In a way, Deb sort of gets what she’s wanted for most of the season.
BUCK: That’s true in a way. There’s one point where she wanted exactly that. But she makes a turn two-thirds through the season. Things are looking up for her. She was seeing a possibility for happiness. The death she may have wanted at one point was the last thing she wants right now.
It’s also surprising that Miami Metro never realized Dexter’s secret. Everybody expected them to figure things out in the final season.
BUCK: We toyed with that idea, but it felt off-point. The story was ultimately about Dexter’s personal journey. We have one moment in that interrogation room with Quinn and Batista. Watching the tape, Quinn has known all along that there was more there to Dexter. Batista is seeing a hint of the darker Dexter. There was a hint in that moment. But we didn’t want to blow it all up and revel he’s a serial killer.
But a fan gripe was the season had Dexter dispatching new threats like in a typical season rather than a sense of that the show was arcing toward a finale with Dex’s world unraveling.
BUCK: It felt like we had done that with LaGuerta last season and with Lundy in season 2. I felt like it ran the risk of feeling repetitious and familiar.
COLLETON: Going that way felt pedestrian to me. I don’t know how else to put it. Years ago it was discussed and tabled as a very predictable non-interesting way to go.
The writers seemed to have a higher opinion of Hannah as a suitable mother for Harrison than the fans. Couldn’t Dex’s criticism of himself — about being toxic everybody around him — be said about Hannah too?
BUCK: I don’t think so. We wanted to believe Harrison would be happy and safe and well taken care of. Dexter judges people on a different level. That Hannah is a killer, Dex understands that. She’s a different kind of killer. She kills for self protection. That protection now applies to Harrison. Dexter believes she will lay her life on the line for Harrison.
Have to ask: How did Dex get from his boat to the shore in the middle of a hurricane?
BUCK: Hopefully it’s not a question that will be examined too closely. The show has always been a half step away from reality; it’s a hyper-reality. We established there is an emergency life raft with an outboard motor on the boat. He could have gotten in the raft and made it safely to shore.
The fade to black after Hannah starts to take Harrison for ice cream before we find out what happened to Dexter — I’m sure that had some fans starting to howl at their screens. Was that a deliberate fake out?
BUCK: It was mostly to establish that to the rest of the world everybody thinks Dex is dead. We the audience are the only ones privy to the fact that he’s alive.
The episode felt more serious, focused and emotional than Dexter normally is. But it made me wonder why the show doesn’t normally have that grounded tone.
BUCK: That’s interesting. I’m glad you liked it. The show started out in such a different place. The first season, the level of reality was more suspended. We felt like we were gradually making it more real. Michael always said about the ending, ‘Let’s make it real, let’s deal with it more realistically.’ I think it was more a gradual move rather than a sudden turn at the end of the final season.
COLLETON: To me, it feels very much like a Dexter episode. This season led up to this and I feel the last few episodes feel like parts of a whole.
I found the episode compelling partly because there was so little voiceover and no Ghost Harry to explain what Dex was thinking. Was that deliberate to ditch those devices? Should you have done that sooner?
BUCK: I don’t know. It’s a little late to ask. It’s certainly a compelling question. We very purposely had Dex say goodbye to Harry in previous episode and made a conscious decisions to do very little voiceover, particularly in those final scenes. I didn’t want any voiceover to explain things. I didn’t even want any music.
COLLETON: We have slowly this year, very consciously, stripped out a lot of voiceover. Very much so compared to previously years. It was very important to have very little of it at the end and to let the emotion of the moment speak for itself. In episode 10, when Dexter comes in and finds Dr. Vogel dead, what he’s feeling is on his face — normally we’d put voiceover, but we very consciously did not. At this point the audience knows what he’s thinking.
What flipped the switch for Dexter in the penultimate episode in terms of no longer wanting to kill? Is it simply because he loves Hannah?
BUCK: It’s really an accumulation of everything that’s he’s experienced over the years. He finally has a woman who understands him and they’re incredibly physically attracted to each other. And there’s Harrison.
Ghost Harry saying goodbye also felt a bit abrupt; it didn’t feel like there were scenes with Harry that really led up to that decision.
COLLETON: I think there’s a scene coming out of Vogel’s house, about three episodes back, where Harry says Dex is feeling a stronger pull. If you really go back he foreshadows that Dexter doesn’t yet recognize that there’s an equal or stronger pull than the dark passenger. The last episode couldn’t be just a series of goodbyes. That moment is Harry realizing he’s no longer needed.
NEXT: Defending the final season; spin-off plan