The cancer theme from Showtime’s C Word panel carried over to the Dexter panel where star Michael C. Hall was asked about his  treatment for the disease. The actor, now back at work on Season 5, answered like a consummate professional: “I was thankful that the hiatus managed to coincide with my treatment. I didn’t have to miss beat.”  The TV critics also wanted to know whether Hall feels remorse for playing sympathetic antihero Dexter who may encourage people to kill. “I don’t lose sleep over the possibility that I’m advocating serial murder through my work,” he said. “It’s undeniable he’s killing people.. most of us live in LA, we’ve been in traffic, we get that impulse… If I hear a comment like that and I’m in the room, I just nod and smile and say I hope this helps lessen the flames in you, that it’s therapeutic.”

The producers of the Emmy-nominated drama discussed changes on the show following the climactic Season 4 finale. In Season 5, Dexter will undergo a process of “atonement” but not a nervous breakdown, since he has now has to cope with the responsibilities of being a single father. The show also will depart from having a single guest “bad guy,” along the lines of John Lithgow this past season, in favor of having Dexter interact with several guests stars.

Executive producer Sara Colleton called the showrunner transition from Clyde Phillips, who left at the end of last season, to Chip Johannessen “seamless” because he was a big fan and watcher of the show. She added that after four years it was “time for fresh blood”.

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As for lingering speculation that Julie Benz may return to the show, “we can say no, absolutely,” Colleton said. “It would fundamentally harm the DNA of our show.” But Johannessen didn’t quite dismiss the possibility that the actress could appear in a flashback. ”You’ll be seeing her more than dead in the bathtub, for sure.“

Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.