IGN talks to Dexter Executive Producer Manny Coto about Debra’s new feelings, the twist that many saw coming and what’s next for the show.
Scott Buck, your fellow EP on the show, said that he was surprised by how many people were down on the story involving Deb falling in love with Dexter. How did this decision come about? What led you guys down this path? Did it feel like it was the natural thing to do?
In many ways as writers, when we write the show we’re living with the characters. And we’re in their heads and we’re following their lives and their own souls. Somewhere along this season we began to reflect on Deb and her relationships. And the relationships she’s had and how they’ve all ended in terrible ways. The first relationship we saw was with a serial killer and she didn’t even know it. So it led us to question whether there was some underlying psychological bedrock to her choosing people who she was never able to have a successful life with. One, obviously, was a mad man. And even that came into play. Why did she choose him? Why was she attracted to this person? So what was subconsciously emanating from her? And because she is not a biological sibling to Dexter it occurred to us that maybe she might have some kind of feelings there for her brother. I mean, we know it happens. In fact one of our writers, I can’t remember who, grew up in a family where there was a very similar situation to Dexter where there was a relationship. And it happened. So it occurred to us that she sees something in her brother that she’s attracted to. Something dark. A reason why she continuously chooses the people who are not available to her. Who are dangerous. All I can say is that we got inside her head and that’s where we came out.
Do you think that these feelings are something that could ever be reciprocated by Dexter? Or will this remain a one-sided thing?
It’s hard to tell. We’re not going to begin writing until February 1st so it’s impossible for me to speculate at this point where it’s going to go because we haven’t even talked about it. We have talked about certain possibilities of where we could go though. Don’t forget though that the very moment that Deb began to show her feelings she discovered he was a serial killer. So that’s going to color her feelings.
That was a big way to end the season, but will that revelation squelch Deb’s feelings for Dexter? Will it put an end to them?
Again, I can’t really go into it because I don’t know where we might go. But I can tell you that it will affect it. I mean, if I found out my spouse was a serial killer that would affect my feelings for her. It would be the same for anybody. So it’s not going to be the same.
Each year, Dexter’s ratings grow as more and more people catch up with it on DVD and Blu-ray. Is it a big challenge to keep the show fresh and vital after six years seeing as how most shows don’t even last that long anymore?
Oh, it’s a terrible challenge. It’s the hardest thing there is to do. The only way to do it is to overturn the apple cart every once in a while. And let the characters grow and progress and have their lives get overturned. Which is why, at the end of this past season, we had Deb discover – or at least see her brother make a kill – and it will affect their relationship from now on. It’s not going to be the same. It will be a different show. Which is a way to refresh and remain creatively alive. And that is to change the dynamic. And change the show. Now it’s about a serial killer who has a sister who’s a detective who has found out that he’s a serial killer. She has a big decision to make this next season.
As part of the lead-in to each new season, we hear a lot about how the season is really all about whatever Dexter’s specific emotional journey is this year. But the most fun for a lot of viewers really are the guest stars and the “big bads.” Is that a fun part for you guys as well?
Oh, it’s great fun. And it’s part of the discussions at the top of every season. Who is he going to face this year? Who is the “big bad?” Next year? Who knows? We’re going to do it fresh. We’re always trying to come up with new things. There may be a big bad, there may not be. Debra might be the big bad. We don’t know. Or Quinn. We try to change things up. This is all speculation of course. But I can tell you that next year will be a change up to the formula. And the “big bad” may take a form that we’re not used to.
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the twist that happened towards the end of the season. When you guys were writing the Edward James Olmos character, did anyone think “What if someone figures this out after, say, three episodes?”
No, we didn’t. I guess we thought that, yes, someone was going to figure this out. Or a small percentage would figure this out. I guess what I didn’t figure was that, on the internet, a small percentage will blog about it and then suddenly everybody knows. On the internet anyway. But then we did think that some people would figure it out ahead of time and then decide to just go with it. But most people would not. And that was our feeling. And it was kind of a fun and challenging thing to see if we could stretch it as long as we did. For nine episodes. It was interesting because no one in the cast or crew had the first clue. Except for Olmos, who was the only one who knew ahead of time. But Colin Hanks didn’t know. And nobody guessed. Until we announced it. And it’s interesting to see, in the world of the internet, when one person says “You know what? Maybe… This looks like it could be…” and suddenly there’s a theory. And you can see it mushrooming, with people floating theories around. And then you start looking for it on the show. It’s the same thing as if in The Sixth Sense if someone had walked in and said “You know, I think he might be dead.” And then someone says “Naw,” but then they look for it and say “Yeah, he’s dead!” However, all my friends who are not bloggers and are not on the website and the chatrooms didn’t have the first clue and were all shocked. But I enjoyed it and it was fun. It was a fun thing to do. It was particularly fun because it was a parallel to Dexter and Harry. We’re always trying to find something that connects the big bad to Dexter and in this case it was a guy who had his own “Dark Passenger” who was informing him. In a different way from Harry, but he was in his imagination.