'Dexter' premiere: Producer urges patience with quieter beginning

dexter-michael-c-hall-501-320.jpgSo, did the "Dexter" premiere live up to your expectations ... especially following the Trinity killer finale?

TV critics who pre-screened the first three episodes of Season 5 have mixed reactions: Some are disappointed and frustrated by the quieter, less action-y beginning, whereas others (like this reporter) appreciate the efforts made to honor Rita ( Julie Benz) and deal with Dexter's ( Michael C. Hall) emotions.

Executive Producer John Goldwyn promises that the fans who stick with the show will eventually understand the need for setting the groundwork for Dexter's journey this season.

Spoilers:
Watch the season premiere already!

"I think the fans need to have patience," Goldwyn tells Zap2it, "because the thing about the season is that obviously Dexter, as he says in the season premiere, 'It was me,' he feels for the first time in his life culpability, guilt, and grief, which is something new to him. Of course, with Dexter, his impulse is to retreat because that's what he understands. He understands isolation."

It's how life with Rita has changed him, however, that makes the grief so hard to deal with when it comes to how he deals with her senseless death.

"There's that thing that's happened to him over the course of four years," continues Goldwyn. "He's taken these tiny, but irretrievable steps into humanity and into society and into family and into relationships. So he's in this kind of netherworld, this purgatory that is the reason why he lets out at the end of the season premiere, that primal scream after he kills the guy in the convenience store when he was getting gas. It's the only way he knows to express these inchoate, strange feelings that he's experiencing. And then he goes back into his life."

So, even though the premiere gives fans a rather unsatisfactory killing (not that we're necessarily bloodthirsty ...), Goldwyn assures us that there's a going to be a bigger evil that Dexter is heading towards that will give viewers that vicarious vigilante justice they crave.

He explains, "That's sort of the trajectory. We hope our fans will stay with us because it's ultimately leading to an emotionally satisfying conclusion for the fans of the series. The other thing about the season which is obviously a departure is that there's no central villain in the way it had been in the past with Lila or with Jimmy Smits' character or even in the most recent season with Trinity, John Lithgow. There's a sense of the villain unfolding in this season. We peel away the onion skin, so there's several hurdles for Dexter to jump over."

As for the Rita flashbacks, they serve a dual purpose: To reveal what he was like when he first met her, to show how being with her changed him.

"We've never done anything like these type of flashbacks on the show," states Goldwyn. "The idea behind it was that as Dexter is thinking about everything that's going on in his life in the wake of her death, he thinks back to their first times together. Even in the first date, there was the thing of him hunting down his prey.
 
"That's part of what causes him this feeling of 'Goodbye to everything because to live in the service of that is on some level is to dishonor the reality of the truth of who I am.' And of course what happens is he sees the guy in the gas station and he kills him and there's some rage that comes out.He can't escape his destiny on some level."

And then there's the humanity, his feelings of guilt and dealing with being a father.
 
"Everything he had built with Rita, however, is now an inescapable part of who he now is," Goldwyn observes. "Astor and Cody, we'll see what happens there. By bringing Rita into it as opposed to just talking about her, actually having her visually evident in the episode was in a sense to honor what has now become an indelible part of the imprint on Dexter's psyche and heart."

jennifer-carpenter-dexter-501-320.jpgOkay, so enough about Dexter. What's going on with Deb (J ennifer Carpenter)? On one hand she seems pretty together, taking charge, being level-headed. And then there's that whole naked on the kitchen floor incident with Quinn ( Desmond Harrington). Apparently, Deb has a lot going on this season.

"She basically is the star of the B story which is starting to unfold," confirms Goldywn. "She mixes it up with La Guerta ( Lauren Velez), she gets involved with a very interesting relationship with Quinn who is I don't want to say is Doakes, but he does cast a jaundiced eye on everything's that's said about Rita's death and begins his own quiet investigation of things.

"The difference is that Deb, unlike in the first three seasons of the show, is that she's no longer fueled by impulse." (Well, other than that kitchen floor buffing thing.) "Deb is now matured, grown up, become more confident partly because she's had more responsibility and also partly because Dexter has been available for her as a brother and given her very good counsel.

"She's been through some very serious life experiences and relationships, specifically with Lundy. So the Deb we're now seeing is a more mature, more centered thoughtful character than she was earlier when she was ambitious but impulsive and very insecure. There's something about Deb that's become more grounded."

There's another Dexter relative we're wondering about: Harrison. Is there some sort of prison message -- either clairvoyant or metaphorical -- we should be reading into with all of his striped onesies?

"Do you mean is that symbolic of something?," asks Goldwyn with a laugh. "No, that's hilarious. It's good that you picked that up, but no. I think we just think it's adorable."

Okay, whew!

A few other miscellaneous musings and highlights:

  • With more and more people (Deb, Quinn) getting closer to the truth about Dexter, we wonder if any of them would actually approve of his Code. We're willing to be surprised. After all, it must be frustrating to be a cop when you know some people are slipping through the cracks in the system.
  • How much do we love Deb's straightforward, dude-like speech? "FBI: F***ing Bunch of Idiots" and "Don't say things like, 'It was me.' People will misunderstand."
  • Honestly, how hard would it be to break the news of a person's death to her grandmother over the phone while she's at Disney World? Difficult, we say.
  • Dexter and Rita's first date and first phone calls make our hearts ache. RIP Rita.
  • Yet, how effed up is it that he was tracking a killer on said first date?
  • Okay, we know sex is life-affirming and all, but really, Deb? You were just cleaning up your sister-in-law's blood in the next room!
  • Um, Quinn's tan line! Surprise!
  • Astor's reaction broke our hearts.
  • How many people remember their spouse's dress from the first date? Oh, Dexter.
  • Um, killing that dude at the convenience store was the first "human" thing that Dexter's done since Rita's death? Yikes! Humans are scary.
  • Angel and La Guerta -- the jury's out, but so far we're not feeling it.
  • Dexter's eulogy started out well, but then we got lost. We expected to tear up.

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Photo credit: Showtime