TV Recap: Stumptown (Episode 102) – Dodged That Bullet …

Stumptown
“Missed Connections” (Episode 102)
October 2, 2019

In last week’s pilot episode of Stumptown, we met Dex Parios, an amateur private eye with some Afghanistan PTSD sprinkled in among a lot of sassy attitude. Dex has a platonic bestie, Grey McConnell, who owns a new bar where she drinks free beer and an awesome younger brother, Ansel , that she takes care of (or does he take care of her?). Her first episode also introduced a cop, Detective Hoffman, who she may a romantic entanglement with and Hoffman’s hardass boss, Lieutenant Cosgrove. 

Catch up on the deep dive recap of the pilot episode here. Now, on to the all new episode of StumptownBEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!

(ABC/Tony Rivetti)  COBIE SMULDERS

6 Years Ago. Dex is buying some beer in a convenience store when a robbery breaks out. If we’ve learned anything about Dex, this is not going to end well for this guy.  Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” is playing on the soundtrack throughout the whole scene.

The armed robber comments on being a fan of “Fiona X,” the music idol depicted on Dex’s beanie. He is an oddly conversant assailant and asks for her beanie when she doesn’t have a lot of cash to hand over. Too far, robber! Dex attacks the robber as she’s taking off her beanie and a full on fight ensues. Dex snatches the shotgun away and beats the snot out of the guy. The gun-less masked man takes off, certainly bloody and bruised under the mask. Dex, breathless, walks to the register to finish her beer buying transaction. The clerk looks like he’s never seen anything like her before and gives her the beer for free.

She’s such a badass! With her beanie tucked under her arm, she walks out and literally runs in to future BFF, Grey McConnell, shattering her free beer on the ground. He apologizes and offers to buy her a beer. Meet cute!

(ABC/Tony Rivetti)

6 Years Ago, the next Morning. Dex wakes up in Grey’s apartment and tries to sneak out but accidentally sets off the alarm. Grey wakes up (he was hysterically snoring loudly) and shuts off the alarm. He offers Dex a morning after Bloody Mary, he’s got plenty to offer as he’s beginning a detox cleanse. Dex defers saying that she needs to go.  Grey starts messing with her because he knows she doesn’t remember his name or much of anything from the night before. Grey, on the other hand, remembers EVERYTHING she told him, including that she’s a Sagittarius, afraid of heights, and in-between jobs. Also, she’s a foosball phenom!

That is a lot of sharing for one night, friends. Dex claims the previous night was a bit of a blur, but fun, and there’s no need to see each other again. She walks out and Grey isn’t sad to see her go. 

“Dodged that bullet.”

Grey’s Bar. Back in the present, Grey is starting his annual three day detox cleanse (same as the one from 6 years ago) and forces Dex do it with him. Traditions! Grey asks if she called Detective Hoffman’s friend with the PI job (from the end of last episode)? Dex did, it was a guy with a cheating spouse. Dex, bad business woman that she is, confirmed the wife was cheating without getting paid beforehand. Grey shakes his head at her bad business acumen. 

Ansel comes up to Dex and mentions he lost his phone. Before Dex can really get into brainstorming where it may be, Grey slides a drink across the bar and asks her to bring it to a guy at a table behind her. The man, Alan (Jay Duplass), addresses her as Miss Parios, clearly knowing who she is. Grey gave him her information, thinking she could help him.

They sit and he tells his story. Alan met a woman in a bar and they really hit it off. She gave him her number but when he called it, it wasn’t in service. He tells Dex he hasn’t felt a connection like that since his late wife and he wants Dex to try to track her down for him. Dex tries as gently as she can to let the guy know that the woman probably intentionally gave him a bad number. Alan offers her $1,000 for the job and suddenly Dex is on the case! He gives Dex the details he has on her. See, that’s better business sense, Dex! 

