With the Lindus plot wrapped up—and the plot that emerged from the Lindus plot not yet ready to proceed—this week’s Terriers starts fresh, with a case-of-the-week not expressly tied to the show’s larger story, though it is tied to some of the emotions running beneath the story.
The case itself is a humdinger: one of those Terriers mini-mysteries that’s fast-paced, colorful and hard to guess. Hank and Britt are called in to the hospital by Maggie to help a dying woman, Beth Komack, find a ring that her husband Dale says may have been stolen by their maid’s brother. Or at least that’s what Dale says when he’s standing in front of Beth. As Hank and Britt are leaving the hospital, Dale pulls them aside and tells the truth: He thought Beth was going to die a while back, so he gave the ring to his lover, Paola, as a promise that they’d be together after Beth was gone. Only Beth hung around and Paola got impatient, and now she won’t return Dale’s phone calls—and certainly won’t return the ring.
So Hank and Britt are off on a chase that leads first to Paola, a hairdresser whom Hank approaches as a potential client while Britt searches her locker for the ring. But Paola figures out what they’re up to and kicks them out—without rinsing the shampoo out of Hank’s hair—telling them that she sold the ring to a street vendor. The boys find the vendor, but she says she sold the ring to a body-piercing aficionado named Angelo. The boys find Angelo, who shows them all his piercings—including the ones down his pants—before remembering that he bartered the ring with his pot dealer. The boys lean on the pot dealer, who at first refuses to cooperate (since his marijuana business is legal) until they threaten to tell the state that the dealer’s trading product off the books, at which point he gives up the name of the person to whom he sold the ring: Beth Komack.
In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised by this literal turn—a 360-degree turn—of events. This is Terriers, after all. On this show we’ve already seen the boys stage a tryst to fool a man who wanted to catch his wife cheating, and we’ve seen them rob a client’s bearer bonds on his own behalf. Who else would have the ring but the person who hired Hank and Britt to find it?
But I still chuckled when the trail circled back around, and Hank and Britt had to sneak into the Komacks’ house to steal back the ring for Beth—who wants it for her son, since the jewel in the ring is worth $300,000. The case goes south quickly though, as Dale gets a call (telling him that “Beth’s gone”… but not in the way you might think) while Hank’s trying distract him. At the same time, Britt discovers that Beth gets her wigs from the same boutique where Paola works. All concerned rush to the boutique in time to find Beth confronting Paola, but the situation defuses—and all of Beth’s dreams of securing a clean, independent financial future for her son melt away—when Paola’s kid runs into the room, spots Dale, and calls out, “Daddy!”
What does this have to do with the conspiracy to commit soil-test fraud at The Montague? Nada. But as a story about how the legal obligations of marriage conflict with and complicate the romantic passions of same, “Ring-A-Ding-Ding” is on-point. Because while Hank and Britt are working this case together, separately each is having his own little relationship melodrama.
In Hank’s case, it’s starting to dawn on him that his ex-wife Gretchen is really and truly going to marry Jason, and right soon. Having blurted out “I still love you!” at the end of last week’s episode, Hank now has to suffer the indignity of dressing up to attend Gretchen and Jason’s engagement party, with his sister Stephanie as his “pity date.” (“But we’re not sleeping together,” Steph says, before adding, “Congratulations on your marriage to not-Hank.”) Making matters worse, Jason has figured out that Hank has been using his credit cards, and stops by Hank’s house to ask him to knock it off. After Jason finishes getting his ass handed to him by Stephanie in Scrabble, he tells Hank point-blank that Gretchen still has a soft spot for her ex, which is fine with him, but that he invited Hank to their engagement party because, “I wanted you to see how happy she is.” I could be wrong—we still might learn that Jason’s a shady character, as many of you have suspected in the past—but my read on that scene is that Jason’s not trying to be cruel, he’s just sending a message that if Hank really loves Gretchen and wants to remain in her life in any capacity, he’ll leave well enough alone.
As for the other half the partnership, Britt finds himself more crazy in love with his girlfriend Katie than ever. They can’t keep their hands—among other things—off of each other. He thinks she’s so beautiful that she’d steal attention away from the bride at Gretchen’s wedding. They’re so comfortable around each other that “She pees with the door open, man.” Britt’s so swept up by Gretchen and Jason’s engagement party that he thinks it may be time to ask Katie to marry him. He tells this to Hank, and Hank tries to dissuade him in subtle ways, like by telling him just how much a wedding costs, and reminding him that those hundreds of thousands of dollars in bearer bonds that they’re sitting on can’t be touched for a while—maybe for years—lest they draw the attention of the authorities. Nevertheless, Britt buys a ring, and hides it from Katie, though not before she finds Beth Komack’s ring and wrongly gets the right idea (if that makes any sense).
The problem? Well, Katie discovers the ring the night after making a terrible mistake. While Britt’s on the job, Katie goes out for karaoke with her veterinary classmates, gets drunk on Buttery Nipples, sings Olivia Newton-John’s “Suddenly” with her friend Gavin, rebuffs a pass from Gavin, and then sleeps with her professor.
I’ll tell you: I wasn’t crazy about the Katie storyline in this episode. It’s certainly not implausible that Katie would do something like this. She’s feeling insecure because Britt’s not as much a part of her world as vice-versa; and, of course, she’s blitzed. But I feel like Katie cheating is a too-predictable direction for a show this unpredictable to travel in—even if she doesn’t cheat with the man we expect her to cheat with.
That said, I fully expect Terriers to make good use of Katie’s slip-up in future episodes: not just as as a way to give her character something to stress out about, but by giving her a secret that may be a factor in a future plot. And really, I’d say that the show makes good use of her slip-up in this episode, by having her confess to Hank and having him comfort her, with years of alcoholic misadventures and self-destruction to draw on for sympathy. “You were drunk,” he says. “It wasn’t you.” And when she says that she can’t imagine looking Britt in the eye as though nothing ever happened, Hank reveals his own secret of getting through each day:
-“Aloof’s a good choice.”
-Hank warns Britt that if he marries Katie, they’ll see each other less, because Britt will start saying things like, “The wife don’t cotton to that.” Britt reassures Hank that he would never use the word “cotton” in that context.
-Snappy patter too between the boys and their lawyer/employer Maggie:
Britt: “Where’s the baby?”
Maggie: “I sold it. You know it shit absolutely everywhere?”
Britt: “Your boobs are huge.”
Maggie: “Stop staring at my son’s lunch.”
-A lot of shit in this week’s episode, from Katie’s teacher advising his class to check “fecal floatation” to Britt insisting that he’ll let Winston out and that “everyone will poop successfully in your absence.”
-I liked Britt and Hank killing time outside of Paola’s boutique by taking bets on which one she’ll turn out to be. And I liked Hank having to go to the car wash to rinse the shampoo out of his hair (and dry it!) after Paola boots him.
-When I head the name “Angelo Baldemetti” I immediately thought of this.
-Pot dealer: “Where do you know Angelo from?” Hank: “He does my taxes.”