This week on Stumptown, Dex faces old foes and old issues in order to solve a case for Sue Lynn Blackbird. Dex and Grey attempt to navigate around Grey’s relationship with Liz, while Liz and Ansel become better acquainted.
Dex sits at the bar and checks out a comics-style drawing of herself done by Liz, at Grey’s request, for Dex to use on her PI Yelp page. Grey thinks she needs tp jazz up the page to bring in hits and paying customers. Dex, as usual, rejects ideas that are new and related to Liz, despite Ansel’s enthusiastic approval. During the conversation, they find out that Liz played college soccer with Tobin Heath, a famous real life player for the Portland women’s pro soccer team, the Portland Thorns FC. Ansel is a big fan of the team.
Sue Lynn enters and puts a stack of cash down in front of Dex as a retainer. She says that someone is harassing her using seemingly minor acts and she wants Dex to find out who. They’ve stolen her wallet, broken into her house, put a rotting fish on her windshield, and laid a honeytrap by sending a man to seduce her. He was just her type, but too perfect. Dex thinks she’s being paranoid. She’s barely finished saying it when a bomb explodes on the hood of Sue Lynn’s car. Dex sees Sue Lynn’s point and takes the job.
Sue Lynn withholds all but the most basic information from the police when they question her about the incident. Her right hand man, Hollis, arrives and tells the officers that any further communications will be held on the reservation. Once the police officer walks away, Dex scolds Sue Lynn for not filling the police in on everything that’s been happening. Sue Lynn has found that the police generally don’t give her a fair deal, so she doesn’t give them much to work with. Apparently Cosgrove, in particular, isn’t a fan.
We definitely need that story.
Sue Lynn and Dex bond over their shared enemies at the Portland police department, then Hollis gives Dex a box of files on Sue Lynn’s other enemies. After 30 years of running a casino and a tribal government, she’s had disagreements with a few people. When Dex examines the files she finds 141 names, including tribal members, business associates, politicians, and gaming commissioners.
Grey tries to talk Dex out of working with Sue Lynn again, but Dex is short on cash after giving back the $45k from the political campaign case gone wrong in episode 7. And she wants to help, since Sue Lynn is in danger. Grey notes that Sue Lynn has other people who can help her, she doesn’t need Dex.
Grey: “Look, I’m gonna say something to you and you’re gonna wanna punch me in the face, but you’re not gonna, because my nose is just crooked enough as it is.”
Dex: “No promises.”
Grey: “Look, you think if you impress Sue Lynn enough, she’ll regret breaking up you and Benny and realize she should have picked you over Naomi.”
Dex: “I just need the money.”
Uh huh. It can be more than one thing. Grey has Dex’s internal emotional state pegged here. He risked her anger to try to help her, but he didn’t point out her issue in a way that was hurtful, and he didn’t push it. He just said the words in an objective way and left them to bounce around inside her head. Because he knows she’s stubborn and there’s nothing else he can do right now.
Ansel interrupts to excitedly announce that Liz wants to take him to a Thorns game!!!! He’s already wearing the jersey!!! But Liz said he should get permission. Liz appears and shyly asks if it’s okay. Grey is super supportive and excited, saying it’s Ansel’s dream come true. Dex has no choice but to give her permission. Uncomfortably. Ansel takes Liz’s hand and drags her away.
Since Dex is broke, pro sports tickets are going to be beyond her budget. Remember the honeypot trap Sue Lynn mentioned? To get to Dex, you go through Ansel. To break up Dex and Grey’s friendship, say if you’re Kane and you want to weaken Grey emotionally, then lure him back into the fold, you start with Ansel. If you’re Sue Lynn and you want to keep Dex under your thumb or you blame her for the loss of your son, you might also weaken her relationship with Grey to keep her off balance.
Grey and Dex work because they each see the other’s issues and needs, and protect each other. In fact, Dex rescued Grey from Kane in their most recent encounter. They are each blind when it comes to themselves, but they are both in a much healthier place because they have Ansel and each other to look out for.
Dex visits Miles at work. He assumes it’s a social visit and tries to shoo her away, until she suggests they could have inappropriate office sex. Then he’s interested. Thank goodness she pulls the offer and tells him that she’s there on an actual work-related matter.
Remember this moment, when Miles was willing to break the rules to benefit himself, but didn’t even ask Dex why she was there before assuming it was frivolous and trying to get rid of her. And think about who’s really using who.
As Sue Lynn predicted, the police haven’t made any progress on the bombing of her car. Miles blames it on a lack of cooperation from the tribe, because it’s reasonable to expect victims to solve their own cases. Dex says that she’s there to cooperate on behalf of the tribe and gives him the list of names she gleaned from Sue Lynn’s files. As an afterthought she adds Grey’s girlfriend, Liz Melero, to the list.
