Stumptown Season 1 Episode 10 : Reality Checks Don’t Bounce Recap

Dex Shows Judge Cat Photo

This week on Stumptown, Dex helps a reality show judge with his wayward brother and tries to cope with the thought of Ansel moving out. Miles, Grey and Dex all deal with the fallout from Grey’s relationship with Liz. Miles brings Grey in to help with a case.

Dex spends the episode struggling with her fear of being alone, as symbolized by the many cat and cat lady references. The cat lady references and warnings to uppity women who aren’t nice enough to men and children even spilled over into Fox’s Almost Family, which aired at the same time on Disney’s other broadcast network. Interesting synergy.

I am traumatized by tuning in early enough to catch the last ~minute of the show that’s on before Stumptown, in which a group of very young children coach a very old man on how to pick up women in a bar, then heckle him as he puts their advice to use. This might be the most disturbing thing I’ve seen this month, and I’ve seen the news. It’s like those old commercials that put talking adult faces onto babies. Chilling. We don’t need to find new ways to sexualize children.

Recap

stumptown-episode-110-reality-checks-dont-bounce-promotional-photo-02_full

Dex has somehow ended up in front of a grandstanding reality show judge, whose catchphrase is, “Reality checks don’t bounce!” She’s attempting to get paid by a client whose cat was missing. The client says Dex returned the wrong cat, but the cat, Harry, is missing a front leg and has distinctive markings, so it seems unlikely. The judge requests a copy of their contract, but Dex only has a verbal contract, which is sufficient in the State of Oregon. The judge, Antonio Price, rules in Dex’s favor, then hires her to track down his deadbeat brother, Lataurus Price.

Antonio bought a house for Lataurus and their mother to share, but Lataurus sold it out from under their mom and kept all of the money. The judge is looking for a reason to have him thrown in jail. He wants Dex to serve Lataurus with a summons. Dex questions whether Antonio really wants to use such a hostile approach with his brother. He does.

At home, Dex tells Ansel about her day on the TV set and her new case working for a rich reality TV star, allowing her to charge her highest rate yet. Ansel is proud of her, but he still wants to move out so he can see himself as a grown, independent adult instead of being dependent on his older sister forever.

It’s clear that he’s figured out that real “men” aren’t dependent on female relatives and that Dex views him as her child substitute. Having Ansel to take care of is great for providing a stabilizing element in Dex’s life, but it doesn’t allow Ansel to grow up.

Miles is tapped by the police captain to escort his wife to the Matchbox Twenty concert as a reward for the great work he’s done lately. Except it’s more of a punishment than a reward for Miles, whose taste runs to jazz rather than commercial rock. Cosgrove takes credit for securing Miles’ front row seats, telling him her prank is pay back for the time he filled her car with animal crackers after she’d been on safari.

Dex can’t find Lataurus Price on the databases she has access to, so she brings her file to the station to ask if Miles will help. He’s rude to her and doesn’t want to get involved. It turns out that at the end of episode 9, when he showed up at her house late at night and unannounced to explain what he wanted their relationship to be, without considering anything about her needs or life first, she told him she wasn’t interested and wants to be alone for the moment.

Thank goodness.

This is her attempt to continue their work partnership, which Miles conveniently forgets has been helpful to him in the past as well.

She convinces him to look into the case by telling him that Lataurus screwed his own mother out of her house, in true loser narcissist style. Miles looks at the photo she included in the file and recognizes the style of the barber who did Lataurus’ haircut. He visits the shop for a trim and asks about the photo. The barber tells him that the judge’s brother is a scumbag and can be found with the other scumbags- at a sports and gambling bar.

When Dex finds him there, he’s bet a large sum of cash on a football game. His team loses, so she helps him make a quick escape. Once they’re in her car, she serves him with his brother’s summons.

Dex drives Lataurus to his apartment, which is filled with cages waiting for civet cats that are stuck in customs. Lataurus used the money he got from selling the family home to buy these South East Asian animals, which have a natural taste for coffee beans. They eat the ripe coffee cherry, then poop out coffee beans from which the fruit has been digested. The resulting product can be sold for a high price to idiots who have somehow been convinced that animal cruelty and feces equals a rare and superior product.

This is a real practice. Nowhere in this episode will anyone condemn Lataurus for his unethical plans for the animals and Dex’s one snide comment about selling his home is the only judgement that will be made against him for putting his money into this business venture. Instead, we’re going to ooh and aah over the judge and the criminal brother finding each other again, while this show makes more people aware that they can buy a product that drives a species to extinction while forcing individual animals to live horrific lives.

Good job, Disney.

Civet Cat Coffee: Can World’s Most Expensive Brew Be Made Sustainably? (No, it can’t. This is a ludricrous idea- see the next link.)

