Thursday, October 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'Stumptown' - Dex Becomes an Apprentice to a Veteran PI with Shady Moral Standards in 'Rip City Dicks'

ABC's Stumptown - Episode 1.03 "Rip City Dicks"

In hopes of becoming a certified private investigator, Dex seeks mentorship from veteran PI Artie Banks. Meanwhile, Hoffman grows suspicious of Grey after evidence proves that he has a connection to a victim in his case.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of ABC's Stumptown.

"Rip City Dicks" was written by Zahir McGee and directed by Dean White

This show keeps getting more fun and confident with each passing episode. This hour starts with a whole '70s homage as Dex imagines what her partnership with veteran private investigator Artie Banks will be like. It's outsized and outrageous. And yet, it's still miraculously in keeping with the tone of the show. It features explosions, cool stunts and cheesy one-liners. But it never takes away from the fact that this is how Dex wants to act in the world even though she is still suffering from PTSD. When bullets are ultimately shot at her and Artie, he's the one who reacts with excitement. She is huddled in a ball because she is afraid for her life and taken straight back to her service overseas. Everyone keeps telling her that she has the right instincts to be really good at this job. However, she needs the skills to back up those claims as well as the client roster to maintain steady work. She has to reach out to Artie now in order to get her hours of apprenticeship in to become certified. Sure, it's still a little annoying that the series is choosing to begin at the very start of her career as a PI. That makes her a little more scrappy and unpredictable. She doesn't have anything really figured out at this point. She is impulsive and irrational. However, that also makes her a fun character to watch. She doesn't care that she drives a clunker and breaks expensive pieces of art in Artie's office. She simply has her morals and will do anything in order to uphold them. This has presented as solid and steady work for her too. It's an opportunity for her to make something of her life instead of simply getting drunk all the time. It gives her focus and drive. She seeks out Artie because she views him as the best in the business in Portland. It's a delight to have Donal Logue join the cast as well. This is a character and environment that suits him quite well. Artie comes across as a guy reluctant to take Dex under his wing. He makes fun of her name. But he is motivated by the money involved. He doesn't strive to be a mentor. He doesn't have any wisdom to give about this profession. The one lesson that he does provide is that manipulation is the greatest skill to have. Sure, that may mean Dex has to appear to be doing a normal office job in order to plant a bug. But that's also worth it in order to crack this case. The same is also true of getting shot at. Artie believes that if people want to kill you then you are doing this job right. Dex repeats that line to Grey later on. He rightfully notes that it doesn't sound like her at all. She has always been an independent spirit who does whatever she wants. But now, she is conforming to Artie's ideals in order to actually get her license. That's her priority at the moment. Of course, Artie has essentially been playing her this whole time. He also cheats his clients by selling the information he digs up to whomever is willing to pay the most for it. He doesn't care about the humanity or morality involved. Dex perceived him as having that empathy. That's why she sought him out in the first place. And now, she holds herself responsible for a woman possibly losing custody of her child. It was a little expected that she would continue to fight for this woman and go to war with Artie and his new client. However, that's a very solid setup for an ongoing story. This is her first case that isn't closed in the span of an hour. It doesn't seem too complex or complicated. But it does motivate a ton of great reactions from the characters which allows the show to feel like more than just your standard procedural. Sure, things are perhaps a little too dire and melodramatic when it comes to Hoffman suspecting Grey of murder. That subplot is only slowly teasing things out. It needs a jolt of excitement to the proceedings. It proves that Grey has secrets in his past. Those can be compelling. It just feels a little too generic which isn't good for a show having so much colorful purpose elsewhere.