Dexter: Season Finale Questions Answered

Published 5 years ago by

dexter finale logo1 Dexter: Season Finale Questions Answered

[Be Sure to read our Season 4 Finale Review & Discussion Post First!!!]

Wow, I knew last night’s season finale of Dexter was controversial, but I didn’t know it was going to be this controversial. The comments in the review & discussion have been going crazy since the show ended. Hopefully, with executive producer Clyde Phillips stepping in, it will help answer some fan questions regarding what may or may not have happened.

While talking with Entertainment Weekly‘s Michael Ausiello, Phillips lays it all out.


Is Rita really dead?

Is Trinity really dead?
Yes. Cut up and drifting in the Gulf Stream.

Did Trinity kill Rita?
Yes he did. That’s partly what he meant when he said: “It’s already over.”

Well, there you have it. Straight and to the point. While I may have screwed up some of the spoilers and myth debunking, most of them were correct and the “it’s not a dream” aspect was one of them. Still, I know Dexter fans, and a few yes or no answers aren’t going to be enough to keep the masses quite. So, here’s some insight behind the finale and decision of Rita’s fate.

When was the decision made to kill off Rita?
I would say we made the decision pretty late in the season. We didn’t quite know what we were going to do [in the finale].

Why Rita?
The story evolved and it kind of became inevitable. We knew that we had to do more than kill Trinity. It’s a little bit of a corner that we paint ourselves into. Last year we tried to avoid that and actually I think we didn’t do as well as we could have. We killed off Jimmy Smits’ character [in the 11th episode] of 12 episodes and then we had to figure out what we were going to do in the 12th episode. This season, we knew that we were going to take Trinity out in the 12th episode and we think that the audience knew that, too. We had to raise the bar to as high as possible and then figure out what to do next year.

Might she return as a ghost like Dex’s dad?
The answer, at the moment, is no. However, had you asked me two years ago if Lundy was coming back I would’ve said no. We didn’t know he was coming back until this year. It just seemed expedient to the story — to Dexter’s story and to Deb’s story.

Will next season be about Dexter juggling serial killing and single fatherhood?
He is a single father. But, beyond that, we don’t know. We don’t know if there’s going to be what we call “a Big Bad,” like Jimmy Smits and John Lithgow, or if it’s going to be more individual, stand-alone stories.

I understand you wrote two endings to throw people off. What was the other ending?
While Dexter was packing to leave, he saw on the television that a child murderer had just escaped from prison. Either escaped or fallen thru the cracks. So he’s thinking, “Do I join Rita on vacation or do I…” and then he looks towards the camera and he has this big decision.

I don’t know whether the bigger shock is that Rita’s dead or that people were actually thrown off by the “other ending.” I would have been disappointed if that was the ending of an episode of CSI: Miami with Horatio Caine pulling off his sunglasses and The Who “YEAAHH!!” playing in the background, let alone Dexter.

dexter phone Dexter: Season Finale Questions Answered

Have these notes from Phillips answered all your questions or do you have more? If so, let’s hear them because I was more or less content with the episode, but you, the fans, have stirred up all these questions in my head… and I don’t like questions in my head.

Source: The Ausiello Files

TAGS: Dexter
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  1. I have had to let the season finale sink in on me a bit cuz Rita’s death was such a deep and dark twist. However I love it. This season has been one of my faves, filled with so much suspense and great moments (I jumped up cheering as Dex took control in the Thanksgiving dinner scene). Mainly, Dexter is one of the few shows that sticks to it’s fantastic writing and superb storytelling to pull the audience in. Yes, I am sad to see Rita go, but I am more excited to see what will unfold next season. Great season!

  2. Rita is murdered, and Dexter has no real alibi ? At least not one he can talk about.

    That will raise some questions with his colleagues. They will surely remember how hectic Dexters life was and how he always had problems combining his work life and his family life. And with his wife always complaining how he spent so much time at work, while his colleagues knew how much he was dedicated to his work.

