Over the past five seasons, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) has battled a serial-killing brother, a serial-killing assistant district attorney and even a serial-killing motivational speaker, but nothing will prepare him for what he has to face in Dexter's sixth season: Religion.
You heard that right. Miami's own murderous blood spatter analyst will seek out the meaning of faith in hopes of passing on something good to his son Harrison, who will be heading to school now that the show has jumped ahead one year.
Executive producer Sara Colleton discusses Dexter's attempt to discover the light side of his Dark Passenger, and who he'll cross paths with during the journey. Plus, Colleton dishes on whether Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) will finally find out, and if Dexter is ready for a new relationship after the heartbreak from Lumen (Julia Stiles).
If last season was about atonement, what would you say Season 6 is about?
Sara Colleton: We thought a clean start to this season would be to jump ahead a year, so he's not getting over Lumen, and he's not still in the throes of dealing with the Rita (Julie Benz) thing. We wanted to jump ahead a year and find that Dexter has gotten his groove back. He's gotten over Rita and Lumen. When we open up Season 6, we find Dexter in a very positive place in his life. It's like the Dexter we know and love is back and he still wants to play.
What will Dexter be struggling with this season?
Colleton: There are things in life that Dexter's dealing with and one of them is that Harrison is now 2 years old and he has to go to school. There are things that he has to start thinking about with his son, and he's been keenly aware of what it is that he doesn't want to pass on to Harrison, namely his Dark Passenger, but Dexter has no idea what it is that he does want to pass on.
This season is about Dexter trying to figure out if faith is something he should teach Harrison, but before he can do that, Dexter, himself, has to figure out what faith is. So, you say that and immediately you think, "Oh, Dexter? Faith? No!" I can guarantee you that this is not any New Age religious stuff with Dexter finding religion. He explores something that is unexplorable and he tries to define something that's indefinable in a very, very Dexter-like way.
Let's talk about the new characters coming in this season. We've had the villain-of-the-year before, and last year was about the guest-stars interlocking. What can you tell us about this year's new cast?
Colleton: Geller, who's played by Edward James Olmos, is a renowned professor of religious history. Travis, played by Colin Hanks, is a restorer and he works in the antiquities department at the Miami Museum. Brother Sam, played by Mos, he's a former ex-con who found his mission in life by helping other cons. These are the three different forces that come into play in Dexter's life in different ways.
Out of the three, I'd love to see Hanks as the villain of the story.
Colleton: How interesting. This is like Three-card Monte, or those games that they play in Times Square where they move around the three cups. Any one of these people could be [the villain]. It's going to take a lot of twists and turns before it gets revealed.
We also have a new character that's going to be an addition to our bullpen this year named Mike Anderson, who's played by Billy Brown. He is this very smart, very urban Chicago cop who is most abrasive and, of course, rubs everyone in our laid-back Miami Department the wrong way. We also have a wonderful new nanny, named Jamie (Aimee Garcia), who is Batista's younger sister and is a graduate student in child psychology.
Deb came thisclose to discovering Dexter's secret hobby last season. Do you feel like once she finds out that it may be the end of the series? Or do you feel like you're finally ready to take that next step?
Colleton: It's inevitable that she does. When and how has not been decided. If you look at the trajectory of her character, she's gone from this all-over-the-place girl who was in Vice and who could barely stand up straight and focus her energy, to an incredibly smart, hard cop. She's gone from seeing everything in very clear black and white, to thinking that perhaps there are people who deserve to die. She's now a homicide cop and she sees how arbitrary the system is, and how guilt and innocence is a mutable thing.
Because Lumen opened Dexter up to the possibility of love, have there been discussions about introducing a new love interest for him?
Colleton: She made him feel seen and not repulsed for the first time in his life, but at this point, after what he went through last year, it's something that he'll hold in his heart, but it's not for him. It's too destructive. That's what happens to a lot of us. I mean, every cynic who says they don't care about love, you scratch deep enough and, of course, you'll find somebody with their heart broken.
Lumen was his first love, really. He totally loved, loved, loved Rita, but there's always the first one, then there's the right one, and then there's the one you never forget. Rita is the first one and Lumen is probably the one you never forget. He still hasn't met the right one. Right now, he's still a little gun shy. Every time he gets involved with a woman, death is right around the corner, from Lila (Jaime Murray), to Rita, to Lumen. So, he's got his hands full being a father and keeping the Dark Passenger dancing.
What kind of backlash did you get from Dexter dating Lumen last year?
Colleton: There are people who say it was their hands-down favorite season, and then there are people who just hated that we had Dexter fall in love with someone after Rita. We thought it was like a tremendously bold thing because it would be the last thing the audience would expect and Dexter would never have expected ever for this to happen.
Does the fan reaction ever play into the decisions you make about the future of the show?
Colleton: No. No. No. No. I think the minute you do that, you are dead. We didn't come up with the series based on that. So, all we can do is be true to the show and to the ideas and the style in which we want to have storytelling. I mean that with no disrespect. We have a huge respect for our fans, but I think it would be doing a disservice if we tried to satisfy each of the fans, and it would do disservice to Dexter. That is the man I love and I cannot let him down.
There are only so many stories you can tell about a serial killer. Have you discussed the end of the series?
Colleton: When we feel that we have ceased finding a really fresh territory that we want to take Dexter, we'll stop. Obviously it's going to be in the next couple of years, but the one thing I never wanted to do is for us, in a creative mode, to feel like we're just retreading things. But, because it is a show about human nature and we're constantly pushing Dexter into areas he's never traveled before, it brings the audience along with him to hopefully think about things and explore things that they may not have stopped and thought about.
We've seen a few showrunners on Dexter — Clyde Phillips, Chip Johannessen — what would you say Scott Buck brings to the table this season?
Colleton: It's not like we're going back to the Dexter you met in Episode 1, because he's changed a lot. He's jumped ahead a year, he's got the world on a string, he's on the top of his game, and he wants to play, and Scott is so perfect for that.
The sixth season of Dexter premieres this fall.