What is to become of Darkly Dreaming Dexter? While the future is still murky for TV’s favorite serial killer, one thing is for certain – the end is nearer than some might have thought.

Nearly two weeks after Showtime announced that Dexter would be returning for at least two more seasons, network president, David Nevins, has confirmed that the writers and producers are in the process of outlining an end date for the fan-favorite series – specifically that season six will set the stage for a season eight series finale.

Shortly after Showtime’s renewal announcement (which sewed-up contract negotiations with star Michael C. Hall), Nevins hinted that the showrunners were on-track with a “three year trajectory” (which included season six) that could potentially end with the series finale.

If Nevins’ comments at a recent network holiday party are to be believed, Dexter may indeed be bound for a season eight series finale. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he confirmed that, unless there’s a radical shift in the plan, the writers are currently setting up an endpoint for the series:

“Coming back for two more years gives us clarity about how and when it will go out. There’s things that are going to happen [this season] that will set up a very clear endgame that will take two seasons to tell. You have got to be there for the last two episodes.”

As for the possibility of a Dexter season 9, Nevins’ answer mirrored his comments from a couple weeks back – that the network was expecting two more seasons and that a continuation beyond that point is unlikely:

“I’m never going to say ‘never,’ but everybody is operating under that assumption. Things could take a turn creatively where they come to us and say they need more time.”

There’s no doubt that, while audiences still enjoy Dexter, the week to week format, melodrama, and character development on the show has been growing increasingly stale. Many of the character journeys established last season (such as Deb’s pursuit of the lover-killers as well as the relationship between Angel and LaGuerta) were almost entirely abandoned (i.e. reset) this season. As a result, despite offering some fun twists and turns, there’s no doubt that the Dexter writers and showrunners are having a hard time juggling all of the characters – without undermining prior story arcs. Hopefully, with only two seasons left, the team will be able stop spinning their wheels and move all of the characters toward a satisfying (and, of course, nerve-racking) conclusion.

Ending fan-favorite, and critically acclaimed, series before they turn stale has become an increasingly popular move in Hollywood lately. We’ve seen a number of shows predetermine an end-date, such as LOST and Breaking Bad – instead of limping along toward a quiet cancellation (after the audience bails).

While some viewers might see the end-date approach as a way of maintaining artistic integrity – it’s important to note that some series have actually been able to extend their run with a steady endpoint – since audiences might be more willing to invest in the week to week commitment, knowing an end is in sight. Similarly, going out on a high note keeps positive buzz and word of mouth in the air – which, no doubt, bolsters a show’s post-air life with DVD’s, Blu-rays, and syndication.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

Dexter airs Sunday nights at 9PM on Showtime.

Source: Entertainment Weekly