"Popping Cherry" is the third of twelve episodes in Season One of the Showtime series DEXTER, and the third overall episode of the series. It first aired 15 October 2006.

While LaGuerta focuses the department's attention on a potential suspect in the Ice Truck Killer Case, Debra continues to look elsewhere. Doakes pays a visit to drug lord, Carlos Guerrero. Flashbacks show Dexter killing his first human.

Summary

Dexter attends the funeral of a slain cop, Ricky Simmons. As he looks around at the mourners, he thought, “Most people have a hard time dealing with death, but I’m not most people. It’s the grief that makes me uncomfortable. Not because I’m a killer -- really, I just don’t understand all that emotion, which makes it tough to fake. In those cases, shades come in handy.” [He puts on his sunglasses.]

Dexter zeros in on Jeremy Downs, a recently paroled teenage murderer. He’s tracked Jeremy’s story and suspects that he will be a repeat offender.

Rita receives an unpleasant visit from Ricky, her imprisoned husband's drug dealer. When she can’t pay the money owed him, he confiscates her car, forcing to take the bus to and from her job as receptionist at Z Hotel.

Sheri “Cherry” Taylor, a victim of the Ice Truck Killer, is found dismembered on the rink at Miami Blades Ice Hockey Stadium. Debra knew her because she had worked undercover as a hooker. Lt. Maria LaGuerta, ambitious for the media spotlight, directs the department to investigate Tony Tucci, the stadium’s missing security guard.

Dexter observes Jeremy at a swap meet buying a knife. When the knife vendor turns his back to get change, Jeremy practices slashing motions with the knife. Dexter steps up and grabs his wrist in mid-air, startling Jeremy who then quickly takes off.

(Flashback) Harry and teenage Dexter are choosing what guns to use for hunting pheasants when Dexter asks Harry if he had ever killed a person, and what it felt like if he did. After a brief talk, Harry decides they’ll hunt something different. Out in the field, Harry shoots a deer, but it’s only wounded. He pulls out a knife and tells Dexter, “For now, this is how we’ll control the urges you feel.” Dexter willingly takes the knife, approaches the deer, and repeatedly stabs it.

Doakes begins to hound Carlos Guerrero, the drug kingpin who ordered the murder of Kara Simmons. He shows up uninvited to a church party celebrating the confirmation of Guerrero’s daughter. Doakes causes a scene and publicly accuses Guerrero, which leaves Guerrero fuming. Meanwhile, Detective McNamara and his cop friends decide to take matters involving Guerrero into their own hands.

Debra returns to the street where she used to work undercover as a hooker. She hopes the hookers will give her information about the Ice Truck Killer who has chopped up five prostitutes. The girls greet Debra as "Brandy" and welcome her back. However, when she reveals that she is a cop, they feel betrayed. Eventually, they provide a description of the car that Cherry left in on the night she was murdered.

To celebrate Debra’s first official homicide case, Dexter gives her a cactus that he bought at the swap meet and his gesture amuses her. She fills him in on what she’s learned so far. The Ice Truck Killer’s car is apparently one of the thousands of wood-paneled station wagons in Miami-Dade County, but Tony Tucci doesn’t own a car. Debra is convinced that LaGuerta is on the wrong track.

While she’s waiting at a bus stop, Rita Bennett calls Dexter to ask him to wait at her house until she gets home because a social worker is coming by.

Doakes gives a briefing on the surveillance tape found in Tony Tucci’s apartment. The team is told that Tucci has a record for pulling a knife at party in 1997. LaGuerta proudly declares that Tucci is the Ice Truck Killer, but Debra doesn’t buy it. Neither does Dexter. While waiting for Rita, Dexter and her social worker have a pleasant conversation. Dexter assures her that Rita will soon have personal transportation, and social worker says that Rita is doing an exemplary job. Dexter reveals a bit about his background before Rita runs up the sidewalk, announcing, “I’m here!”

(Flashback) Harry is hospitalized and his health is worsening. He tells Debra and Dexter that he won’t be around much longer, and Deb begins to cry. He turns his attention to Dexter, saying that he won’t be able to stop Dexter from being who he is, that he’ll need to do it sooner or later, and to remember their lessons. Debra doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.

