[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's season finale of Dexter. Read at your own risk.]
For six seasons of Dexter, Michael C. Hall's titular serial killer has hidden his true nature from those closest to him. But on the Showtime series' Season 6 finale, Dexter's "Dark Passenger" was finally revealed to his sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter), who walked in on him stabbing a knife through the chest of Colin Hanks' Travis. And to top it off, just moments before, Deb realized/admitted she was actually in love with her adopted brother.
How will she feel now that she knows Dexter has a seriously killer hobby? TVGuide.com chatted with executive producer and showrunner Scott Buck to get the scoop on how the siblings will move forward from this discovery. Plus: Does Dexter need to die?
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Deb finally knows! This is six seasons in the making. How do you feel now that this particular secret is out?
Scott Buck: I wouldn't say we dragged it out, but we played with it and toyed with it enough and now it's finally time to deal with it head-on. I feel very positive that we took this step.
How will this affect their relationship and your storytelling?
Buck: One of Dexter's hallmarks is that no one really knows who he is, and now Deb at least has a little peek behind the curtain. How much she actually knows and figures out will all be part of the drama of next season, but it's certainly going to affect our story in a very big way.
Did knowing you had two seasons left help you decide to pull the trigger on this story now?
Buck: We always imagined that Deb finding out would be part of the end game, so we always sort of delayed it. When we came in this year, David Nevins [said], "Let's shake things up. We don't have to play it safe. We can think a little bit differently this year." We decided it was finally time to deal with this head-on. There's still plenty of drama to come after this, but we know we have two seasons left to do and there's more than enough for us to deal with in the next two years just dealing with this one particular issue.
We saw a lot of growth in Deb through therapy. Will you continue to use that device as Deb sorts out her feelings after what she witnessed?
Buck: It's certainly possible. You don't go to six sessions of therapy and solve all your problems. It's an ongoing process. Typically, you may come to one discovery and have that lead to a completely different discovery about yourself. Whether we revisit the therapist or not is actually something we haven't even discussed. In the past, I've always been very reluctant to write therapy scenes because they often become so tedious, but this particular season, I was very pleasantly surprised to see how well they went. Because Deb is a character who's always been so un-self-aware so there was a lot that we could discover and there's probably a lot more to discover. Whether we do it through therapy or other means will remain to be seen.
Deb only saw Dexter kill Travis. Will you toy with the audience on whether she finds out the whole secret?
Buck: I don't think we'll toy with the audience. She sees what she sees and we all knows exactly what she's seeing, but how much does that really say about Dexter and what does Deb already know about him? This is her brother, who she's known her whole life. To walk into a situation like this, you're not going to immediately think, "Oh, my brother is a serial killer." You're going to think, "Oh, my brother is killing DDK. This is crazy and insane." She's taken the first peek behind the curtain, but it's not necessarily daylight just yet.
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Is it safe to say the next season will see Dexter trying to contain this secret?
Buck: That will be his first instinct, yes. Dexter has learned to live a lie his whole life, and that's always his go-to response in any situation where he may potentially be discovered. It's just natural for him to spin a story.
Do you think Dexter meant "I love you" to Debra, or was he just saying it in the necessity of the moment to calm her down?
Buck: I think he meant it in a way that a brother would normally love his sister, but because Dexter had never even said so much as that before, for him, it was still a big moment that meant he could even be capable of loving his own sister. I don't think he meant it in any means beyond that or was aware of what Deb was telling him.
What ran through the writers' minds when you decided to possibly put Dexter and Deb together? This TV season seems to be the year of incest!
Buck: Somehow I missed it and was not aware that this is the big theme of the year. [Laughs] Honestly, it's something we've been talking about since Season 2 because it seemed to explain so much about the character of Debra Morgan, that she always seemed like she was so in love with her brother. It's something we always talked about [and] dismissed, and then this season we finally dealt with it.
What is the drive for next season?
Buck: We have the benefit of knowing that we have two seasons left, so we can start to really take the character of Dexter where we're going to want to end him in the finale. We no longer have to think of holding things in place and not giving things away because we can start to turn in some of those cards at this point. Obviously the biggest thing we set up is Deb has now seen him kill someone. What does this mean? How will it affect Dexter? What is he going to do with this? And she thinks she's in love with him? Is she going to tell Dexter? And if so, how is Dexter going to possibly respond to that? These are a number of things that will be set up for next season, but we'll deal with them as they come.
Deb finding out is a big moment, but what else will Dexter need to come to terms with before the show ends?
Buck: What we need to answer is: Where do we want to lead this character? Even now, in Season 6, he's not the same Dexter we met in Season 1. He's someone who has gradually evolved over the years. Where do we want to take him that will be a satisfying place? These are questions we ourselves have to answer before we can start writing in that direction.
Do you think Dexter needs to die?
Buck: I do not know. What I thought about Dexter when I came into this show has certainly changed from what I think of him now, because the character has changed. At one point I may have thought that, but I'm not sure now because there's so many different things you can do with this person. A lot of people would certainly think he needs to die.
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Will Louis (Josh Cooke) be the big villain next season?
Buck: No, I don't think he's next season's villain. Louis is something we don't quite know what to make of because he's something that has not appeared on Dexter before. It's a different kind of character and it will be fun to explore exactly who he is and what he's doing. I certainly like Louis, but he's obviously got some issues to deal with. He seems to be a troubled individual, and how that will work out in terms of Dexter will be part of the fun of next season, but he will not be our big bad.
Do you feel like you have to top this season or distance yourself from it after viewers were more critical this year?
Buck: We always want to top each season and do better and different things to surprise people, but not in terms of big plot twists. Mostly, in terms of character. I don't feel any need to try to distance myself from this season. I'm very happy with what we did this season. [We'll] just build upon that and hopefully give our audience a very satisfying Season 7.
What lessons did you learn from this season?
Buck: Oh boy, I'm still digesting all of that. Everything we come up with in our quiet little writers' room becomes something different. It's usually such an internal process, and then suddenly you expose it all to the world and you don't necessarily get the response you're expecting or hoping for. I don't want to suggest I'm at all disappointed because I'm very happy the way this season turned out, but I'm surprised by all the controversy and all the different ways have seen this.
What did you think of the season finale? Hit the comments with your thoughts.