The final season of one of the most successful and acclaimed cable dramas in TV history is coming this summer and EW has the behind-the-scenes scoop. The eighth and last outing of Showtime’s Dexter will take the Morgan siblings to darker places than ever before, as congenial serial killer Dexter (Michael C. Hall) and his now-estranged sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) strive to recover from last season’s shocking cliff-hanger where Deb killed their Miami Metro captain to keep her brother’s secret safe.

Unlike on some shows where writers decide an ending when working on the final season, Dexter’s fate arc has been planned for years, and producers are unusually confident their show will have an ending will satisfy fans. “It feels like the exact ending we should be doing,” says showrunner Scott Buck. “Ideally it will make our audience sit back and see Dexter a little more clearly than before. It should absolutely make sense to everybody watching it.”

Or as executive producer Sara Colleton bluntly puts it: “It won’t feel like a ‘What the f- – -?’.. We know we have the right ending, we just have to execute it correctly. There’s no emotional investments that aren’t going to be resolved.”

Hall offers a slow, sly smile when asked about the show’s final episode, like he has a naughty secret that he’s eager to share. “I’m pleased,” he says simply. “I’m intrigued and compelled about where things are headed.”

Expect Dexter‘s premiere (June 30) to pick up six months after the finale, when Debra, an ultra-ethical police lieutenant, made the soul-shattering decision to kill her boss Maria LaGuerta (Lauren Velez). Debra has quit Miami Metro and works for a private eye (Sean Patrick Flanery) while spurning Dexter’s attempts to rekindle their relationship. Enter Dr. Evelyn Vogel (Charlotte Rampling), a psychiatrist with a secret: Decades ago she helped Dexter’s father write the Code that he’s used to manage his psychotic impulses. Now she’s being stalked by a mysterious killer and wants Dex’s help. Plus there’s a new Big Bad for Miami Metro to hunt, a serial killer who leaves victims with tiny pieces of their brains removed (dubbed, of course, The Brain Surgeon), and the return of Dex’s poisonous love interest Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski).

Dexter leads off this Entertainment Weekly’s Summer TV Preview, where you’ll find out how the decision was made to end the show, how the cast reacted to the news, more fresh details about the final hours, and we rank each of Dexter‘s villains. Click over to our Facebook page for more exclusive photos. Plus: get the scoop on the 12 shows we’re most excited to see, including FX’s promising new thriller The Bridge, the final season of AMC’s Breaking Bad, and the return of HBO’s True Blood, all of which earned bonus covers you can see below. So get your copy now — or we’ll tell Dexter Morgan where you live!

For more on Dexter and the best upcoming Summer TV pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, June 7th.

The Bridge

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Breaking Bad

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

True Blood

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

Episode Recaps

Breaking Bad

Walter White descends into the criminal underworld.

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