On Sunday night’s Dexter TV show finale, Debra confessed to having non-brotherly love for Dexter Morgan, then caught him in the act of ritualistically murdering the Doomsday Killer. Showrunner Scott Buck talks to EW about the sixth season, that game-changing final scene and what it might all mean for the final two seasons.
Please tell me that final scene wasn’t, like, a dream or something.
No, we finally did it. It was a long time coming and we finally pulled the trigger.
Will the next season start, I hope, right where this one left off?
We’ll certainly start somewhere very close to that point addressing all these issues. We started this season one year later and we’re certainly not going to do that.
Let’s back up: Debra having romantic feelings for Dexter. How did that story idea come about?
It’s actually an idea that’s been discussed in the writers room years ago, like starting in season two, because it always felt it — that this character was in love with her brother. And like Debra, we ignored it for a long time and it just kept coming back until we were all in agreement that it was just in the DNA of that character of why she was the way she was. It felt like it was finally time to tackle that issue.
It’s tough to imagine Dexter feeling the same way about her.
I don’t think Dexter has ever even considered those feelings. I don’t think he’s ever had those feelings for anyone, except, perhaps, a little bit for Lumen. But as far as Dexter being in love with someone, that’s just not the kind of person he is. I don’t think Dexter believes he’s capable of love like the way Debra feels.
Since Debra is a detective, did you toy with the idea of having her gradually figure things out over the course of a season instead of finding out all at once?
It feels like she’s been gradually finding out things for years except not willing to look at them. She is a detective, she is very smart, but I don’t believe she believes he might be a killer in this way. But there was always something tugging at her mind that there was more to Dexter than she realized. So let’s get it over with and pull the curtain off on that. It just seemed like a more fun and interesting way to go.
Dexter trying to keep the Doomsday Killers himself. He’s often done that to some degree, but we spent a lot of time with Debra this season so it made him seem more obstructionist than usual. Were you guys conscious of that?
Yes, it was a very specific storyline for one episode that there might be chemical weapons involved that this was bigger than what he could ever deal and he had to wrestle with whether to give it up or not. So we saw a progression in the character of Dexter, that he was willing to step away from his own need for the greater good. Of course, it all came back around and it fell back in his lap once again.
David Nevins told us the last couple episodes sets into motion a storyline that take us through the show’s end game. Do you pretty much know the major beats — including the ending — at this point?
Our ending, no. There’s only several ways we can end this show, and we all have our feelings about how it could end. There’s quite a few people involved at this point and it’s a matter of us sitting down and figuring out how this show should end. We’re all clearly heading in one direction, but that grand finale has not been decided yet.
Will next season have another Big Bad, or will this move change the show in some fundamental way and the format of the show will feel different?
One advantage we have is we most likely have two seasons and then we’re out, so we can start working toward the end game. We haven’t even begun to consider who the bad guys are, but we are open to changing formats. We don’t feel like we need to stick to something just because we did it in previous seasons, though at the same time we don’t feel like we can’t do something just because we have done something similar before.
What are the storytelling goals for the next couple seasons?
Dexter is always a show that’s less about plot twists and much more about characters. Our allegiance is always most strongly to the character of Dexter Morgan. What’s the most satisfying, honest place to take Dexter over the next two years.
The creepy computer guy. I’m assuming he mailed the hand because he’s infatuated with serial killers and Dexter, or is there something more I should be reading into that?
Well, he had no idea Dexter is a serial killer — at least, not to our knowledge. I think he’s just got this weird love-to-hate thing for Dexter and has latched onto him and is seeking his approval. But to send the hand like that, we have no idea what kind of message he’s sending. At this point, it’s just to arouse our suspicion about who is this guy and what are his intentions.
In the finale on top of the skyscraper, are we to assume Dexter had a dummy needle prepared, so that’s why he wasn’t unconscious after injecting himself?
It was not a dummy needle. We didn’t answer that question, but we had an answer for it. It was just a little awkward to slip it into the footage. We showed him emptying the needle seconds beforehand, but it didn’t look right [in post-production]. We tried to address it in voiceover, it just became awkward and cumbersome.
There were no Harry scenes in the finale. What’s the right amount, how much is too much, in terms of having those in the show?
It’s a fine line. We feel like we need him. I’m a huge fan of James Remar, though it’s a character you have to be very judicious with as it’s a fine line. Sometimes it’s too easy to cut to Harry and have Dexter explain what he’s thinking or feeling when there are sometimes more artful ways of doing that.
Anything that’s been wondered about on the comment boards this season that you’d like to address?
I find it kind of interesting that people are uneasy about Deb’s love toward her brother. That on a show about serial killers, it’s the idea of love that makes people more uncomfortable. We did some research on that among adopted siblings: It does exist and it does happen, and it does create a very awkward situation.