If you’d described the rudiments of the plot to tonight’s Terriers a couple of weeks ago, I don’t know that I would’ve been that amped about it. First off, “Pimp Daddy” has Hank and Britt working two separate cases, with Britt trying to find out what happened to a transsexual runaway while Hank looks into the shady past of Gretchen’s fiancé Jason. The subject matter of each is sensationalistic—involving prostitution in the former and child sexual abuse in the latter—and inevitably leads to the kind of heated one-to-one confrontations that are more the province of ordinary TV dramas, not Terriers. Add in a subplot that has Katie learning she’s pregnant—but not knowing if the father is Britt or Professor Inappropriate—and you’ve got a recipe for rank melodrama, not the slyest crime show on the dial.
But “Pimp Daddy” co-screenwriters Shawn Ryan and Kelly Wheeler (a first-timer!) put their own spin on the material, telling the stories in the context of who Hank and Britt are, and the world they inhabit.
Britt’s adventure begins when he’s hanging out at Hank’s place, watching his partner try to stretch his busted wing with the help of his physical therapist. (When the PT asks if Hank’s been doing his exercises, Britt quips, “Masturbation count?”) The therapist then asks for a favor: His nephew Cody had $400 stolen by a prostitute, and the kid would like the money back (or, according to Cody, “resumption of services”). So Britt goes looking for “Michaela” and is surprised—though I’m sure none of you were—that Michaela pees standing up.
As far as the actual detective work goes, Britt’s side of “Pimp Daddy” isn’t that strange or surprising. Britt finds Michaela easily, and then when Michaela asks him to help her find out who killed her friend Crystal, it only takes a flip through the books at the police station to discover that Crystal’s real name was Trevor Dale, and that the man who may have killed him hung himself six months ago. Nothing more to pursue here. Nevertheless, it’s fun to watch Britt take some simple pleasure in his job, whether he’s answering the question, “You guys are private detectives, right?” with a cheery “Says so on our underwear!” or responding to Cody’s casual, “You’re a P.I., that’s cool,” by saying, “It is cool, right?” It’s also touching to see Britt admit to Michaela that he may not be smart enough to solve her case without Hank around. How can you not love a guy who’s both enthusiastic and knows his limitations?
And the Michaela story ends beautifully, with Britt and his client going to see the Dales, who’ve been wondering for six years what happened to their son after he left home. Michaela arrives dressed as Michael, and tells the Dales that Trevor—not “Crystal”—was a kind and good man who helped other runaways. She puts the best possible spin on the situation, so that the Dales can feel better about a child they never really understood. On the way out the door, Britt mumbles to Michaela, “You gotta quit your day job.” Her reply: “And give up show business?”
It’s a great line and a beautiful scene, made all the moreso for how it ties in to what the rest of this episode is about. But to get to that, we have to get into Hank’s half of the episode, in which he learns that Gretchen's beloved Jason Adler was not born “Jason Adler,” but is instead Jason Voloway, the son of two day care owners accused decades ago of systemic, ritualistic child abuse and molestation—a crime for which Jason was also accused before the authorities dropped the whole case and called it “mass hysteria.”
Hank pursues this lead doggedly, pretending that it's for Gretchen’s protection. He buys a meal for the reporter who spent six months on the story (and who now, Terriers-like, pulls down 50 bucks an article writing for a blog). He hassles Gustafson’s new partner Det. Reynolds for info. (Reynolds: “I don’t work for you.” Hank: “Yeah, you kinda do. Taxes.”) He finds one of the alleged Voloway victims, who’s reluctant to talk until Hank lies, “I just want to make sure our son is safe around him.” At every turn, Hank hears the same story: the elder Voloways were likely guilty of some of what they were accused of. But Jason? There’s just no hard proof that he did anything wrong. But Hank being Hank, he confronts Jason with what he knows anyway, only to have Jason call him a pitiable loser. So Hank goes to Gretchen, who tells Hank that Jason opened up to her about his past on the second date. Then she kicks Hank out of her life.
The Voloway story—reminiscent of the documentary Capturing The Friedmans, among other real-life cases of day care abuse scandals—is a lot like the various stories in “Pimp Daddy,” in that it’s about a set of facts and personal testimonies that can have different meanings depending on how and when they’re presented. Michaela spins her friend Crystal’s life into something else. And one of the reasons she stood Cody up—after taking his money—was because she realized that she wasn’t exactly what Cody paid for, and she didn’t want to freak him out. Hank tells what he knows about Jason, and it costs him the one relationship that matters most to him. And so on.
Which brings us to Katie, who wants to hold off telling Britt about her pregnancy until she gets back the results of a DNA test and learns definitively whether or not Britt’s the daddy. Only Britt finds the pregnancy test box in the trash, and since he doesn’t know anything about Katie’s dalliance with her prof, he decides to break out his hidden engagement ring and propose. And Katie says yes. Later, when all the facts are in, this love story could have a sad end. But for now … who knows?
- Continuing with the theme: The episode opens with Hank dreaming about snuggling in bed on a weekend morning with Gretchen, singing, “I love you / For detrimental reasons.” It’s a happy moment … until he wakes up.
- Foreshadowing: Hank insists to Maggie that he won’t cause any trouble with his investigation of Jason (and probably believes it, too), but Maggie know his history and isn’t so confident. As if on cue, when Hank leaves the room, he makes so much noise that it wakes Maggie’s baby up.
- When Maggie asks Hank if he knows what Google is, Hank replies that it’s “a thing my lawyer uses to dig up dirt for me.”
- Britt to a should-be-convalescing Hank: “Get thee to a beddery.”
- Britt, pitching in around the house: “I been taking trash out since I was 20”
- Britt, introducing Michaela to Hank: “It’s your therapist’s nephew’s hooker.”
- Michaela, to Britt: “The life of a tranny ho isn’t all private jets and gallery openings.”
- Love the quick reaction shot of Detective Reynolds looking disgusted when Michaela describes Crystal as post-op. As with last week’s cavalcade of telling reaction shots, I’m not sure whether to credit the writers, the actor, or the director, but since I haven’t mentioned director Adam Arkin yet, I’ll give it to him.
- A tale of two Hank/Gretchen conversations. In one, he’s dazzling her with outdated cultural references (“Sebastian Cabot walks into a bar…”) and making her laugh. A day later, she’s telling him, “You’re more reckless sober than you are drunk,” and he’s hissing, “Maybe it’s a good thing we couldn’t have children.” Ouch.
- If you’re in Ocean Beach, you gotta go to Hodads.