Episode 2 of Stumptown, Missed Connections, explores how Grey and Dex became best friends instead of romantic partners. It also provides background on a part of Grey’s past that he’s ignored for years, which is now coming back to haunt him. After the pilot focused on Dex’s time in the military, PTSD and lost love, Benny, this is Grey’s chance to be seen as more than just an amiable sideman.
The story of Grey and Dex’s hook up 6 years ago, his past as a felon who did time for Grand Theft and the return of his partner in crime in the present day to draw him back into a life of crime runs parallel to Dex’s case of the week. She’s hired by a bar patron, Alan (played by Jay Duplass from Transparent) who wants her to help him find a woman he fell in love with at first sight, then lost. It turns out that the woman, Katrina (played by Zosia Mamet from Girls) is a con artist caught up in a life she can’t escape on her own. Katrina’s crime partner, Megan (Megan Le) is still very much in the picture and not okay with losing her business partner.
Dex foiled a bodega robbery 6 years ago when the robber took his crime one step too far and asked for her Fiona X beanie in addition to the cash from the register and her pockets. Some things are worth defending as a matter of principle.
As thanks for chasing the robber away, the bodega manager gave Dex a liter of beer. On her way out the door, she and Grey walked into each other. She dropped the beer and it broke on the pavement. The cops were on their way, so Grey offered to buy her a beer somewhere else. They ended up spending the night together at his place.
And thus, a best friendship was born.
Actually, it’s not that simple.
The next morning, she tried to sneak out, but set off his security system. He didn’t offer her breakfast because he was starting his annual 3 day detox cleanse. She couldn’t remember his name or anything about him, while he had every detail about her memorized. Grey tries to get some conversation going, but Dex cuts him off because all she wanted from him was what she got last night, and now she’s ready to leave. Once she’s gone, Grey muses that he dodged a bullet, and makes a green smoothie for his cleanse.
In the present day, at the bar, Grey makes an identical smoothie for this year’s cleanse and gives half of it to Dex. Dex is complaining loudly that a drink this healthy goes against everything she believes in. After they choke down the first swallow, Grey asks if she’s called the lead Miles gave her in episode 1.
It was a guy who wanted Dex to find out if his wife was cheating. Dex told him that if he was suspicious, the odds were that she was. Grey asks why she didn’t wait to tell him that until after she’d done some work for him and gotten paid. Dex didn’t want to take advantage of the guy, but Grey reminds her that she’s broke.
Ansel joins them and tells Dex that he lost his phone again. Dex bought him a belt clip, but Grey and Ansel agree that it’s too uncool to wear. Grey passes Dex a drink and tells her to take it to a potential PI client who’s sitting in a booth.
The man, Alan, tells Dex that he met a woman in a bar several days ago and talked with her for hours. He thought they had a real connection, but when he tried the phone number she gave him, it didn’t work. He wants Dex to find the woman and he’ll pay $1,000. Dex is skeptical, but she’ll search as long as she gets paid either way. Alan has felt this once before, with his late wife. If what he felt with Katrina is real, he doesn’t want to miss out on what they could have together.
After Alan leaves, Dex looks over at Grey and remembers more about the beginning of their friendship. She went back to Grey’s apartment within moments of leaving, because she’d forgotten that she didn’t have a car anymore. She was supposed to go car shopping that morning, so Grey drove her to the car lot, looked over the car and complained about her decision to buy the car. It’s the car she’s still driving with the magical mix tape stuck in the stereo. He complains because he’ll have to fix the car, because he’s a car guy, but you know he wants to help her.
In the present day, the car runs but is finicky, which makes it personalized to Dex. She visits a high end restaurant bar to question the bartender about Katrina. The bartender called a cab for the other woman, so Dex is able to get her address. At the apartment building, Dex asks a woman to hold the door open for her, but the woman refuses, on the grounds that someone who lived there wouldn’t ask her to.
Dex finds another way into the building. When she reaches Katrina’s apartment, she can hear a man and a woman arguing. She knocks on the door, posing as a neighbor, and tries to find out what’s going on. That leads to her getting into a physical fight with Katrina’s (ex)boyfriend, Doug, who then leaves.
Dex explains why she’s there and, touched, Katrina agrees to come meet with Alan. She really liked him, but gave him the wrong number on purpose because she thought she’d ruin his life. She thinks that Dex finding her and the car playing Love Will Keep us Together are signs that she and Alan are meant to be after all.
