Michael C. Hall: "Jennifer and I Were Aware That the Story Was Moving In This Direction"

Another Michael C. Hall interview on AolTV: We've come to expect penultimate episodes of 'Dexter' seasons to be heart-pounding and intense, but the second-to-last episode of Season 6 raised the stakes of serial-killing suspense. In 'Talk to the Hand,' Dexter thwarted a poison gas attack aimed at Miami Metro and lost a showdown with Travis that ended with him set out to sea, surrounded by a ring of fire. It also opened a pandora's box of step-sibling sexual tension when Deb's therapist suggested she might be in love with Dexter.

To help bring some perspective to such a dizzying episode, AOL TV has an interview-cap with Dexter Morgan himself, Michael C. Hall. We discussed tonight's episode, the developments of Season 6 and where 'Dexter' may be headed in its final two seasons. Hall offered his thoughts on the Wormwood attack, the Gellar twist, and the new, strange wrinkle in his complex relationship with Jennifer Carpenter. Read on for the interview.

A lot of wild things happened in this episode, but the most interesting was the introduction of some weird, incestuous sexual tension between Deb and Dexter. So your TV step-sister who may have feelings for your character also happens to be your real-life ex-wife. Are the writers just trying to mess with you at this point?
Absolutely. [Laughs] But not without our blessing. Jennifer and I were aware that the story was moving in this direction. We laugh about it, we shake our heads ... but you know, in as much as there are inevitable parallels, we're both very professional and committed to telling this story. Read more after the jump below...

And frankly, whatever's happened with Jennifer and me and our relationship's evolution notwithstanding, Dexter in the first episode says, "If I could ever have feelings for anyone, I'd have them for Deb." I think those two characters have been on some kind of collision course from the get-go.

Dexter seemed almost like a super-hero in this episode, thwarting the Wormwood attack and then miraculously surviving the ring of fire at the end. He often seems indestructible. Do you ever worry that the lack of realism can hurt the storytelling?
I honestly feel that from the beginning, there is undeniably, just if you look at the logistics, there is a fantastical element to the world of the show and this guy's abilities. It's not a show that's based on a graphic novel or a comic book, but it feels like it is.

Ya know, on set, we are very much aware of the logistical or literal implausibility of so many of the things that happen on the show, but I think there is a suspension of disbelief that is required of our audience.

You look at the end of the first season ... he subdues the Ice Truck Killer, and gets him back into the Ice Truck Killer's room that's like, part of an active crime scene, and slashes his throat? It's all absurd really, but there's some sort of serendipitousness or fantastical coincidence ... I've suggested in other interviews that while we don't see it, Dexter definitely has the power of flight and can turn himself into smoke.

That scene where one of Travis' crazy religious disciples attacks the station with poison gas was incredibly suspenseful and intense. What's the key to the way the show is able to set up nail-biting climaxes?
I really attribute most of that to our writers, and Scott Buck, who's sitting at the head of the writer's table now. This season has been really satisfying in the way that everything led to something else. There were no loose threads. His ability to work that Rubik's Cube in his mind has been fun to watch and be a part of.

So does Dexter get publicly hailed as a hero now? How would he handle that?
Ya know, his head is already pretty messed up. His ability to justify his behavior one way or another is pretty impressive. I think if anything, it would stoke in him some sort of appetite. He's really committed to not getting caught-- it's the first rule of the code-- but I think there's a flip side to that coin, and Dexter definitely has an appetite for revelation, and even buried beneath that perhaps, a desire to be celebrated.

Is Dexter a strong swimmer?
I mean, come on. Yeah. He better be. Or he better luck into something. I'll tell you this much ... that San Pedro water is not warm. It was pretty cold. It was hard to pretend I was in Miami. My teeth might have been chattering a take or two. Hopefully they can cut around it.

After the Gellar twist, fans have now moved on to wondering about Louis Greene. People are wondering if he's connected to the Ice Truck Killer. My own theory is that he's used his own algorithmic powers to isolate Dexter as the Bay Harbor butcher.
That's indeed a possibility. He's a formidable guy given his access and expertise. It seems pretty clear that he's somewhat obsessed with Dexter in a way that is ... potentially problematic.

