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How The Trinity Killer Can Return In The Dexter Revival

When we last saw Dexter Morgan, he had abandoned his young son, faked his death, and become, well, a lumberjack, complete with a big beard and his own small trailer in the middle of Oregon.

The new revival of the popular "Dexter" series on Showtime, set eight years after the finale, will see the well-meaning titular serial killer (Michael C. Hall) now living under an assumed identity in Iron Lake, New York, and dealing with new setbacks and foes, including the villainous Mayor Caldwell (Clancy Brown) and Chief of Police Angela Bishop (Julia Jones), according to TV Insider. As executive producer Clyde Phillips warned viewers, heads will roll. "This is Dexter. People are going to die," he said.

When John Lithgow was added to the revival, however, fans were understandably curious about what his actual role would be, as his character, Arthur Mitchell aka the Trinity Killer, was killed by Dexter at the end of Season 4 (though not before making Dexter's wife Rita his final victim). This wasn't a subtle death, either — Dexter plunges the rear end of a hammer into Mitchell's skull. How exactly does someone come back from that, especially with Dexter's patented methods that assure his victims are truly gone?

Here's how the show may bring Lithgow's character back to the narrative.

Although dead, the Trinity Killer could play a pivotal role in the revival

John Lithgow won an Emmy for his frightening work as Mitchell and was arguably a pivotal character on the show, a foil for Dexter who could seemingly balance his double life as a serial killer with his role as a husband and father. In some ways, Dexter finally found someone he could relate to as a person, at least when it came to his most primal desires and the justifications for his actions. By killing Rita, however, the Trinity Killer — an abusive man toward his own family — put an end to Dexter's dream of "having it all" as both a murderer and family man. Dexter kills Mitchell and the Trinity Killer persona along with him, but Dexter's inner peace is still years away.

We can speculate about how Arthur will return to the show, but Lithgow apparently is only working for about a day on the set, per Deadline. If this is the case, it would seem that his character won't be a consistent presence during the revival. We also don't expect him to portray someone other than Mitchell, as the Trinity Killer is still one of the most unsettling characters in all of TV. There must be a specific reason that Lithgow has rejoined the show, and for this, we need to look deeply into the personality of Dexter.

The Dark Passenger has a new vessel

How long can Dexter suppress his natural urges? That should be one of the biggest questions to ask when the new episodes air. Away from the constant threat and temptation that a "normal" life brought him, Dexter's new weapon of choice is an axe, but he's cutting into trees, not human flesh. It can't possibly be what he really wants, could it? Somewhere inside, an inner voice pokes at him, reminding him of his calling.

While Dexter may have decided toward the end of his run as a killer that he no longer needs the Code, that doesn't mean his demons have left. The Trinity Killer took Dexter's wife away, scarring Dexter more deeply than any blade could mark human flesh. It's not much of a stretch to think that the Dark Passenger could return, but this time, what if it bears a new face? A simple reminder of who Dexter is and what he's capable of wouldn't take much dialogue — Lithgow probably doesn't need more than a day on set to deliver an emotionally compelling exchange with Dexter. 

Their scene(s) could be the catalyst that causes Dexter to return to his murderous life, or it might be a final catharsis for the former forensics master. Although The Trinity Killer is back, that doesn't mean Dexter will snap and murder the first person he thinks deserves it. Let's be honest, though: What is "Dexter" without a high body count? Viewers aren't going to return for the reformed killer who has conquered his emotional and mental instabilities. Closure for the audience may not be the same as closure for Dexter, and we won't be surprised if Arthur Mitchell is the spark that lights a new fire in Dexter's soul.

We'll find out exactly how Arthur Mitchell will return to "Dexter" when the revival premieres in fall 2021.