Six Years Ago, Right After Dex Leave’s Grey’s Apartment. Dex knocks on Grey’s door. He has a confused since they just agreed, 15 seconds ago, to never see each other. 

Dex forgot that A. her car broke down the week before and B. Grey drove them to his apartment. Further, she planned to look for a car today and she trails off …

Grey laughs, realizing she wants him to drive her. A friendship is born! Cut to them pair at a used car lot. Despite Grey’s nagging doubts, Dex is falling in love with her future piece of shit car with the Sentient Tape Deck. In fact, Asia’s “Heat of The Moment” is playing right now. Dex takes it as a sign that this is the car for her. $600 and the deal is done! Exit flashback. 

Bolo Bar. Dex is investigating Alan’s mystery woman at the bar where they met. The bartender remembers the mystery woman, Katrina, because she had to explain how to make her requested drink to the bartender. And, for a “mixologist” such as the bartender, this was humiliating.

*Eye Roll*

Anyway, the bartender is reluctant to give up more info on the mystery woman because what if Dex is a crazy killer? Dex plays some hardball with the bartender and the bar’s manager (threats of serving drinks to a minor are bandied about) and scores the name of the cab company that picked up the mystery woman. 

Dex heads to the luxury apartment building where the cab dropped off Katrina. A well-dressed women is exiting the building as Dex calls for her to hold the door. The woman lets the door slam on her and is kind of a bitch when she tells Dex that if Dex had a key, she wouldn’t have to hold the door. Remember this nasty woman for later in case it becomes important.

Dex presses all the buzzer buttons and gets in. Classic Move!

At Katrina’s door (how did Dex know the apartment number, did the cab driver know this information? Stalker much?), she hears a domestic disturbance in progress and inserts herself into the equation. 

Dex pushes her way into the apartment and beats the snot out of the guy, including spraying him with Lysol. Dex tells the abuser to get out because the woman he was assaulting doesn’t want to see him. Alone, the woman tells Dex that the guy was her ex … what a catch!

This woman is Katrina (Zosia Mamet). Dex explains that Alan hired her to find Katrina. Katrina is so tickled that Alan felt the same way, commenting he was so different because he stood up when she got up to go the bathroom. Manners Matter, y’all. Katrina confirms she gave Alan the wrong phone number because she feels like she always makes a mess of things and wanted to spare Alan from that. However, meeting Dex might change her perception of things now.

In Dex’s car, the Sentient Tape Deck plays Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” as Dex drives Katrina to meet Alan. He greets her and gives her a gift of a glass mustang to match the tattoo she has on her arm. Dex awkwardly asks to be paid as Alan and Katrina embrace. Alan hands her a check and thanks her.

Grey’s Bar. In Grey’s office, Dex is recounting the love connection action to Grey when learns the check from Alan bounced. Dex goes to find him to get her money. “Brass in Pocket” by The Pretenders plays on the Sentient Tape Deck. Also, she finds Ansel’s phone on the floor of her car. Finding the door open, Dex lets herself into Alan’s place. Something is amiss as the glass mustang he gifted Katrina lies broken on the floor. She searches through some of Alan’s papers and confirms the dude is mega rich. She also meets Alan’s dog, Millie. She doesn’t get to do much more, however, because she’s whacked on the back of the head and knocked out. Well, shit.

Commercials.

Police Station. Dex is in the police station. Again. Even though she called the cops after being knocked out, she’s being held because she was knocked out after breaking into Alan’s house. No one else was in the house when the cops arrived. Lt. Cosgrove and Detective Hoffman are interviewing Dex as she explains that she was at Alan’s house because he stiffed her on the money he owed. Cosgrove gets on her case for operating as a PI without a license. We learn Alan really is loaded, not in the drunk sense, but in the sense that his family owns a large vineyard. Dex is trying to get them to focus on Katrina’s abusive ex as a possible person that attacked her.

