Clyde Phillips said they did not know what to do with the fourth season finale until the last minute and they decided going to the extreme by killing a major character.
When the producers of "Dexter" said they were going to give one shocking finale that no other shows had ever done, they were not kidding. [Spoiler Alert] Rita Bennett aka Dexter's wife and one of the major characters in the serial killer series has been killed off and no one saw that coming. Clyde Phillips was available to explain.
In an exclusive interview with the executive producer, EW threw the burning question of why it was Rita who should take the fall. To this Phillips said, "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." Clyde added that they had to raise the bar as Trinity's death would be inevitable.
On the Sunday, December 13 finale, Rita was supposed to hop on a cab and head to romantic gateway when she forgot her ID. She ended up being murdered in the bathtub by Trinity while baby Harrison was left crying in her pool of blood. This image mirrors Dexter's traumatic childhood when he watched his mother died before him and was soaked in her blood.
Julie Benz, the actress who played Rita, is said to be unhappy with the character being killed off. "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," Phillips revealed. He also could not confirm whether Rita will be back as a ghost in future episodes.
For one thing, the writers actually had an alternative ending that eventually was not picked. "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," Phillips elaborated.
Rita's death is not the only shock in the finale. Deb found out that Dex is related to the Ice Truck Killer and whether she will find out Dex's alter ego, this would be the cliffhanger for season 5. Showtime has not arranged a date for the return but traditionally, it will begin around September.