    Could be a possible start of season 5 , Dexter being a prime murder suspect, but just not the one he really commited.

  3. Brilliant ending! I’ve never been so deeply shocked or affected by an ending of a movie or program of any kind. I sat there for a good 5 minutes speechless with my hand over my open mouth unable to move. But it makes perfect sense, really. Rita was catching on and getting in his way and Dexter can’t change what he is. He has to go on killing. Harry kept telling him as much all through the season. Like Dexter said in the last scene: it’s his fate.

    Rita was killed in Trinity fashion, not his usual tidy job, but neither was the Scott Smith kidnapping. They will just think he was getting sloppy as serial murderers do after a while in real life. Why would the police think Dexter or anyone else did it? Trinity was on the loose, after all. And Dexter DOES have an alibi: Rita’s post-mortem body temp will reveal her time of death and place Dexter at the Mitchell house raid. Also, Dexter thought Rita was on her way to the Keys – with the cab driver as an eyewitness. She called and left Dexter a voicemail that she was headed back home to pick up her ID, but he didn’t access his voicemail until many hours after her murder. Then he immediately called her back right before he discovered her body and called the police. The phone records will back all that up. Dexter would not have known she was even AT their house. He might have a hard time explaining the rest of his day, but regardless, the time-frame and phone activity support his innocence.

    Here’s the other part: Trinity had a reasonable motive to kill Debra Morgan. His daughter had been taken into custody because she shot Debra and killed Lundy. The cops have already surmised that Christine told Trinity everything about the shooting and her arrest, since she was protecting him. It is plausible that he wanted to kill Debra in revenge for fingering Christine, picked the wrong D. Morgan address and mistook Rita for Debra. So that’s that.

    It is unlikely that “Kyle Butler” would even come up in the Mitchell’s interrogation. He was just another parishioner friend. He’s hardly worth mentioning in light of the horrors of Arthur’s crimes. Even if his name did come up, the cops would immediately recognize the name as the murdered man, tell Sally Mitchell that he was dead, which would get her crying again. The cops would likely not question her further, add him to the list of Trinity victims and let the matter rest. In fact, I bet the writers purposely had Trinity kill a real Kyle Butler (but only the one, remember?) in order to close the case on the guy so that Dexter isn’t brought into it.

    What Dexter really has to worry about are all of those cell phone calls between Trinity and himself for a few weeks before the raid. If the feds trace the calls to Dexter, THEN he’ll have some explaining to do!

    • Ah, but Dexter was using a separate cell phone for the calls w/Trinity! These writers seem to keep things squeaky clean after each season, 4/4 so far.

  4. Dexter cant let the cops see Rita’s body as it is. The cops will obviously wonder why serial killers keep targeting Dexter or his family members.

    The plot has been becoming so CSI like that it’s hokey and not as much fun as it was in season 1. Now all it has to offer is a guessing game at the end of every episode.

  5. @ KM.
    Dexter had 2 cellular phones. The cops won’t be able to trace him that way

  6. @ fares
    You’re right that they don’t know of that phone, but they do have tape of Dexter talking to Trinity at Miami Metro, and Batista noticed them talking. This could tie Dexter in as an accomplice to trinity next season.

  7. It makes sense to me that season five may be it’s last and pitting Morgan v. Morgan. Deb’s going to expose her own brother…and there’s enough crumbs from the prior four seasons, on top of whatever Dexter does in the fifth, to bring it all full circle. Plenty of drama to fill a final season with…