Then Dex drives over to the Whispering Winds Reservation to find out what Sue Lynn and Hollis are hiding from her. She’s stopped at the entrance by her memories. She hasn’t been onto the reservation proper since Benny’s funeral 12 years ago, when Hollis and Benny’s wife, Naomi, chased her away.
Once she gathers her strength, she goes to see her old friend Nate, who’s happy to see her and fill her in on the tribe’s news. There are some members who think Sue Lynn runs the business side too conservatively because she gives preference to native-owned businesses.
Naomi pulls up to harass Dex. She’s still angry that Benny joined the military to follow Dex and thinks Dex coerced him into it, causing Naomi and Benny’s daughter to grow up without a father. She guilts Dex about Benny’s death, then orders her to leave the reservation.
Nate thought Naomi would give Dex a break after she saved Naomi’s daughter Nina’s life, but Naomi’s grudge is too deep for that.
Ansel asks Liz how much Grey pays her. She tells him $20 an hour but doesn’t mention her tips and says Grey is overpaying her. Then Grey calls her over to show her that he’s colorized her drawing of Dex for the website. Liz is worried that Dex won’t like it, but Grey says that she’s just not good at expressing her emotions.
Liz: “The woman has zero poker face.”
Grey: ” Well, she’s more of a craps girl.”
Liz worries that she’s coming between them, but Grey tells her not to.
Grey: “Look, Dex is like, she’s like a frozen dinner. You’ve just got to knock her against the counter a couple times, really hard, to loosen her up.”
Someone should tell Grey that you’re supposed to cook frozen dinners before you eat them. Also, that’s a disturbing image when applied to a person. Liz looks both confused and disturbed when he says it.
Dex gives Miles the information that some tribe members aren’t happy with the way Sue Lynn is handling the business. He looks into it and discovers a suspicious link between a tribe member and Marigold Logging, a company that Sue Lynn turned away. He brings the lead to Cosgrove, who tells him that’s tribal business and has nothing to do with the car explosion.
Cosgrove especially doesn’t like the idea that the lead came from Dex, but she tells him to pass the lead back to her anyway. Cosgrove doesn’t like dealing with cases involving the tribe beause they are jurisdictional nightmares, so she’d rather let Dex do the legwork on this one. In this episode, she and Miles are using Dex in ways that don’t seem completely legal.
Miles asks where the tension between Sue Lynn and Cosgrove started. Cosgrove looks like she might answer, but instead she shows him out the door.
Dex drinks beer while angsting on the couch and listening to Eddie Vedder sing indecipherable lyrics that are still VERY MEANINGFUL TO HER. Ah, the 90s, what a decade.
Miles, who is a problematic character but who also has excellent taste in music, walks in and gives her the look she deserves for choosing from Pearl Jam’s catalog for her Romeo and Juliet couple song, then turns the music off.
Dex informs him that she’s indisposed. He says he has a new lead in the car bombing case. Dex has quit the case, so she tries to send him to Sue Lynn. He inexplicably says that he didn’t take Dex for a wallower.
Geez, does he know her at all?
Dex says, “I’m always wallowing, I just usually do it more artfully.”
Seriously, that’s the premise of the show and character. She has damage that will never heal. Wallowing is an unkind word used to describe being overwhelmed by long term emotional pain, also known as depression. Whatever you want to call wounds so deep that they’re incurable, Dex has them, and sometimes they’re going to reopen.
Thank goodness she’s past her grunge phase, except when she needs to have a good hard Benny wallow for an afternoon. She earned this one. Naomi was brutal and Benny is never coming back. Normally, Dex would feel her feelings for a few hours, cover her wounds again and go on with her life. She doesn’t need the scene she’s about to have with Miles.
Because unlike Grey, Miles doesn’t actually care about Dex as a person. He’s there to solve a case and keep his boss happy. She’s useful to him for those reasons. She has an insider’s knowledge of the tribe even though she’s not a member. So he ruthlessly steers her away from her own mental health needs by suggesting that they’re trivial and his needs as a cop and a black man are weightier.
For a moment, Dex tries to talk to him the way she would talk to a friend about her experiences with the tribe and her profound feelings of loss over the love of her life. She’s telling Miles how hard it is that she can’t share that loss with Benny’s family, the other people who still grieve him, who she’s known her whole life.