What Kopi Luwak Is and Why You Should Avoid It 

Lataurus was gambling because his partner in crime, Dwaddle Chen, is impatient for some payback on the civet cat scheme, but Lataurus doesn’t have either the cats or the money to pay the fees to get them through customs. Since Lataurus’ team lost, he’s dug himself into a deeper hole and is now packing to go on the run. Dex points out that if Lataurus ignores the judge’s summons he’ll go to jail. Lataurus informs her that Chen will kill him if he doesn’t receive a payment soon, so jail is only a minor concern. Then he complains that his brother probably gave her the wrong impression about him, since the judge has always been unfair to him. Uh-huh.

Dex lets the judge know that she delivered the summons and Lataurus owes Chen money for a criminal operation. Antonio is getting fitted for a suit for a ceremony where he’s being honored by his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, who he considers his real brothers. But it will upset his mom if his brother is in danger, so he wants Dex to continue to investigate Lataurus’ criminal business dealings.

On the way home from the Matchbox Twenty concert, a frisky Mrs Police Captain and Miles stop to get gas. When Miles leaves her alone in the car for a moment to go inside and get a pack of gum, a couple of goons pull up and throw Mrs Captain from the car, then drive it away.

As Cosgrove says, his one job was to be their boss’s wife’s bodyguard, and he couldn’t even do that. She assigns him to find the culprits, even though he’s a homicide detective rather than in the auto theft department. The suspects were caught on video, so they can make a positive ID.

Grey lets Dex back in the bar and they have a heart to heart, Grey and Dex style. He tells her he saw the video and he knows there are two sides to the story. He and Liz have broken up. Dex says she’d never intentionally hurt him. Grey admits that he shouldn’t have said all of the horrible things he said to her, that he was being unfair. Dex admits that it wasn’t unreasonable, given the way things looked at the time, for him to think what he thought.

She tries to continue, but he pulls out a bottle of whiskey and a couple of glasses and says they should just toast to being good with each other again and move on. So they do. Grey asks what’s new with Dex and she tells him about her new case and how sad it makes her to see siblings who can’t stand each other. It makes her think about Ansel and how she’s avoiding him because he wants to move out.

Grey asks what’s wrong with that, since Ansel is an adult. Dex can’t understand why he’d want to leave, since she lets him live a good life for a kid. Grey reiterates that Ansel is 21, he’s not a kid anymore. Dex teases Grey that he’s supposed to be on her side, but he refuses to take sides in a family matter like this. He sends her back to talk to Ansel.

As Dex is leaving, Miles comes in. He says hi, but keeps walking, because he’s there to talk to Grey about the auto theft. Rather than just asking Grey about his contacts, Miles uses the fact that he didn’t send Grey to jail over the Kane incident as leverage to make Grey be his front man in the investigation.

Lataurus gets kidnapped and Antonio receives a ransom note for $5 million. Dex is shocked that the kidnappers would ask for that much, but Antonio says he made $31 million last year. Reality checks really don’t bounce.

Antonio thinks Lataurus is faking the kidnapping, but Dex found blood at his house, so she thinks it’s real. They argue over whether to go to the police, but Antonio is sick of Lataurus’ drama and doesn’t want his own name dragged through the social media mud because of his brother.

He tries to get Dex to understand what it’s like to have a deadbeat for a sibling, who’s constantly conning you, all of your life, so that you can never trust them, but she only has innocent, adorable Ansel as a reference and just doesn’t get it. She wants to continue her investigation, which is reasonable, but she can’t stop seeing Lataurus as a victim in every part of this situation. Antonio warns her to be careful.

If Antonio gave Lataurus the chance, Lataurus would siphon his entire fortune away within weeks. He’d spend or lose it all within a few more weeks and then he’d come back looking for more, angry that his brother wasn’t continuing to support him. Lataurus would still blame everything wrong with his life on Antonio, no matter how many millions Antonio gave him. That’s the reality of a family member with this type of relationship to money (or drugs or gambling or violence…). You can’t save them from themselves.

stumptown-episode-110-reality-checks-dont-bounce-promotional-photo-14_full

Grey visits a local chop shop looking for the captain’s car. He’s honest about why he’s there and the guy who runs the shop, Zev, tosses him out. Grey notices the car in the shop while he’s there, so he tells Miles that Zev will call the carjacker to take the car back, since it belongs to a cop. Miles decides that he and Grey should stake out the chop shop until the suspect shows up.

Dex tries offering Ansel better living terms, but he insists on moving out. He’s found a place with other adults like him and saved up the money he needs, but she doesn’t want him to live with strangers. They end the argument in a stand-off.