  8. I just want to say i am severely dissapointed in every aspect of the twist in the finale. The producers handled it terribly. Saying to Julie Benz’s face “we would never kill Rita” and then kill her is appalling. Also, they were spineless as to release the bombshell on her day off, so she would have to come in to see it. awful. this is why series and movies take turns for the worse in sequels and what not. It is when they decide to sort of “wing it” in the sense they don’t know what is going to happen beyond a few episodes. what you get is a sloppy and unnecessary ending. Stop confusing “shocking” with good writing. They killed her off just for shock value and it was really horrible. Dexter being a single parent is a bad story line and there were so many holes in the story to begin with. Trinity is a very technical killer and the way he killed rita was completely against how he operates. It always the same 4 kills. Rita was not a 20 something year old and should not have been killed in that fashion. She should have been a jumper. Also, there was a progression of dexter towards becoming a normal man and instead of following that path, they completely disrupt it in a way they can’t fix. also, i’m sick of people saying it was a good idea to kill her off because the ratings were through the roof. Her dieing had nothing to do with the ratings! they were already set when the show started, which means that people were watching beforehand. Overall, the entire writing/producing staff handled the situation and the scene very very poorly.

    • I just watched the entire season. I don’t watch it on cable, I just
      buy it. So I had a very continuous observation of the entire 4th season
      story line. I utterly and totally agree with everything you said.
      If you can find my comment (written today 9/25/2010,)you will see that
      I also think the killing of Rita was stupid, done for shock value, done
      without enough reflection, and will probably ruin the show which had
      Dexter growing, and becoming aware of his own ability to define himself
      against Harry’s way of defining him. He actually could have become a
      better person than Harry. Harry raised a messed up daughter after all,
      and was personally responsible for the death of Dexter’s mother.
      Thank you for writing so boldly and accurately. I fear this show has
      no logical place to go that will hold the uniqueness of Dexter’s character.

  9. “Stop confusing “shocking” with good writing. They killed her off just for shock value and it was really horrible.”

    Perhaps you’re the one who’s confusing the two. Many people would disagree with your assessment as to why they killed her off.

    Personally, I think she had run her course with the show. If Rita were still around next season it would have been more of the same … Dexter balancing his married, hen-pecked life with his dark urges – nothing but a repeat of the previous season(s). Her death leaves the room wide open for all sorts of possibilities next year.

    Thus, I disagree completely with the assertion that killing her was only done for ‘shock value’.

    • I don’t want to like the show anymore! Yet I have to, it’s too late. It’s fate. I have a dark passenger too…

      Seriously though, I have to agree a bit with the sceptic eho said that this was handled very very poorly. The producers even said that it was a hurried decision to kill her off. They decided that very late in the production since they didn’t comeup with anything else.

      Also, now Dexter’s back to square one. 4 seasons sorta passed for Dexter to have little to none progression. He lost it all because of very slippery work on his side. The moment I realized Dexter wasn’t doing his work half as neat as he used to, like in episode 10 or so, I knew it would have a backfiring effect. And during “The Getaway” Trinity practically said “someones gonna die” all the time. God, I am upset, in some way.

  10. my big qualm is…
    if she took a taxi to the airport, she likely took a taxi back from the airport to pick up what she left behind.
    One would think she’d tell the taxi to wait a second…
    wouldn’t the taxi driver wonder where Rita was? and go look? and call the police?

  11. @Jay – this has been brought up before, either in another SR thread about Dexter or in this very discussion. Someone speculated that more than likely, we’re left to assume that when Rita never came back out of the house, the taxi driver left. Perhaps he pounded on the door first (perhaps not), but when he received no answer, more than likely he thought she was stiffing him on the fare. So he just cut his losses and left. I can see that scenario. He would have no glaring reason to call the cops.

    At any rate, it’s not really important – if it was, the writers would have put something in about what happened with the driver. Perhaps something will surface about him next season, but I doubt it. We’ll see, I guess.

  12. some other thoughts :

    Dexter at the beginning was so tired and over-worked that he couldn’t function and was falling asleep everywhere.

    He doesn’t change his lifestyle…in fact, he becomes busier and more occupied and sleeps less. Yet all of a sudden his debilitating fatigue disappears.

