Thursday, October 17, 2019

REVIEW: 'Stumptown' - Dex and Artie Playfully Battle Each Other Over a Complicated Custody Fight in 'Family Ties'

ABC's Stumptown - Episode 1.04 "Family Ties"

Dex faces off against Artie Banks to take down wealthy real estate mogul Randall Tapper. Meanwhile, Detective Cosgrove leads an investigation to find Wallace Kane, a prisoner on the loose.

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.

"Family Ties" was written by Deirdre Shaw and directed by Marc Buckland

Dex sought out Artie Banks as a mentor because she needed to complete 1500 hours of supervised work in order to become a licensed private investigator in the state of Oregon. That played into the origin story aspects of her journey this season. She doesn't start the show as a seasoned private investigator. She doesn't entirely know what she's doing quite yet. She simply has the skills to potentially be good at this job. There was the sense early on that she could become a great partner for Artie. That all turned sour the moment he revealed he was just manipulating her to earn a big payday. He is all about the money in this line of work. He was forced out of the police department because of a scandal shrouded in secrecy. That actually makes it fairly easy for Dex to once again avoid any kind of serious legal troubles when she lands in the local precinct. Sure, it means Lieutenant Cosgrove is once again giving her a lecture about needing to do things the right way. However, there is no love lost between her and Artie either. She can't abide by what he did. She doesn't know how people can have sympathy for him after he stole thousands of dollars from evidence. Artie explains that he needed the money in order to finance the extensive medical treatment his infant daughter needed. She didn't survive. That's what essentially closed him off from the rest of the world. It wasn't some tragedy he experienced on the job. That's the prime motivation for Dex and Hoffman at the moment. Hoffman lost a confidential informant and that's why he is so hellbent on getting Wallace Kane back behind bars. Meanwhile, Dex lost her fiancé in Afghanistan and is still dealing with the ongoing trauma of all she experienced overseas. It's appreciated that things are different for Artie. He isn't beyond redemption. The show also makes it clear that he is capable of change even if his character arc is just for two episodes. That's enough to establish himself as a legitimate presence in this city who can offer Dex advice whenever she needs it. It's likely that they will continue bumping into each other on the job. They just won't be working together as official partners. That seemed unlikely at the start of the hour with Dex vandalizing Artie's car. She is somewhat petty and destructive in that way. Working the case is what ultimately brings them back together. They are reminded of the personal loss that is stake here. This is a bitter divorce where the couple is fighting over the custody of their daughter. Candace genuinely loves her and wants to care for her. Meanwhile, Randall wants her simply to maintain control over the narrative and what's expected of him in situations like this. He has business connections throughout the city as well. That makes him an even more dangerous figure in Dex's investigation. She runs afoul of Sue Lynn once more. And yet, Dex is able to rely on the resources she has developed in this world to create a satisfying conclusion to this case. That is earned. It makes it seem like every aspect of this ensemble can come together in a rewarding way. It allows Dex to feel good about the job she has done. She gets to work as a legal private investigator now as well because Artie simply signs the paperwork. She may still have a ton to learn by actually doing the job. But now, she is well positioned to help her friends when they need it. Right now, that extends to Grey who is taken by Kane who has some mysterious plan for how to pull off one last heist before making his getaway from this city. That's tantalizing and ensures the audience has a reason to keep watching. That addictive quality is very welcome so far. Sure, things with Grey and Hoffman remain a little more intense than Dex's ongoing drama. Grey's life is being threatened after all with Hoffman way too close to this case. That could easily throw off the tone of this piece. As such, the show has to be a little careful not to get too grim and dire as it explores what all of this means moving forward.