James Hibberd
December 17, 2012 AT 06:54 PM EST

Showtime’s re-energized seventh season of Dexter delivered a finale twist that’s arguably the most disturbing moment of the series: Debra Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter) murdered Miami Metro police captain María LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) to protect her serial killer brother (Michael C. Hall). How will her decision impact next season? Will Yvonne Strahovski return? And will the show really end next year?

Below, showrunner Scott Buck takes our burning questions.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Dexter is a serial killer and even he was struggling with the idea of killing LaGuerta. How did Debra, whose value system is so different than Dexter’s, make that jump?

Scott Buck: I think she was under extreme duress at that moment. Dexter is the master manipulator, and it’s left up the to viewers how they want to interpret things, but Dexter was very much in control of the situation.

By saying that, are you hinting he expected her to show up?

Buck: No, I don’t think he was expecting his sister to show up at all. But when it finally came down to it, I think he handled it in the smartest possible way.

Was Debra always going to kill LaGuerta, or did you consider another outcome? And what was Jennifer’s reaction?

Buck: From the beginning of the season this was always how it would end. She knew very early on this was where it was going, she was excited and terrified to take Debra down this road.

Does killing LaGuerta really make that warrant [for Dex and Deb’s incriminating cell phone records] disappear? Isn’t that sort of hanging out there for investigators to find?

Buck: The warrants are still sitting on LaGuerta’s desk so they have not been filed. So there is no record of a warrant at this point.

And another question fans were wondering: Are you going to address the fact that Debra uses her own gun to kill LaGuerta?

Buck: That will be addressed. We’re also dealing with Dexter here who’s not only the person planting the evidence but will also be the forensic expert collecting the evidence on the other end.

You also brought back Sgt. Doakes in flashbacks. Can you talk about the decision to have him return?

Buck: I was a huge fan of Erik King. I always thought he brought so much fun and energy to the show. We always talked about a way to bring him back, but we didn’t want to do it arbitrarily. Since we were telling the end to LaGuerta’s story it felt very organic to bring Doakes back.

Will he appear in more flashbacks next season?

Buck: We haven’t discussed that yet.

You’ve said next season will explore “where Dexter started,” can you elaborate on that?

Buck: I think we’re all aware of Dexter’s origins, born in blood in that trailer. But I don’t think we’ve full explored the whole story and next season we’ll learn there was more to it than we’ve discovered. There’s more things that Dexter has not yet discovered about how he came to be who he is.

Angel Batista (David Zayas) is retiring, but I’m assuming he’ll have a role?

Buck: He announced his retirement. The finale took place just before he filed his papers. The situation has suddenly changed a great deal.

Hannah (Strahovski) wasn’t killed off, which surprised me since guest stars tend to only last one season on the show. Will she be back next year?


NEXT: Season 8 plans: Final season? Big Bad shakeup? 

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