Dex visit’s Chen’s Pet Shop, the business run by Lataurus’ partner in crime and the person who was most likely to kidnap him. (His bookie also had motivation, but probably doesn’t know where he lives.) The place has a strong odor, which Chen claims is animal pheromones, possibly ferrets or hamsters. Chen’s grandson comes onto the shop floor and Chen asks if he fed “him” and cleaned the cage. The grandson replies that he did and “he” is sleeping now.

When Dex tells them she’s looking for Lataurus, Chen waves a baseball bat at her threateningly and the grandson locks her in the shop. Chen backs her up against snakes in a cage and tells her a story about dogs being grateful while snakes are efficient and deadly.

Dex explains that Antonio Price is looking for his brother. The Chens get excited that Lataurus is the judge’s brother. Dwaddle says he’d like to introduce Lataurus to his snakes but he doesn’t know where he is. They let her go. Chen never puts down the bat.

Antonio calls as she’s leaving to tell Dex that the kidnappers sent him one of Lataurus’ ears, with his favorite earing still attached and a note saying they have 24 hours to get the cash. Antonio is still confused about whether the kidnapping is real, but he feels terrible about the whole thing and worried about Lataurus.

Dex believed that Chen didn’t have Lataurus, so she decides to continue investigating, starting with the security guy who received the package with the ear. The security guy, Bobby, doesn’t remember the delivery clearly, but after talking to Dex for a minute, he remembers that the delivery boy smelled like his little sister’s pet hamster. Just like Chen’s Pet Shop. Dex tries to call Miles to tell him that she has a kidnapping case, but he doesn’t answer, because he assumes it’s personal and about him.

Dex really needs to make friends with another cop.

Miles and Grey have been on the stake out for 10 hours when Dex calls. Miles muses that he’s never met anyone like her. Both men agree that it’s best to have the attitude that they took their shot with her and have moved on. Or at least Grey thinks it’s best if other men move on. 😏

The carjacker finally arrives at the chop shop, so Miles beats him up a little and arrests him. He interrogates the suspect at the station and learns about a much larger crime ring.

stumptown-episode-110-reality-checks-dont-bounce-promotional-photo-16_full

Dex and Antonio come up with a plan to lure Chen out of his shop. Antonio calls and pretends that he’s gotten a delivery of snakes that he wants to sell. He arranges for Chen to meet him immediately.

Once the shop is empty, Dex and Antonio sneak inside. They find Lataurus inside a large cage in a back room. He still has both of his ears, so Antonio is suspicious once again. The Chens come back before they can get out of the store. Dwaddle says it’s easy to get an ear, but not to worry, it’s from a dead man.

He has a gun instead of a bat this time. He wants his money or his cats. Lataurus argues with Chen and with his brother. Dex tells them the cops will be there soon. Chen threatens to shoot Lataurus, but ends up shooting Antonio in the chest. Dex wrestles Chen for the gun and his grandson gets shot in the leg. She finally beats him in hand to hand.

Antonio survives the gunshot wound, but it was close. Dex brings him his favorite lemon pepper wings in the hospital. Lataurus tells him he always was the lucky one. Antonio tries to be a good brother and offers to help Lataurus. All Lataurus wants is money. Once the financial arrangements are made, he leaves. Antonio says that time with cats is never wasted, but you have to let the cat go when it’s ready.

Most cats are not the kind of opportunist that Lataurus is. Antonio is selling himself and cats short. He proved he’s well-adjusted and open-hearted. His brother is the one with the issues.

Dex decides she needs to let her cat brother move on too. Grey solves everything by offering to let Ansel live with him. Ansel gets to have his independence, but he’s still somewhere safe, where Dex and Grey won’t worry about him. Grey reminds Dex that Ansel is a grown up. Ansel reminds Dex that she’s a grown up too, and she’ll be okay on her own.

Dex is touched by the “adult” key ring Ansel gives her, but I don’t think she really believes she’ll be okay. She’s been able to avoid her issues by focusing on Ansel.

Miles comes to the bar to tell Grey that the carjacker revealed that the car ring is a front for something bigger. He’s decided that Grey is more knowledgeable about cars than anyone else in Portland, so he’s going undercover for Miles, whether he wants to or not. Grey doesn’t want to, but Miles blackmails him with the missing $500k of Kane’s that Grey used to start the bar.

Dex and Miles both remember her telling him, “I just want to do this alone.”

Grey and Ansel watch Dex’s episode of “Black Justice”.

Dex sits alone in Ansel’s room and is sad.

According to the writers of this show, she is now invisible or a ghost, since she no longer has a man to define her life by. As far as Dex knew, other women didn’t even exist in this episode, other than the cat lady Dex was forbidden to speak to. Each woman who spoke, spoke only to a man. Dex lives in Gilead. Miles appears to be recruiting Grey into the Sons of Jacob.