    Also. Dexter arrives first on the scene. In the garage of Arthur’s house…and it’s accepted? I know his sister gives him a weird look…but wouldn’t other police officers also find it alarming?

    Anyways. Loved the show…nothing can be perfect

  13. @Jay – about the sleeplessness … well, baby Harrison ages throughout the season and thus, begins to sleep better. So that part of Dexter’s problem fades away over time. As far as the other situation you raised – Dex gave a somewhat plausible excuse … whether or not that becomes picked apart next season, or whether Trinity’s family fingers him as the person known as ‘Kyle Butler’, remains to be seen.

  14. I can see them pulling Dexter into killing but that would just send them down the same path of Season 2. I have read all of the Dexter books as well, and I recognize the tv show’s characters move away from the books at the end of Season 1. However at the end of that book Deb knows his brother is a serial killer and accepts it.

    Not sure the Deb in s4 Tv show would do the same thing since she seems to be more just in her actions. However with some story telling in the next season, Dexter could tell half truths to get her to not turn him in.

    I agree mostly with KM. Deb has no reason to think her brother would kill Rita. She has known him his whole life, and trusts him. However, if they decide to let her figure this out than..

    Also there is no reason for the police to think Dexter killed his wife. Trinity’s family does not know “Kyle” very well but what they do know is that he probably saved the son’s life. It could come to bite him in the ass but I think they would protect Dexter rather than get him in trouble. The son knows Dexter was trying to find his father(who he hated) and would probably not mention Kyle’s name.

    From what I have seen each season wraps up with Dexter in the clear but with a new life problem. Why would they change it. I personally would be disappointed if it was just another season of him trying to cover his own ass. There are two many things they haven’t done, to repeat what they have.

  15. I can completely understand why some people are not ok with this ending. Im not entirely sure I like it myself. It certainly was shocking and a bit unsettling, however I do disagree that this was the only reason the writers chose this fate for Dexter in this season. After I got over my initial shock and horror, I thought about it for a moment, Wouldn’t all of you, those who are criticizing the writers for this ending that is, be just as equally if not more disappointed if the season ended with Dexter happily on his way to the keys to join Rita? Or even if he suddenly found a new a worthy victim and was torn over what to choose? I feel like both of those endings would have been cliche, boring, and unsatisfying. And as for the comments about sloppy writing due to the lack of consistency with Trinity’s MO regarding Rita’s death– Yes, in the beginning Trinity was meticulous with his crimes and his cycle. However, that cycle broke the minute Dexter saved Scott Smith and Trinity killed Kyle Butler. He snapped and all bets were off. Rita may not have fit his original MO, true but he had already broken his cycle and it didn’t much matter anymore. In his mind, revenge took precedence and given the history of Trinity revealing the secret of his sister (seemingly the most important family member to him) in the bathtub to ‘Kyle,’ what more fitting a revenge plot than that?? They sort of did write themselves into a corner. With all of Dexter’s newfound emotions popping up for his family, Rita posed a threat to the Dexter we know and his dark passenger. He said himself, “I don’t want it” That was directly due to his feelings of responsibility to his family. Im inclined to think that, even if I don’t entirely like it, if the season had ended any other way, we’d be left to think Dexter might become a changed man which would completely annihilate the backbone of the series and cause a lot of its most loyal viewers to lose interest. I do agree that the writers better step it up and come up with one hell of a creative story line for next season. I think its only inevitable that Deb finds out her brothers true identity especially if this is going to be the last season. We’ll see what they do with it.

  16. “Wouldn’t all of you, those who are criticizing the writers for this ending that is, be just as equally if not more disappointed if the season ended with Dexter happily on his way to the keys to join Rita? Or even if he suddenly found a new a worthy victim and was torn over what to choose? I feel like both of those endings would have been cliche, boring, and unsatisfying.”

