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. dexter is twisted and everything about the show is twisted…therefor the ending was twisted. i was shoocked as hell and very disapointed about rita death but i wouldnt of wanted anything less and im counting down the days to season 5…

    • Things doesn’t have to be likely. Of course its all “coincidence” that Rita forgot her ID at home, and “coincidence” that Trinity luckily knew the right house. Shows do this all the time, all shows almost. That’s ok.
      What’s not so ok on the other hand is that since I learned that Trinity goes after moms with families, I always thought, “Oh, he’ll target Dexters wife, cause thats what he does: Kills innocent mothers.” Later I thought would be too lame, but obviously the writers didn’t think so.

      On the other hand, if this was a good call or not is really decided in season 5. And the show must end sometime, and come to some conclusion! Right nowI just feel weak and I want to blame someone or something for making this decision, but its the weirdest things you end up liking sometimes. Another Dexter analogy…

      • Arthur could have very easily obtained Dexter’s home address when he was rooting through deb’s apartment… a list of phone numbers, (perhaps rita and dexter’s house-phone number), and from there, could have just googled it to get the address. I do find it a little cliche that she conveniently forgot her stuff at home though…

    • I only just started watching Dexter a few weeks ago; I downloaded all the seasons and just began season 5. I have to say, I was very happy to see Rita die. She was the most annoying character I can think of in the cast–well, other than Dexter’s completely vapid sister. There is no way on this planet earth that a girl like the sister could ever be a real detective.
      The reason I don’t like or never did like Rita’s character? Her constant “whisper voice”. It was just so irritating. She never actually raised her voice above her seemingly sexual, calming-yet-annoying whisper. Glad she is gone.

      • u suck and ur opinions suck

  2. next season’s concept: Dexter as the over-protective and smothering parent fueled by guilt, despair & of course, psychosis. He alienates all those who care about him and wants to help, especially Deb. He becomes convinced that he has opened his son up to the dark passenger and struggles with how much & how soon to teach him self-preservation. Use the alternate ending as a way to start again…Dexter speaking with ghost dad about what’s next as he is taking care of son…tv in background announces early release of child killer…obvious decision time…keep Deb at arm’s length, progressing in her career until the last couple of episodes when she fatefully comes across something…it doesn’t matter what, just make it dynamic…i know dexter is a hero but like season 4, this can’t end good and if this is the last season…we should end it all with one character standing…the dark passenger

  3. The ending was completely rushed and motivated entirely by shock value. Dex had his phone on him all day and Rita’s call would have come through hours prior, likely even before he stowed away in Trinity’s car, yet he just hears the alert go off when he gets home? The manner in which Rita was killed by Trinity was also random, the only other spontaneous kill Trinity performed was with Kyle Butler and he just smashed him up (which I disagree with as well since he couldn’t even “kill Bambi” since it wasn’t part of the ritual). Also where did Trinity get Dexter’s address? If he got it from Deb’s apartment he would have ended up at dexter’s well before dawn and would have broken in as he did at deb’s, not waiting and then getting lucky that Rita returned, and then leaving and not waiting to kill dexter, who he was looking for because he had no idea he had a family. Anyways it cannot be taken back now…

    As for next season there is very little wiggle room for the producers next season to keep the story interesting. Dexter raising three kids (two of which have now lost both parents) is just ridiculous. The kids moving with Paul’s parents or Rita’s mother are both crazy ideas as well since Dexter is such an important cornerstone in their life, and Rita’s mother is psycho. Another option is Dex moves in with Deb and they raise the kids, pretty over the top as well. This is how showtime operates though (cliff hangers at the end of every episode and ludicrous season finales), and it led to the destruction of Weeds as well. All the footage of Dex talking with Trinity in the station will have to come up, and should have come up already since Batista definitely got a good look at him.

  4. The whole reason i’ve watched 4 seasons is dexter’s character development… Learning how to show emotions and act normal.. To him being in relationship clueless how to act… and then him juggling a family life and himself being a serial killer… I’m not sure Rita being gone did much for me it wasn’t even that shocking.

    Kind of ruined the whole build up of him being able to sustain a normal life… being in control… and having a perfect cover.

    but hey im not complaining ill be here for season 5 6 7 8 however many there are… I’m just wondering what the hell he will do now.

    • People were wondering what he would do at the end of Season 3 when he married Rita. And they delivered perhaps their best season to date in Season 4. So I have high hopes for 5.

