Jennifer Carpenter talks Deb Morgan and Dexter’s secret life


Dexter fans know that last season was Jennifer Carpenter’s time to shine.

Her character, Deb Morgan came into her own, taking charge of her career and her life. And the Season 5 finale was evidence that she now knows decisions have more shades than black and white.

(Spoilers for Season 5 ahead.)

Carpenter talked to TV Line about Deb’s growth in Season 5, her decision to let the killer go free, and whether she will find out about her brother’s secret life.

Carpenter definitely felt Deb had a lighter spirit this year.

John Lithgow‘s year [Season 4] was the season of grieving, and it was really heavy to play and to come home with, so I felt a little release because [Season 5] was a new chapter in a new book. The audience might have gotten a sense of that lightness about Deb. Deb is incredibly insecure — as am I — about her work, but she happens to be very good at it and people are giving her more responsibility. And she’s really adapting well to it.”

However, Carpenter wasn’t happy initially with the plan for Deb to let the killers go.

“…my initial reaction was, “Absolutely not!” It went against everything I believed to be true about Debra and how she functions in her life and her work, where things are either right or wrong. The way I was able to get behind it was by going back and revisiting the first season. I really tried to draw out the feelings Deb had about being engaged to a serial killer. It was about redemption, taking things into her own hands, finding closure finally for what happened there … In a strange way, it’s like a gateway to when she actually does find out [Dexter’s secret.] That moment, that scene, will become a piece of how she digests it.”

“It had been so long since I’d lived Season 1, so to go back to that by watching those women being raped in Season 5, connecting with what it felt like to be taken…. I bent my thinking to allow justice to be served. It may haunt Deb later, but it was selfish and selfless in the same moment.”

Despite strong feelings about the character, Carpenter doesn’t think about how Deb would respond to learning about Dexter’s leisure time activities.

“I don’t even consider it, because Deb doesn’t know, so what kind of real estate is there in trying to figure out what that would look like? … I don’t have an opinion [on Deb finding out], believe it or not. I don’t champion her supporting Dexter, and I don’t champion her taking him to prison. I can see reasons for both. I agree [with Showtime president David Nevins] that it doesn’t have to be the end of the show if Deb finds out — though it might be the end of Deb. [Laughs]”

Of course, our One True Wish is that Deb will finally realize that the reason her relationships don’t work is that they’re with men. But we’ll have to just ignore the pings of our gaydar for a while longer. Deb is with Quinn and she is actually happy.

“Her love came in a totally unexpected package. I don’t think Deb ever saw herself dating Quinn, but he’s solid. He is exactly who he says he is and never deviates wildly outside of his character. I feel like Deb deserves that.”

Personally, I feel like Deb deserves much, much more. In fact, I volunteer to prove it.

One reward Deb fans might get this year is an Emmy nomination for Carpenter. She’s been overlooked so far, but her Season 5 performance definitely should be honored. Carpenter, however, is philosophic about it.

“I’m winning every day that I’m at work — and learning. What better award could you ask for, really?”

What are your hopes for Deb Morgan this year? Do you think she will learn the truth about Dexter? Will this be Jennifer Carpenter’s year for an Emmy?

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