Stumptown Season 1 Episode 4: Family Ties Recap

Stumptown S1Ep4 Dex & Grey

The Ghosts of Halloween Past come back to haunt the residents of Stumptown in episode 4, as shady PI Artie banks and corrupt businessman/ex husband Randall Tapper resurface for a second round with Dex and Candace. Miles and Grey’s nightmares materialize in the form of escaped mobster Wallace Kane. Sue Lynn Blackbird and Lieutenant Cosgrove are drawn into the fray as they each work toward damage control.

Recap

Picking up not long after the end of episode 3, this episode finds Dex taking a baseball bat to Artie’s beloved vintage Mustang in retaliation for double crossing her and Candace. In addition, Tapper has hired Artie to act as his watchdog to make sure that Dex and Candace don’t find and use any new evidence to take him down. Dex declares war on Tapper, Artie and the Mustang.

I’d feel sorry for the innocent Mustang, but it’s probably been complicit in a number of crimes over the course of its long life of being driven as a midlife crisis and status symbol car. It’s about time it paid for some of them. I’m sure it’s got a good health plan.

Cosgrove informs the entire staff at the station that one of Kane’s men caused a bus accident and killed three prison guards in order to engineer Kane’s escape while he was being transported. Kane is considered armed and very dangerous. Miles was responsible for Kane’s imprisonment after Kane killed one of his informants.

This is considered a manhunt for a fugitive and will be spearheaded by the US Marshals. The Portland PD will assist. Officers should report any new information on the case to the Marshals.

Dex visits Candace to try to get another lead she can exploit to bring Randall Tapper down, so that Candace can keep custody if Mila. Candace has her hold the baby while she’s there. Dex holds her like she’s a squirmy sack of potatoes. After a moment, Candace recalls that Randall recently built a children’s hospital on the St Aaron’s reservation. She tells Dex that she heard Randall making shady deals for the project. The records should be stored in the West Lin office, which is heavily guarded.

Miles remembers his last meeting with his criminal informant, Darius. Darius had a feeling that Kane was suspicious of him, but Miles insisted that it was just his informant’s nerves talking. He pushed Darius to go inside and not blow his cover.

He visits Darius widow, Denise, the woman who asked him to fix her speeding  ticket in an earlier episode. This week, she’s bitter and resentful toward Miles. She doesn’t want to see him or have any protection from the department.

This change of heart seems strange. I think Kane got to her.

Grey takes the side of the Mustang in Dax’s war, but Dax is unrepentant. She looks at Ansel across the bar, and says she knows what it feels like to be abandoned, and she doesn’t want Candace or the baby to go through that. She has an airtight plan to deal with the issue. Grey questions whether she’s ready for the power Randall will throw at her, but she’ll sure she is.

Dex’s friend Tookie, the food truck vendor we met in the pilot, walks in the door. He’s dressed to the nines. Grey questions Dex’s understanding of the phrase “airtight plan”. Dex and Tookie had a miscommunication of the plan. She wants him to go undercover as a janitor in Randall’s office building. He thinks it would be a better idea for him to go in as a businessman with a project to pitch.

In a hilarious bit of meta, Tookie brings up the racist implications of Dex casting him as a janitor and she points out that he doesn’t understand Randall’s business well enough to pose as a client. Plus, in this case, a janitor has access to the files they need, whereas a client wouldn’t. They settle on giving the janitor a backstory that covers Tookie’s issues with his casting.

As it turns out, it takes plenty of intelligence and resourcefulness for Tookie to pull off the plan and he does it solo. He’s not really a janitor, he gets to insult an arrogant, racist white man and he outwits Artie Banks, the slimeball who thinks he’s smarter than the competition. In some situations, it can pay to look like someone everyone underestimates.

Tookie takes the original documents that Dex needs, but is caught and has to hand them over to Artie. But he also takes the duplicates and hides them in his pants. Just like something his idol, Jason Bourne, would do.