  5. Just watched the season finale and I was shocked. I think I might still be in shock. I loved Rita, but I just don’t know what to say other than this was awesome, sad and shocking at the same time. Nicely done.

  6. Just finished watching season 4 and I think it was the best season of any show I’ve ever watched!! Really exciting and suspenseful. I’m glad they killed off Rita. She was too annoying and it really does open up Season 5. I don’t think Dexter was in the trunk. Wasn’t he let out of jail in the evening because they didn’t have any beds? He found the receipt for the garage for the mustang so went there and did the oil cap thing. Then went home and spent the night with Rita but probably didn’t sleep all night waiting for Arthur. Then after he sent Rita and kids off he went and watched the garage and waited for Arthur and then followed him. Maybe Arthur, meanwhile, knew Dexter would be expecting him so waited till they all left the house and then went in the house to wait for Dexter but Rita came back. And I think he got the address when he was going thru Deb’s mail, there was probably a letter for Dexter in there too and I sure there’s lots of ways they can explain how he got Dexter’s new address. And the older kids will go with their grandparents, that’s why they brought them in for the last episode. As for Harrison, maybe Dexter will get a live in nanny or maybe he’ll give him to Batista and LaGuerta since they’re newly married LOL.

  7. To run the risk of sounding completely cliche, but Dexter was in a bit of a car crash at the seasons start… i hate to say it but maybe the whole season was a coma dream, to make him realise the value of his family? after all isnt that wot the series is about really, Dexters evolution as a human rather than a monster? Just before finding out Ritas death Dex does mention that he wants to put the killing on the back burner and focus on his family… but that just seems too nice to be true doesnt it?

    just need to wait and see, the writers sure did their job by hooking viewers in for the next season, i know i cant wait, but i hate the questions i keep asking myself.

    • I think the immediate appeal of Dexter is the same as Bronson’s character
      in the Death Wish movies. We like to see evil people get what they deserve (where in the real world we surely could not know who is guilty,
      and I’m glad for our US Constitution and legal safeguards -imperfect as
      they are.) The real-world cost and process of finding, prosecuting, and
      sentencing a monster in the US is less “sexy.” But Bronson was already a loving “normal” family man, who reacted to losing his family by becoming a vigilanti.

      The charm – and he is a charming character – of Dexter, is that he is
      someone who starts out damaged. And we watch his journey of SLOWLY becoming what he ‘acted’ at being. A normal caring man. I think it
      was a good plot – and Rita was a necessary part – someone who was
      inherently capable of giving him the space he needed to process “normal
      living.” And Dexter was beginning to make progress. I think the highlight
      of the 4th season was watching the battle between what dead father “Harry” as telling him, and what he learned to actually feel and
      become. He was just beginning the process. Heck, he hadn’t even mastered
      the art of telling his non-working wife Rita “Get the kid – I zonked – I
      have to sleep.” I’m angry he never got a real chance to adjust to his
      new self observations and embrace whatever the richness of being head
      of a lovely family meant to him. Harry couldn’t give that to him, because
      he was a philander, a user (he used Dexter’s mother as a CI and a sex object.) I think Dexter could have been more interesting. But I believe
      for SENSATIONALISM, and TOPPING LAST SEASON, the absurd coincidence
      (leaving her ID at home)to set up THE KILL was a STUPID and premature
      cutting off of a great unfolding story. Surely there would be other
      ways to keep Dexter a vigilanti killer. Maybe he could have learned
      that it wasn’t his duty to always PERSONALLY kill the evil characters.

      Whatever his path could have been this coming season, I think it was a cheap sensational-type ending made for shock value ALONE.

      You lost the whole dynamic of the family, the learning about how to parent a teenage girl, and raise a baby. Rita’s character balanced him.

      He’s a homeless psychopath now, with a messed up sister. Unless the writers do something amazing to turn around season 5, (and using Quinn
      to be on his ass for the drama was already done by another character
      in a previous season) I think season 5 may be the unsatisfactory ending
      for me of a show I’ve simply adored. What a shame.

