Episode 6 of Stumptown is about ghosts. The characters work through their ghosts while the show tests out new character combinations and expands backstories.
After their falling out in episode 5, Dex and Grey both spend time with new love interests, causing other cast members to feel they’re being left behind. Ansel and Miles take steps to ensure their interests haven’t been forgotten. Dex takes a PI job that has her tracking down the stalker of an old flame.
Meanwhile, Tookie continues to have business issues with his food truck. This time he closes up and goes to visit the highest ranking member of the police force he knows, Lieutenant Cosgrove. This is a friendship I never knew I always wanted. They bond over their love of mole sauce and experimental cuisine.
Dex gets a female love interest this episode, her former flame and punk rock star client, Fiona X. Meanwhile Detective Kara Lee makes a second appearance and this time she acts more like Miles’ police partner. The women of Portland do exist and it’s good to get to know them. But I’m still waiting for quality friendship time between women that isn’t between Dex and a woman she wants to have sex with or who’s a business associate.
I usually say the Bechdel test is a low bar to jump, but Stumptown is proving me wrong. Maybe the women on the show have technically had conversations about something other than men and relationships, but, for the umpteenth time, there are no female friendships on this show, despite the fact that it’s a show with a female lead.
Why not? Dex doesn’t hate other women. Why wouldn’t she and Ansel have female friends? Why are other women only love interests and business associates, as if Dex is a misogynist “man’s man”? And it’s not like the other women are getting scenes with each other, either.
Are they afraid a group of women will turn into a coven of powerful, scary witches?
In the minds of ABC and the writers, does bisexual, aka a woman willing to have sex with a woman, code as “might as well be a man”?
Dex and Miles are at the Labyrinth for a punk concert by Fiona X. Dex wanted to thank him for letting Grey go and introduce him to something she likes, while they relaxed after the tension of the last few weeks. Miles figured sex might be on the table, even though punk isn’t really his scene. Dex agrees that they both might get lucky after the show.
Fiona X starts the show with a song dedicated to the one who got away. She specifically namechecks Dex as the one. Awkward. Later, at his place, Miles asks how long Dex and Fiona dated. Dex tells him that they dated for 5 or 6 months, ten years ago, right after Dex got out of the military. Then Fiona got signed, went on tour, picked up the X (real name: Finklebocker), and Dex hasn’t seen her since.
Miles asks Dex out on Friday, but this time he wants to bring her into his world. His world inexplicably involves bowling shoes. Which he owns rather than rents.
I think we need to consider the theory that Miles is a time traveler from the 1950s.
Also, it’s become very clear why this good looking, decent guy, who has a steady income, is so, so single. Ladies, apparently the bowling alley is where you should be trying to meet men on Friday nights. Or maybe he’s just saving himself for Grey. YES, I SAID IT. WHERE IS MY FAN FICTION? Don’t make me write my own.
The next day at the bar, Grey wants to know all about Dex’s night out with Miles, but gets frustrated that she won’t spill all of the juicy details. She tells him that she doesn’t know who he is anymore, so she can’t trust him with the details of her sex life. He’s going to have to get his own sex life now.
At that moment, Fiona X struts into the bar, along with her full entourage, to give everyone’s sex life a little help. Fiona’s in town for three nights and wants Dex to act as PI and security that she can trust. She has a stealthy stalker who hangs on the fringes threateningly, but Fiona has never even gotten a good look at him before he melts back into the shadows. For that reason, her manager doesn’t take him seriously and she hasn’t gone to the police.
The health inspector finds a few violations in Tookie’s food truck and shuts him down until they’re rectified.
Grey talks to Ansel about his hidden past and if it going to come between them. Ansel is here to be an angelic, blonde disabled saint, the Tiny Tim of Portland, so of course he forgives Grey without a second thought. But Ansel, who has already been abandoned by his birth parents, is worried that this argument between Dex and Grey, his replacement mom and dad, is going to cause them to get a divorce and he’ll lose one of them.
Before Grey can reassure Ansel that he’ll always be his
dad big brother friend, no matter what happenes with Dex, an intelligent brunette brings in a group of people on a tour of the most haunted bars of Portland. She tells Grey that 50 years ago, when the building was a cannery, a fishmonger named Dunk Henry was tragically killed in a sluicing accident. Grey is skeptical, until the tour guide, Liz Melero, points out how much new business she’s just brought him.
