Stumptown Season 1 Episode 7: November Surprise Recap

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This week, Dex is hired by the State Senate campaign of Llewellyn Slocombe, a wealthy rancher who was supported by her nemesis Randall Tapper, until Dex cost him so much money that he had to withdraw his donation. Slocombe’s campaign manager, Vanessa, hires Dex to dig up dirt on his gay, but squeaky clean, political opponent, beloved Councilman Dan Gibson. Vanessa gets a little intense about her need to destroy Dan and offers Dex $50k to compromise her morals. Dex decides she can stomach getting involved in politics for that price. Then the building is evacuated because of an anthrax scare.

Politics is a truly cutthroat business.

Dex goes undercover as a volunteer at Dan’s campaign office and is assigned to work the phone bank. Dan’s office is much happier and looser than Slocombe’s, but the candidate is still buffered from the hoi polloi. The guy sitting next to her mentions that they lost their venue for that night’s large fundraising event, which gives Dex an opening. She offers Bad Alibi as a last minute replacement.

Meanwhile, Liz and Grey have gotten closer, close enough for her to ask him for a bartending job. He makes her audition first. She questions Grey about Ansel’s barback employment deal while she’s making him a drink and decides he’s a pushover as a boss. That’s a strike against her, since Ansel is family and gets a good deal because of it. Grey likes the drink, so she requests $20 an hour and to keep her tips out of the pool. He counters with an offer of a real date.

Councilman Dan and his husband, Anthony, are grateful to Grey and Dex for their help with the venue. Grey is enthusiastic about Dan’s policies. Dex lets Dan know that Grey is a felon and can’t vote, which bugs Grey, since it was unnecessary information in that context.

Dex is characteristically rude about Liz’s bartending job. Then Miles shows up at the fundraiser and she invites him to their Thanksgiving dinner so he can meet Ansel. Miles is interested in politics and supports Councilman Dan.

Dex uses the distraction of Dan’s speech to the fundraiser crowd to go back to the campaign office and search for something incriminating. The volunteer coordinator, Carol, follows Dex back to the office. She’s also a PI and was hired by Slocombe’s campaign to find something on Dan, but she was offered $75k. Dex finds a letter that looks promising and the two women argue over it until Dex shoves Carol to the floor, then runs away with it.

The next day, Dex goes out of town to follow up on the information in the letter, so Grey stops by the house to check in with Ansel and go over their security procedures. If Ansel isn’t okay, he’s supposed to text the word “apple” so Grey can help him.

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Carol goes to Miles to ask him to scare Dex off of the case for her. She says that Dex is too green as a PI to be involved in a case as rough as this. Miles goes both misogynist and ageist when he asks Carol why she’s still practicing her profession at her old age, since she’s probably barely able to work anymore.

The actress, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, is 45. Michael Ealy, who plays Miles, is 46. Camryn Manheim, who plays Cosgrove is 58.

Robb Derringer, who plays Randall Tapper, the corrupt, womanizing businessman that Dex went up against in a few early episodes, is 52. Donal Logue, who plays Artie Banks, another veteran PI, is 53. Banks is consistently portrayed as being at the height of his career and abilities, with his experience considered an asset. Remember the magazine cover that was hung on Banks’ office wall? Cosgrove is also clearly not just older, but more experienced than Miles, and in charge of him for a reason.

But in Carol, a middle aged female PI, misogynist Miles only sees someone who’s too old, and who needs to not just retire, but to leave society altogether and move out to a cabin in the woods where she won’t bother anyone. She’s more than 20 years from getting Social Security, what the f— do these writers and Miles think she’s going to do out in the woods?

That was an incredibly offensive scene. He made sure to emphasize the cabin again before she left, making it more than just a running joke between them. Miles literally tried to put her out to pasture.

Good job, ABC/Disney. Next up for Disney, Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow are retired at the ripe old age of 35, while the male Avengers keep going until they’re 50+.

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Dex tracks down the author of the letter she found, a professor that Dan used to work with when he taught at a college. Once Dex puts some pressure on him, Professor Charan tells her that Dan wasn’t out yet when he taught at the school and Charan always suspected that Dan had an affair with one of his female students, a blonde volleyball player.

Grey looks through old photos of the college volleyball team online and picks out a likely candidate. Liz joins him while he’s making his final choice and helps out. He admits to her that he enjoys helping Dex with her PI work. She asks if he Google stalked her when they met, and he denies it.

She thinks he’s lying and assumes he already knows that her ex-boyfriend had a psychotic break while they were on vacation in France and claimed she was a drug runner. She was detained by the French police and had to be rescued by the US State Department. She was trapped in France for 2 months, then lost her job and everything else. She had been living in Seattle, but after that ordeal, her reputation was so damaged that she moved to Portland to start over. Grey says he’s not sure if she’s messing with him or not.

Grey calls Dex to give her the name of the volleyball player, Emma Lindstrom, who dropped out of school after her sophomore year. Dex finds her easily, since she still lives in the area with her brother, Casey, and her son, Jacob. She dropped out of school to have Dan’s baby. There’s no father listed on Jacob’s birth certificate. Jacob and Dan don’t know about each other.

Dex explain’s her situation to Emma and Casey. They don’t really understand that even if Dex sits on the information, someone else will find out before long. She advises them to tell Jacob the truth while they still have the chance to do it themselves. Casey throws her out of the house.