Even though Miles has just said that he needs her, he interrupts her to tell her that he doesn’t want to listen to her. He says he gets what she’s trying to say because he’s a black man in Portland, which has absolutely nothing to do with what she’s saying. Not only did Miles make it all about him, he used his race to manipulate her. He needs her- she isn’t allowed to also need him.
Right now, Dex needs to work through her pain by speaking it out loud to someone. There was no immediate emergency with this case. Miles could have listened to her for a few more minutes or called someone else to listen, like Grey, and then they could have picked things up with the case again the next day.
Instead, he pushed her to view her issues as “white girl problems”, a misogynist term that suggests women’s problems only matter if they’re entertaining or matter to men. Just imagine if Dex told Miles his problems didn’t matter because of his race and gender and she used the same kind of infantilizing language to say it. It would be horrifying.
The phrase “white girl problems” should be banished forever.
I know Miles didn’t use the phrase himself, but he tacitly agreed with Dex. And the episode’s writers did use it, so this needs to be said. Stop telling women that their legitimate issues don’t matter because they bore you, as you sit there wallowing in your male privilege and whining that a “girl” was mean to you or ignored you or in some way didn’t pay you the homage you feel you deserve. You’re frankly probably lucky that’s all she did.
Dex’s issues are as profound as a human can have, and match any man’s, problem for problem: abuse, neglect and abandonment by her parents; the stress of being responsible for long term care and financial support of her disabled brother; the loss of her lifelong love; rejection by his family; mental health issues caused by fighting in a war- she’s a diagnosed disabled veteran who receives benefits, don’t forget; substance abuse and gambling issues. She has no family other than Ansel and no one to fall back on other than Grey, who could disappear at anytime, since he’s a convicted felon who hasn’t settled his old scores.
Dex is a walking Shakespearean tragedy or two or three. Stumptown has given a lot of time to Miles’ heartbreak over the loss of his friend and criminal informant and how that loss still affects him, many years later. For Miles to dismiss Dex the way he just did, after he almost killed Kane over what’s-his-name a few episodes ago, is the height of misogyny and insensitivity.
Dex realizes that Miles is a sex buddy and work colleague who only pretends to be a friend when he wants something, pulls herself together, and listens to what he has to say. Then she meets with Sue Lynn and Hollis again. They haven’t spoken to Marigold Logging in 6 months, but Dex found that someone from the reservation has called the company 21 times.
Sue Lynn asks why Dex isn’t pursuing the 141 names she was given. Dex says that if Sue Lynn only hired her because she thought Dex would be easy to control, then their deal is off. Dex needs access to the reservation and its records and to be allowed to go wherever the leads take her, or she’s off the case.
Sue Lynn agrees to Dex’s terms, but wants to assign her a native chaperone so that the rest of the tribe will feel more comfortable with her presence. Dex won’t agree to Hollis as her guide, so Sue Lynn assigns Naomi.
Never play chess or anything else against Sue Lynn.
In answer to things Naomi said earlier in the episode, Dex tells Naomi that she’s wrong, Dex never did anything to encourage Benny to leave his wife and child or join the military. If she’d been asked, she would have told him not to. Naomi doesn’t care, since Dex’s intentions don’t change anything.
Lol. Easy for Naomi to blame Dex, instead of the guy who actually left her of his own volition. Seems like they should both be blaming Benny for not standing up to his controlling mother sooner and thus putting them both in this position.
Their first stop is the reservation Trading Post where the burner phone was purchased that called the logging company. The manager is reluctant to cooperate and Naomi encourages him to withhold information. Dex has to remind them that Sue Lynn ordered them to do whatever she needs.
There’s no security footage or other record of the cash purchase. The crime rate at the store is so low that the tribal council voted not to replace the camera when it broke many years ago. Dex discovers that the tribal council signs off on major contracts and expenditures and they don’t always unanimously agree with Sue Lynn’s decisions. Dex wants to meet with them, but Naomi insists that their meetings are closed to outsiders. Dex doesn’t care about the council’s formal rules.
Naomi takes Dex to the meeting and tries to impress the rules on her again, but Dex is more interested in doing her job while all of her suspects are in one place. The councilors aren’t supposed to bring cellphones to the meeting, so Dex calls the burner number to check if the suspect is waiting for a call while he’s there. Hollis’ nephew, Leigh, reaches into his pocket when the burner number rings.
Dex tells Naomi that she needs to catch the bomber because they’re trying to kill Sue Lynn, but the evidence points toward harassment rather than murder. The bomb was planted and went off while Sue Lynn was inside the bar. The other episodes of harassment were property crimes as well, except the honeytrap, which would be nonviolent.
But, since Benny died from an IED that got their vehicle, any car bomb is going to be very, very difficult for Dex to cope with, especially one aimed at Benny’s mother.
