Comic-Con: Dexter's Past Explored Through Animated Webisodes, John Lithgow's Killer Instinct

Because almost everything in certain parts of Comic Con was already running late today, but not quite everything, I raced from the Avatar footage (impressive, incredibly detailed, still more cartoonish than I expected) to the Dexter panel, only to finally be allowed to enter the hall just as the Season Four trailer finished. So I didn't get to see the first footage of Dexter, Rita and their new son Harrison, nor the clips of John Lithgow as this season's 'killer of the year'.

I did see an image from Dexter: Early Cuts, the animated webisodes that will detail the killer's early years, and a bit of footage from the video game soon to be released on the iPhone/iTouch platform. And even without seeing the trailer, I got quite a bit of information out of the panel discussion that followed. It's after the break, as are embeds of both the season four trailer I missed and the Early Cuts teaser.

Dexter: Early Cuts will be a series of animated webisodes, featuring voiceover by Michael C Hall, that details some of the character's earliest kills. We'll see him develop his surgical technique in a darkly graphic style on Showtime didn't show off any footage, but we did see one painted-looking image that was appropriately dark and moody.

In the show's fourth season, one of the big things that might hook me for this season is the return of Keith Carradine as Lundy, the older, experienced investigator with whom Dexter's sister Deb developed quite a bond in the second season. He and Deb will have to negotiate their relationship, and Dexter could feel threatened as Lundy searches for the Trinity Killer.

Lithgow is that killer, and I can't wait to see him dig back into his bag of evil tricks. We haven't seen Lithgow be truly evil in way too long. He said almost nothing about his character, but that he has "many, many layers and colors." He's aloof and apart, keeping his distance, navigating a path through society...just like his 3rd Rock From the Sun character, Lithgow joked. "It's like a little knob...a couple of clicks to the left, and it's comedy. A couple clicks to the right, and it's suspense."

But how will the tension between Dexter and Lithgow's killer really play out? The crew has shot five episodes so far, and none of them yet feature any scenes with Lithgow and the primary cast. So this is a step away from last season, at least, in that the potential antagonist won't be right in the thick of things with the other mains. "I'm the only one on set who knows where the next twelve episodes are going," Lithgow said, grinning. Not that he gave any indication.

The producers and writers all reiterated what was said last year at the panel: specifically that while the first book and TV season were closely tied, we shouldn't expect the books and show to sync up again. More to the point, we probably won't see Dexter or his son Harrison develop any supernatural talents or inclinations. But the series could keep going for a while — as long as there's "room within his character to explore new areas."