We're (re-)watching Terriers as part of the TV.com Summer of (Re-)Discovery Club. You'll find links to past installments at the bottom of this story.
A private detective's responsibility is to withhold personal emotion and play out the feelings of clients or suspects in order to figure out motives and hopefully solutions. By necessity the investigator's heart becomes a lonely surrogate for all sorts of dark deeds, able to survive only out of skeptical distance. Compassion ruins perspective which is why femme fatales are such an effective staple of the noir genre. Hank Dolworth is no average gumshoe, though, and his continual undoing always seems to be that he cares too much. He's blurred the spheres of work and self to the point where his personal relationships have become cases to manage with authority, which justifies why he's okay denying Britt the truth of Katie's unfaithfulness, or investigating Gretchen's fiancee Jason like a criminal this episode.
Recovering from a gunshot wound, Hank's physical therapist chided him for slow healing due to insufficient sessions (Obama).
The therapist offered some free sessions if Hank and Britt helped his nephew get some money back from a prostitute. Here's something to consider: If Terriers did continue for multiple seasons and the client-of-the-week format stuck around as well, the writers would've had an increasingly tall order in figuring out ways for Britt and Hank to stumble upon cases. So far there've been a fair amount of situations where a stranger's like, "You guys are private detectives, right?" My guess is they'd make enough enemies around town and have to swap locations. Hank would be all, "How did you know who I am with this disguise mustache I am wearing? Plus we are on a moon colony." Anyway, Britt made Hank lay off the assignment this week to recuperate while this darling little John told Britt where he'd picked up his lady of the night.
Hank's lawyer came back with some information on Jason, and how Jason had changed his name after an involvement in a notorious child-molestation case. Essentially his parents ran a daycare and the young Jason turned a blind eye to all the terrible goings on. Hank debated telling Gretchen about the discovery because she had a lot on her plate planning the wedding. Hank's okay betraying normal social contracts because he feels that the ends justify the means. So what if he's invading privacy, he's also getting results. Not a fair way to treat your loved ones, Hank, but his obsession makes for compelling storytelling. We as an audience like to see circumstances blow up in the face of extreme behavior. Not out of sadism, but because usually our heroes possess just enough moxie to come out even stronger. Essentially, it was necessary for Hank to follow through with this bad decision because he needed to learn a damn lesson.
In the Strumpet District, Britt tracked down a hooker named "Micaela" who turned out to be a transvestite. Britt chit-chatted with her and found out Micaela took the money because the kid didn't realize she was a tranny, and she didn't want to cause any emotional scarring. Very thoughtful. Britt reasoned with the tranny, got the money back, and left Micaela his business card. Terriers goes out of its way to represent the underworld in a friendlier way than most would imagine, so that Hank and Britt can express a sort of rebel sensitivity. Were it on today, perhaps the dudes would be sharing chili dogs alongside a face-eater with a heart of gold.
While Hank was tracking down information on the molestation case, Britt found a pregnancy test in the trash. If he was shilly-shallying about proposing to Katie in earlier episodes, the knowledge that fatherhood might be in his future sure lit a flame under his ass. If Katie told him she was pregnant before he proposed, he'd look like a world class A-hole. It's pretty clear he's head over heels for her though, so it only adds to his romance reserves that Britt's so gung-ho about starting this next chapter of life. Our boys are growing up!
There was little time for picking out names, as the tranny came back to hire Britt for a case. Micaela needed help tracking down an old friend who was lost to the streets, because as she put it, "The life of a tranny ho ain't all private jets and gallery openings." Some basic fact-finding revealed that her friend's killer hung himself, so they decided it was best to notify the family as closure. But would the straight-laced mom and dad be rocked and shocked knowing their son perished under less than admirable circumstances? Hank and Britt must be kindred spirits because across town Hank struggled with a similar predicament. After confronting Jason about the case, Gretchen's fiancee became indignant and made no apologies for his past.
Jason was like, "You do what you feel is right," so Hank was all, "Should I tell Gretchen and ruin her wedding?" Such an entitled position Hank has placed himself in. So he's allowed to withhold information for Britt's protection (and the longer he withholds it, his own), but when Gretchen wants to move on, it's time to slather her prospects with as much shit as possible? Not fair. Hmm.
Micaela told the parents about their son but in a twist was very selective about his final days, speaking in such vagaries as, "He was a good guy."
Hey, it was what they needed to hear. Life's hard enough without all the terrible details haunting around. Now I was confused because clearly this was the right thing to do for the parents' sake, but was it just because they barely knew their son anyways? I think the message is, "The more you know somebody currently, the more you owe them the truth." Hank has been out of Gretchen's recent life, so unfortunately things did not go so well when he broke the news.
She was like "Uh-huh, uh-huh—I ALREADY KNOW!" She was willing to forgive Jason because he was forthcoming with her and had been acquitted by the law. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but Christmas with the in-laws would be way weird. I also wish Jason would have mentioned this to Hank when the two of them had coffee and crumpets, but it worked best for the story. Plots are allowed to meter out information in a dramatically satisfying order because that's what they do, but people like Hank shouldn't try to force an ending if they aren't even participatory characters. In other words, Gretchen booted him out of the story of her life via uninviting him to the wedding. Across town on a rooftop, Britt proposed to Katie, another rough tale with which Hank has tampered. Katie was all...
Last episode I got the impression that Hank's duty as a private investigator went way past something he did for gainful employment and was more an obsession. Episode 10, "Asunder," brought out in the greatest relief all season, how much Hank's sobriety depended on solving cases. Detective work is not something he's good at, it's the only thing keeping his head above water. That's a damn strong character.