Ansel notices them flirting and isn’t happy about it.
Mom and dad Dex and Grey may be platonic right now, but he knows they’re endgame.
At Fiona’s concert that night, Dex spots a man rushing the stage. She follows, while she’s having PTSD flashbacks, worried he’s the stalker, and tackles him before he reaches Fiona. He turns out to be innocent and Dex is blamed for ruining the show, which ends early. Fiona’s manager, Nick Tallarico, tells Dex that the stalker isn’t real, just a product of Fiona’s overactive imagination. He thinks Fiona just needs a friend.
Det. Kara Lee, the detective who brought the files to Miles at his apartment last week, is back this week to help him with his lady troubles. But first, everyone needs to make sure we understand that he’s the superior detective and she’s a glorified secretary, there to further Miles story and nothing more.
Once she’s been put in her place professionally, Miles gives her the chance to be a good woman and give him advice on his dating life with Dex. She actually is a good detective, because she quickly figures out that one issue is that he and Dex aren’t on the same page as far as agreeing about whether they’re actually dating or just acquaintances who occasionally have sex. She tells him he has to use his words like a grown up when it comes to communicating with women.
I start to think that maybe I should actively be shipping Grey and Miles, rather than just tongue in cheek. These are two grown men who have no idea how to speak to women about what’s important, who had no problem talking about dating each other and communicated just fine when other men needed to be rescued. Maybe Dex isn’t the only bisexual character.
Tookie brings his problems with the health inspector to Lieutenant Cosgrove, hoping that dropping Dex’s name will help him. She supposedly doesn’t like Dex and has nothing to do with the permit offices he needs help with, but decides to talk to him anyway. They discover that she used to love the mole sauce that he made early in his career at Arturo’s Restaurant, until Arturo stole the credit for it and Tookie vowed never to make it again. Cosgrove has such fond memories of that mole sauce from the time when she’d first moved to Portland that she promises to help Tookie.
We’re just going to take this unlikely scenario at face value and move on.
When Dex is done with the manager, they go back to Fiona’s hotel room. Dex is impressed with how much nicer the hotel is than where Fiona used to stay. Dex clarifies that she’s a PI, not a bodyguard, which requires a whole different license. She intends to continue her investigation even if she’s with Fiona most of the time. Fiona clarifies that she wants to resume her relationship with Dex. Dex clarifies that she isn’t clear about what she’s doing with Miles.
Fiona wants 24 hour protection while they’re in town. She’s not sure where the next leg of the tour is going. Her manager keeps track of the logistics for her. Dex calls Grey to arrange for him to watch Ansel while she’s with Fiona. He teases her, but then apologizes.
Liz, the tour guide, comes back to the bar to see Grey again. Grey is happy to see her, but Ansel purposely drops a bottle of wine to show his displeasure.
Fiona and Dex drink and reminisce. Fiona reminds her that she considered getting a degree in psychology, which Dex had forgotten. Fiona remembers every little detail about Dex and their time together. Dex thinks about Fiona, too, whenever she sees her on TV.
A doorman brings an envelope that was dropped off at the hotel which contains a photo of Fiona and Dex in the hotel room. It had to be taken that evening. There’s a message written on the photo saying that Fiona is safe.
The next day, they take the photo to the police. Miles interviews Fiona while some cop-fans take souvenir photos. Fiona notes that the stalker could be a cop. They discuss any suspicious fan interactions Fiona’s had.
Fiona warns Miles that women like her and Dex are too much woman for him. He’d never be able to figure them out or keep up with them. He keeps her phone to look through her social media. She tells him to be careful, because some of her photos aren’t safe for work. Wink.
Lol. It only took her 5 minutes to get his number.
Tookie brings Cosgrove a special delivery of his famous mole recipe that he almost never makes anymore to thank her for her help with his permit extensions. The food takes her right back to the era when she’d just met her husband.
Back at their hotel, Dex suggests they change rooms, but Fiona thinks the stalker will just find her again. She has confidence in Miles’ competence.
After Miles put Kara in her place, I love how down on him Fiona is.
Fiona sings to Dex, then makes a move on her. Dex says that she could lose her license for sleeping with a client, but Fiona doesn’t think anyone will find out. They kiss.