Debra and Angel view the stadium’s security tape which shows Tucci carrying and positioning Cherry’s body parts. They notice that he looks off to the side as if someone is giving him directions. They suspect that Tucci is being framed.

Dexter watches Jeremy lure a friend, Lucas, to a local swamp by promising to show him an alligator. Dexter follows them, realizing that Jeremy is trying to recreate his first kill. As Jeremy begins to pull out his knife to kill Lucas, Dexter suddenly appears, scaring them. The two run off, with life of Lucas being saved. On his way out, Dexter encounters an actual alligator. He discovers that Jeremy broke into his car and stole items from his glove compartment.

(Flashback) Back at the hospital, Harry begs Dexter to stop his nurse, Mary, from giving him a shot. Dexter grabs Mary’s arm and there is a brief argument. Before she leaves the room, she gives Dexter a deadly look. Harry says the nurse gives him too much morphine and something else which is killing him by overdose. She’s also killing others in this way. Harry gives the go ahead for Dexter to murder Mary.

Harry: “Stop her.”
Dexter: “What do you mean, stop her?”
Harry: “It’s time. Before she hurts anyone else.”
[Dexter nods.]

Deb explains to Captain Thomas Matthews why she doesn’t think Tucci is the Ice Truck Killer, When he learns that she came directly to him, he chews her out for violating the chain of command. Afterward, Matthews confronts LaGuerta for ignoring Debra’s work in order to further her political career. He gives LaGuerta permission to go ahead with her press conference, but says, if she’s wrong about Tucci, he won’t have her back.

The school calls Rita at work because no one has picked up Astor. Dexter agrees to take her home where he dances with Astor and removes a splinter from her finger. When Astor hugs him, Dexter thought, “If I had a heart, it might be breaking right now.”

After dark, Debra walks around Calle Ocho where she soon spots a wood-paneled station wagon. She approaches the vehicle, expecting to encounter the killer, but she only finds an elderly couple inside it.

Doakes goes for a drink with Detective McNamara and a few other detectives. However, they end up in Coral Gables and McNamara tells Doakes that they’re going to beat up Guerrero’s top lieutenant. Doakes tries to stop them because Guerrero will think he’s behind it. McNamara says that’s part of the plan, while he and his friends don clown masks. Doakes quickly runs away down the street.

Dexter sneaks into the halfway house and finds Jeremy alone, playing a game. When Dexter throws him against a wall, Jeremy asks if he’s going to rape him because he killed the last person who raped him. Dexter relents on killing Jeremy as he seemingly took out the garbage like he does. He then threatens Jeremy, saying, "Look, I really don't want to cancel all my credit cards and I hate waiting in line at the DMV, so give me back the wallet you stole from my car or I'll break your fucking neck!" Jeremy directs him to his backpack. On his way out, Dexter tells Jeremy that Lucas didn’t deserve to die, and to remember that, as it could save his life one day.

(Flashback) Dexter breaks into Mary's house, covers a room with plastic, and puts on a plastic suit with gloves. When Mary arrives home, Dexter attempts to inject her with a tranquilizer but he fails, and is forced to overpower her in hand-to-hand combat. Mary wakes up on a kill table and Dexter reminds her of her crimes via her trophy obits in a scrapbook. Mary claims that she put them out of their misery. After gagging Mary, Dexter repeatedly stabs her. It’s messier than he anticipated. With Mary dead, Harry recovers and lives another year.

Guerrero’s men begin to follow Doakes.

Dexter surprises Rita by bringing her a car that he borrowed from the police impound. She and her kids are overjoyed. “Score one for the little wooden boy,” Dexter thought.

Trivia

  • Amanda Wyss played Tina Gray in A NIghtmare on Elm Street. She appears briefly in this episode as a Social Worker.
  • Denise Crosby played another wicked Mary in The Walking Dead.
  • Denise Crosby, who plays the nurse taking care of James Remar, previously starred with him in 48 Hours (1982).
  • At the services for Ricky Simmons, Deb thanks Dexter for coming, saying "I'm proud of you for coming bro, I know how you hate funerals." Previous to the Dexter series, Michael C. Hall played a funeral director in Six Feet Under.

Related Pages

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The Episodes of Dexter
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