'Terriers' - 'Pimp Daddy': Hard out here for a Hank
A review of tonight's "Terriers" coming up just as soon as I Suzanne Somers lends me her thigh-master, after which I freshen up my cultural references...
"He was a good man. I knew him very well." -Michaela
Like last week's episode, much of "Pimp Daddy" kept Britt and Hank apart, with Britt doing various good deeds related to Michaela the transgendered hooker, while Hank looked into the old allegations about Gretchen's fiance. But where I found "Agua Caliente" to the be the series' first disappointing episode, "Pimp Daddy" was a really strong one.
We got an overload of Hank/Britt banter (I've lost count of the number of potential "just as soon as" lines from the opening scenes) early on to gird us for their prolonged separation, and then the two divergent stories were so good - and so messy in that usual "Terriers" way - that I didn't mind the absence of the usual chemistry.
I really liked the ambiguity of the Hank story - not just that we never found out exactly what Jason did and didn't do/know, but whether Hank was right to keep pushing, whether Gretchen was right to shut him down, etc. We've been following Hank's side of this story all season, so we know how irrational he is on the subject of Gretchen, but we also saw a few weeks back that he had come to accept that the wedding was going to happen and that Jason made Gretchen happy. At first, this wasn't a case of him continuing to dig, but an earlier search belatedly turning up something hinky - and if this was your ex-wife, about whom you cared deeply, wouldn't you want to look into it for her sake?
But seen from the point of view of Gretchen - who's been hurt too many times by Hank, and who's apparently known about this (or at least about Jason's version of it) for months - this just looks like more obsessive, dangerous behavior. We don't know what Jason did, but we do know that he played this perfectly with Hank. He knew that Gretchen already knew, and how Gretchen would react to the "news" from Hank, and let Hank hang himself and drive a massive wedge in his relationship with Gretchen. And Hank's line about how it was a good thing he and Gretchen couldn't have kids was just spectacular in its cruelty. The writers and Donal Logue had to build up a whole ton of goodwill for Hank in order for him to get away with that moment, but it was worth the cost. Wow.
The Britt side of things was low-key but still emotional. Michaela's reason for cheating young Cody was a decent one, and she coughed up the money as soon as she got it. And while she and Britt never quite proved who murdered Crystal, they got within the ballpark, and then managed to identify her and give her parents some closure. Michaela reverting to Michael to tell the parents a pretty little lie about Trevor was an exceedingly kind thing to do, particularly given what Crystal told Michaela about why she ran away from home. But as with Gretchen's feelings about the Jason Voloway question, there's a sense of ancient history to it; what happened then is less important to her, and to Michaela, then what can be done now. I really liked the interplay between Britt and Michaela and hope to see her come back - and not in a way that justifies Britt's fear about her line of work.
And Britt's time spent in the company of Michaela, and pondering the fragility of life, the importance of good parenting, Katie's pregnancy test, etc., finally gives him the push to get down on one knee and propose to Katie. Laura Allen was fantastic in that scene, as Katie tried to control her impulse to confess, or run away, or say no because she doesn't deserve a guy like Britt, and instead did the same thing Michaela did for Crystal's parents and gave him the answer he needed. I still suspect the ugly truth will come out before the season ends - likely around the time Katie gets the result of that paternity test - but hopefully Britt comes to accept and move past it. Because I'd hate to see both our heroes alone and miserable at the same time.
A few other thoughts:
• Shawn Ryan gets his first script credit, along with Kelly Wheeler, since the second episode, while the director was a very familiar name: Adam Arkin. Arkin's been making the rounds at FX the last few years, not only in his guest arc last season on "Sons of Anarchy," but directing episodes of "The Riches" and "Dirt," as well as an upcoming "Sons" and another "Terriers" later this season. The man does good work.
• As a former newspaper man who's seen lots of colleagues get downsized in the last few years, I could mainly wince with sympathy at the scene where Hank pumps the reporter-turned-freelance-blogger for info on the case.
• No Gustafson this week, no doubt for budgetary reasons, but his absence allowed Ryan and Wheeler to put a more human face on his bumbling partner, Det. Reynolds. On a lot of other shows, the Reynolds character would stand forcefully in Britt and Michaela's way, but here he recognizes that they can help, and gives them access, a room to work, and even useful info when he has it.
• Katie's mostly in a dark place in this episode, but I liked her interaction with Michaela, particularly where she says she's not one of the guys, and Michaela replies, "You don't know what you're missing."
What did everybody else think?