Fall is known for its gorgeous colors, but many of us are partial to one in particular: Red. Yes, it’s time for America’s most intriguing serial killer to break out the knives again as Dexter returns for season 5 (9 p.m. tonight, Showtime). Questions abound: How will Dexter (Michael C. Hall) rebound after—SPOILER ALERT!—discovering that Trinity killed his loving wife, Rita? What kind of fresh evil will Dex encounter? And how many f-bombs will Deb drop this season? We give you some bloody good information on the dark drama in our Fall TV Preview issue, but here are some choice cuts that didn’t make it into print:
On resuming the story minutes after Dexter finds Rita in the bathtub:
MICHAEL C. HALL: I lobbied for it. I think the audience really wants to take that journey with Dexter and the rest of these characters, and to have the questions that are in the air—both logistical questions and interior emotional questions—answered or grappled with. We needed to see this guy who has characterized himself the way he has characterized himself go through a very human and potentially humanizing experience. He’s been continually thrust into situations that he never anticipated being in, and this is certainly beyond anything he’d ever conceived of…. There was a sense that we needed to take responsibility for the mess we’d made of Dexter’s world.
On Rita’s “return” in the first episode:
SARA COLLETON (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER): It will not be a Harry-like character… It’s so powerful that we may think it’s more significant to just do it once.
On shadings of Dexter this season:
CHIP JOHANNESSEN (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER): He’s not the orderly person he has been up until now. He’s feeling the weight of his mistakes. It’s changed things for him, but he’s not the most reflective guy. And he’s certainly not accurate at how he judges his own motivations all the time. It’s not like he’s thinking that he needs atonement or he’s pursuing that, but it creeps up on him a little bit over the course of the season…. He’s going to have demands on him of a type that we have really not seen before.
HALL: He’s never been so craving control and he’s never found a sense of control so elusive.
On introducing a series of new characters this season, instead of a single adversary for Dexter:
COLLETON: It was a recognition of how strong John Lithgow was. To try to top that would be ridiculous. [It was] a very good time to take a break—after four years, we were at the risk of it becoming “the Dexter formula.” We thought this fits perfectly with what we want to see Dexter go through in his human experiences…. As one character subsides, the other one takes its place, and yet at the end, there’s an interlock that [makes] you go, “Ahhh!” and that I think is going to be very satisfying.
On the new character Lumen (Julia Stiles), who’s experienced some trauma:
COLLETON: At a time when Dexter is shut down and burned at the thought of having any human relations other than the ones that are right in front of him—his immediate family and Deb—she is thrust into his life. In a way, she becomes an integral part in him gaining his atonement. Her presence in his life is a dilemma. And how he is forced to deal with that dilemma is at the thematic heart of the season.
STILES: One of the things I love about the show is it always defies your expectations and Lumen is just a continuation of that. A lot of people are wondering if Lumen is just going to be a replacement for Rita, and it’s so much more complicated than that, which was really exciting to me.
HALL: It’s not a romantic connection, but it is a potently intimate connection. Dexter shares a unique kind of intimacy with Lumen that is not sought out, but very real and keeps her boomeranging back to him. His impulse is to explore the relationship with Lumen but that impulse is also connected to a desire to atone for what he’s done, in as much as Rita’s blood is on his hands because of the indulgent relationship he had with Trinity. Had he killed him the first chance he got, his life would still be intact.
On Quinn (Desmond Harrington) growing more skeptical of Dexter:
JOHANNESSEN: He’s not like [Sergeant James] Doakes, where he just senses there’s something wrong with this guy. He approaches it analytically, as a detective, saying, “Why am I the only one asking these questions? Trinity followed a very particular MO for thirty years, and it never included killing a married woman in a bathtub and leaving a kid there. At the very least, something weird is happening here. How did Dexter and his wife become the target?” It’s not as much about [suspecting that] Dexter killed Rita. We get past that. He threatens to do something much more damaging to Dexter, which is uncover everything.
On how the show might end:
HALL: There are fundamental questions: Is he alive when the show ends? Is he dead? If he’s dead, who kills him? The federal government? Another person? Himself? If he’s alive, where is he alive? In prison? Flying off into the sunset? Does he become a monk? Then there’s another season of just him meditating. I was joking with one of the writers that we could have a twelve-episode season and each episode would be a different ending…. I don’t think that’s going to happen.
On completing treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma:
HALL: The whole experience has made me more grateful than anything else. And I would include under that a sense of gratitude that I was diagnosed with something so treatable, and that I was confident would be cured.
On attending the Golden Globes during treatment:
HALL: I kept [the diagnosis] very quiet, and had every intention of doing that throughout. But the awards season came and I felt compelled to make some sort of statement just to help answer what I knew would be inevitable questions about my appearance. I’m glad, in hindsight, that I did. People reached out to me that wouldn’t have otherwise, I connected with people I wouldn’t have otherwise, I heard from people I’ve never met who sent their well wishes or let me know that knowing about it had in some way emboldened or helped them. It turned out to be a blessing that I was compelled to share it.