“Rip City Dicks” juggles two storylines while introducing a potential recurring villain and giving Dex a defeat.
This recap of Stumptown Season 1, Episode 3, “Rip City Dicks”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Two storylines jostle for position in Stumptown Episode 3: In the first, Dex (Cobie Smulders) begins her “apprenticeship” under local private investigator Artie Banks (Donal Logue), while in the second, Hoffman (Michael Ealy) investigates Grey (Jake Johnson) about the violent death of his old pal Feeney (Austin Amelio).
These threads intersect now and again throughout “Rip City Dicks” — Hoffman tries to quiz Dex on her bestie, and predictably they end up in bed together — but they’re kept mostly separate here, both presumably setting up later payoffs. Artie is a classic noirish PI that would feel sprung straight from the pages of a graphic novel even if he wasn’t; the case he leads Dex on is full of lecherous men and prostitutes and tails and double-crossing. He is, as it turns out, perfectly willing to play both sides, much to Dex’s disgust. When it’s revealed at the end of Stumptown Episode 3 that he lied about not just the nature of the case but everything he revealed about his personal life, Dex is disgusted and vows to take him down. We’ll be seeing him again, I’m sure.
But he raises a point: Dex has all the hallmarks of a typical genre PI — the skills, the drinking problem, the lack of money — but she also cares too much about the people she gets involved with. It’s what separates her as a character but also what leaves her open to the kind of defeat she suffered in “Rip City Dicks”, which was refreshing in how it had its heroine, in her own words, “lose”.
Grey’s shady past, trouble with the law and on-going issues with his unsavory associates continues to develop in the background; Stumptown is still very much about its lead, but if Grey is important to her life then he should be important to the show, and it’s good that he has something of his own going on. His rivalry with Hoffman — refreshingly not in the form of a love triangle, as it easily could be — is a fun dynamic, too.
Mostly, Stumptown Season 1, Episode 3 had a filler feel, but not in a bad way; it was nakedly designed to set up characters and events that’ll pay off further down the line, but the show’s style and attitude were still present in spades, leading to some strong individual moments that kept the episode reliably engaging.