Season six of “Dexter” ended with a shocker. Depending on your point of view, the shocker was either Debra walking in on “Dexter” mid murder, or Debra pursuing romance with her adopted brother at the advice of a professional therapist. (I was more shocked by the latter.)
Current showrunner Manny Coto met with the Television Critics Association in a cocktail reception, and he went there on both topics. First for new news. Season seven will obviously address whether Debra reports “Dexter” or keeps his secret (more likely the latter. If they can do 13 episodes on Debra arresting/chasing “Dexter”, bravo.) A technical decision will be where to pick up the season premiere. Coto is leaning towards picking up immediately, but jumping forward is a possibility. “We’ve discussed maybe jumping forward and flashing back, we’ve discussed picking up right afterwards,” Coto said. “We don’t know yet. One advantage [to picking up immediately] is you’re able to play the emotion forward. There’s an advantage to jumping ahead and doing flashbacks but then you’re trapped in flashbacks and the audience spends a lot of time catching up. That can be good because you’re setting up a mystery but at the same time, there were advantages to just picking up where you left off and going forward so you’re with the characters as you go.”
This direction for the story in no way indicates the series wrapping up, says Coto. “Not at all. It’s more part of keeping things fresh. We actually had no idea whether we were going to go two years or four years, what have you when this decision was made. Right now we’ve been renewed for two more but that could go on, who knows? It’s hard to tell. So it really wasn’t looked at as an endgame. It was more of an evolution of “Dexter”‘s life as a killer, as a father and as a brother.”
Writing begins February 1, so everything is till on the table. Coto is favoring bringing the ensemble together more tightly than the B stories they’ve all had in previous years. “Personally I would tighten it up but we may get into the writer’s room and go a different course. The fun of it is she’s running the department. By her keeping her mouth shut, if she does, the boss is now holding a secret from her fellow cohorts. Batista and Quinn and everyone around her, having to keep a secret from all of them makes this a much more fun and dynamic place. It’s now a series about a serial killer who works for Miami Metro but whose sister is now the head of Miami Metro and knows he’s a serial killer. It’s a fascinating dynamic for us to explore.”
That also sounds like a vote of confidence for Deb keeping the secret. It’s just so much juicier to explore that. Even the thoughts on a new killer for season seven depend on Debra. “We don’t know yet. It’s too early. We’ve had preliminary discussions. Whoever it is will be someone hopefully that really puts the pressure of Debra and her knowledge of “Dexter”, that informs that dynamic we’ve set up.”
Now, onto uncomfortable business. The moment Deb’s therapist said she should explore her romantic feelings for “Dexter”, most of us said, “Nooo!” To many viewers, adopted siblings are just as taboo as blood siblings. “Dexter” isn’t her biological brother, but they are family. Shouldn’t a responsible therapist discourage that?
“A therapist might but some of the therapists I’ve worked with are all for pursuing where your feelings go,” Coto said. “These are adults. These aren’t teenagers living with mom and dad. Once you’re an adult and you have these feelings, you have to at least explore them in some way. I don’t know many therapists who would say, ‘You’ve got to block that out. Forget that.’”
Not block it out, but come on, don’t date your brother. That’s still wrong. “It is, it is but it happens,” Coto admitted. “Not very often but it does happen. By the way, because it’s appalling and maybe disturbing, this is “Dexter”. We felt that it’d be interesting to pursue this particular storyline even if it is appalling and disturbing to some people. This is not ABC Family. This is Showtime and the show is constantly trying to go forward into places that you didn’t expect.”
It certainly was unexpected. The controversial development still came out of a thematic place, even if the theme didn’t stop at adoption incest. “It was more something that came to us because we’d looked upon Debra’s relationships in the past. We try to write from being inside the character’s heads. Having been in Debra’s head for so many years and her failed relationships and her relationship with an earlier serial killer and the fact that she always picks these guys who are unavailable or problematic, it just occurred to us that maybe there’s something behind all this.”
“Dexter” returns to Showtime this fall.