One of the hotel room curtains is still open and they know the stalker was watching through these very windows the night before. This seems like a purposeful set up for blackmail material against Dex, maybe just on the part of the writers, maybe by the stalker or Fiona. We’ll find out in some future episode.
Kara fills Miles in on the stalker she found through her research into Fiona’s social media. Martin Newtlander had created multiple accounts, but analyzing language patterns showed they all belong to the same person. Miles and a uniformed cop visit the hotel room. Newtlander isn’t there, but a scope and a creepy shrine to Fiona are.
As Dex and Fiona lie in bed and enjoy the afterglow, Dex muses that this is what being on tour with Fiona would be like. They’re interrupted by Miles, who calls to fill Dex in on the stalker. She correctly guesses that he’s white, doughy and very alone.
Cosgrove brings one of her own specialties to Tookie’s truck for him to try, a Phillie cheesesteak eggroll with her own special touches. He’s skeptical, but gives it a try. He loves it so much that it inspires him to take the recipe even further. She gives him the go ahead to play with it.
Liz and Grey have spent the entire evening at Bad Alibi. Now that it’s closing time, Grey asks what comes next. Liz suggests some full moon activities, such as vampirism, but settles on radical honesty to jumpstart their relationship.
The women in Portland take no prisoners.
Grey is up for the challenge and reels off his basic history. After his recent past with Dex, he’s throwing a challenge back at Liz to see if she can handle his baggage.
I don’t think that Dex’s problem was his history so much as the fact that he lied about it, and she’s told him that. This time he’s going to be honest and put everything that might drive someone away out in the open right from the start.
Grey: “My Mom left when I was 6 years old.”
Liz: “I’m sorry.”
Grey: “I’m not. She wasn’t strong enough to save herself. And if you ever met my father, you’d understand. Is this too honest?”
Liz: “Actually, I’ve never done this before.”
Grey: “My father was a crook, but he was low-rent. He was a hell of a teacher, though. By high school, I was making bank, stealing cars. But grand theft is a gateway crime and by 18, I was a boxman. There was not a safe I couldn’t get into. I did a few stints in prison and met some pretty bad dudes. And that’s actually how I got the money for this bar. Tell me what you’re thinking and be radically honest.”
Liz: “My place or yours.”
Grey tells her that he lives upstairs. Ansel drops an entire tray of silverware and walks away. Grey goes to talk to him.
Liz never confesses her radically honest life history.
When Dex and Fiona get to the concert venue they run into the stalker, Newtlander, in a hallway. He has a knife, so Dex sends Fiona to hide safely in an elevator while she subdues him. Newtlander insists that he’s the one protecting Fiona.
Once Miles has Newtlander in an interrogation room, the stalker still insists that he and Fiona are friends and that she asked him to protect her. He tells Miles to look in his hotel room for the letters he’s been exchanging with Fiona.
Miles gives Dex an update and brings up their Friday night date, but then decides that she probably has too much going on to get together.
Grey makes Liz his famous morning after eggs. Ansel catches them kissing at the breakfast table and questions why Liz is still there. He runs out of the room, upset that Grey is replacing Dex.
Dex stops by to see Fiona, who is very grateful that Dex is the one who rescued her. She wants to do drugs together to celebrate their victory, and calls Dex a bore when Dex says she doesn’t do drugs anymore. Dex’s phone rings before the argument can escalate.
It’s Grey, calling Dex to help with Ansel, who’s locked himself in the office. Back at the bar, Grey and Dex quickly fall into aguing over Ansel, Grey’s lies and their respective love lives. Ansel opens the door to make them stop. They all sit in the office for a family meeting.
Ansel wants to know if Grey is leaving the family, now that he and Dex don’t like each other anymore, just like his Mom and Dad left them. Grey is shocked by the question. He and Dex assure Ansel that Grey is part of the family, no matter what. Nothing is going to scare him away, no matter how mad anyone gets at anyone else.
😭😭😭 This right here is why Grey is endgame. He needs Ansel as much as he needs Dex, and Dex needs someone who understands that Ansel is the center of her universe, not them.
Dex gets called to the police station to finish up with the case. Grey tells her and Ansel that he’s still here, and it’s no problem for him to stay with Ansel. But he and Ansel both admit that dropping the tray of silverware was OTT.