Dex goes to Grey to talk through her dilemma as she tries to decide what to do with the information she’s found. Before she gets very far into the conversation, Liz interrupts them. Grey says that Dex should continue, because Liz already knows what’s going on. Dex gets angry at him for sharing the private aspects of her work with Liz, since she’s not sure Liz can be trusted.

Dex doesn’t say it, but the truth is, Liz could be another private investigator or just someone unscrupulous enough to sell the information to the highest bidder. After her experiences with Tapper, Dex is right to be cautious with such sensitive information. Grey needs to learn to be as cautious with information pertaining to Dex’s work as he is with his own.

That night, Dex drinks someplace that isn’t the Bad Alibi and Liz texts Grey at the last minute saying that she can’t make their date.

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In the morning, Dex goes to Carol’s house and offers to split the $75k with her if Carol will be the one to take the information about Emma and Jacob to Slocombe. Carol has decided that she doesn’t want to work anymore cases that make her seem like a bad guy, and figures out immediately that that’s what this is about. She trash talks Dex some more and tells her to act fast, because the other PIs Slocombe hired will catch up soon.

As she’s leaving, Ansel texts “apple” to Dex, which means he’s in trouble. She rushes home and finds Slocombe’s campaign manager, Vanessa, there with a huge check. Casey approached her to sell the family secret, so they’d at least make money from it instead of someone else. Vanessa is paying Dex the finders’ fee. Slocombe is going to announce the news at the county fair in an hour and ruin Councilman Dan’s reputation as an honest man. Since Dex can’t talk Vanessa out of using the information, she leaves to find another solution.

When she starts her shift at the bar, Liz tells Grey that she wants to make their relationship strictly work-related. He’s confused, because he hasn’t done anything wrong. Liz explains that her last boyfriend had an ex-girlfriend that he was close to and he eventually got back together with her. She’s afraid the same thing is going to happen with Dex and Grey, and wants to protect herself. Grey assures her that he and Dex would never, ever work as a romantic couple, so she has nothing to worry about. He convinces her to keep dating.

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Dex tracks down Councilman Dan at the county fair and tells him and Anthony, who’s also Dan’s campaign manager, about Emma, Jacob and Slocombe’s machinations. She informs him that Slocombe is about to make the whole thing public, but she has a plan for how they could protect Jacob. Dan agrees. He drops out of the race and Slocombe signs a contract stating he’ll never reveal what he knows about Jacob.

Vanessa is still impressed with Dex and promises to keep her in mind for future jobs, but Dex says she isn’t interested. She returns Slocombe’s $45k check, since she considers it blood money.

Dex, Ansel, Grey, Liz and Miles celebrates Friendsgiving together at Dex’s house. Grey and Dex are rude toward each other’s dates, as is traditional. Miles insults Dex’s ability to prepare food, but he whispers it to Ansel instead of saying it out loud, which is even worse.

Dex seems down and Grey encourages her to tell Liz what happened. He paints Dex as a hero. She says that she saved one kid, Jacob, from the world, but to do it she had to destroy a good man’s career. Liz reacts to this by making a toast to the unpredictable, which allowed her to meet Grey. Then she goes to the bathroom. While she’s gone, Dex worries that Liz might be too happy, which she sees as a sign of mental illness.

Liz did have a strange reaction to Dex’s story.

The gang all enjoy Friendsgiving dinner together.

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Commentary

This show loves to play with secrets and lies. It’s the basis of Dex’s job, but it also comes up in the main characters’ lives every week. We’re going to be peeling back layers for the foreseeable future. Ansel is the anchor because he’s the only trustworthy, completely open person in Portland. Cosgrove and Tookie are parental figures because they’re close behind, but every adult has something they keep private. Most of Portland has closets and storage units full their of hidden pasts.

I keep trying to like Miles, but he is an arrogant misogynist and I can’t deal with that. Dex is a woman who was raised by abusive parents, survived the loss of the love of her life, has PTSD from fighting in a literal war and who takes care of her disabled brother. That’s a lot to be getting on with already- I’m not going to root for her to be with a guy whose self centered attitudes will turn him abusive toward her eventually when he’s had enough of her issues overshadowing his. It happens too frequently in real life already. Dex needs a guy who just is a decent person, not one who’s proud of himself for it, as if he’s doing her a favor every time. Miles thinks he’s doing every woman a favor, every time. And I’ll be especially upset if Miles teaches Ansel to be a misogynist.

Isn’t it sweet that the two female PIs have decided they don’t have the stomach to do the full range of PI work? They’re like mommy track PIs, too pure and madonna-like to get their hands and halos dirty.

Every episode should start with Dex photographing a husband cheating on his wife.

Someone needs to Google stalk Liz on camera. Grey is going to be too much of a gentleman to do it. When this episode started, she told him her brother was a champion axe thrower or some similarly unlikely story. I’ve never trusted her and every episode I trust her less. The Paris story could be true; it’s just that everything about her is unlikely. At the very least, trouble doesn’t just follow her, she seeks it out, and she’s attracted to Grey because he’s a felon. I think there’s a good chance she’s working for Kane or some other enemy, but she could just be a danger groupie or a random con artist.

Did she search Dex’s bathroom at the end of the episode?

Images courtesy of ABC.

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