We’ve come to expect penultimate episodes of ‘Dexter’ seasons to be heart-pounding and intense, but the second-to-last episode of Season 6 raised the stakes of serial-killing suspense. In ‘Talk to the Hand,’ Dexter thwarted a poison gas attack aimed at Miami Metro and lost a showdown with Travis that ended with him set out to sea, surrounded by a ring of fire. It also opened a pandora’s box of step-sibling sexual tension when Deb’s therapist suggested she might be in love with Dexter. To help bring some perspective to such a dizzying episode, AOL TV has an interview-cap with Dexter Morgan himself, Michael C. Hall. Hall offered his thoughts on the Wormwood attack, the Gellar twist, and the new, strange wrinkle in his complex relationship with Jennifer Carpenter.
A lot of wild things happened in this episode, but the most interesting was the introduction of some weird, incestuous sexual tension between Deb and Dexter. So your TV step-sister who may have feelings for your character also happens to be your real-life ex-wife. Are the writers just trying to mess with you at this point?
Absolutely. But not without our blessing. Jennifer and I were aware that the story was moving in this direction. We laugh about it, we shake our heads … but you know, in as much as there are inevitable parallels, we’re both very professional and committed to telling this story. And frankly, whatever’s happened with Jennifer and me and our relationship’s evolution notwithstanding, Dexter in the first episode says, “If I could ever have feelings for anyone, I’d have them for Deb.” I think those two characters have been on some kind of collision course from the get-go.
Dexter seemed almost like a super-hero in this episode, thwarting the Wormwood attack and then miraculously surviving the ring of fire at the end. He often seems indestructible. Do you ever worry that the lack of realism can hurt the storytelling?
I honestly feel that from the beginning, there is undeniably, just if you look at the logistics, there is a fantastical element to the world of the show and this guy’s abilities. It’s not a show that’s based on a graphic novel or a comic book, but it feels like it is. Ya know, on set, we are very much aware of the logistical or literal implausibility of so many of the things that happen on the show, but I think there is a suspension of disbelief that is required of our audience. You look at the end of the first season … he subdues the Ice Truck Killer, and gets him back into the Ice Truck Killer’s room that’s like, part of an active crime scene, and slashes his throat? It’s all absurd really, but there’s some sort of serendipitousness or fantastical coincidence … I’ve suggested in other interviews that while we don’t see it, Dexter definitely has the power of flight and can turn himself into smoke.
That scene where one of Travis’ crazy religious disciples attacks the station with poison gas was incredibly suspenseful and intense. What’s the key to the way the show is able to set up nail-biting climaxes?
I really attribute most of that to our writers, and Scott Buck, who’s sitting at the head of the writer’s table now. This season has been really satisfying in the way that everything led to something else. There were no loose threads. His ability to work that Rubik’s Cube in his mind has been fun to watch and be a part of.
So does Dexter get publicly hailed as a hero now? How would he handle that?
Ya know, his head is already pretty messed up. His ability to justify his behavior one way or another is pretty impressive. I think if anything, it would stoke in him some sort of appetite. He’s really committed to not getting caught– it’s the first rule of the code– but I think there’s a flip side to that coin, and Dexter definitely has an appetite for revelation, and even buried beneath that perhaps, a desire to be celebrated.
Is Dexter a strong swimmer?
I mean, come on. Yeah. He better be. Or he better luck into something. I’ll tell you this much … that San Pedro water is not warm. It was pretty cold. It was hard to pretend I was in Miami. My teeth might have been chattering a take or two. Hopefully they can cut around it.
After the Gellar twist, fans have now moved on to wondering about Louis Greene. People are wondering if he’s connected to the Ice Truck Killer. My own theory is that he’s used his own algorithmic powers to isolate Dexter as the Bay Harbor butcher.
That’s indeed a possibility. He’s a formidable guy given his access and expertise. It seems pretty clear that he’s somewhat obsessed with Dexter in a way that is … potentially problematic.
Speaking of the Gellar twist, is there anything you’d advise fans to go back and re-watch, that they might see differently after knowing this guy was dead the whole time?
Generally, you’d notice that Gellar never interacts with anyone else. Specifically, there’s a scene where he’s in a diner with Travis where he’s never acknowledged by the waitperson and doesn’t have anything in front of him. Then there’s another scene where he’s at a nightclub, and it’s just conspicuous that he’s a few decades older than anyone else there, standing in front of a newspaper machine with his picture on the front page. That’s part of the fun of the twist like that I guess, that you can look back and say, “Oh, of course, I should have seen it.”
It was almost disappointing though, because Edward James Olmos had done such a great job of creating a chilling psychopath.
I know. I think a lot of people were looking forward to the scene that Dexter and Gellar would have together, but it never happened. Well, it happened, but he was frozen. And that was him, in dead-freezer makeup.
While we’re talking about guest-stars, one of the things that seemed to really ground Dexter this season was his friendship with Brother Sam. It was a shame to see him go.
That was the most legitimate friendship or connection he’s ever made with anyone … who he wasn’t going to ultimately kill. People were probably watching like, “Oh please, don’t kill him too …” He was great in that role.
Dexter came close to going full serial killer and embracing his darkest instincts this season, particularly in the ‘Nebraska’ episode. At the same time, he’s growing as a father and friend. How challenging is that to play?
It’s both challenging and rewarding. I find myself in a sixth season of a show who I’m still surprised by and trying to keep up with, which is great. I’ve always been for pushing the envelope, and thankfully, there are lots of people involved in the conversation creatively and we can’t … you want to challenge the audience’s affections to a point, but you’ve got to be somewhat conscious of not alienating them or losing them.
So you have to give the motel owner a gun before Dexter can put a pitchfork through this stomach?
That’s the trick. You’ve got to put him in a kill or be killed scenario where he has no choice. Even though he has everything to do with the fact that he’s in the situation … even though it’s a gun that Dexter stole. And also to remind yourself in that episode, Dexter’s alone. Brian’s not really there. He’s doing all this by himself.
That gets you wondering about how messed up psychologically Dexter actually is. You know, in addition to being a sociopath.
Yeah. That was kind of a magical moment when we get to see Dexter in that basement watching Travis talk to the imaginary Gellar while having a conversation over his shoulder with his imaginary father. He’s nuts, man.