Dexter Morgan’s life seemed well-ordered at first glance, including the serial killer thing. That turned out to be unsustainable.
As Dexter reaches its finale, to air on Showtime at 9 p.m. Sunday, the character portrayed by Michael C. Hall is no longer strictly ruled by the code set down by his adoptive father upon noticing his son craved killing. Dexter was told only to murder people who are proven killers themselves, and to thoroughly cover his tracks. The narrative device made it possible for viewers to tolerate, even like, someone who did reprehensible things.
“He’s so far from anything I experienced him to be at the beginning,” Hall told The Associated Press, a few weeks after filming the 96th and final episode of a series that began in 2006.
“He’s the same character, but he’s in many ways a different person,” Hall said. “He had successfully compartmentalized efficient killing and convinced himself that he is, in fact, incapable of authentic human emotion when we first met him. But that all falls apart, slowly but surely.”
Hall, 42, can appreciate people who say they like his work.
“We live in a world where we have an increasing sense that we’re not in control … and Dexter, in his micro way, controls his universe. That is very appealing to some people,” he said. “We all have a sense of injustice in the world, and Dexter is certainly exacting some form of justice within the confines of his own.”
Of course, he said, “maybe it’s not that deep. Maybe people have murderous impulses they don’t act upon and enjoy watching somebody who gets away with it.”
Showtime will reportedly look for ways to keep the character alive even after Dexter ends.
Hall makes sure to say nothing revealing in advance about the finale: “Some people will be happy with it, some people will be troubled by it,” he said. “Perhaps some people will be a combination of those things.”)
He will miss certain things about playing Dexter. The character was decisive and didn’t hesitate to take action, even at times of extreme stress and even when that action was morally questionable.
Many fellow actors and friends told Hall he was making a mistake when he took the role. A show about a serial killer? Who’d want to watch that?
“I’ve certainly had the thought that I should quit while I was well ahead,” he said. “When Six Feet Under ended, I imagined I would never do another television series, just because I thought it would be impossible that I would be so lucky that I would find something as successful. I’ve learned never to say never.”
Next up: He has filmed roles in two movies that aren’t big stretches from past characters: a manipulative, gay janitor who gets murdered in Kill Your Darlings and a man who shoots and kills an intruder in Cold in July.
“I don’t think I’m anybody’s first thought when it comes to romantic comedy,” he said. “That might be a door I’ll have to do some kicking to break down.”