September 28, 2012 10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Dexter's' Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter Preview Season 7's 'Fundamental' Changes
"It's the first season where I've felt like I need a voiceover; I need the writers to tell me where I am because I have no map for it," Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter says of her experience shooting the game-changing seventh season of the Showtime drama.
During last season's shocking finale, Carpenter's Deb walked in to profess her feelings of love for her foster brother only to find Dexter (Michael C. Hall) plunging a knife into the body of last season's big bad, Travis. The revelation came after six seasons of close calls for Dexter, with Deb coming thisclose to seeing Dexter's Dark Passenger first hand.
Season seven picks up immediately where the finale left off, with Deb questioning why Dexter would not only kill Travis but wrap his body in plastic before killing him. Subsequent teasers have revealed that they'll team to burn the church down as Deb helps him out of what she thinks is an end of the world-type jam but she'll keep a close guard over him as she begins to grow more curious about his unexplainable behavior.
"The harder my job is, the more fun it is to watch; that's my hope," Carpenter says of Deb being torn between her job as Miami Metro's top dog and protecting the only person she considers family (besides Dex's son Harrison, naturally). "It certainly doesn't back us into a corner; if anything it opens up all kinds of amazing doors."
Hall, meanwhile, says the evolution of both characters -- Deb rising from an gangly inexperienced cop to lieutenant and Dexter slowly realizing he's capable of feeling more of a humanity than he thought possible -- puts his alter ego between a rock and a hard place.
"It's a real shit situation," Hall says with a laugh of how Deb's knowledge will affect Dexter. "It's fundamental: Dexter over the life of the show has been initially someone who claims to be without the capacity for authentic human emotion and we're meant to be suspicious of that. Deb knowing what she knows reboots the whole landscape and Dexter is now human -- but he's not compartmentalizing his humanity."
And while Deb knows what she's seen, the question of how much she'll learn about how deep Dexter's secret life stretches will be explored during season seven, creating a situation that Hall can best summarize in two words: "It's bananas!"
"In the pilot, when we're getting to know Dexter in his world, he talks about his sister and says, 'If I could have feelings at all or for anyone, I'd have them for Deb,'" he says. "We see her come into an awareness of some sort of deeper, more conflict-laden feelings for him. It's undeniable to him that he has a genuine connection to her and that he does genuinely care about her and about other people close to him, namely his son, in ways that he can't deny yet he does maintain an allegiance to his compulsion."
Which is where Yvonne Strahovski's Hannah McKay will play a role. Dexter showrunner Scott Buck notes that Hannah will be brought in to Miami Metro as part of a larger police investigation -- that Deb opens.
"There will be a strong connection between Deb and Hannah," Buck says of the character who turns out to be more complex than anybody anticipated. "In a professional sense, they very much zero in on each other in a very big and powerful way and it takes very unexpected turns."
Bearing in mind, the last time Miami Metro brought in someone to help with a case -- RIP Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) -- Deb fell in love and the relationship ended in death, Buck warns that Deb won't be the only one with a big connection to the mysterious Hannah.
"Hannah becomes a big part of Dexter's journey throughout the season because he has met someone who understands him in a way that Debra perhaps will not," he teases, noting that there are no current plans to bring Julia Stiles' Lumen back but that "anything could happen later on."
While it's still unclear if Dexter's two-season renewal will stretch beyond an eighth season, Hall says this year feels like "a culmination." "It's so completely served by all the water that's under the bridge, and all the story we've told up to this point that it feels as weighty as anything we've done," he notes.
Which brings the big question: If it is the end, could the series wrap with both Dexter and Deb surviving?
"It could, I don't know. I imagine it ending like a Shakespearean tragedy: With a pretty high body count," Hall says. "I can imagine him being alive but not walking off into the sunset. I think maybe alive and living in the bottom of a well or something. Or just hit by a bus!"
Dexter premieres Sunday, Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. on Showtime. Hit the comments with what you're looking forward to seeing. In the meantime, check out the season seven trailer again, below.