Miles tells Cosgrove that the bomb was created by an amateur using Class C fireworks, like the type sold on the reservation. Cosgrove is worried about investigating the sale of the fireworks and violating jurisdictional rules, so she and Miles agree to let Dex continue investigating.
Pretty sure handing an official police investigation over to a PI is against more than just jurisdictional rules.
Grey finds Ansel studying videos to learn bartending and says that he’ll teach Ansel everything he needs to know. Liz overhears and once Ansel leaves the room, Grey tells her how lucky he is to have Ansel to keep him grounded and out of trouble. Liz observes he’s less dangerous now than he used to be because of Ansel. They flirt a little over whether she’s attracted to danger.
No red flags there. Except that she just confirmed that it’s Ansel who is keeping Grey from going back to his career as a safecracker for Kane,
After the council meeting, Dex asks to see the cell phone in Leigh’s pocket. He’s not happy to see her and tries to run instead of showing it to her. She tackles him, then questions him about the logging company. He admits to negotiating with Marigold Logging because he disagrees with Sue Lynn. He says that, “Sue Lynn’s isolationist outlook is running this tribe into the ground.” He mentions disenrollment as one of the drastic measures she’s taken.
He reminds Dex of Benny. She keeps Leigh talking and steers the conversation toward the bomb. Leigh is shocked when she brings it up and swears that he had nothing to do with it. A minute later, Dex gets a call from Miles telling her that Leigh was at Marigold Logging all morning on the day of the bombing.
Dex goes back to Leigh and asks how he intended to get rid of Sue Lynn. He was working toward a vote of no confidence. They take him to his Uncle Hollis to use him for leverage. Dex wants more information on the people who were disenrolled, since they’re now her prime suspects.
Hollis is hesitant to share that information with Dex, but the disenrollment issue is personal for her. She was cut out of the life of the tribe herself, so she knows what it feels like, and how angry and vengeful they might get. She blames Sue Lynn for handing out harsh punishments and threatens to tell her that Leigh wanted to overthrow her. Hollis knows what that would mean for his nephew, so he agrees to cooperate, as long as Dex and Naomi stay quiet about Leigh. Naomi agrees.
While she’s waiting for Hollis to get the disenrollment records, Dex calls Grey to say she’ll be working late. He tells her that Liz is driving Ansel home. Dex isn’t sure she’s okay with that. Grey says Dex should be grateful and might want to spend more time with Liz to get to know her, since she’s important to him.
Dex finds Naomi at Benny’s grave. Naomi tells her that she fell in love when Benny when she was 6, but she never really knew who he was. She waited for him to want her and when he did, she didn’t ask too many questions. Dex says that Benny wanted to lead his people, but Naomi thinks he wanted Dex even more than that. She wonders if she’d let him go sooner if he’d still be alive, but Dex stops her.
They both know that thinking like that will just “spin you out.” Naomi has been spinning for 12 years, since Benny died. Dex tells her not to blame herself. Naomi tells Dex that she threw Benny out when she got tired of him moping around over Dex and listening to that Pearl Jam song. That’s why she blames herself.
Dex tells her again not to blame herself. She says that she can’t tell Naomi everything about the night Benny died, but Naomi needs to trust her. Benny didn’t die because of her.
Hollis drives up and interrupts their conversation. The disenrollment list only includes 7 names. Sue Lynn only uses it as a last resort for people who endanger the tribe. All of the names were already in the list of 141 names they gave Dex, but the files didn’t mention the disenrollment. Hollis tells Dex that trust is difficult for him.
Miles quickly finds the most likely suspect, Russ Foster. He was disenrolled recently after he sold opioids to 3 kids who died from overdoses. Miles takes a squad to Russ’ place to question him. Russ says the deaths were an accident. He threatens to detonate a bomb rather than allow himself to be arrested. Miles tries to talk him down, then wrestles the bomb away from him.
Back at the station, Miles ushers Dex into the interrogation room. He discovered that Liz is dating Grey and gives Dex a scolding for having him do a background check on her, which is apparently a felony, since it wasn’t related to a crime. He asks if she has feelings for Grey and accuses her of using him. She apologizes and says she’s a chronic screw up.
Once again, this is why I can’t support any relationship other than minimal professional contact between them. He acted like that was a professional meeting, then turned it into personal humiliation and gaslighting. She’s got her PI license. She doesn’t need him and can develop another contact at the Portland PD who isn’t so toxic.