The police will be focusing their efforts on locating Alan. Dex gives them Katrina’s ex’s name: Doug Blix. Dex thinks she’s done but Cosgrove reminds her that there’s still the illegal entry charge. Hoffman walks Dex out of Cosgrove’s office as Dex asks him if he can make this go away? He’s massively uncomfortable with Dex, even in the office. He addresses the 800 pound gorilla saying he can’t put his job on the line because they did a thing one night. If he starts pulling favors, it’s not going to look good. But you also know he’s going to make this go away.

A pretty woman comes in and waves at Hoffman. He tells Dex to have a seat. Hoffman sits down with the woman as Dex watches the scene from afar. The two obviously know each other well and she asks Hoffman to make a speeding ticket go away. He tells her he’ll take care of it. Dex sees him give her some money from her wallet and they exchange a big hug.

6 Years Ago, Later in the Afternoon. Grey tells Dex he is coming out of a long term relationship. Dex finishes the story for him: he’s not emotionally available and they can’t have the same fun again because he’s dealing with “all that baggage.” She adds that she’s not looking for anything real in terms of a relationship. He also tells her he served time for grand theft. That’s very honest for next day lunch with a one night stand.

Grey’s Bar. Ansel walks into the bar and finds a shady looking guy pouring himself a drink. To be clear, the bar isn’t even open yet. Shady Guy asks Ansel where Greyson is? He tells Ansel that he and Grey are good friends. Shady Guy asks for the keys to Grey’s office and asks if there is a safe in there? Ansel just shrugs. The guy is completely condescending to Ansel.  

Police Station. Katrina’s abusive ex from earlier, Doug Blix (Jonathan Freeman), is being interviewed by Hoffman and Cosgrove. He tells them the woman they’re calling “Katrina” is actually named “Kaitlin” and also, she was stealing from him. Turns out, Katrina/Kaitlin has priors for being a con artist.

Hoffman tells Dex the info from Doug and he adds that Katrina/Kaitlin has an accomplice on her scams, “Megan Miller.” Megan is bad news: last year she was tied to the death of a wealthy man but they couldn’t pin it on her. She’s also been involved in many scams across several states. Dex recognizes the picture of Megan as the nasty lady from earlier, who let the door slam in Dex’s face. Small World.  

Grey’s Bar. In Grey’s office, Dex has Grey impersonate Alan on the phone to Alan’s bank. They want to add Dex’s phone number to Alan’s fraud alert profile. Dex uses the info she pickjed up from Alan’s house to get passed all of the bank’s security questions, including name of Millie the Dog. Grey is mildly amused and slightly conflicted about being a part of her case, but he’s along for the Dex ride.

Police Station. Cosgrove is warning Hoffman about getting mixed up with Dex. Hoffman likens it to the difference between Coltrane and Mingus. Coltrane was the master of perfectly composed music while Mingus was raucous and rebellious. Hoffman says he is a Mingus guy who has a handle on the unbridled character of Dex. That was a very specific Jazz Metaphor, Hoffman.

Grey’s Bar. Back in Grey’s office, Dex is snoozing when she gets an alert that $50,000 has been withdrawn from Alan’s account. Dex sets off in search of the con artists. Ansel comes into the office and tells Grey that his “friend” was looking for him. This news does not please Grey.

Dex finds Alan standing outside the bank and tells him his check bounced. He’s holding a large leather satchel (holding $50,000 perhaps?).

Commercials.

The Bank. Dex asks Alan if he’s in danger? He says he’s not but Dex presses him on why he withdrew the cash? He’s really nervous and rushing towards his car. Dex informs him that Katrina and her accomplice, Megan, have been fleecing men for years. Dex warns that Megan is dangerous. Alan is in a rush to end the conversation, assuring Dex that he is not in any danger. He tells Dex that Katrina wants out of “the life” and to be away from Megan. The $50,000 payoff to Megan will let them be together.

