San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Dexter
It is Thursday night, and Dexter fans such as I have been waiting all day to see this panel. It is just the beginning of Comic-Con, but already the tired feeling of sitting all day in the folding chairs of Hall H has set in. But finally! The Dexter panel begins. There is then an opening video, with different cast members discussing their feelings regarding Dexter’s ending with season 8. Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, Michael C. Hall, and most of the cast, old, new, dead and alive all thank the Comic-Con fans for their support for the show. It was a great introduction video, that I wish I was able to keep in some way.
The moderator, Ralph Garman, begins with an advertisement for the boxed sets of the entire Dexter series. This will be released November 5th, 2013, on Blu-Ray Special Edition (available only on Amazon), packed inside a miniature dummy that Dexter would smash with a baseball bat, or the regular DVD set inside a replica of Dexter’s blood slide case. I have to say, the blood slide case looks really awesome, but I would prefer Blu-Rays if I am spending any money on boxed sets anymore.
Another video is introduced, featuring Dexter’s best kills, showing a montage of carnage caused by our favorite serial killer.
Finally, after much anticipation, the cast and crew are brought out. First, Sara Colleton is introduced, an executive producer for the show. Next, the showrunner, Scott Buck is introduced. Then other executive producers are introduced, Manny Coto and Clyde Phillips. Clyde Philips also used to be showrunner for the series. While it is a sad truth, we now get into the real exciting part of the panel. Which actors are here to see off Dexter in its final season? Aimee Garcia (Jamie) is brought out. Then Desmond Harrington (Quinn). David Zayas (Angel) sporting no goatee! Yvonne Strahovski (Hannah McKay). Next we have some raising of the dead, who could it be? Lauren Velez, also known as LaGuerta! Erik King (Doakes) and Julie Benz (Rita) come out next! Then Jennifer Carpenter, and finally Michael C. Hall!
The moderator begins with talking with Sara Colleton about wrapping up the show. Sara explains that it hasn’t quite hit anyone too much yet, since they have just wrapped up. He then asks Scott Buck about the how writing for Dexter was, and we learn that 50% of the writing staff is women, and they have a diverse writing staff.
Desmond then talks about this being his first time to Comic-Con, and he seems excited to be there. The moderator reveals a special video from John Lithgow, the Trinity killer. He thanks the fans, briefly, which was a nice treat.
Ralph moves on to talking with Jennifer about Debra’s rough life, to which Jennifer responds, “It makes my life look really good”. She describes her work this season as being a “stunt car driver”, and finds it challenging to play Debra.
The moderator then moves to Michael, asking if he feels like Dexter isn’t over, to which Michael says, “Our bodies 5 months from now will be wondering why we aren’t doing Dexter again”.
Julie Benz then describes her feelings of the show ending, coming from the perspective of being 4 years away from the show. David Zayas then discusses his interactions with the fans, and how “invested” fans are with the characters, and even says that many fans try to give their input on the direction of the show. Erik King talks about Doakes, and provides his take with the fans, and how he feels like they have kept his character alive all these years, even though he died in Season 2. He says, “I don’t think I am dead!” Velez also talks about this being her first time at Comic-Con and how she doesn’t feel like her character is dead.
Garman then moves on Aimee Garcia, asking about her movement into the limelight, having a bigger role in the show. Aimee jokes about exploring Jamie’s “naked side”. She sure has been showing a lot of skin this season so far. Desmond provides his opinion about jumping onto the show, since he came in on season 3. He reveals that he “came from a looser environment, and got the call to straighten up, or you’ll be out of work”. Quinn always did seem like a lazy bum! Kidding, Desmond, don’t come after me!
Moving onto Yvonne, she unfortunately cannot provide any information regarding her character’s return to Dexter. Yvonne may have let a little tidbit slip, using the word, “revenge” when she meant to use the word “motivation”, which elicited a cackling from the crowd of 6500 people watching her. Revenge is probably what is in store for Dexter. This flusters Yvonne, and she tries to get back on track.
The panel then moves into audience questions, the first being for Michael, asking if he developed any rituals to get in character. Michael replies with, “I really need to focus on some rituals to get out!” Obviously he is joking, but he further explains that early on the kill scenes, getting prepared was a ritual itself. He also talks about “imagining” putting all the plastic up for the kill rooms.
Next, Ralph Garman asks about Vogel. Michael talks about Vogel as a motherly figure, and how his “origin” story has been altered now with her introduction. He also compliments working with Vogel. Sara Colleton talks about the casting of Charlotte Rampling as Vogel, and she says it was as easy as asking her.