      • It’s quite disappointing to hear about the number of people that won’t watch the show after that finale…It’s not like they took Rita and threw her in front of a random car for gods sakes… it fit absolutely perfectly into the story and gave Trinity the most satisfying way to completely destroy dexter as a person (I think Trinity knew the cat and mouse game would end with him on Dexters table eventually and so he killed Rita as assurance that Dexter would suffer no matter what)…obviously Rita was a great character but it was obvious Trinity was either going to kill Dex or someone he loves. And honestly I felt like Trinity was a bad victim for Dex right away, he was almost a more evolved version of Dexter himself. And the fact that Trinity left Harrison alive to witness his mother bleed out and die just like Dexter witnessed his mother die was freaking chilling and makes you truly realize how much of a twisted mastermind Trinity really was.

  8. I just finished watching the season finale a little while ago, and even though Rita’s death was spoiled for me when I looked for information on Season 5 to early the ending was still very “impactful”. I’m not sure if that’s the right word (or even if it’s a word) but watching the season and seeing all the ways her death could have been avoided was hard 😛

    Anyway, I think it sucks that she is gone, I really liked her character and really wanted Dexter and his family to be happy. I do understand that they had to do something better then before but I do wish she could have had another season.

    I guess this season Deb will find out about Dexter, seeing how they already set it up and there isn’t much else that could come close to the death of a character like Rita.

  9. They should have killed off Deb instead on Rita, Deb was alot more annoying of a character than Rita.

  10. For me the unfolding Rita story was the most important aspect of Dexter. With her being “killed off” by the producers, I will never watch another episode of Dexter again. Talk about wasting a great plot, and delving deep into pointless cliches.

  11. The end was shocking, but not in my opinion done for shock value.
    As the series unfolded, you could see a self-fulfilling prophecy in the making, as a common thread running through each episode, with each mistake and escape of Arthur leading to increasing loss of control of circumstances leading to the final events. You even knew that he could see it coming (which is why he dispatched her to safety), but he could not see how inevitable the end was, and neither could we – therein lies the shock – that even we didn’t see it coming.

  12. I just think It was a bad move – although I wasn a huge fan of Rita I saw her as a link to humanity for Dexter – she seemed to be his redemption and the family they created pulled him back to normality and I always felt he had a chance to overcome the darkness – now I feel he’s a bit doomed and I just dnt like it ! – to be honest its put me right off the show – really not that keen or interested in seeing season five….. Also the image of trinity naked and gettin into the bath tub with Rita like that kinda disturbed me – just felt like her character had been violated and actually made me sad to see her like that… Not happy! I’ll preview season five see if it draws me back but I’m pretty much off the show bcoz of it … Sad!

  13. Has anyone thought about what happened to Rita’s taxi driver? That’s been driving me crazy!

  14. I am surprised at how many people disliked Rita. She was only asking for the basics of a marriage that any self=respecting spouse would expect.

    The aspects of Deb’s and Rita’s characters that I liked best was accountability. It was so refreshing to watch Deb lecture Dex after she found out he had kept his apartment and lied to Rita about it. Sometimes a person needs a knock on the head to remind him/her of what he/she is about to lose.

    Dex committed to Rita, not to mention the 3 kids. When you’re in a relationship, you have responsibilities! I know it is totally uncool to remind people of that and I know that no one wants to a TV show to remind them of their own short-comings, but it’s true.

  15. I’m done watching Dexter. Rita is what helped bring Dexter’s character humanity and deplth. In season 4 when Dexter falls into Rita’s lap and she says she can see that he can beat the darkness (I’m paraphrasing), It was wide open with possibilities. His character has a chance to evolve. In real life that’s what people do. I knew they would kill off Rita with one of the criminals, very Holllywood and predictable. I was surprised by how they did it, mostly because it leaves so many holes. For one thing no matter what Dexter was doing he always answered his cell phone, but he gets the message about Rita’s coming home…..oh please….it was a surprise because it was far fetched, you got the shock value and lost one more fan.

    • Amen! I am so upset that Rita was killed off. They did not have to do that. She was the best thing for Dexter. She made him see his own goodness, which he was unable to see on his own. They had a life to live together. She was helping him to slowly escape from his demons. It was a perfect story. They should not have killed her off. It was wrong. So wrong.

  16. What I didn’t like or understand about this series is why Dexter took to hunting down killers who the police would have found. I preferred his earlier ethics where he only killed those who fell thru the cracks. in season 4 he’s vying and working hard to kill Trinity before the homicidal unit would find him. What’s wrong with a long jail sentence for Trinity? Why did Dexter have to take him on? doesn’t make sense and lost a lot of safety for him.