Dex insists that Alan let the police come with him to the drop. He refuses. Dex slides Ansel’s phone into his car door pocket without Alan noticing. He offers Dex the $1,000 he owes her but rescinds when he realizes it’ll leave him $1,000 short of the necessary $50,000. He’ll get her tomorrow, he promises. How honorable. Kind of.

Grey’s Bar. Grey’s “friend” (I’ll use that term lightly based on his actions) from earlier, Jack Feeney (Austin Amelio), is back. Grey greets him with kind of mixed emotions. To Jack’s face he looks warm, but he looks anxious when he’s not looking at him. Jack tells Grey that the money they owe to some shady sounding dude is coming up due. They each got $250,000 but neither has that cash anymore. Jack blew all of it on …. whatever and Grey used his cut to open the bar.

Jack proposes Grey burn down the bar to pay back their debt to “Kane.” Not doing it, Grey says. Grey proposes that he’ll offer to pay the money back from the bar’s profits, installment loan style. Jack doesn’t think this will fly and he suggests they go on the run to avoid the collection man. When Grey refuses that route, Jack reminds Grey of Grey’s own wise words.

“A moving target is harder to hit.”

Back to Dex. She’s following Alan using an app that is tracking Ansel’s phone. Hall and Oates’s “Private Eyes” plays on the Sentient Tape Deck.

6 Years Ago, Even Later in the Afternoon. Grey is settled in at Dex’s house, playing video games with Ansel. He’s very comfortable in their nascent friendship. Grey asks her to dinner and she accepts though she’s clearly uneasy with all the emotions. She takes a swig of whiskey behind Grey’s back. (Remember they’re doing Grey’s detox?).

(ABC/Tony Rivetti)  COBIE SMULDERS, JAKE JOHNSON

Back in the present, Dex finds Alan has driven to a motel. Dex bribes a housekeeper with a sob story about a cheating husband and $20. The sassy housekeeper is empathetic. 

As she opens the door, the housekeeper lets out the best scream when she sees Alan on the toilet, his head in a plastic bag. Dex is immediately assaulted. Again. With a lamp. This new scuffle is with Megan (Megan Le), the nasty lady accomplice who is also the same lady who knocked Dex out back at Alan’s house.

Commercials.

Dex gets the upper hand with Megan, putting her military combat training to good use. With Megan down, Dex frees Alan from the bag suffocating him. Thankfully he’s okay.

Police Station. Katrina is in the precinct with Detective Hoffman. She tells him that Alan started as an easy mark to fleece for money but she felt differently about Alan. They had a connection, but she intentionally gave him the wrong number as to not get him mixed up in her shitshow. Katrina continues that when Dex reunited her with Alan, things were different: she was honest with him about her situation and they planned to get her out of it by getting Megan off Katrina’s back. Hoffman isn’t convinced at how good a con woman she is.

“I’m just marveling a bit, the fact that this could be your best con yet.”

With Megan off to jail for the attempted murder of Alan, Katrina is free to be with the wealthy, yet naive, Alan. 

Dex watches Hoffman and Katrina’s conversation through the one way mirror. Cosgrove comes up to her and begrudgingly compliments Dex on her good instincts on the case. Cosgrove tells Dex to do things right and get her PI license.

Hoffman comes in as Cosgrove leaves and asks if she knows what is going on with Katrina and Alan? Dex boils it down to relationships are complicated and mentions the one she witnessed in the station earlier. Not to complicate their relationship, huh? Hoffman tells Dex that the woman Dex saw is the widow of a friend of Hoffman’s who was killed a few years ago. Hoffman tries to help her when he can.

Katrina and Alan are reunited after she is released. Alan hands Dex the $1,000 he owes. Alan hopes Dex finds the person to be with that makes no sense to anyone else. 

6 Years Ago, Late That Night. Dex blew off Grey for dinner, got drunk, and  then called Grey to come pick her up and drive her to her home.

I agree with Grey when he calls that some kind of ballsy move.