The second question from the audience asks how the writing and acting adds the tension. It is a bit of an oddball question, and one of the writers/producers tries to answer it, saying that it comes down to getting into the character’s heads, to figure out what they are thinking.
The third questions asks about their comic book interests. Aimee Garcia says she enjoyed the chess/Japanese animation tents. Hall says he is a Hulk fan, and correlates Dexter as being a bit of a Hulk-like figure, “just not as green”.
Our fourth question asks how the actors diffuse after an intense scene. David Zayas jokes about playing touch football with a foot prop. More seriously, he says that he thinks most people have gotten used to tension.
The moderator asks Velez about her last scene, and how she would act it. She compliments the writing, and describes her incredible scene with Michael and Jennifer. Erik King echoes Velez’s feelings, and compliments Michael C. Hall, as a sort of role model/leader of the show.
Our fifth question asks about “morality”, specifically, “You always root for Dexter to get his man but he’s a serial killer himself”…”so do you always want to root Dexter on or do you want to get caught?”. Jennifer talks about the complicated nature of her relationship with Dexter since he is a family member. She describes her “visceral” reactions to people, and how she is a “live wire” with everyone until the scenes are done. Michael C. Hall is of course “always on Dexter’s side”.
Yvonne is then asked if all of her different “geeky” characters can figure out a way to take Dexter down. Her answer is simply, “no”.
The moderator then asks Michael about his future plans. Michael says to another TV show, “Never say never”. I have a feeling he would like to get into movies, or with his recent directorial debut with Dexter, he may want to go that route.
Psychopaths is the subject of the nest question, asking if Dexter is an “unreliable narrator” or if Dexter is “becoming the mask”, meaning that he has faked emotion long enough that it is becoming real to him. Michael says that Dexter’s internal monologue may not be the “bottom line”, but feels that the questioner as basically answered his own question. Michael discusses Vogel further, about how they are teaching each other in their relationship.
The next question is an interesting one, where Jennifer is asked whether she feels that Debra should die. She says that she does. The question moves to Julie Benz, and she brings up her consistent rebirths in previous shows (Angel/Buffy), and that Dexter was more of a “mourning process” for her.
Another question asks how far in advance characters know their story. Erik King brings up a good point regarding the death of Doakes. He confirms that he knew Doakes would die, and agreed that it had to happen as he explains, it would be odd for Doakes to watch Dexter for 8 years and do nothing about it. The moderator asks Velez when she knew LaGuerta would die. She says it was episode 10 of the season, but she had her suspicions beforehand. She continues, describing her sadness for the sudden loss of LaGuerta, and moving back to New York.
The moderator asks Desmond about Quinn’s troubles. Desmond jokes that it’s “his life” and talks about the highlights of Quinn’s life. The moderator jokes about any character in love with Deb tends to die. Quinn retorts with, “Did you people think I would live more than a year? I am still here!” drawing applause from the audience.
Michael is then asked how he handles stress. His answer is, “I do everything that Dexter does, but then I just tickle the person”. He then answers seriously that playing Dexter is a “stress reliever in its way”. He says, “exercise is good” and “anything that gets your heart beating”.
The following audience member questions Debra and Dexter being half siblings due to Harry’s affair with Dexter’s mother. Sara Colleton assures her that the timing couldn’t have worked out for that to happen.
We learn that the cast members are able to take pieces set pieces home. Michael is taking his watch and lanyard. Jennifer managed to swipe the blood spatter pictures in his lab. Aimee was able to get Jamie’s necklace. Desmond took all of the fake gold he wears. Yvonne got Hannah’s Black Orchid. Jennifer Carpenter says she took, “A LOT”. David took his infamous hat and shirt.
Our next questioner asks about a spin off for Harrison. Michael jokes that in about 25 years, a show Harrison will come out, and he will play Dexter, Harrison’s imaginary father. The panel begins to wrap up, and each person provides their final thoughts on the show. All of the actors and producers provide their heartfelt goodbyes to the show. So sad to see it go! Funny enough, Erik King reveals that he is always asked to say his catch phrase, “Surprise Mother F–ker!” and shows us that he is even wearing a shirt with that phrase on it. The crowd cheers for him to say it, but he will only do a censored version. It wraps up with Michael providing his final thoughts, talking about the broadening of Comic-Con to include TV shows, and how the fans have made Dexter possible. The panel wraps up, and the stage clears.
This was a great panel. All actors looked legitimately sad to see the show, even characters that had been gone for a while, such as Erik King and Julie Benz. It was great to be able to attend their last hurrah, and hear their final thoughts. As they have all seemed to echo, it is good to see Dexter go out on a high note. We only have 8 episodes left before the end! And likely no more Comic-Con panels, unless there is a reunion! Dexter will be missed among us fans.