Dex is not impressed, obviously. Her sign is another parking ticket. Does this mean that Miles is her Mr Right (or Right Now)?
Alan and Katrina have a happy reunion. Dex tells Grey the story later while he works on her kitchen sink drain. She’s caught up in the idea that they could have met their soulmates that easily. He wants to know if he gets a percentage of her fee for sending her the client. Ansel walks in and asks if Dex downloaded the tracker app for his phone. She goes to find the app and discovers that Alan’s check bounced. Ansel and Grey stay at the house while Dex goes in search of her pay.
While she’s driving to Alan’s house, she finds Ansel’s phone in the car. She discovers that Alan must be wealthy, judging from his house. But there are signs of foul play, since the door is ajar and the floor is covered in broken glass. Alan isn’t there, but his dog Millie is. Just as Dex says “Hi” to Millie, someone hits her in the head and knocks her unconscious.
After the commercial break, Dex is recovering at the police station with Miles and Cosgrove, who are being as ridiculous as usual. They are blaming her for breaking and entering into Alan’s house, even though the door was open and she called the police. Cosgrove also mentions that Dex is acting as a PI without a license. Alan is apparently heir to the Brantley Vinyards fortune. Dex suggests they check out Katrina’s ex, but they have other ideas, including holding Dex on the breaking and entering charge for as long as they’re allowed to, simply to harrass her. Then Miles accuses her of asking for special treatment because they’ve slept together.
Seems like it’s going the other way around to me. He actually lectures her about it until a hottie who’s dressed to show off her chest (nothing like the tight horizontal stripes to make things look even bigger) gets led in and straight out says that she name checked Miles in order to have him take care of a speeding ticket. He takes the ticket and promises to make it go away, no questions asked, no admonitions about driving more carefully.
This is not okay. He should be better than this as a cop and a person. He shouldn’t be stringing Dex along when he cares about someone else. I am not in the mood to view corrupt cops as good guys right now. Cosgrove and Miles’ actions toward Dex are already borderline illegal, since they’re clearly just holding her to keep her out of the way, and they don’t intend to charge her.
Dex sees the exchange and understands the implications, especially since Miles and the woman hold hands, then embrace. She’s been put in her place as the hook up who can take care of herself, while this woman is the damsel in distress who needs him.
Dex remembers more of her first morning with Grey. They went out to breakfast, where he told her he’d just gotten out of a 4 year relationship and wasn’t looking for anything serious. Before that, he did 18 months in prison for grand theft, a crime he committed with a man named Jack Feeney. Dex says that the only other criminal she’s slept with is a woman named Sammy who is a compulsive shoplifter.
In the present day, Ansel finds that Grey’s ex partner, Jack, has taken advantage of an unlocked door to wander into the bar. He’s getting himself a beer from the tap and tells Ansel he’s looking for his old pal, Greyson McConnell. Then he harasses Ansel, looking for information on the keys to a safe or anywhere that Grey might keep valuables. Ansel refuses to help or take the tip/bribe he offers before he leaves.
Learn to repect boundaries, people. A door that’s ajar, with signs of a fight, and one that’s unlocked are two very different things. Neither is an open invitation to enter, though Dex really was thinking of Alan’s best interest.
The cops have brought in Doug Blix, Katrina’s ex, for questioning, but he knows her as Kaitlin and tells Miles that she stole a substantial amount of money from him. He still loves her though, and would have given her the money if she’d asked for it.
Katrina turns out to have several aliases, a record of charges brought against her that don’t stick and an accomplice named Megan. Dex recognizes Megan as the woman who wouldn’t hold the door open at Katrina’s apartment building. Megan has worked with other partners in several other states and is a suspect in a murder case that’s similar to Alan.
Dex tells Miles that they have to find Alan before Megan and Katrina kill him. Miles responds by telling her that she’s not part of the investigation and should go home.
Grey and Dex feel weird about the case, since Grey sent Alan to her, thinking he was helping both Dex and Alan, and Dex thought Katrina and Alan really did care about each other. Now they’re worried that Alan will be killed. It’s so unlike the result of their own meet cute in a bar.
Grey helps Dex track down the fraud alert on one of the checks that bounced and gain entrance into some of Alan’s accounts. A while later, they get a security alert that someone tried to withdraw $50,000 from one of the accounts. Dex can use it to find the con artists once she calls the police.