Grey understands that she freaked when he asked her out, that feelings make her queasy. Dex opens up to this man she’s known for 24 hours (and slept with once) about the dead Benny and a quick synopsis of their tragic story. Dex gets really upset and tells him being with Grey is nice, but if she crosses the line, she’ll just mess things up. Grey suggests they “don’t cross the line” again and just be friends. Dex laughs that they dodged a bullet. Grey puts a blanket on her, a friendship cemented! 

(ABC/Tony Rivetti)  JAKE JOHNSON, COBIE SMULDERS

Back in the present, the annual detox has ended. Grey asks Dex if she has any regrets in their six years as friends. She says no regrets and is pleased they never crossed the line again. They repeat the “Dodged that bullet” mantra, but Grey has a far off, wistful look in his eyes. Dex deflects awkwardness with alcohol. 

“Let’s get that retox going, huh?”

Hoffman arrives on a murder crime scene, lots of cops cars around. They’re down under a bridge, a shady area of town to be sure. Hoffman looks down at the dead victim and we see it’s Grey’s shady friend, Jack.  Dun Dun Dunnnnn. 

End scene.

***

Thoughts.

The unresolved relationship and feelings between Grey and Dex has upped the ante for me in the early episodes of this show. I knew from the Pilot that there was definitely something under the surface to their relationship. In this episode, we get their origin story and it’s as epic (yet meet cute) as it should be.

We also got the car’s origin story!

Back to Dex and Grey, there’s something sweet to their banter and their level of comfort with each other; it would be easy to see them as a couple. But Dex is allergic to feelings. (I feel ya girl, on so many levels). Grey is definitely in the friend zone and was markedly not on her list of booty calls in the previous episode.

Perhaps the wistful look from Grey at the end of the episode spoke more to how neither of them has really met anyone substantive in the last 6 years … and they already basically know everything about each other and haven’t run screaming. So why shouldn’t they be together?

We shall see, faithful readers.

There’s also Hoffman. Dex is into him, but I’m not sure it’s in the traditional couple sense. Maybe more in the friends with benefits sector cuz she’s got that feelings allergy. You can see a glimmer of jealously in Dex when she’s in the police station and Hoffman is tending to, unbeknownst to Dex, his friend’s widow. And she calls him out on it! Which, rude. Hoffman, too, is unsure of their relationship status, as evidenced when Cosgrove called him out on getting involved with Dex. It’s clear there is more to come on both the Dex/Grey and Dex/Hoffman fronts! Complicated! 

Last on Dex’s love radar, her casual reference to having a short stand with a woman, which made Grey’s eyes go wide. This is consistent with the comics where Dex is bisexual so, it’ll be interesting to see if they explore this angle more with her character.

The cases that Dex has picked up in her budding PI career are intriguing and her approach and her brand of humor are a real breath of fresh air to the procedural drama. There is a coequal balance of humor and drama that makes this show compelling with a different air to it. I’m looking forward to see if she takes Cosgrove’s advice and gets her official PI license. 

Grey’s past is a little shocking. He looks so clean cut and successful. His former associate’s demise is not a good sign for him. If the guy that Grey owes $250K to found (and killed) Jack the self-proclaimed wanderer, it can’t be very long before said bad man finds Grey – an upstanding businessman in town with a fixed address.   

A nice touch over the Pilot, the addition of comic book-style pause graphics cutting us from one scene to another. It was a nice homage to the graphic novels and I hope they continue.

*** 

Stumptown airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 10pm (ET/PT).  We’ll be live tweeting from time to time so check us out on Twitter!  

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Thank you for reading along! Leave a comment below for discussion. Follow us on social media for up to the minute updates on Stumptown, including recaps and lots of other pop culture news you need to know on Twitter @popcultureview and Instagram @pop_culture_review. You can follow me on Twitter @SheilsMcGangsta.See you next week for the next installment of Stumptown!

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