Popping Cherry, Dexter episode 103, is mosly about Dexter’s first — and most personal — human kill. It’s a moment that changed everything!
Officer Angel Batista: [about the body found on the ice hockey arena] What do you think he’s trying to tell us?
Dexter Morgan: That hockey’s a violent sport?
General horror sidenote:
Freddy fans may recognize A NIghtmare on Elm Street‘s Amanda Wyss in “Popping Cherry.” Don’t feel bad if you missed it. Wyss only appears briefly as a Social Worker.
Dexter’s First Kill
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What makes Dexter so crazy is that, when a person watches it, they can probably understand it. Most of Dexter’s motivations are clear, due to his father Harry’s “moral code.” It shaped Dex into a morally responsible killer, who’s supposed to use his sick drive to dish out justice.
To help establish this pattern, Dexter’s first victim was the nurse (Denise Crosby) charged with taking care of Harry. It seems she was “taking care” of Harry in another way, too — overdosing him on certain drugs, making him sicker. When Harry mentioned this to Dex, it’s almost with a wink and a nod. He may as well have said, “Okay, here’s your first job, sport. You know what to do!”
(Interestingly enough, Denise Crosby would go on to play another wicked Mary in The Walking Dead. This Mary was not a nurse, but led a group of cannibals at a place called “Terminus.” )
In this key flashback sequence, Dexter emphasizes how sloppy this kill was. He was clumsy, inexperienced, and — dare I say it? — possibly nervous and morally unsure. Nevertheless, he got the job done and learned some personal lessons. For viewers, this moment is an awkward treat, as one is tempted to root for Dexter against the wicked Nurse Mary.
At the same time, it represents a big turning point for Dex. Could he have turned back after this point? Would he have turned back? It’s an interesting topic. What might have prevented him from going further down that road?
— Courtesy of Showtime
The Angel of Death Character
While other interesting things happen in the episode (Rita gets harassed by her ex-husband’s drug dealer, Sgt. Doakes deals with other vigilante cops, etc.), it’s obvious Dexter killing the nurse is a huge moment. One of the most interesting aspects? The Angel of Death character archetype is pretty common, and not only in fiction.
Throughout history, there have been sick people playing the “Angel of Death” role in hospitals, killing people before their natural kickoff time. You have Charles Cullen, the American killer nurse, suspected of killing between 29-400 people until 2003. There’s also the Nazi concentration camp doctor, Josef Mengele. One may also recall England’s Harold Shipman, and so-called “Jolly Jane” Toppan, who murdered at least 31 people between 1895–1901. While Dexter never mentions these examples, any one of them may be cited as influencing this episode.
Popping Cherry introduces us to Jeremy Downs (Mark L. Young) a young man freshly released from “juvie” for murder 3 years earlier. Dexter has been tracking his story, suspecting Jeremy could be a repeat offender, due to the neatness of his kill. Indeed, when Dex first interacts with Jeremy, the guy is testing out a knife belonging to a street vendor (Tom Nowicki), and he almost accidentally hits Dexter with it (or was it really an accident?).
When Jeremy meets another young man (Anderson Goncalves) in a swamp — ostensibly looking for gators — it sets alarm bells ringing for Dexter. He interrupts the two, but sloppily trips after being startled by an actual alligator, and the two guys flee the scene. As a possible form of retaliation, Downs breaks into Dexter’s car and steals his wallet. Before long, Dexter tracks Downs down, retrieves his wallet and gets more info on his misdeeds. After learning Jeremy had been raped by the guy he killed, Dexter lets him go. However, he warns him that, if he’s going to kill anyone, he’d better make sure the person deserves it. It’s a Harry Morgan moment!
From Ice Truck to Ice Rink
Feel free to make your own tasteless wordplay jokes referencing pro hockey icon Don Cherry. (Dexter, Showtime)
This episode doesn’t forget about the Ice Truck Killer. In fact, it boasts one of his most gruesome displays yet. Another corpse is found neatly packaged on the ice rink of the Miami Blades hockey arena. The murdered prostitute, named Cherry, partly inspired the name for the episode. (Of course, the episode also shows Dexter’s “first time” killing a human — which could be referred to as “popping his cherry”).
Interestingly, the rink’s security guard, Tony Tucci (Brad William Henke), is considered a possible suspect for the killing. He is caught on security footage moving around nervously. Although Lieutenant LaGuerta (Lauren Vélez) thinks he’s the killer, he moves around as if he’s at gunpoint.
Well, that about wraps it up! What do you think about
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