Terriers, “Change Partners”

Just like yesterday, I’m still playing catch-up with the exciting amount of new television in front of me, so apologies for just now getting to Wednesday’s stellar Terriers, which should definitely calm any concerns about the series’ ability to tell standalone stories or even the lesser concerns about the weight of the stories being told. “Change Partners” is not only an informative episode because of its revelations about Britt’s past or how dirty Hank can get, but also a highly intense story that starts off goofy but quickly turns bleak. And it is definitely the best of the three aired episodes of Terriers thus far.

After feeling emotionally connected and charmed by Hank in the first two episodes, “Change Partners” rips that all away and makes good on the threat Gustafson made to Britt about Hanks’ destructive ways. What starts as a job that will hopefully get him his mortgage, quickly turns complicated when the client Harmon’s weird fetish to see evidence of his cheating wife Miriam is uncovered. As usual, Hank becomes more attached to Miriam instead of his original client and when their plan to fake the cheating (with a willing Britt) goes wrong, their similar feelings of loss and regret take over and they hook up.

Harmon’s knowledge of the forgery with Britt voids the deal with Hank and because he needs the mortgage so bad, Hank’s nasty streak rears its head. He snaps, pushes his fingers into Harmon’s face and lets him know that Miriam did cheat after all — with Hank. Harmon signs off on the loan, but then kills himself because he can’t deal with his weird obsession anymore. Hank returns to see that result, but despite his apparent sadness for his actions, he still finds time to forge the last, forgotten signature so that he gets that damn loan. Miriam’s crushed, but Hank doesn’t seem to care that much. He needed that damn loan, alright?!

It’s a dark path, one that depicts just how quickly Hank can turn on the attack dog side of his personality and what the consequences of that are. He’s more than an accessory to a death here and he’s destroyed another person’s life, a person he seemingly cared for 12 hours beforehand. At the end of the day, Hank is alone and has to deal with the consequences of his actions, but he doesn’t seem to shaken by it, or at least won’t let himself be shaken by it. Combine his actions there with his decision to start screwing with his ex-wife’s new beau, particularly with his credit cards, and “Changing Partners” is all about tearing down the veneer of cool the first two episodes built up. It’s not that I didn’t believe Hank was a screw-up before, but to actually see him in full destruction mode is a striking sight, particularly in episode three. Good for the writers for taking that risk.

Meanwhile, while Hank’s past demons manifest themselves through his personality, Britt’s manifest literally, as an old running buddy gets out of prison and disrupts Britt and Katie’s life a little bit. Through this story it’s revealed there’s a good reason Britt’s so good and breaking in to places for Hank: he used to be middling criminal and Ray was his partner. They used to do some armed robbery, B+E’s, etc. and of course, Ray more or less forces Britt back into the game by threatening Katie.

Though Britt eventually outsmarts Ray, he takes the opportunity to be completely honest with Katie, who already did know that he was a criminal. In turns out that Britt actually robbed Katie’s house with Ray a few days before meeting her and because he saw her picture on the fridge, he rummaged through her stuff and found out where she worked. It’s not as staggering of a revelation as what happens with Hank, but it’s a reminder that as charming as they guys are, they have a dark side. Katie’s originally shocked, but eventually uses the story to transition into a sex fantasy where Britt breaks in before they get down, which is just awesome. Not the sex fantasy part (which is cool in its own right, if that’s your thing), but that Katie is so cool and even turned on by Britt’s sketchiness. Any other series would have her been completely unknowing or totally freaking out when she did find out, so again, kudos to the Terriers writers.

Oh, and that final little moment with someone breaking into Hank’s place and then slipping out? Super creepy and super awesome.

What a fine episode of television that suggest even better things for Terriers in the future. Watch this series!

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