Jennifer Carpenter had a fantastic eight-season run on Dexter, playing Debra Morgan, the adopted sister of the titular character. She was increasingly important to the overall story and a fan favorite over the years. Considering the events of the finale, it didn’t appear there was any real path to returning if/ when Dexter ever picked up the story. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, Carpenter is going to return in some fashion when the series picks up for its limited revival run this fall.
Now, it is important to know that though Jennifer Carpenter will appear in the Dexter revival series, the show isn’t bringing her fully back into the mix. For a show that has dealt almost only with death for the eight seasons of the series, they haven’t been in the habit of bringing people back from it. In the series finale, her character was killed off, taken off of life support by Dexter after she had fallen into a coma. Dexter ended up taking her body out to sea (yes, we saw the body) right before he faked his own death in the middle of a hurricane.
This appearance by Jennifer Carpenter will be in the form of a flashback in the series. For a dude, in Dexter, that has dealt with nothing but personal demons throughout his screwed-up life, it makes sense that even off into the future he hasn’t gotten over Debra’s death. It would still haunt him in some way. They had a complicated relationship throughout the show, especially after she discovered the true nature of his being, that he was in fact, a serial killer. But they still had a true bond.
And it looks like Jennifer Carpenter as Debra won’t be the only vestige of the past that Michael C. Hall’s Dexter is dealing with in this next story. It was also announced that John Lithgow would reprise his role as the Trinity Killer in the series as well. Like Carpenter’s Debra, Lithgow also died on the series at the hands of Dexter. But he was one of the latter’s most terrifying adversaries, a truly hair-raising character.
Jennifer Carpenter and John Lithgow returning for Dexter Season 9 is likely just a hat tip to the past without being part of the new narrative. In the show, Dexter has gone into hiding following his faked death and is living in Upstate New York under the alias of Jim Lindsay, working in a fish and tackle shop. But like at other times in his life, evil finds a way into the dude’s orbit and he has to deal with a local threat as well as the sins of his past. Clancy Brown is playing Kurt Caldwell, the man Dexter will come at odds with during the show.
Though she isn’t part of the main cast, it is cool to know that Jennifer Carpenter is working her way back into the show even if it is just a flashback scene. Considering how important a character she was to the whole series, have this limited run without her in some fashion, even as a memory, would have made it feel incomplete.