Jennifer Carpenter went into filming the last season of “Dexter” unable to shake how she ended the past one.
And no wonder: Her character, Debra Morgan, had protected her half-brother Dexter’s (Michael C. Hall) serial-killer secret by fatally shooting their Miami police boss LaGuerta (Lauren Velez). That action still weighs mightily and quite visibly on the reasonably undone Debra as “Dexter” begins its eighth and final Showtime season Sunday, June 30.
“I wish they’d had cameras on what was happening between takes,” Carpenter tells Zap2it after being nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for her work on “Dexter” last year. “Lauren and I have a really special relationship, so on a personal level, it was complicated to be sending a friend off.
“For all I knew, I was going to be the only woman on the show this year, which was terrifying. There were very few people on the set [for that scene] because we were trying to keep it under wraps, and that made it all the more real.
“Offering a minute of keeping the camera running after the scene technically ended was the greatest gift they could have given me,” Carpenter adds. “I don’t know where I would have stored all that emotion; that would have been a terrible suffering. Then the pressure was released a bit, and it actually started to be OK. Maybe we were going through the grieving process together or something.”
It surely seemed that way, especially thanks to an unexpected gesture between the actresses. “We were doing coverage on Lauren,” Carpenter reports, “and she was cradled in my arms and I was crying over her … and she started hugging me back. And I just said, ‘Be dead, sweet girl. Be dead.’ It was a reason to laugh in something that felt so heavy.”
As for the way Debra’s own story wraps up when “Dexter” concludes in September, Carpenter expectedly isn’t giving up any details. Which isn’t to say she hasn’t had thoughts of how Debra’s exit should be staged.
“I have had fantasies of the last scene,” she says, “where Dexter is calling to her from across the street, and she bounces into the street and gets hit by a car. Or she chokes on a chicken bone. You never know. It would have to be that kind of event. I just feel like accidents happen, and Debra is so accident-prone, why not let it fall that way?”