Speaking of the Gellar twist, is there anything you'd advise fans to go back and re-watch, that they might see differently after knowing this guy was dead the whole time?
Generally, you'd notice that Gellar never interacts with anyone else. Specifically, there's a scene where he's in a diner with Travis where he's never acknowledged by the waitperson and doesn't have anything in front of him. Then there's another scene where he's at a nightclub, and it's just conspicuous that he's a few decades older than anyone else there, standing in front of a newspaper machine with his picture on the front page. That's part of the fun of the twist like that I guess, that you can look back and say, "Oh, of course, I should have seen it."

It was almost disappointing though, because Edward James Olmos had done such a great job of creating a chilling psychopath.
I know. I think a lot of people were looking forward to the scene that Dexter and Gellar would have together, but it never happened. Well, it happened, but he was frozen. And that was him, in dead-freezer makeup.

While we're talking about guest-stars, one of the things that seemed to really ground Dexter this season was his friendship with Brother Sam. It was a shame to see him go.
That was the most legitimate friendship or connection he's ever made with anyone ... who he wasn't going to ultimately kill. People were probably watching like, "Oh please, don't kill him too ..." He [Mos Def] was great in that role.

Dexter came close to going full serial killer and embracing his darkest instincts this season, particularly in the 'Nebraska' episode. At the same time, he's growing as a father and friend. How challenging is that to play?
It's both challenging and rewarding. I find myself in a sixth season of a show who I'm still surprised by and trying to keep up with, which is great. I've always been for pushing the envelope, and thankfully, there are lots of people involved in the conversation creatively and we can't ... you want to challenge the audience's affections to a point, but you've got to be somewhat conscious of not alienating them or losing them.

So you have to give the motel owner a gun before Dexter can put a pitchfork through this stomach?
That's the trick. [Laughs] You've got to put him in a kill or be killed scenario where he has no choice. Even though he has everything to do with the fact that he's in the situation ... even though it's a gun that Dexter stole. And also to remind yourself in that episode, Dexter's alone. Brian's not really there. He's doing all this by himself.

That gets you wondering about how messed up psychologically Dexter actually is. You know, in addition to being a sociopath.
Yeah. That was kind of a magical moment when we get to see Dexter in that basement watching Travis talk to the imaginary Gellar while having a conversation over his shoulder with his imaginary father. He's nuts, man.

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  1. I really wish they wouldn't use the word "step" in this. They weren't step-siblings. That would be much less icky. Dexter was Debs brother before she understood concepts like adoption. It's not clear in the show what the age difference is, but Deb was Deb's sister from the moment she was born. Adopted (from infancy) is not the same as "step." This is a lot of viewers think it's icky.

  2. Thing I don't get in the shows history is the fact Deb said to her Psychiatrist that her mother died when she was 14. Yet in the early seasons when dexter is a teenager and deb is that bit younger there is no mother in sight. I think based on this it stands to reason that in the show their age gap is not as significant as in the books, perhaps only a couple of years

  3. Anon at 5:47

    Many of us viewers think that Dexter butchering human beings is "icky" too. It does not mean that we don't want to see it on screen.

    There is no justification in real life for anything in this show. This show is a myth, it is a fantasy-horror with characteristics of a crime drama.

    This story has been there since the beginning of the show, and quite a few of us think it's an awesome (if twisted) love story.

    Since the moment Dexter said "If I could ever have feelings for anyone, I'd have them for Deb." We have been taking a journey with him towards humanity. His love for her, and vice versa is the "love story" of this show and it always has been.

    From the moment in episode two, when Deb brought him breakfast, picked out his tie, stared at him lovingly, and said "It brings out the color of your eyes." Many of us were down for this, we understood, and we expected to be here after six years, especially after Rita's death.