    Exactly – it would have been … which is why I think the writers changed the formula up a bit and I’m glad it didn’t end in such a cliche manner. Incidentally, the alternate ending they had been toying with was actually what you already mentioned – Dexter being torn between a new worthy victim and meeting up with Rita. I’m personally glad they didn’t close it up that way. Plus I was quite ready for Rita to be out of the picture. :-p

  17. Okay, so i just watched the season finale, i was wondeing how and when the trinity would have had time to kill rita, and how the trinity killer even knew where rita was? The ending doesnt make sense to me and i want answers, easily my favorte show, but this episode was easily the most confusing to me. Is this all a big dream and dexter will wake up next season and realize what he really has and get away from his dark passenger and killing habits?

  18. I don’t think this was a good way to end the SEASON. they should have done this in the 1st episode of season 5. its going to leave people dying for answers, and everyone is guilty of being impatient. This isnt going to change the fact that Dexter is my favorite show. Also.. How did Rita know the moon was gonna be beautiful that night? I also want more info on Rita’s 1st Husband.

  19. I don't think Harrison will be affected in the same way as he is much younger than when Dexter witnessed his mother's murder. Dexter struggled to remember but pieces came together as life went on but I can't see the same of a toddler.

  20. Rita was really annoying with her squeaky voice, hypercriticism and continual whining. What did she have to complain about, having been married before to that abusive addict that Dexter so helpfully eliminated? Dexter was a great husband and dad apart from his one small foible! I'm glad she's gone but the bathroom scene was a shock.

  21. her hand was out of the bath!!!?!?!?!? was she poiinting to anything?

  22. her hand was out of the bath!!!?!?!?!? was she poiinting to anything?

  23. I still would like to know how Trinity found out where Dexter actually lived, and Rita was supposed to be away, and with Dexter stalking him how could he do that ? Nobody has raised this question it seems

  24. All of you are just discussing Rita's and Dexter's case – as it is really bad, so far. But… i mean, does anybody care about the children???

    Loosing their mum that way… I don't think Dexter has any chance to handle the children after what has happened and what he is capable of, concerning interpersonal relationships.

    If there wasn't even a way to save a small piece of grace for Rita and Dexter -and the children – the entire family-story can only end in disaster. Doesn't that smell like upcoming episodes showing the downward express of life? Every thing else would seem to be Hollywood, following Dexter's “fade”.

  25. “What we call a Big Bad”….

    NO that's Joss Whedon's – get your own phrases you numpty's or at least credit him with the phrase!

    This guy is an idiot.

    Greatr episode and a great season though :)

  26. Up until I viewed the ending of the final episode of season 4, I was a committed and enthusiastic Dexter fan. I can now say that I will never watch another episode of dexter. The finale’s twist was a terrible cliche that lacked creativity and was not in keeping with the natural development of dexter’s character. Extremely disappointing. Way to dumb down a great show for the shock value that stupid prime time Americans love and expect.

    • To. E.C, and all others with similar sentiments. I am in total agreement
      and wrote more extensively 3 weeks ago. You can page down and read the
      comment of Avriana. I’m not ready to say I’ll never watch another episode.
      I will give the writers and producers a chance. I’d even accept a corny cliche dream sequence (no matter what the producer said previously) as a way of apologizing to fans, and put this plot back on course. But I’ll only give a short try – 2 episodees tops. If they try to reinvent this show, and it doesn’t hold me, I’m done too. And they will lose revenue
      from those of us who buy the season dvd or blu-ray. They not only may
      lose fans, but a great deal of money. Thank you for your comment.

    • Agreed. Rita was Dexter only way of being human. She was a great innocent character and didn’t deserve to die. The show ended for me on this finally. Not gonna watch it no more.

  27. Hey E.C.,
    I’m in complete agreement with you. I also have gone from committed fan to never wanting to watch another episode. The finale was unnecessary and seemingly created for shock value alone. I’m very disappointed, however I wouldn’t put it past the writers inserting a ‘dream sequence’ so that Rita’s death never happened. Guess we’ll find out soon.