 TV Premiere Dates

"I don't think of her as a ghost [per se, but] more of a link or an echo or an inconvenient truth for Dexter," the actress said, according to TVLine. "[She] comes back to sort of haunt and punish and caretake and provoke and love [him]."

Jim Fiscus/SHOWTIME

Longtime co-star (and ex-husband) Hall appears to be the most excited about Debra's return. "I knew she would be able to shape shift and come at Dexter from so many different places," he noted. "And, of course, she did. And it was really fun to crack open our sense of [Dexter]'s internal landscape, because it's much more pyrotechnic and crazy than it used to be."

Carpenter's character isn't the only deceased role to reemerge for the revival, as the Trinity Killer, who was played by John Lithgow, is also set to return. 

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For everything we know about the upcoming revival, scroll through the images below!

How Many Episodes?

The revival will be 10 episodes. Showrunner Clyde Phillips—who ran the first four seasons of the original series—wrote the script for the first and the last episode. It's scheduled to premiere Sunday, November 7 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

Where Will the Show Be Set?

Dexter was sort of iconically set in Miami the first time around, and in the finale the character had relocated to Oregon. Now, almost a decade later, Dexter is living in a town called Iron Lake in Upstate New York. He appears to be going by the name Jim Lindsay (which is close to the name of the author of the books the series was based on, Jeff Lindsay).

This Is Not Dexter Season 9

Phillips told THR that "We want this not to be Dexter season nine." 

"We basically do get to start from scratch," he said. "I mean, 10 years have passed—however many years have passed—by the time this will air, and the show will reflect that time passage in so far as the ending of the show. This will have no resemblance to how the original finale was and it's a great opportunity to write a second finale for a show." 

This Is Not a Reaction to the Series Finale

Phillips acknowledged many people involved with the show—including Michael C. Hall—knew that lumberjack ending was not a fan fave. 

"Michael certainly was aware that the ending wasn't well received and I believe that he was not completely satisfied with it and this is an opportunity to make that right," Philips said. "But that's not why we're doing it. We're doing this because there's such a hunger for Dexter out there." 

But It's Not an Erasure of the Finale, Either

The revival will not erase Dexter's turn as a lumberjack.

"We're 10 years later," Phillips said. "We're not undoing anything. We're not doing movie magic, we're not going to betray the audience to say 'That was all a dream,' or whatever it is. I mean, what happened in the first eight years happened in the first eight years. This is now however many years later. So we're not undoing anything." 

Will Deb Be Back?

Dexter's adoptive sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) will still be dead, but Dexter's a show known for its ghosts. 

"There is some flexibility for movie magic, and that's all I can say about it," Phillips previously said, refusing to answer the question directly. In August 2021, it was confirmed that Carpenter would be back as an imaginary presence in Dexter's life. 

"As much as [Deb] is an internalized character for Dexter, I think [she] represents how far he's fallen… without a compass," Hall said about Deb's return. "I was so excited about Jennifer doing this because I knew she would be able to shape shift and come at Dexter from so many different places. And, of course, she did. And it was really fun to crack open our sense of [Dexter]'s internal landscape, because it's much more pyrotechnic and crazy than it used to be."

The Return of the Trinity Killer

Speaking of movie magic, the only major returning guest star we know of so far is John Lithgow, which is baffling because the Trinity Killer is very dead. But Deadline reports that Lithgow will return for a brief appearance, so we're expecting a hallucination or perhaps a dream sequence.

Meet the New Cast

It appears that the new series will feature mainly new side characters. Here's a breakdown of who to expect: 

Jamie Chung plays a famous true-crime podcaster from LA who gets caught up in the show's central mystery. 

Clancy Brown plays Kurt Caldwell, the villain and unofficial mayor of Iron Lake who owns the truck stop. He's a man of the people, but if you cross him or hurt anyone he cares, for "God help you." 

Julia Jones plays Angela Bishop, Iron Lake's first Native American police chief. Johnny Sequoyah plays her daughter Audrey.

Alano Miller plays Logan, a police sergeant and assistant coach of the high school wrestling team. 

David Magidoff plays Teddy, a new addition to the local police department. 

Oscar Wahlberg plays Zach, the captain of the high school wrestling team. 

Jack Alcott plays Randall, who has a meaningful encounter with Dexter. 

Michael Cyril Creighton plays Fred Jr., owner of Fred's Fish & Game.

Will Phillips' Finale Idea Happen?

When the original finale aired, Phillips was interviewed by E! News' Kristin Dos Santos and revealed what his pitch for the series finale would have been. It involved Dexter being executed for his crimes while all of his victims (even the indirect ones) could be seen watching from the gallery. Understandably, Phillips couldn't say whether this ending would see the light of day in the revival. 

"Everybody knows that quote," he said. "And then if I say none of it is in play, then they know something else is going to happen if they say all of it in play. Then, then they know that that's something's going to happen so I can't answer that. I can't talk about the finale of the show." 

Will Dexter Still Be in Law Enforcement?

Phillips couldn't say for sure if Dexter's former job of blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police Department would come back into play, but he could say this: "We discuss it and we we do mess with it, we do change it up. I can't tell you in which ways." 

The show will "look and feel different yet familiar," whatever that means.

Per the latest trailer, Dexter, who is living life under a different alias, does work for Fred's Fish & Game.

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