Last night Showtime aired the season 4 finale of my #1 fave show Dexter and ended the season in such a shocking way that I was left literally speechless for a good 10 mins. after the ep had ended … and have been haunted by the final scene ever since. As a longtime fan of the show, I felt I was pretty prepared for any plot development the show had to offer … I was sorely wrong:
In order to NOT spoil the final twist in last night’s finale ep for those of you who have yet to see it, I’ll keep the reveal behind the cut. I will say, tho, that the writers and producers of Dexter truly outdid themselves and gave fans an ending that they won’t soon forget … I’m still thinking about it now. After the jump, find out what happened on the season 4 finale of Dexter …
Okay … so … if you’re reading this then you either already watched the ep and are, most likely, still reeling from the ending or do not watch the show and are curious. All season long, Dexter Morgan — the serial killer with a heart of gold, married to the beautiful Rita (played by Julie Benz) with 3 children (including a 1ish year old baby) — has been dealing with the so-called Trinity Killer who has been described as the “most successful serial killer of all time”. In last night’s ep, Deb Morgan (Dexter’s sister) discovered who Dexter’s real mother is … Dexter finally caught and killed the Trinity Killer … but Trinity got the last, shocking laugh. In the final scene of the ep, it was discovered that Rita Morgan was murdered by Trinity before Dexter got the chance to kill him:
Rita’s death hit me like a punch in the gut … it was something I was not anticipating and was not prepared for. I’ve always loved the Rita character … her death essentially kills the heart and soul of the show … and will, very likely, have an effect on Dexter’s character that will change the course of the series. The revelation of Rita’s death was on par with the surprising revelation that Dexter’s brother was the Ice Truck Killer in season 1 … and was just as shocking as the discovery of “the head in the box” twist in the movie Se7en. People, I’m still reeling.
TV Guide spoke with Julie Benz (Rita) about her exit from the show, here is her interview:
Freshly diced Dexter beauty Julie Benz has two apologies for TV Guide Magazine. The first is for being a few minutes late to her official exit interview—something she understandably would rather have skipped. The second is for telling a little lie at our recent Hot List party: “You’re wrong!” she’d declared, when asked if her character, Rita Morgan, the eternally sunny wife of Showtime’s celebrated serial killer, was going to fall victim to John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer in the season finale. “I felt bad,” she confesses. “I even told you we shot multiple endings, which we did not.” No worries, Julie. We get it. As TV secrets go, this was a doozy, even though we had our suspicions way back at Comic-Con last July when Lithgow spilled to his new costars that he knew something so shocking about Season 4 even they would be floored. Did he actually know Benz’s fate way back then? “I’ve been told two different things,” says Benz, 37. “The producers and executives told me they didn’t know at the start of the season. But I’ve also been told that Lithgow did know.” As they were drawing near the finale, Benz’s costar David Zayas (Det. Angel Batista) clued her in that Rita may not be long for Dexter’s world. “There were rumblings that something major was going to happen,” says Benz. “I even asked the producers and they said, ‘We would never kill Rita.’” Then in late September, the day before the season finale script was to be distributed to the cast, the bomb dropped. “It was my day off, and I was called in for a meeting with the producers,” Benz recalls. “At that point, you pretty much know. It was a tough meeting. In a bizarre way, it felt like a scene from ‘Defending Your Life.’” Producers explained they wanted to shake up the structure of the show. It was becoming more difficult to sell Dexter as a tortured soul since his life was growing increasingly idyllic in the Miami suburbs with the perfect wife and children. In fact, just before murdering Trinity and discovering Rita’s corpse, Dexter vowed to end his killing spree—which also would have ended the show. But there’s nothing like discovering your wife’s body slumped in the bathtub with your baby boy crying in a pool of mommy’s blood to reboot your warped psyche. “It’s a very poetic mirror to how Dexter was found when he was 3,” says Benz, who, before her four-year run on Dexter, was a “WB girl” with parts on Roswell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
Entertainment Weekly spoke to Dexter executive producer Clyde Phillips about Rita’s death, here is that interview:
When was the decision made to kill off Rita?
CLYDE PHILLIPS: 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].
PHILLIPS: 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.
How did Julie Benz take the news that she was leaving the show?
PHILLIPS: She wasn’t happy. She loved being with us. We loved having her with us. She took it… professionally. She was greatly disappointed. She’s a professional. She works in television. She knew that this was a possibility.
Did Trinity tell Rita about Dexter before he killed her?
PHILLIPS: I don’t know the answer to that question. We haven’t talked about next season. But [my gut says] I would think that he did not tell her.
Might she return as a ghost like Dex’s dad?
PHILLIPS: The answer, at he 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.
Some people thought the game-changing twist was going to involve Deb figuring out that Dexter is a serial killer. How much longer can you stretch out that story before you pay it off?
PHILLIPS: We’ve bounced that around the [writers] room. But once we do that… want to talk about game-changers? Once we do that, the game is changed in a way that we just don’t know how to anticipate just yet.
Will next season be about Dexter juggling serial killing and single fatherhood?
PHILLIPS: 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 Smiths 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?
PHILLIPS: 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.
That would’ve been disappointing.
PHILLIPS: [Laughs] Yeah. Compared to this? Are you kidding?
To be sure, I have not been affected by a TV show like this in quite some time. I don’t normally invest myself so fully in a show like this (I’ve had quite a Dexter year, I even dressed up as Dexter for Hallowe’en) so it may seem silly to have feelings for the death of a character but … Julie Benz and I go way back. I loved her as Darla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and, as I said, I always loved the Rita character on Dexter. She was always such a tragic figure … her entire “life” was full of suffering from the men in her life (her ex-husband Paul abused her on the show) … her marriage to Dexter eventually caused her her life. And so … I would like to formally extend a Peace the Spork Out to Rita Morgan:
May she rest in peace … but only until next season where hopefully she’ll come back on the show as a ghost the same way Dexter’s father does!!! Any Dexter fans out there … what do y’all think about last night’s ep?