[SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched the season premiere of "Dexter," do not read forward as major plot points are openly discussed.]
It took six seasons but in last year's season finale of Showtime's "Dexter," the secret life of Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), who we've known to be a killer of serial killers since day one, was discovered by his sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). Now, of course, the big question is, what happens next and if you watched tonight's episode, you know that the show picked up right where we left off.
Will Deb, who happens to be a Homicide Detective, turn her brother in? Will she end up being more accomplice than sister this season? What of the new threads in the season that also popped up in tonight's episode? Our Jim Halterman sat down with Executive Producer Scott Buck recently to discuss everything about season seven and also find out if the eighth season of "Dexter" will truly be the last.
Jim Halterman: After so many near misses over the past seasons, how did you come to decide that this was the right time for Deb to find out who her brother really is?
Scott Buck: It's a story we've talked about doing for a long time but it was never a story we wanted to do early on in the run of the show because it is such a big moment and the more you can build up it to the more significant it is. It just felt like we teased the audience long enough. It was finally time to pull that punch and do that story.
JH: Knowing it is a game changer, are you and your writers approaching your work differently or is it really all just part of the same story but with a new chapter?
SB: It's the same characters, the same story but it's absolutely a different chapter but a very big chapter and it's a story we've been wanting to tell for a long time.
JH: Throughout the series, we've seen that's Deb's ambition and her career has always been very important and Dexter has helped her in that regard. Is that going to play into this a little bit because I'm sure I would guess once she's over the shock of what's she's found out this also could really take her career to a huge level.
SB: It could certainly take her career to a huge level but even more than that Deb is someone who is very morally right. She is a good cop and she wants to do the right thing so she's in a very, very, difficult position.
JH: In Dexter's narration he says something like Deb isn't comfortable lying. I'm wondering will we see Deb change as this keeps going.
SB: We'll see Deb sort of gradually evolve in the different ways as she tries to deal with this. She tries to solve the problem pretty early on and finds that that doesn't quite work the way she hopes so she's constantly throughout the season looking for the best way to deal with this.
JH: How much of the season is going to be taken up with the Dexter/Deb part of the story?
SB: It's a huge story for the season that will carry us all the way throughout this season. It's not just the same story, it continues to change and take turns and twists because it's not exactly going to go the way everyone would think it's going to go. It's a very complex issue.
JH: Going back to what we were talking about in the beginning, writing that first scene at the church, it's the church right? How difficult or easy was it to write?
SB: It was so much fun to write for these two actors and these two characters. I just really loved writing that scene. It was great. Because it had been in the back of our minds for so long, there were so many things that we knew we had to do in that scene. And it's almost like there's so many things you want to put in that scene and then you have to start pulling them out because it becomes too much and those little gems actually become parts of other episodes and stuff because eventually everything comes out.
JH: The blood on the glass slide... once I saw that fall in the church, I knew somebody was going to find that and LaGuerta (Lauren V�lez) does in the same episode, which surprised me. How did you decide to have her find it so quickly as opposed to stretch it out over episodes?
SB: We have decided consciously this season to move things along a bit faster and not to play things out quite so slowly and not to tease the audience as much, to tease them but to answer that pretty quickly on.
JH: Mike (Billy Brown) gets shot and dies on the first episode. How did you decide Mike would be the one killed?
SB: It was not taken lightly at all. It was done partially because Mike seemed to be the best cop in the precinct last season and because so much of our show is more about serial killers and about Dexter's secrets and stuff but we do take place in a police station which is an extremely dangerous place. And when police officers do die, it's always a horrible tragedy and often it's for the most silly miniscule reasons imaginable so we just try to play it as real as possible.
JH: And we have little seeds of Louis (Josh Cooke) and how he's passive aggressively screwing with Dexter's life. Where is all that going?
SB: I don't think Louis quite knows who is dealing with at this point. He sort of idolized Dexter early on until Dexter hurt his feelings and this is clearly not someone who handles rejection very well. So, this sort of escalates into something much bigger and nastier as the season progresses. It will play out through much of the season, yeah. So, we'll have repercussions throughout.
JH: The name Doakes (played by Erik King during seasons one and two) is brought up and I personally love whenever a show honors its history because he hasn't been around for a long time. Is that a piece that's going to come back to life, so to speak?
SB: Doakes is actually a huge part of this season because the blood slide that LaGuerta finds in this first episode, the only person they are aware of who collected blood slides of that nature was Sergeant Doakes but LaGuerta never quite fully believed that Doakes was the Bay Harbor Butcher. So, that's what going to kick off this investigation. So his name and the haunting of Doakes will sort of play throughout this season.
JH: I have a feeling maybe you guys are setting up that LaGuerta is going to be a couple of steps behind Deb. And that's she's kind of uncovering her own little things and she's also being very secretive about what she's doing. Is that sort of the plan?
SB: She has to do this below the radar because it's a closed investigation for one thing and for her to suddenly reopen an investigation of this nature of this nature would be a huge deal unless she had some pretty solid evidence. She's going to play below the radar for quite a while.
JH: And the storyline with the Ukrainians and Jason Gedrick's character is this a season long story?
SB: This is a season long. At the end of episode one, we meet Isaac, who is played by Ray Stevenson, and he's not going to be very happy to learn that one of his most trusted associates was killed.
JH: Talk to me Yvonne Strahovski. I know she's not in this first episode. When do we see her?
SB: A story will start to arise in episode two that will sort of pull her in but we won't meet her until episode three. She plays a character named Hannah McKay who at the age of 15 went on a cross-country crime spree with her older boyfriend that left a wake of dead people. Because she was a minor and because the older boyfriend did all the killing she served six-years in juvie hall, released at 21 and since then she has led a very quiet recluse life. Something about this case is resurrected that lands of the lap of Miami Metro Homicide and she is pulled back into this and crosses paths with Dexter, of course, in what turns out to be a very volatile way.
JH: I was going to say are they going to be a lot more alike than maybe we realize or are we going to realize that right off the bat that they're alike?
SB: I think we'll gradually begin to piece together who these two are going to be in each other's lives. Like everything is Dexter's life, it doesn't go exactly the way you might imagine or hope.
JH: And usually throughout the season, we get some maybe B or even C stories with some of the other regulars. Is there room for any of that this year?
SB: There's going to be very little room for that but there will be. I mean all of our characters will be majorly involved in stories throughout the season.
JH: Is next season truly the last season? Do you and your writers feel like after that point you're going to be done creatively?
SB: No because Dexter is an evolving character. He's a very different person than we met in season one. There are always different directions to take him as he becomes more human throughout the seasons. As long as Showtime wants to keep making the show, we'll certainly have stories for them.
JH: I love a show's main titles, when they have them, and "Dexter's" has never changed and now we're in season seven. Why have they never changed?
SB: I don't think we've ever even considered changing them. I think they're so iconic to the show. They're so beautifully done. We love them. I would hate to change them. Honestly, it never even occurred to me to change them.
"Dexter" airs Sundays at 9:00/8:00c on Showtime.