It was the day of Gretchen's wedding and Hank plopped himself down in an AA meeting admitting how badly he wanted some hooch. With 543 days of sobriety under his belt, Hank figured that if could just stick it out through bedtime, he'd be able to handle anything. A quick way to tell the measure of a man is by exposing him to his greatest weakness, and seeing how he fairs. For me, it would be Flaming Hot Cheetos.
I honestly thought this would be the episode where Hank fell of the wagon and ruined a wedding. Either that, or end up solving the mystery of the missing cake. Unfortunately Britt couldn't be there to crack wise with Hank, because he and Katie still attended the wedding. Hey that's what friends do. Things were still testy with the newly engaged couple as Britt noticed Katie opt out of liquor and figured she was pregnant. Ladies should be so lucky to score a fella like Britt, who was internally psyched about the idea of having a kid. He's the type of ex-con that should be publicized more often - someone who probably had a shifty upbringing and is just so damn thankful for a piece of stability. Is it too late to rewrite him into the lyrics of Salt-n-Pepa's "What a Man?" Anyhow, some fool spilled alcohol on Britt and Hank brought him a new shirt which everyone thought was a bad idea. Yeah that sounds like a crap situation to be in. Sorry dude. Hank promised to turn right around out of the parking lot, but of course he couldn't resist poking around and wouldn't you know it, he came this close to having a sip of the Devil's Tears.
Whew, it was a close one, but thankfully he ditched out into the restroom where none other than Ben Zeitlin of Zeitlin & Associates and his muscle the Tan Man were discussing how they had someone holed up in a nice suite at the La Quinta where this all took place. It sounded threatening, and I loved Zeitlin's voice. Kind of Orson Wellesy, no? Maybe I don't know who that is. Of all the urinals in all the La Quintas, Hank had to splash water on his face…you get the idea. Hank couldn't pry Britt away from the wedding for some classic gumshoeing so he called in my favorite brainiacs to help bug the alleged room.
'Sup dudes? Back at the reception Britt confronted Katie about being pregnant and she denied it, accusing him of being relieved.
Really, Britt was disappointed and Katie was just trying to force a self-fulfilling prophecy. If she pushed Britt far enough into hating her, then her poor self-image would be correct. But Katie, that's not how happiness works, and you should let people love you, girl. Let Britt love you. Ah, we'll come back. A few floors up, the techies successfully sneaked in a hidden camera that fed back into Hank's hotel room where he oversaw a standard stakeout operation. Way to go, Terriers, you surprised me again. Of course stakeouts are part of detective stories and I don't know how I let nine episodes slip by without noticing a need for one.
The woman Zeitlin had hostage was Laura Ross, a local journalist who independently stumbled onto the same land conspiracy as Hank. We got a lot of backstory on some group known as "Tera Nuestra" which was buying up a whole lot of land in Old Town San Diego by making the property appear toxic. What a great counterpart to Hank. Who knew sunny San Diego had such a thriving detective community? She even had on a trench coat (the series' first, I believe). So Hank watched helplessly as the Tan Man threatened to kill Ross's mother via needles underneath her fingernails? That sounds way painful and I think he could have just said he was going to kill Mama Ross, and that would have garnered the same reaction. So the techies were able to warn Laura through text and she used her brassy brains to discreetly tell Hank her mother's address while he listened above.
The techies rescued her mom in a rush, which was fine, because I didn't care about some old lady we'd just met in the first place. I was more curious about Britt and Katie. On the dance floor Katie finally confessed to Britt that she slept with someone and he lost his shit. But it was a real Lost in Translation kind of moment because we didn't get to hear the whisper. I've railed against this device before because I think a writer has the obligation to fill in blanks to a certain degree, but this time it worked because you know it could have only been so many possibilities.
I was balling right alongside Britt because dude's world just got rocked. He asked why and Katie didn't think he was "ready." Why didn't he offer a rebuttal then and there? He is totally ready! I think that he was offended and felt a disconnect because if she didn't feel loved, then the problem had to be on her side. Such heartbreaking stuff when he was like, "I will always love you" and then broke things off. Weddings bring out so much emotion in people. At mine, eight people learned they were adopted and both wedding parties tried to immolate one another.
So Hank called security and got Laura Cross out of there, and the two finally met face-to-face. If this were the end of a movie, a kiss would have taken place, but instead Hank tucked her into a limo and walked away from what was potentially the most shameful day of his life a true hero.
This episode I was like "Yes!" whereas most of the rest of the season I just had a steady grin on my face. Between "Asunder," and "Change Partners,'' someone on the other side of the lens sure enjoyed smartly dressed brunettes in classic backdrops. Can't wait to see Hank and Laura mix it up in the last three episodes.
"Pimp Daddy": 7/10 Dog Biscuits and some Pig Ears
"Asunder": 10/10 Dog Biscuits and Best in Show
WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU THINK?
– Does truth need to be told everywhere no matter the context?
– Was Hank overstepping his bounds?
– Was Jason responsible for his past?
– Is "Asunder" the best episode of this series?
– What exactly did Katie whisper?
– Did Britt react appropriately?
– What do you think the big deal is with Tera Nuestra?
– Will Hank ever get over Gretchen?
– Will Britt forgive Katie?
– Terriers Episodes 7-8: Goodbye and Hello Again
– Terriers Episodes 5-6: Dead Deals and Blue Romance
– Terriers Episodes 3-4: Fakery and Foolishness
– Terriers Episodes 1-2: Killer Waves and Sunny Crimes
– Announcing the TV.com Summer of (Re-)Discovery Club