    While most people on the internet have been bitching about everything under the sun. The vast majority are tuning in to the show in record numbers and loving it. That's because most people who get on the internet just like to bitch about stuff. They hate this, they hate that. I don't care about you and YOUR sister. That has no relevance to this show.

    I care about Dexter and Deb, and all the crazy stuff that happens to them.

    I am engaged in this, absolutely at the edge of my seat wanting more, more than anything in the show since the bay harbor butcher storyline.

  4. i see what you are saying anonymous but we cant forget- Dexter is a monster. He doesnt have the same morals as most people. if it wasnt for Harry's code who knows what he'd be like. um- Deb though... she's somewhat damaged but not clearly psychotic like her Brother. THAT is disturbing...

  5. Anon at 6:34

    Harry said Dexter was a monster, that is the truth that Dexter always accepted, however he is now trying to reject it. He is reaching for his humanity.

    Every epic hero has a journey to take. The essence of a story is that the hero cannot stay the same... he must make his journey and bring something back that will benefit those around him.

    This is what every great story does.

    Dexter Morgan as a child, had his humanity stolen away, and he has been on an epic quest to get it back. That's what we've been watching. Deb from the beginning has been the symbolic of the Fire of Prometheus. If he can love Deb, protect her, and eventually save her, then even if he dies or goes to jail, he will have have completed the journey.

  6. I'm sincerely confused about Deb and Dexter... As much as I have mixed feelings about Dexter... I hate him but I love him... It's weird how you can lime someone that is nothing more than a serial killer...

  7. Anon at 5:57 & 6:34, that is so well said! Thanks to the previews hyping the pre-kiss I didn't know what I felt or what to expect for Ep 11. But when I watched the episode, the Deb & Dex scenes just flowed effortlessly. Whether it was the performances or that one scene where we saw Deb's own revulsion at the first suggestion by the shrink, the fact remains that by the time we came to her dream, it didn't feel icky at all. Just human.

  8. This show is just taking such a strange turn! lol

  9. What made Dexter great in Season 1 (and 2 and 4 to some degree) is that he was a serial killer - a SOCIOPATH trying to hide in society - but now he is just a vigilante. Dexter is not a hero! I thought it might go somewhere when his brother showed up - GREAT! let's get rid of dear old Dad and bring back serial killer Dexter - but he came and went : ( The only redeeming scene so far this season is Deb as a love interest - it's sick and twisted - what it used to be.

  10. Are they aware that they should stop praising the writers/producers? Last 2(3,4) years were very mishandled by them, of course there is a saving grace/twists of Season 4, that somehow made public think that it was best thing in television, when it was not...

  11. Ugh. The only hate I'll post about is these people who visit these specified sites to bitch. You are not television writers. Not in your wildest dreams could you write something as complex as Dexter, even during the weaker moments of the series. So stay away from FAN sites if you are not going to be a fan. There are much worse things happening in the world that you could be spending your time bitching about.

    As for Dex/Deb. Its been there since the pilot. I expected some revelation of it to happen on Debs part in season 1. But looking back, she was just such a disaster back then. So immature. As was Dexter. So I can see how it might happen later in their life. I think the real connection there isn't sexual or even lust. Its that they are in fact each others partners in life.

    Even in season 1, the episode where Dexter as a teenager is bullied by some punk. First thing the punk says "Still f###### your sister?". That was strange. So they've been this intensely connected for this long. There has always been something off about it.

    And yes, i feel for any foster kids or adults out there who believe the notion that because they aren't related, they can hook up. But unless you yourself are a serial killer... your foster dad trained you to be one and your foster sister has been possessive of you like a high school crush? Please leave the generalizations elsewhere. This story isn't about you. You are not Dexter. You are not Debra. They are fictional characters in a television show. So leave it at that.

  12. At anonymous 6:31 ...Thank you so much ...just ..thank you thank you thank you. I could not have said it better myself.

  13. I really don't like season 6. I hope the remaining two seasons will be a little more sophisticated, than sophmoric. Seriously, some of the episodes were really cartoonish!

  14. They're not step siblings. Does anyone at the show actually watch it?

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