Miles found a stack of letters from Fiona in the stalker’s hotel room, encouraging him to follow her. Dex figures out that it was Fiona’s manager who wrote the letters, not the singer herself. The stress of being stalked inspired her to write more intense songs for her album. Miles arrests the manager.
Fiona repeats her request for Dex to go on tour with her, and Dex suggests that Fiona take some time off and stay in Portland. Fiona gets a little insulting about Dex’s life, yet we’ve been shown all episode that Fiona doesn’t know where she is or where she’s going most of the time, she just goes from plane to hotel room to venue and it all looks the same. What would be in that life for Dex? More alcohol and drug abuse, when she’s just gotten her life together?
Tookie serves Cosgrove the new special on his menu: Tacos a la Cosgrove. They’re both married, so they agree this is just a friendly cooking collaboration. Cosgrove gets called back to work before she can eat her tacos, so she asks for them to go. But before she leaves, she tells Tookie that her friends call her Bobby.
Did we even know she has a first name?? I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Grey and Liz have a picnic in a park and take the opportunity to clarify that Dex and Grey are just friends and Grey won’t let Dex or Ansel’s feelings dictate who he dates. Liz tells Grey that she understands why the thought of losing someone like Grey would be unsettling. He says that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to him in a long time.
I hope she’s for real, but something about that conversation makes me worried that she’s been planted by Kane’s people. She didn’t even blink at Grey’s history and the first thing she did was talk about death. Now I feel like eventually he could be forced to choose between the Parios sibs and her, which would leave him more vulnerable to underworld influence. He was only rescued last week because of Ansel and Dex.
Dex gives bowling a try, even though she’s terrible at it and Miles is a bowling supernerd. He tells her he likes the game because, “No matter how badly you screw up, you always get a second chance.”
Okay, that was really sweet.
In two weeks, Ansel has to suffer through the worst Thanksgiving ever. Someone send Mama Cosgrove and Tookie to rescue him.
Since when do rock concerts end because someone fell down or had to be carried out? Especially a punk show? The first clue that the manager is the culprit is the fact that he yells at Dex for doing her job as security.
I believe that tonight was the first time we saw Dex linger in bed after sex.
Fiona really cares about Dex. Dex had a thing for Candace Tapper, who is the same physical type as Fiona. Does Dex have a disappointingly mainstream and patriarchal preference for tall blondes, or did Candace remind her of Fiona?
I could handle Fiona becoming a recurring character and her relationship with Dex continuing. There was a warmth to their chemistry that Dex doesn’t have with Grey or Miles. They just have a lot lot of obstacles to overcome because of their different lifestyles, despite their strong feelings for each other.
Since Kara’s been alone with Miles in all of her scenes so far in this episode and the last, they all could have easily been shot and inserted into the episode after the rest of it was finished and they began to realize how few women there are in this show. (But hopefully I’m just paranoid.) Kara also gives Miles a chance to act superior to a woman at work after spending several episodes under Cosgrove’s thumb, and adds another person of color to the cast. She potentially resolves several notes from the network.
Did Kara Lee really have to say that she could set Miles up with someone who could take care of him in every way and wouldn’t play games? Miles might as well hire a hooker who’d wear an apron for him him. But then, Miles decided that Dex is playing games because she’s not all over him, despite her complete openness and honesty about their lack of a relationship.
He’s the one who said he liked complicated women. I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means. He seems to think it means it’ll take a few dates to get her to commit to a relationship and for her to let him save her.
What it really means, in this case, is that she’s in love with both a dead guy (Benny) and a living guy (Grey). And as it turns out, there’s a woman who got away, too. Dex has a big heart.
She doesn’t want to screw things up with the living guy and also mess up Ansel’s life, so she keeps it platonic. She’s bisexual, so when she dates outside her platonic relationship to get her sexual needs met, she dates men and women, but she’s not interested in anything serious.
She and Miles have sexual chemistry, but they don’t gel on a deeper level, the way Dex and Grey immediately did, or have many interests in common. He’s a good choice for a nonserious date.
So while Dex superficially appears messed up and potentially available, in fact, now that she has her PI license, Dex has her life together, knows who she is, and is taking some time to work through her emotional stuff. She does not need a man, or a woman, to save her. She’s busy.
Images courtesy of ABC.