Stumptown S1Ep4 TookieStumptown S1Ep4 GreyStumptown S1Ep4 Dex

Now that Dex has the documents, she has to figure out what they mean. They are accounting records that are beyond a layman’s level of understanding. But she knows she has the right information when Artie calls and tells her that Randall wants a meeting.

Dex meets Randall at a restaurant. He tries to lie and say that Dex is involved in a personal matter and Candace is lying to her about it. She reminds him that she’s seen the video of him hitting his other girlfriend. He tries to play a sympathy card and says that Candace is trying to tear down the business he built up. Literally no one cares and Dex laughs at him.

Then he pulls out a cashier’s check for $100,000 for Candace. It’s basically meant to buy the baby from her. She’s supposed to take the money, give him Mila, and walk away, because he can’t allow “a woman like her” to be the mother of the child he didn’t even want. Dex tells him that they don’t accept his offer and gets up to walk out. He grabs her arm and tries to intimidate her. It doesn’t work.

Dex and Grey keep trying to figure out the stolen documents. She’s sure that there’s something important in them and that’s why Randall offered a settlement. Grey determines that they can’t understand the documents because they don’t make sense. The costs are way off. He thinks she should find the accountant who kept the books for Tapper.

Sue Lynn visits Dex to tell her that Randall is threatening to pull out of the school construction project that he’s collaborating on with the Confederated Tribes. The reservation needs the publicity they’ll get from working with Randall, so she needs Dex to back off. She’s reinstating Dex’s $11,000 debt as an incentive.

She cleared it at the end of the pilot when Dex saved her granddaughter, but Sue Lynn didn’t give Dex a receipt in writing and she plays dirty when she needs to. Sue Lynn points out that unpaid markers to casinos are Class D felonies that can result in years of jail time. She gives Dex 10 days to either pay the debt or back off Randall. Then she says a pleasant hello to Ansel as she’s leaving.

Miles is also having a rough week. He tries to tell the US Marshals that Wallace Kane will be heading straight for Grey to call in those unpaid markers, but they dismiss his hunch.

Well, actually, Miles only knows for sure that Jack, Grey and Kane were all in prison together, Jack was murdered, and now Kane has broken out. But he also knows enough off the record information to figure out that they were involved and Grey will be a target.

Cosgrove breaks up the argument and sends the Marshal back to his corner. She takes Miles off the case because she thinks he’s too personally involved, since Darius was his friend in addition to being his informant.

Artie has Dex’s car towed and then has her arrested for vandalizing his car. Cosgrove handles the matter. Dex says that she wants to file a counter complaint of harassment against Artie. And she explains her attack on Artie’s Mustang as a case of mistaken identity. She thought it was her own Mustang and had read that there was a pinata hidden inside that model year. Turns out the internet lied. Oops.

Cosgrove explains the charges to Dex, but then tells her that Artie Banks “is a thieving ex cop,” so she’ll believe any excuse Dex wants to give and drops the charges against her. Dex is free to go.

Dex sits there stunned for a minute. These things never work out this easily for her. She stops to ask Cosgrove what Artie stole. Cosgrove explains that he took $30k from the property room. He was never charged because the union brokered a deal for him to resign, so everyone has forgotten what happened. But not her.

As Dex is leaving, Candace calls to say Randall is there to take Mila from her.

Miles stops by the bar to give Grey a heads up about Kane. Before Miles has a chance to speak, Grey jokes that it feels like they’re dating.

Miles says that the Feds think Kane is headed to Canada. He thinks he and Grey should both keep their eyes open and protect the people around them who don’t know about Kane.

Dex arrives at Candace’s building just as she’s handing Mila over to Randall. Artie is there watching. Candace is devastated. After Randall takes the baby, Dex follows Artie to his car and tells him off, reminding him of his #1 rule, People don’t change. She tells him he’s a dirtbag who stole from the police department after taking an oath to protect people and thanks him for showing her the kind of person she doesn’t want to be.