Cosgrove lectures Miles on not getting in over his head with Dex. He explains that he’s a jazz fan. There’s the perfectly composed music of John Coltrane and then there’s the raucous, freeform, rebellious music of Charles Mingus. Miles is a Mingus fan. Dex is complicated and always on the edge of spinning out of control, like Mingus, but Miles can handle it, at least for now. They might as well take advantage of her talents, for as long as it works out between him and Dex.
Ansel tells Grey that Jack stopped by. Grey tenses up.
Dex finds Alan and tells him that the check he wrote her bounced. He tries to fire her. She explains what’s really going on. He tells her that Katrina wants out of her life of crime. He withdrew the $50,000 as a pay off so that Megan would leave him and Katrina alone. She tries to talk him into talking to the police before making the drop off, but he refuses. While he’s distracted by their conversation, she plants Ansel’s phone, with the tracker app, in his car.
He starts to repay her the $1,000 he owes her from the $50,000 in cash he’s carrying, then realizes it has to go to Megan. He promises to pay her the $1,000 tomorrow.
If he’s still alive.
Jack comes back to the bar while it’s open and Grey’s bartending. Grey seems happy to see him. It’s been ten years since they’ve seen each other and Jack’s been in prison a few more times.
Jack looked up Grey because even though Kane is locked up for life, he’s calling in his money and he’s sending Frank to collect it. Grey says that isn’t right, since Kane doesn’t need the money in prison, but Jack says it’s the truth. They were each holding $250,000 for Kane. Jack has spent all of his.
Grey invested the half he was holding in the bar, which is successful. He can pay back the money slowly. Jack doesn’t think Kane will go for an installment plan. Jack suggests they burn down the bar for the insurance money or else make a run for it. Grey’s not leaving, but Jack decides to run. He reminds Grey that he was the one who was against settling down one place years. ago.
Dex follows the signal from Ansel’s phone and remembers back to 6 years ago, when she and Grey were getting to know each other. He sits on the couch and plays video games with Ansel while she makes lunch. Then Grey asks her out to dinner that knight.
Dex follows Alan to a local cheap motel and bribes a maid into letting her unti the room. Alan is tied up, with a plastic bag over his head. Katrina’s accomplice Megan jumps Dex as soon as she’s inside the room. A fight ensues, until Dex knocks Megan unconscious with the room phone. Dex races to get the plastic bag off Alan’s head.
Katrina is grateful to Dex and the police for saving her from Megan, but most of all she’s grateful to Alan for believing in her and believing she wanted to leave the con artist lifestyle behind. Miles is skeptical about Katrina’s sincerity and wonders if she’s just using all of them to escape the criminal life.
Cosgrove concedes that Dex did a good job on this case. But she tells her to follow the law and get her PI license if she wants to continue in this line of work. Cosgrove leaves and Miles comes in, asking Dex to explain Alan and Katrina’s love at first sight. Dex says nobody understands a relationship but the people in it, and even they don’t always see eye to eye.
Dex asks Miles about the situation with the woman he fixed the traffic ticket for. She’s the widow of a friend of his who died several years ago. He helps her when he can.
Miles is called out to a crime scene at Fremont Bridge.
Dex watches as Alan, Katrina and Millie are reunited. Alan pays Dex and tells her that he hopes she finds love, too.
In a flashback to 6 years ago, Grey drives Dex home because she called him after getting drunk, even though she stood him up for their dinner date. He correctly assumes the possibility of romance triggered her binge. She tells him about Benny, her true love. Dex has extreme survivor’s guilt. She thinks that if she crosses the line from friendship or hook up to love with a partner, then they’ll die because of her. Grey suggests that they just stay friends and don’t cross the line again. Dex agrees, saying they dodge a bullet.
In the present day, they share a beer to celebrate their 6 years of friendship. They’ve continued to dodge the bullet and have never crossed the line between friends and lovers. But they give each other a lingering look to let us know that they both still think about crossing the line.
Jack Feeney’s body washed up with the tide at Fremont Bridge. Things don’t look good for Grey.
Now we have to meet Sammy, compulsive shoplifter and Dex’s former lover.
Yikes, Grey has got some big issues to work out with the mob. Or maybe the mob owns his bar now. I’m glad it wasn’t just Dex’s issues keeping the two of them apart, but he needs to come clean with her.
I don’t think we know what happened to Dex’s parents, do we? It seems extreme for her to decide that everything she touches gets killed, based on one boyfriend dying in a warzone. It’s also a giant cliche. It would make more sense for her to feel that way if she can twist her parents’ death into being her fault, too. It might even provide a larger mystery for her to solve.
Images courtesy of ABC.