“Family Ties” juggles a prison escape with Dex’s quest for revenge in a solid episode full of turns.
This recap of Stumptown Season 1, Episode 4, “Family Ties”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Stumptown Episode 4 begins with a declaration of war: Dex (Cobie Smulders) isn’t about to forget that Artie (Donal Logue) sold her out for Randall Tapper (Robb Derringer) last week, and his car is going to pay the price until a more concrete solution presents itself. Only fair. “Family Ties” is a direct continuation of last week’s plot, as well as the season’s on-going concerns with Grey’s (Jake Johnson) criminal past and outstanding debt to notorious criminal Wallace Kane (Colin Cunningham), who this week escapes from captivity when an SUV collides with a Department of Corrections transport vehicle.
Detective Hoffman (Micheal Ealy) put Kane away for the murder of his informant, Darius (Clifford McGhee), and it’s clear he never got over convincing the young man to stay undercover. He maintains a relationship with his widow, Denise (Zulay Henao), and an unhealthy obsession with Kane’s capture, which is complicated by the fact that he’s now a federal fugitive and the local police are only to assist in a manhunt officially conducted by the U.S. Marshals Service.
“Family Ties” juggles this plot with Dex’s attempts to dig up dirt on Tapper. She starts with Candace (Shoshana Bush), who mentions a building project that she always thought seemed suspicious, but the details of it are kept in a fortress-like West Linn office. Dex enlists Tookie (Adrian Martinez) to pose as a janitor — a cover he finds racially insensitive — and steal the documents, but Artie is a step ahead and catches him in the act. Tookie manages to squirrel away some duplicates, but Artie sniffs that out too, offering Dex a sit-down meeting with Tapper in which he offers Candace a hefty sum of money to sign custody of the baby over to him.
Dex smartly reasons that if Tapper is offering a settlement he has something to hide. She goes through the paperwork with Grey, and it doesn’t add up, but Sue Lynn (Tantoo Cardinal) arrives to let her know that Tapper’s project is being built on tribal land and will amplify Native voices with its prominence — as such, Dex needs to back off Tapper, who is threatening to abandon the project. If she doesn’t, well, maybe her debts at the casino will resurface.
To make matters worse, Artie gets Dex’s car towed and her arrested for the vandalism at the top of “Family Ties”. Luckily, Lieutenant Cosgrove (Camryn Manheim) hates Artie’s guts and is perfectly willing to accept Dex’s obviously made-up excuse for taking a baseball bat to his car. We learn a bit more about Artie in Stumptown Episode 4 — he was a former cop who nabbed thirty grand from the department’s property room. But we also learn he has a conscience. When he and Tapper take Candace’s baby away, he later shows up at Dex’s house wanting to talk. He opens up about why he stole the money in the first place. His child required an experimental treatment that medical insurance wouldn’t cover. He was desperate. But the treatment didn’t take and his kid passed away; he abandoned moral decency as a defense mechanism, a way to avoid dealing with his grief. Seeing Tapper snatch the kid — who he doesn’t want — obviously reopened some old wounds. He gives Dex the name of Tapper’s old accountant, McManus (David Theune), who can help to decipher the documents.
Dex — with a little help from Ansel (Cole Sibus) — puts McManus in a position where he has to reveal what he knows. In layman’s terms, Tapper is delaying the school project so he can move something illegal in and out of the building site. Armed with that information, Dex and Artie head there to check things out, finding drugs with Chinese labels and armed guards. A fight breaks out, in which it is revealed that Artie has some Shaolin fighting experience, but Sue Lynn catches them during their escape. Luckily, she didn’t know that Tapper was using the school as cover to smuggle counterfeit pills. She proposes a new deal: He cuts her a percentage, he pays for various expensive school facilities out of pocket, and Candace gets her child back. In exchange, Sue Lynn won’t turn the recording of this meeting over to the police. This woman does not play around.
Artie gives Dex her PI license. Has he changed his ways for good? Who knows. But their relationship is compelling, and I hope he reappears at some point later in the season.
As for Wallace Kane, the case takes some turns. Hoffman is taken off it. It’s revealed that Kane, Feeney (Austin Amelio), and Grey were all in prison together. It also turns out that Denise went to see him just a couple of days before his escape. The plot thickens. Hoffman visits Grey to warm him — “Are we dating? Because it definitely feels like we’re dating” — but it doesn’t make much difference. Stumptown Season 1, Episode 4 ends with Grey being attacked at the bar and taken to see Kane, who tells him it’s time to get back to work paying off his debt.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.