Then she goes back to Candace while Artie drives away without saying a word in response, a first for him. Candace asks what their next steps is, but Dex doesn’t know. That night, she tells Ansel that she tries to help people, but this time she failed. Ansel remembers when people took him away, but he wasn’t scared. She promised to get him back, so he knew she would.

Their conversation is interrupted by Artie, who’s desperate to talk to someone. Artie insists that Dex doesn’t know who he really is, even though she thinks she does. She doesn’t want to let him in, but Ansel reminds her that she told him she helps people.

Artie explains that when he was on the force, he accidentally got a woman he barely knew pregnant. She didn’t tell him until the baby was born with a life threatening condition, a neonatal intraventricular hemorrhage. They tried an experimental procedure on the baby that wasn’t covered by insurance. It didn’t work and the baby died anyway.

That’s why Artie stole the $30k. After that, he emotionally checked out and wasn’t there for the mother. He decided he’d cared too much about people and should have fun instead. Now he realizes he cared too little.

Dex thinks it’s a sad story, but she doesn’t believe him. He’s lied to her too many times. Artie says that seeing Candace give her baby to Randall affected him and he’s sorry for the way he’s acted.

Dex says, “Sorry is meaningless.” She tells him his apologies don’t help Candace and Mila. He needs to give her something she can use against Randall. The accounting forms are still out on the table in front of him. He gives her the name of the accountant she needs to talk to in order to understand them.

Homer Miller-McManus meets Dex at the bar with the tools of his trade. She lures him there on the pretense of doing her taxes, but quickly lets him know that if he doesn’t help her and Candace, she’ll make Randall think he helped them anyway. Ansel quickly snaps an incriminating photo of the two of them together. Homer had to sign an NDA, but what will that matter once he’s had to leave the country or Randall has gotten done with him?

Homer does the right thing and explains what Randall has been doing with the school on the reservation. “Tapper approached the tribe to build a school. He lowballed the offer, ensuring he’d win the contract, but also ensuring his margins would be tight.”

Dex: “He knew he was going to lose money on the project? Why would he do that?”

Homer: “Miss Parios, if you’d read the RFP, you’d know that Tapper oversold at a reduced cost. Now knowing that reservations are loosely regulated… He’s moving something illegal in and out of that school he’s taking forever to build.”

That’s the information Dex needed.

Miles learns that Denise, Darius the informant’s widow, visited Kane in prison two days before he escaped. Miles confronts her, but Denise says she was coerced into visiting Kane. She tells Miles that Kane wanted plans from a job Darius was working on, but she couldn’t help him. She can’t help Miles either, when he asks for more specifics. Miles is angry that she didn’t come to him so that he could protect her. She says, “Like you protected Darius?” and walks out.

Low blow. And calculated. Her husband was a career criminal. We’ve been shown multiple times how disloyal and murderous Kane and his gang are. The implication is that Darius’ death isn’t Miles’ fault. Kane would have found a way to kill Darius, sooner or later, if he wanted Darius dead. The police don’t take Kane seriously enough to prevent his crimes. Some may be on Kane’s payroll.

Denise might not actually have been all that loyal to Darius, anyway. Someone talked to Kane. She would have been one of the few with the information. Now she’s meeting him in prison. What has she been promised?

Grey is spooked and gets his gun from his safe. Ansel can tell something is wrong and comes to the office to check on him. Grey says he’ll be right out.

Dex and Artie drive out to the reservation to take down Randall. Artie imagines them as a PI team again, who are “riding like cowboy avengers into the night.”

Her usual team of cowboy avengers are a lot cuter. I’d like to request a crossover event. I think Phil Coulson’s looking for work.

As they approach the school construction, Dex turns off her headlights so that they can sneak in. The site is lit up and work is in full swing. Artie says that the reservation isn’t subject to the same government oversight as most construction sites, so they don’t have to follow the same rules.

