ABC’s Stumptown is a show I can’t say that I’ve intently watched all season long — but is one of the few dramas that I enjoy consuming when it happens to be on. Conveniently for me, from what I’ve seen, the show deftly balances a procedural “case of the week” format with larger narrative arcs. Now, with the (hopefully just season) finale, the show offers some resolution while teasing what might be ahead.
*Warning: this post includes spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Stumptown*
Before we get to the episode itself, let me tell you what I like about Stumptown. At the top of the list is star Cobie Smulders. While you might know Smulders as Robin on How I Met Your Mother or as Agent Maria Hill in the MCU, her portrayal of Dex Parios feels both fresh and familiar. The Afghanistan war veteran turned private detective is clever, quick-witted and tough as nails, but is known to make a mistake or two — either personally or professionally.
On that note, following a short dream sequence, the season finale opens with Dex waking up in a hospital bed she’s apparently handcuffed to. What’s the charge? Oh, just murder. Although we the audience know that she’s innocent, the ensuing interrogation about the night of the crime finds Dex proving less than convincing. Thankfully, the interview is cut short when Dex’s lawyer (who also happens to be her pal Detective Miles Hoffman’s father) shows up.
Speaking of fathers, Grey’s walks into the bar and, being a good son, Grey offers to let him crash at his loft. Meanwhile, despite the advice of her new lawyer — who you could say is put in between a rock and a hard place given the relationship his son and Dex have — our hero sets out to find more answers about who not only killed her former beau Benny but also framed her for the death of T.J.
For this episode, I had three favorite scenes, with two of them involving the indoor second levels of buildings. The first is when Dex confronts Father Murphy, who she discovers was in Benny’s military unit. After punching through a confessional divider, Murphy grabs a duffle bag and attempts to make a break for it. Instead, Dex catches up and rips the bag away from him, causing it to rain cash upon a praiseful congregation.
Incidentally, that money leads to my second favorite scene of the episode as Dex returns to the bar to catch Grey up to speed on her meeting with Murphy and the cash that came from it. Soon enough, there’s a knock on the door as Ansel has a message to pass to Grey. While he and Dex attempt to act normal, Ansel clearly knows something is up and shoots them a hilariously suspicious look. Can we all agree that Ansel and actor Cole Sibus are a big part of what makes this show so great?
Anyway, my third and final fave is when Dex literally takes the money and runs while cops descend on the bar to take her in. Thanks to some smart misdirection and what must have been a nerve-racking catwalk escape, Dex manages to make her getaway — after discovering that all of the bills happened to be minted in the same year: 2006.
As for the end of the episode, while I spare the details for how the mystery is resolved and how Dex manages to beat her murder rap, what’s interesting is how the show teases potential plot points for Season 2 (assuming there is one). First, although Hoffman seems to be mostly out of the doghouse, he leaves his badge with Lieutenant Cosgrove, saying that he isn’t quite sure what he wants to be. Elsewhere, although Grey is expecting his father to greet him, he ends up encountering someone looking for his dad, claiming that the patriarch took something that didn’t belong to him and recruiting Grey to help track him down. And finally, while Ansel is anticipating his ex to come over so he can try to score a second chance (with the help of Tookie), he opens the door to reveal a figure we only see from behind. After a second, Dex asks, “Mom?” So I guess season two will be a true family affair.
After watching the season finale of Stumptown, I now want to go back and pay a bit more attention to some of the episodes I only passively watched or those I missed entirely. Furthermore, I’m really hoping that the show ends up getting a second season. With sharp humor, great characters, and fun action, Stumptown is a win in my book. Here’s hoping we get to see much more of Dex, Ansel, Grey, and Hoffman in the future.
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” is available in paperback and for Kindle. http://amzn.to/1CStAhV