'Terriers' - 'Asunder': Get me to the hotel on time
A review of tonight's "Terriers" coming up just as soon as I watch "Love Actually" on pay-per-view...
"I need a drink, more than ever in my life." -Britt
"I don't." -Hank
There's a ticking time bomb quality to "Asunder." Will Hank drink by episode's end? (No, as it turns out.) Will the wedding atmosphere lead Katie to finally spill her secret to Britt? (Yes, and he does not take it well.) And will Hank emerge unscathed from another encounter with the casual menace of Ben Zeitlin, attorney-at-law? (Yes, but he's also back on the man's radar.) For a show that so frequently operates on a very casual wavelength, the tension in this one was gripping, and the payoffs - particularly Britt and Hank's role reversal at the end - worth the amount of time I spent holding my breath.
So Hank begins the day understandably determined to celebrate Gretchen's wedding by falling off the wagon, but he finds a distraction - and a new sense of purpose - when he stumbles across Zeitlin and Burke plotting some new evil scheme in the hotel men's room. (Hey, it's a small town.) Though the threat Zeitlin represents - to Hank, and Britt, and Laura Ross the reporter - is very real, we've seen that Hank needs a mission to get him through the worst of times, and Gretchen's wedding day is the worst of all possible times for our man.
The script by Nicholas Griffin (brother of Ted, who directed, and co-author with Ted on "Matchstick Men") had a design that meant another show light on Hank/Britt banter (though I laughed heartily at Britt's "I would never eat here" entrance line when meeting Hank at the diner), but they compensated by partnering Hank with Britt's hacker buddies(*) for the day. Not only are those guys amusing on their own (the "Too soon?" exchange about the Bobby Kennedy joke was hilarious), but it was a refreshing change for Hank to spend an episode with all the answers at his fingertips for once. I wouldn't want Hank to turn into Jack Bauer, PI - again, Hank and Britt's are supposed to be scrappers who don't usually know what they're doing - but as a one-time thing, up against the series' powerful arch-villain, why let Hank realize Google can be his friend?
(*) I asked Ted Griffin, who came up with the characters after seeing the actors perform as an improv comedy troupe, if the writers had a nickname for the group so we could stop calling them The Lone Gunmen. Griffin said that, "I nicknamed them, for no particular reason, the Squatters. We also refered to them as Convoy, the name of the actors' comedy improv trio. Their character names are Swift, Blodget, and Gunt. I asked the actors to name themselves; two of them christened themselves after buildings on the Vassar campus (where they all met), then saddled the third guy (who was not on the phone call with me) with 'Gunt' because it sounded dirty."
Donal Logue was, unsurprisingly, fantastic at showing Hank at rock-bottom (or as rock-bottom as he gets while sober), and then the transformation he underwent once a case presented itself to him. And I again loved Michael Gaston's relaxed yet terrifying performance as Zeitlin - the very fact that the man never needs to act scary is the scariest thing about him.
Meanwhile, down at the wedding reception, the ugly truth finally came out between Britt and Katie - and I liked the unconventional choice to have her whisper the thing we knew into his ear, out of our range - and the aftermath was about as bad as we had suspected. Some great stuff from Michael Raymond-James (so wet and angry as Katie chased him back to the area where the ceremony had been held, its dismantling a symbol of what was happening with these two) and Laura Allen. And while Katie's explanation for why she did what she did might seem a bit of a self-rationalization, but I think we all saw the same thing Britt did back at the enagement party: he was going to screw this up, sooner or later. I love Britt, but no doubt that was gonna happen, and so Katie got drunk and did it first. Doesn't make it right, but makes it understandable, human, and sad.
I've seen two of the final three episodes of the season - which are great (particularly next week's Tim Minear-scripted outing) - and it's taken a lot of willpower to keep from watching the finale - fueled mainly by my concern that it'll be the last episode of this great show that I'll ever get to see. The ratings actually ticked up last week, and while the overall numbers are still situated firmly in cancellation territory, maybe if the upward trend continues over this final month, FX will decide there's potential for growth with a different marketing strategy.
I understand all the commercial rationalizations for why a second season isn't likely. But I look at Hank trembling at the hotel bar, or Britt pulling his coat up over his head, or even the Squatters arguing about the Panopticon, and I am not remotely ready to let go of this show yet. It is Too. Damn. Good. to quit on. Like Hank rising from his self-pity to try to help the reporter, I want to see the show keep fighting until it gets out of this ratings hole and finds a way to keep going.
What did everybody else think?