The show is now a buddy show about Miles and Grey and Grey’s adorable but quirky roommate. Where does Dex even fit into the storylines this episode set up? In real life, Dex would be surrounded by the women in her life, not alone. They wouldn’t abandon her when she stopped having sex with them.


Commentary

Miles had so much potential at the beginning of the season, and he’s deteriorated into such a jerk. I keep saying he’s cold with women, but he’s treating Grey just as badly. Grey needs to get a lawyer and some kind of written immunity/plea agreement or Miles will milk him dry as a CI until he ends up dead or in prison again. Or maybe Grey and Dex need to dig up blackmail material on Miles.

The thing this show does well is family and best friend relationships. Dex and Grey’s talk was exactly like a married couple getting over a fight, where you know you just have to accept the other person’s faults and move on, because you love them anyway. It was written and acted beautifully. The same goes for everything involving Grey, Ansel and Dex. As a three person family, they are functional, in their own way. Liz might have been able to find a way to join the family, but she wasn’t going to succeed in breaking it apart.

I’m not sure what Miles is currently up to with Grey, but it’s a little scary. He got his last CI killed. Is he trying to get closer to Dex through Grey while also moving Grey out of the picture or is he just trying to make a niche for himself within the family system? Or is this revenge on Dex for rejecting him? Is it simply what he says it is? That’s pretty unlikely, given the fact that Miles is a guy who likes complexity. He almost always has dual motives. Hopefully, whatever Miles’ motives start out as, Grey can win him over as a friend. Grey has the most emotional intelligence out of the four of them and is most likely to spot someone else’s motives.

Unfortunately, Miles is also putting Grey in a bad spot when Dex needs him. Dex hasn’t really made a pretense of wanting to be Miles’ girlfriend, so I’m not going to fault her for whether or not she’s paid attention to his needs. Miles has been chasing her, yet focussed only on himself.


Has Portland Lost All of Its Women? Was There a Witch Hunt and Dex Was the Only Woman to Survive?

Dex doesn’t speak to another woman during this entire episode, except when she tries to speak to her former client during the filming of the TV show and Antonio cuts her off, saying that on his show, she speaks only to him. This is a new low for this show, which does have female writers, directors and producers, including co-executive producer Cobie Smulders. They should be ashamed of themselves for the misogynist world building they’ve done so far.

This show has been a major disappointment as a show with a female lead. They make sure to show men of color, disabled men, mentally ill men, men who are ex-convicts, male addicts and all sorts of men who aren’t just happily married middle class white men who live in the suburbs. Those male characters are given the chance to show who they are and that they have multiple sides, while the female characters are judged, dismissed and generally treated as stereotypes who are undeserving of sympathy, unless one of the characters, usually Dex, is interested in sleeping with them.

We know nothing about Kara and very little about Cosgrove. Both characters could disappear and the show would hardly be affected. As Dex’s nemesis, Sue Lynn is the only female character besides Dex with any complexity. Liz had a brief arc motivated by shallow jealousy and was your basic manic pixie dream girl, without a home, job or life of her own. All she wanted was to wrest Grey away from Dex and make him happy through brutal honesty. The only other recurring female character was Candace Tapper, hooker with a heart of gold, for barely 2 episodes, who was nothing more than what the plot required of her. That’s ~5. I’m not counting Dex, since she’s the lead.

Male regulars and recurring characters, just off the top of my head- Grey, Miles, Tookie, Ansel, Hollis, Artie Banks, Frank, Kane, possibly a couple of police officers as well. That’s ~8, without looking them up on IMDB, where I’d probably find more, plus the many one shot male characters, who vastly outnumber the women, and each got more screen time and character development. Unlike the female recurring characters, almost all of the male recurring characters are Dex’s friends or are involved in ongoing storylines.

So, as I do so frequently lately, let me ask: Couldn’t Dwaddle Chen and his grandson have been women? What about Antonio and Lataurus? Sisters have intense and meaningful relationships, too. Couldn’t there have been a woman or two in the chop shop? Do you think women aren’t unscrupulous enough to play these characters or be in these spaces? I come from a world that’s not very far from Dex’s, and I can assure you, women exist in it in large numbers and as much more than hookers.

The casting on this show is a result of using men as a default. It’s inexcusable on a show that’s clearly trying to be diverse in other ways. I shouldn’t have to say this, but casting two black or Asian men doesn’t equal showing women or having Dex talk to women. Maybe you should consider some gender blind casting. Your casting directors do great on most metrics, but they seem to only recognize Y chromosomes.

If those (or other) characters had been black or Asian women, almost nothing else would have had to change. Women steal. Women gamble. Women are reality show judges and run pet shops with illegal animal trades on the side. Women take advantage of their families and even steal cars occasionally. We can even use power tools to commit crimes and watch other people use them.

Maybe ABC should start watching The CW. They don’t have any problem with showing capable women.

Images courtesy of ABC.