    • I think, in my humble opinion, that the answer to that is partly because as Dexter said about Trinity, he wants to make “sure” that justice is served. The other reason is that, not unlike Trinity, he is not completely in control of the Dark passenger.

  17. I purchased Season 4 of Dexter from Amazon that went up to the Dexter / Arrthur confrontation in the police station. Does the Arthur / Dexter resolution occur in the opening show of season 5? I want to view the finale can anyone help or at least answer my question? Or was I screwed by Amazon?

    • you were screwed by amazon….that is NOT the last episode in season 4.

  18. I got started on this via DVD’s as I don’t have time to watch much TV (or usually care to) from my significant other. It always astounds me when a winning formula (I loved seasons 1 and 2 and thought 3 was very so-so) seems to be misunderstood by the very writers/actors who created it in the first place. Season 4 seemed to be the ‘antidote’ for a blander season 3- and despite the added contrived ‘fillers’ (like Trinity’s other daughter) it worked and worked well- until the end which was a disaster and incredibly stupid and I won’t be watching season 5 (it’s already headed back to Best Buy for a refund). I see most opinions here won’t agree but Dexter no longer has a ‘code’ and it was getting thin anyway- a police officer and photographer who were innocent are dead because of him so ‘the vigilante’ doesn’t seem so innocent or pitiable anymore. And all the terrific mental gyrations created in the first three series are now irrelevent with the hastily contrived unnecessary death of Rita which was quite frankly ridiculous for reasons already stated here. I don’t need to watch something which now makes me want to slit my wrists but it didn’t have to happen and the whole ‘Dexter’ personna so brilliantly created is now destroyed- there were already plenty of concurrent running plotlines to allow like a few minutes of rest and repose without that ending. Anyone not bothered by the observations above and just thought she was ‘annoying’ kinda misses the point and maybe should check their own moral compass- or whether they have one. Three Dexter ‘deaths’ make me want his sister to figure him out and put him away. And it was all so needless……. and stupid.

    • I agree.

  19. My son and I watched season 4 together. The ending, killing Rita
    ruined it for us. He won’t watch it anymore.
    I watched season 5 and 6, but because of the loss of Rita I just couldn’t enjoy it the same.
    I think Rita’s character made Dexter try harder to get in touch with his
    feelings. I liked that side of him.
    I wish she could come back and talk to Dexter- that would be a great twist!!

  20. What is wrong with that one detective? The one that used to date Dexters sister. He looks sick, very sick! Aids, cancer, something!

  21. I’m not a fan. I’ve been watching Dexter on DVD and I have to say I knew that this was coming but it was really a let down. I wasn’t a huge fan of Rita but I liked how the show was. I liked how Dexter always won and there was no victory here.
    He basically lost. He lost control like his father is always saying and it’s over. It just doesn’t feel as fun to me anymore.

  22. Oh. Well I love Dexter with a passion, but I wont continue watching the rest of the seasons now that Rita is dead.
    Sorry to the writers of the show, but its been offically ruined!

  23. I just finished season 4 on netflix and really don’t see why they killed Rita.So many things had to go wrong for this to even happen and this is happening in like all tv shows idk if ill watch season 5 now when the rest come on netflic in january. I will now read the books because Rita lives!

  24. That was the dumbest thing to kill of Rita now you just lost a viewer

  25. The timeline doesn’t make sense. He’s on the run, then he gets his mustang back, then somehow dexter is waiting in the back seat. All the while, Trintity has time to sneak in one last kill?! I guess it’s possible, but it was really contrived in my opinion.

  26. Wow… I am so sad to see Rita gone. I really loved her character. It sucks and I wish it was just one of dexters thoughts but I guess that’s the way it has to be…

  27. i was shocked for a moment and thought may be it were a dream or a thought that Dexter is experiencing.

  28. I just watched the end of Season 4 and the first two episodes of Season 5 last night. This might have just ruined the show for me. Here’s why:

    I spent the first two episodes of Season 5 hoping that this was a bad dream he was having while in the Keys with Rita, but it wasn’t going to happen. Rita was Dexter’s primary means of becoming more “normal” and being redeemed from his dark secret stemming from the tragic death of his mother. Her character was a perfect avenue to work this out over time. As one person has commented, she gave him space to be himself while still pushing him towards becoming a better person. At the very end of Season 4, Dexter seems to make a big leap forward when realizing that he could lose his family. You see him truly value and appreciate his family like never before.

