Thursday, November 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'Stumptown' - Dex Must Protect Her Ex-Girlfriend From a Crazed Stalker in 'Dex, Drugs and Rock & Roll'

ABC's Stumptown - Episode 1.06 "Dex, Drugs and Rock & Roll"

When Dex's ex Fiona, a famous musician, comes into town for a performance, Dex must protect her from a stalker. Grey continues to receive the cold shoulder from Dex. Tookie and Lieutenant Cosgrove develop a new friendship.

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.

"Dex, Drugs and Rock & Roll" was written by William Jehu Garroutte & Jason Richman and directed by Marc Buckland

This episode introduces Dex as a bisexual women. That's powerful for representation reasons in a broadcast network show. It isn't something that is fetishized and told through the objectification of a man's point-of-view. It's simply who she is. She is a very sexually adventurous women who doesn't constrict her attraction to one specific gender. In this instance, the show uses this to talk about how much she has changed when she runs into her ex-girlfriend, Fiona X. This entire main story is positioned around the idea that they are projecting who they used to be onto what they could have once more. Dex views Fiona as a completely different person because she has been signed to a record label and is touring the world. However, Fiona is still chasing the past, doing drugs and believing she can just run away with Dex. Now, that is certainly a real temptation for Dex. However, she also wants it to be known that she has built a life for herself in Portland. This is her city now. It's where she feels stable. She has a new purpose with this job as a private investigator. That is a different career than she once talked about. And yet, so much of the past is simply a haze to Dex. She knows that she experienced it. She is still traumatized by a lot of it though. Fiona recalls that Dex used to wake up screaming. Dex is still dealing with PTSD. She hasn't really sought out any help in that regard. Plus, she is angry with Grey because of how much he withheld about his criminal past. She believes she no longer knows who he is. He put Ansel's life in danger. And yet, she still has to rely on him to care for Ansel. It's the most convenient place for her to go. She is committed to this job. It turns out that Fiona really does have a stalker. It just happens to be a grand conspiracy where her manager was fanning the flames of a crazed fan just so Fiona was always paranoid and able to produce great music. That's insane and overly complicated. But the story essentially had to turn out that way because otherwise there wouldn't have been much to it at all. That could have been perfectly fine as well. It could have afforded more time to the characters and how they are feeling about the various personal relationships. Hoffman does feel a strong connection with Dex. In fact, that relationship feels like it's getting more serious even though Dex would be skeptical about referring to any of this as dating. She doesn't want that pressure. However, he views it as her playing games with him. He may need to be more blunt with her. They do end up going bowling together. That shows that everything can be fun and simple between them. There just comes the inherent pressure from elsewhere that may only create further tension if they allow it to. That may be how life operates. People make big deals out of small things all the time. Dex's life isn't easy. She won't be leaving it anytime soon though. She is committed to Ansel and Grey. She may be upset at the moment. However, it's tension that they could all easily move past eventually. In fact, it's perfectly healthy for Dex and Grey to be exploring these new romances. Sure, it makes this feel like an exposition heavy episode. The show feels the burden of giving its talented ensemble something to do. That is especially felt in the Cosgrove and Tookie subplot where they strike up an unexpected friendship. It's not inherently bad. It's just a little forced in order to further expand the possible character pairings in the future. That may be to the show's benefit in the long run. The strings are far too evident here though as the pacing is going through the motions to establish why the audience should care. That makes this the first truly lackluster episode of the season. That's disappointing even though the cast remains very charming and resilient. Plus, the bisexual visibility will remain important for a very long time so long as the show continues to delve into it.