Now we know.
After eight seasons, now we know the fate of Dexter and Debra Morgan. Neither outcome was predictable in Sunday night’s poignant and surprising finale “Remember the Monsters?” Below showrunner Scott Buck and longtime executive producer Sara Colleton take our questions about the final episode, defend the creative choices made during season 8 and answer a couple questions about that rumored spin-off.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This episode was really unlike any we’ve seen on the show before. How much time and money was put into this hour compared to a typical week?
SCOTT BUCK: It was considerably more. There were a lot of visual effects that are very costly and then to go out and shoot in Astoria added to our price tag. But it was our final episode and Showtime was very accommodating. Our normal eight days of production became 10 days.
Before the season started, you said the core idea behind this finale has been in the works for years. What was the original concept?
BUCK: The kernel idea were the last few scenes. They were what I pitched a few years ago. The main idea was Dexter is forced to kill Debra. And there are many ways that could happen. But those final scenes were pretty much unchanged.
SARA COLLETON: From the very beginning the paradox was here’s a guy who doesn’t feel he’s a human being, who has to fake it. But in faking it, he’s a better brother, boyfriend, colleague that most real people. People think of him as a monster, but he yearns to be human. We’ve seen him go forward on this journey every year. Now we found out what the final price was. What sums up the entire journey was the scene on balcony of his apartment before going on the boat to put Deb down — that’s horrible to say aloud. The voiceover: “For so long all I wanted was to feel like other people … now that I do just want it to stop.” It’s the horrible awareness of what it was to be a human being and how overwhelming that is for him. His punishment is banishment. He sends himself into exile. Killing himself is too easy. When he turns and looks into the camera at the end he’s stripped everything away.
Were there any other versions of the ending that you rejected?
BUCK: The only real variation was what he would be doing. I knew he would be in a self-imposed prison that would be as far from Miami as possible. We’d find him working in some solitary environment where even if other people were around he would make no contact and not talk to anyone. We would follow him home and he would have no human contact.
In a way that’s his new code — avoiding human contact.
BUCK: Yes. For us, that’s the tragedy. The one thing we felt Dexter wanted more than anything was human connections. Even in the first season we see him trying to get with Rudy. Now that he’s finally made that journey and he’s almost poised to have a real human life, he has to give all that up to save Harrison and Hannah.
COLLETON: He went into an absolute shutdown. He no longer has even his voiceover.
Why was it important to end the show this way?
BUCK: It seemed like the ending that was most justified. In season 1, you saw this guy who was so compartmentalized. The last couple seasons have been about breaking down those walls by having his son and his relationship with Hannah and having Deb discover who he is. Still he was able to justify what he did. We felt it took the death of the one person he cared most about to really look at himself. [His fate] wasn’t something that happened to him but his decision. He had to bear the burden of deciding his own fate.
Deb’s death is interesting choice because, for all intents and purposes, Deb basically “dies” off screen when she has her stroke and goes into a coma.
BUCK: In some ways. But I think we all feel the real moment is when Dexter hits that button. We also did it that way because in some ways it’s a little more shocking.
COLLETON: In their goodbye neither knows that they’re saying goodbye. I so admired [Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall] because they never let that this was their last scene slip through. They just tossed it off in a wonderful way. I really do think when Dex walks out of her room [viewers are going to] think everything is fine with Deb. But she doesn’t die off screen. When she takes her off life support she’s very much a presence there. I feel that’s what she wants. I would hope if it ever happen to me I’d have a big brother who would take that pain onto himself.
NEXT: Why Miami Metro never learned Dexter’s secret