It's the beginning of the end for Dexter as the long-running Showtime series about a serial-killing blood spatter analyst kicks off its eighth and final season Sunday at 9/8c. Before our favorite killer says goodbye, however, the series will reexamine Dexter's (Michael C. Hall) origin story by introducing the mastermind behind Harry's ethical killing code — and no, it wasn't Harry (James Remar).
As Dexter's past gives insight to what could lie in his future, Dexter will also be dealing with the fallout from his sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) killing LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) in order to save his life. It's six months later when the show picks back up, but that doesn't mean those wounds have healed. In fact, it's quite the opposite. To get the scoop on the final season, TVGuide.com caught up with the cast at the Dexter premiere party:
PTSD is no party: When the show returns, expect to meet an entirely different Deb from the one we've seen throughout the years. She's turned to drugs and alcohol to soothe the pain of becoming a murderer. "It became about filling in the gaping holes that the writers had to leave for Deb to get from where she was to where she is when we start the premiere," Carpenter says. "It was complicated. I was really just drawing on my own. I had to make game-time decisions that didn't involve the guidance of our very skilled writers, so it was terrifying, but I think all of that helped me in the performance."
Sibling rivalry: With Deb self-medicating, she'll push Dexter away, causing a huge divide between the pair. "She has always had the door held wide open for him to be a part of her life and hoping that he would extend the same courtesy," Carpenter notes. "It's chained and dead-bolted at this point. He has lost all credibility with her." While Carpenter believes there's a chance Deb could eventually forgive Dexter, executive producer Scott Buck adds, "It becomes increasingly complicated as things unfold between the two of them." What's scary for Dexter will be losing his rock. "This is the most fundamental connection in his world, his connection to his sister," Hall says. "He can't reconcile where Deb is and how she seems to have forsaken their connection."
The new Miami Metro: The department will still be reeling from the loss of LaGuerta even six months later. "We are shocked and saddened by her death," C.S. Lee says. Dealing yet another blow to the force, Deb has decided to leave the force for a private firm. "Deb is one of the best cops that Batista has ever worked with, so he misses her and wants her to come back," David Zayas says.
Dexter's origins: Dexter will quickly meet the woman behind the code, Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), which forces him to examine his true origin. "There was this woman who was manipulating Harry, who was in turn manipulating Dexter," Hall says. "The show has also never really explored a maternal relationship for Dexter, so it's new territory in that way. She, as all women in Dexter's life, does dance around in his blind spots from time to time and maybe move him in directions that he would best not move if he were being a pure pragmatist. He's always craved family and connection in that way and she is his spiritual mother, in a way. That scratches some itch for him."
The old code: While looking into Dexter's origins, we'll actually get to see Harry in the flesh as he tried to reconcile his son, ahem, ailment. "He's not the invulnerable authoritarian, the all-knowing guy," Remar says. "He's got questions and got a dilemma and is not really sure what to do with his kid. Like with any parent, he seeks help. We get to see that he's caring and he's on the fence and he's got a dilemma on his hands."
The new code: Harry turned to Vogel to seek help with Dexter, but the cast seems cautious on whether we should trust her. "She's known about Dexter since he was 10 because she worked with Dexter's father, but she actually meets him for the first time when we meet her in the last season," Rampling says and adds that even she doesn't know whether you should trust her. "You'll find out during the season why she works with psychopaths. It's very compelling.
A new killer: The final season will continue the legacy of introducing a new big bad, with this year featuring the Brain Surgeon, who removes a piece of his victim's brain after killing them. "He's different in that he's more elusive," Hall says. "We don't know who he is. He's a big bad more in the tradition of the Ice Truck Killer, in a way. He's more this elusive dark force that we can't quite pin down, and Dexter can't either."
Old romances: As the series heads towards the endgame, an old romance between Quinn (Desmond Harrington) and Deb will seemingly be resurrected as her former ex tries to help in her time of need. "He cares about her and he's concerned," Harrington says. "That's his girl. It would be nice for Quinn [to end up with Deb] because he was in love with her." But they'll face a few issues first, namely that Deb's erratic behavior could lead him to suspect foul play. "He might, but I don't know if he would care," Harrington notes. To make matters even more difficult, Quinn is dating a very jealous Jamie (Aimee Garcia) when the series returns.
Familiar faces: Speaking of jealous exes, Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski) will return in the final season, but her motives are so far being kept under wraps. "The biggest question is how and when she comes back," Strahovski says. "We left it on quite a dark note with her and the black orchid at Dexter's front door step. It could potentially be a disaster. That's the suspense that everyone will have to sit through."
Dexter's fate: The other suspense everyone will have to deal with is whether the titular serial killer will finally face the music or meet his end in the final season. "Dexter has been playing faster and looser with the code for some time now, and I think there's some unconscious desire to reveal himself and that may manifest itself through reckless behavior," Hall says. But Rampling, playing Dexter's maker, says her gut reaction is that Dexter won't die before the end. Carpenter agrees. "At the end of the season? No," she says. "Someday? Yes, because we all do."
Do you think Dexter should die?
Dexter premieres Sunday at 9/8c on Showtime.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, Showtime's parent company.)