John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun, The Crown) just revealed that his formidable Trinity Killer will not be the only character haunting Dexter’s season 9 revival from beyond-the-grave. While clarifying the small nature of his role in Dexter’s decade-later epilogue, Lithgow also told Deadline that Jennifer Carpenter (Limitless, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) would return as Dexter’s sister, Debra Morgan.
#Dexter is bringing back Jennifer Carpenter’s Deb from the dead
Details of her return are wrapped up tighter than her brother’s kill rooms
— Fandom (@getFANDOM) July 14, 2021
Much like Lithgow, Carpenter met her inventible doom in Dexter, her demise playing a major role in the series much-reviled finale. Though The Hollywood Reporter states that Carpenter was adamant about seeing her character killed off in Dexter’s original run, she commented at the time that “[it would take] an extraordinary script many, many, many years from now,” to bring her back to the twisted world of Dexter.
A decade later, series original showrunner, Clyde Phillips (Nurse Jackie, Feed the Beast), seems to have provided a script worthy of Carpenter’s return. Phillips has been forthright that his “closed-ended revival” will attempt to recoup Dexter’s reputation after its ill-received finale, while not refuting the reality established therein, via The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re not undoing anything,” TVLine quoted Phillips. “We’re not going to betray the audience and say, ‘Whoops, that was all a dream.’ What happened in the first eight years happened in the first eight years.”
With that in mind, Debra’s death from Dexter’s original finale will remain apart of the series canon, meaning Phillips will have worked in another way to bring her back. “The revival will either have many flashbacks,” Collider comments on the casting news of both Carpenter and Lithgow “or the Bay Harbor Butcher will start to have visions of dead people.”
The announcement of Carpenter’s return was one fans have been waiting on since Dexter’s revival was first announced in October 2020. Aside from Michael C. Hall’s (Six Feet Under) return as the titular killer, Dexter boasts a mostly new cast of characters, finding its villain in Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption). Debra Morgan was a beloved character and cornerstone of the original series, though she was not without controversy as the romantic entanglement between herself and her brother Dexter became a maligned story arc in the later half of the series.
According to TVLine, fans on the lookout for Carpenter’s return cited a March Instagram post from the actress as evidence that she may be involved in the newest iteration of Dexter. Though Carpenter’s Instagram post only seemed to mark the actresses’ return to set-life after the COVID-19 pandemic, Dexter fans noted that she donned “Deb’s trademark horizontal stripes” in the image, via TVLine.
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While social media conspiracy theorists turned out to be correct about Carpenter’s return to set, the nature of her role in the story is still shrouded in mystery. Collider posits that Phillips’ mission to give the series a “definitive end” would explain the return of quintessential performers from the original series as it would give audiences, as well as Dexter himself, closure.
Digital Spy reports that Julie Benz (Defiance, Angel) is one deceased character who may not make any appearance in the revival, despite the news of other key members of the cast returning. Benz, who played Dexter’s wife Rita Morgan, has stated that “[Dexter] didn’t internalise her, so there are no plans for Rita to show up” (Digital Spy). The actress did clarify that she would jump at the chance to return to Dexter if asked.
There have been two brief teasers for Dexter thus far, both highlighting elements of Dexter Morgan’s – now, Jim Lindsay’s – new life as a fixture in a small community. Upon the first teaser’s release, Showtime revealed that the series would come to the network this fall, meaning both a premiere date and full-length trailer should be arriving soon.