Sue Lynn strolls into the station and demands that Russ be released because she isn’t pressing charges, he’s being reinstated into the tribe and it was tribal property that was damaged, so the whole thing is out of Cosgrove’s hands anyway. Cosgrove is angry that Sue Lynn is doing this “again” and they bicker over jurisdiction for a minute.
Once Russ is released, Dex asks Sue Lynn what will happen to him. Sue Lynn says that she was so upset after the three kids died that she lashed out and unfairly took it out on Russ. She won’t turn her back on him again.
Then she pays Dex $5,300 in poker chips from the tribe’s casino. Dex tries to get her to switch it to cash or check, but Sue Lynn ignores her and tells her to try to make it to the cashier before she places a bet.
Dex asks why Sue Lynn had her work with Naomi. Sue Lynn asks Dex what she thinks. Dex says that Sue Lynn hoped that they’d work things out between them. Sue Lynn says, “The wise old Indian- that’s a stereotype, Dex. Thought you knew better.”
Dex still wants Sue Lynn to be her mother. Sue Lynn takes care of herself first and the tribe second. Her son might have been third on the list, might have been further down. She just handed Dex, a woman with a gambling problem, a bag of chips as pay when she’s broke. Whatever Sue Lynn is doing, she’s not looking out for Dex’s best interest.
Dex goes back to Bad Alibi and asks for a triple. When grey says she looks guilty about something, she tells him that things are great between her and Sue Lynn and her and Miles.
Dex: “You know you’re wrong about Sue Lynn. I don’t need her approval. I need her forgiveness.”
Grey: “Forgiveness for what?”
Dex: “There are things I have never told you. Never told anyone. Things that happened in Kabul…”
Grey nods for her to continue with her confession, but Liz interrupts them. She’s just returned after dropping Ansel off at home. She stayed to watched UNC soccer on Youtube with him.
Jolted out of her emotional confession for the third time that day, Dex gives up and decides to hit the casino. Liz makes noises about how fun the game with the dice sounds. Between Dex’s well known belief in beginners’ luck and Grey’s desire for the two to get to know each other better, Dex and Liz are soon at the casino together for girls night out.
Lady luck smiles down on them, the alcohol flows and by morning, they are asleep in Dex’s bed together. And Liz is naked.
TheHoneypot/Trap is an espionage/blackmail technique in which an attractive potential sexual partner is deliberately placed in the path of a target and ordered to seduce the target into compromising positions which are then recorded, if the objective is blackmail. If the objective is espionage, the honeypot attempts to gain sufficient affection and sympathy from the target in order to lure them into either switching sides or working as a double agent. It’s popular in fiction, particularly when used by a femme fatale. It’s been successfully used in real life, often by female spies turning male targets and by men blackmailing targets into submission following homosexual relationships during the Cold War in the 20th century.
I guarantee you, Liz is a honeypot. We don’t know for sure if she was sent for Grey, Dex or both. The fact that Miles told Dex off for adding her name to the tribe’s list of names almost guarantees that she belongs on it and that he didn’t dig deep enough into Liz’s background and connections because of his own prejudices. The way he trivializes Dex’s issues and life is a continuous problem.
It could be that Liz is being blackmailed into being a honeypot because of her own gambling debts, not that she’s working for Sue Lynn. But she could definitely be working for Sue Lynn. She could be also working for Kane, as previously mentioned. Or she could be working for Randall Tapper, who was specifically mentioned in the show last week as having been badly affected by Dex. We know that Tapper also has access to beautiful young women.
We’ve seen what Dex likes in a woman- someone who’s had hard times and adventures that make her mysterious and/or hard-edged, and who can keep up with Dex’s vices, but who’s a good person underneath. Dex has a preference for tall, leggy blondes, so making Liz a tall, leggy brunette makes her seem like less of a plant. It could be that the brunette part was to get Grey’s attention initially. But Liz has been very obviously studying both Dex and Grey and how she can grow closer to both, which would help her come between them.
Randall Tapper has good reasons to want revenge on both Sue Lynn and Dex for ruining the school deal he had with the tribe that was also a secret smuggling operation. They interfered in both his personal and business affairs, so it would make sense for his revenge to target both aspects of their lives. Hollis, who helped take Tapper down, is also being targeted through Leigh and potentially separated from Sue Lynn the way Grey and Dex are being driven apart. They may eventually discover that Marigold Logging belongs to Tapper and approached Leigh first.
There were minor honeypots running all through this episode, since so many of the relationships have proven to be transactional in nature.
Though we are supposed to think Liz and Dex had sex, I’m not convinced it’s the truth. I think Liz might say they did because she’s here to tear Dex and Grey apart, but I think the odds are even on whether it actually happened.
Images courtesy of ABC.