That would be why Randall specifically approached the tribe.

Cosgrove discovers that Miles is still interfering with Kane’s case and tells him that he’s too close to the situation. Miles says that he’s in Kane’s head and knows that Kane is planning something. Cosgrove thinks that Kane could be in Miles’ head too. She says that she’s getting pressure from her bosses and he needs to take a vacation.

Artie and Dex park in a dark spot and sneak out of the car and into a truck unnoticed. The truck is full of tools and building supplies. Dex decides to check inside a pile of boxes that look out of place. They find pharmaceutical bottles with Chinese labels.

They get discovered by security and win the fight against them. Artie explains that he’s a good fighter because he spent two years in a monastery with Shaolin monks.

Learning Kung Fu, obviously, just like Kwai Chang Caine.

They take some of the pills and escape. Sue Lynn blocks their way out of the reservation.

Sue Lynn arranges a meeting with Randall at a restaurant with Randall’s assistant, Raji, and her second, Hollis. They discuss the fact that the school construction is 2 years behind schedule. Randall threatens to pull out of the project if she makes trouble. Sue Lynn puts a bottle of the Chinese pills on the table and tells him that she knows he’s using the school construction to distribute counterfeit pills. She negotiates a cut of the take in lieu of reporting him to the DEA.

When they finish making the deal, Dex sits down at the table and makes a counter offer for dream school facilities for the reservation and full custody of Mila for Candace. Or else, they’ll send video of their meeting to the authorities. Hollis shows that he’s wearing a wire and Dex points to a hidden camera on the wall.

Grey watches Ansel carefully do his job and tells him he’s doing good work. Then he gives Ansel a few days off as a reward for his hard work. Ansel knows this isn’t normal and thinks he must have done something wrong. Grey assures him that it’s just an added benefit of the job.

It’s really Grey’s way of protecting Ansel from whatever Kane might do.

The social worker brings Mila back to Candace while Dex is there. Artie stops by to apologize for betraying her. Candace forgives him. Dex and Artie leave together. Artie gives Dex her PI license. She asks about finishing her 1500 hours of apprenticeship. He says it must have felt like 1500 hours. They agree to consider being sidekicks again, if no one else is available.

After hours, Grey sits in the back of the bar and waits for something to happen. He hears a sound and goes to investigate, but finds that it’s just water running in the sink. As he’s turning it off, two goons slip a bag over his head. He fights them, but they drag him outside to a waiting car.

Kane and his second in command, Frank, are in the car. Kane reminds Grey that he owes $500,000. He expects Grey to work for him to pay it off. He’s not interested in Grey’s plans. He’s in charge of the plans now.


Commentary

“Sorry is meaningless.”

Could we maybe have that statement repeated every episode?

It was chilling to watch the abused mother being forced to hand her little girl over to her misogynist, abusive father, after several men on the show had basically laughed in Dex and Candace’s faces about how powerless they were. Imagine what that little girl’s life would have been if she’d been left with Randall Tapper. She might have had material wealth, but he would have always treated her like he treated her mother, like a commodity to amuse him or be abused by him as he saw fit. Sickening.

I hope Stumptown continues to have Dex focus on underdogs and especially women. And please, please give her some real female friends. Sue Lynn and Cosgrove aren’t her friends. Candace could be. They have great friend chemistry. Stephanie Houston, the madam from episode 3, also had potential. I’d love for Dex to champion the sex workers of Seattle.

Grey makes an interesting suggestion for a couple that I had not considered. Very interesting. I might like him and Miles together more than I like either with Dex. Dex seems pretty into Candace at the moment anyway. At the very least, they could form a thruple, where Dex gets to live her life and come home when she feels like it, while the men mostly fuss at each other. They’re kind of cute when they fuss at each other, but annoying when they fuss at Dex.

Images courtesy of ABC.

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