    Which makes his cold response to her death confusing. Into Season 5 he essentially seems to give up on her kids. He doesn’t really fight to keep the family together who apparently were what he couldn’t live without. Season 5 feels kind of like a reboot, and Dexter is right back where he started. It feels like to me the writers were saying “people really like the killing, so let’s just put Dexter right into another random killing”. It seems like he gives up and the progress he has made hasn’t really meant much. This makes it all feel like a forced and awkward attempt at distancing his character and us from his past with Rita.

    I’m confused why people were annoyed with Rita so much. She was maybe most moral character in show. If you find her “nagging” annoying, this is pretty disturbing to me. All she was really asking of Dexter was to be there for the family, which is only part of what is minimally expected of a husband and father.

    Reading Phillips’s quote above they obviously made a hasty decision. It sounds like enough people were annoyed with her character that I wonder if this is why they decided to kill her off. I think this is one of the downsides to the real-time evolving nature of network TV shows. You can’t do crap like this at the last minute with a movie or book. The pressure of keeping people entertained and watching the show doesn’t get in the way of good storytelling.

    In summary, I don’t feel like I can root for Dexter’s character anymore. The reason we enjoy reading/watching fiction is to be told a good story where things are usually better off in the end. Even though I may not see the show to its completion, I don’t see how killing off her character and all that she meant to Dexter can put him in a better place in the end. For those that were happy that she was killed off, I wonder how many are watching Dexter to see redemption take place or merely for the crazy situations Dexter’s character finds himself in. If so that seems like a pretty disturbing and shallow way to spend a lot of time.

    • another disturbing and shallow way to spend a lot of time is writing an essay on a forum decrying the lack of morals in people who didnt like rita. I for one was considering stopping watching the show if rita continued to be in it. She was annoying as hell, and like another guy said, what the fudge is up with her throaty-whisper voice? Am blown away by people that are so upset about rita dying, o well different strokes for different folks I guess. I do agree that seasons 1 and 2 were awesome, season 3 was weak, and season 4 was ok…but am super glad rita is gone! Sorry for being so disturbing and shallow brah!

  29. Killing off Rita was the dumbest move in the history of TV. Unfathomable. They took a great show and in five minutes of screen time completely trashed it for the sake of a cheap thrill. The crash is unbelievable. Someone should have put the brakes on. Rita’s death is way too much for the series to come back from. Half of the show, which is the tension between the dark and the light in Dexter’s character, is over. Everything after Rita’s death is anticlimax. His relationship with her and with the kids was the only thing even vaguely realistic about the show, and they were the only relationships that the audience invested in emotionally. It was stunningly dumb.
    Rita was the only light in an otherwise dark show. She was the only that could help Dex overcome the dark passenger, because she was the only one besides his victims to whom Dexter might reveal himself. She was the only one that might help him overcome his coding. I haven’t watched the series to the end, but he won’t realistically open up to Deb, who has been there from his childhood and never earned his complete trust. And Rita was Dexter’s only vulnerability, because she threatened to make him human. Her character needed to be there to the series finale.
    If the show has any realism at all, Dexter’s character is lost. Seeing Rita in the tub of blood, and thinking about how she died, would make any husband crazy. The way she died, and in front of her child, was beyond dark. It was absolute black. The world of the show is beyond redemption. It’s way too much for Dex to come back from. If he’s ever going to be a complete human being he has to deal with her death at some point. Realistically, it would be too much for an average person, and impossible for someone so damaged he’s a serial killer.
    I’ve just started watching the series and got to the fourth season finale and couldn’t believe the stupidity. Sure it was shocking and dramatic, but it was still a dumb move, just like it would be if the writers had killed off Jessie half way through B Bad, or if Rick and Karl die in the season premier of W Dead. It was shockingly stupid in the way it would have been if they had killed off Pvt. Ryan halfway through Saving pvt. Ryan.
    They killed half the show. I was binging it, but after the S4 finale the first two episodes of season 5 took me a week to get through. They’re lousy. They drop Rita’s murder like it was nothing, and Dexter says he’s moving on. Deb and all of the other cops let it go. The kids before they leave the show never ask Dexter or Deb to find the guy that killed their mom. All of the cutesy BS that before was funny and tension relief is now irritating. The stuff with Harrison has no context without Rita. She was the one that was teaching Dex how to feel. He has no emotional context and no connection to humanity because the show has become a comic book with him as a dark superhero. I’m not sure I’m going to finish it.