‘Dexter: New Blood’ Writers Are Having 1 Major Problem Writing for Deb

Dexter fans were relieved when Jennifer Carpenter confirmed she’d return as Deb. Given the way the series ended, that was not a given. However, Dexter: New Blood came up with a clever way to include her. It still required some adjustment from the writers though. 

[Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the original eight seasons of Dexter.]

Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan and Jennifer Carpenter as Deb Morgan sitting together at a table in a cabin in 'Dexter: New Blood'
Michael C. Hall & Jennifer Carpenter | Seacia Pavao/Showtime

Dexter: New Blood showrunner Clyde Phillips has been speaking about the Showtime revival this month. In two recent interviews, he detailed some of the challenges of writing for the new Deb. Dexter: New Blood airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime. 

‘Dexter: New Blood’ writers have to remind themselves about Deb 

Deb unfortunately died in the final season of Dexter. When Dexter: New Blood picks up, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is seeing Deb in his head, like he always saw Harry (James Remar) growing up. 

“We weren’t going to do the same thing with James Remar,” Phillips told The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top Five podcast on Nov. 5. “We had a great opportunity to do with Deb, and I used to write a lot of the Deb stuff in the four years that I was there, and I’m crazy about her. It’s interesting, when we all agreed that she was going to be Dexter’s conscience, that pixel in the back of his brain, Harry was more of a no pun intended father figure. Deb plays Dexter’s doubt and Dexter’s conscience.”

The writers were all thrilled to write for Deb again, but they always had to remember she’s no longer alive. 

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“We would sit in the writing room and say, ‘Wait wait wait, that whole thing that we just spent five hours on we can’t do because she’s not real,’” Phillips said. “We would always have to remind ourselves that.”

More examples of ‘Dexter: New Blood’ restrictions on Deb 

Phillips got even more specific about occasions in which Deb’s new presence threw the Dexter: New Blood writers. As the voice in his head, Deb couldn’t interact with the environment. 

“One of the things we would talk about in the writing room back in L.A., we always had to remind ourselves that Deb is his conscience,” Phillips told the Dexter: New Blood Wrap Up podcast on Nov. 9. “She’s not a real person. She can’t open a cabinet door, she can’t hand him a pen, she can’t drink a cup of tea. We reminded ourselves all through the season. We made a couple visual mistakes the audience can find as they watch the series.”

Deb did put Matt Caldwell (Steven M. Robertson) through a wood chipper, but that was all fantasy. It was her suggestion of what Dexter could do with the body. The actual body remained in his basement. 

Pros and cons of new Deb 

Deb is a different sort of voice in Dexter’s head than Harry. Phillips continued to elaborate. 

“We all have it in us, that quarter of your brain that’s always talking to you, even when you’re doing something perfectly right,” Phillips told the Wrap Up podcast. “If I’m going on a jog and I’m going by Martha’s Vineyard here and I’m going by Lobsterville beach, couldn’t be happier, couldn’t be in a better position, there’s always that little voice. There’s always that little voice that’s tugging at you with reality whether it’s, ‘Okay, you’re jogging but what are you having for dinner tonight?’ Or it’s the most beautiful day there could ever be but a week from now it’s going to be raining. Whatever it is, that’s what Deb is to Dexter.”

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Dexter personifies that voice, and of course questions murderous impulses which hopefully most people don’t have.

“So every thought he has, he has to think through,” Phillips continued on the Wrap Up podcast. “Much as we do with ourselves, discuss is this  a good idea or not, this is Deb, not Harry. This is Jennifer Carpenter, not James Remar so she has a very strong point of view. We’re playing her the way we played her in the previous series with her foul language and her very strong, aggressive point of view, with her command of Dexter’s attention.”