Terriers, “Ring A-Ding-Ding”

With the Lindus case wrapped up and the Montague aftermath still to come, Terriers takes a detour into more procedural fare this week, but by pushing the character arcs further and tying the case to the personal lives of Hank and Britt, the resulting episode is one of the best thus far.

The opening sequence sets up the whole episode for Hank and Britt: They attend Gretchen and Mark’s engagement party and amid all the emotions and talk of weddings, the two have different responses. Hank is completely dejected that he’s officially losing Gretchen for good while Britt is finally realizing that now is the time to pop the question to Katie. But despite their distinctive reactions to the party, both of them are really out of fear. Hank is scared he’s going to be alone forever and without the woman he loves, whereas Britt is scared that he won’t be able to keep Katie around unless he makes the big move.

And of course, their current states rub up against one another and a sense of uneasiness certainly is permeating through their relationship. Britt really wants to pull the trigger on this wedding thing, but needs his half of the bonds Hank has in his possession. The problem with that is Hank doesn’t see how they can cash in the bonds until the Lindus stuff dies down, and while he might be correct, there’s a sense that Hank is holding back because he doesn’t want Britt to get married at all. He loves Britt and Katie, but his own bitterness is getting in the way and it’s showing.

Thus, it makes sense to have the case of the week tackle rings, disrupted marriages and all sorts of interpersonal problems. The series has already shown it’s ability to handle more personal stories instead of just the ones full of legitimate crimes (see the Olivia Williams episode), and this one is absolutely no different.

There is a fine line to walk with having your two shaggy dog lead characters ruminate over weddings in a FX drama, but thankfully, the episode just goes for broke and is completely willing to embrace the exploration of its characters’ psyches. Though Britt and Hank are private detectives, that doesn’t automatically make them heartless tough guys, and in fact, they’re kind of the opposite. Oftentimes, they’ve done things because they care, and tend to get too involved with the clients.

This week’s case doesn’t take up much of the episode in the ways past ones have, but it includes a number of smart, little moments and goes in a fun circle like Terriers often does. Just like in the Olivia Williams episode, “Ring” takes a more hard-boiled approach to stories of infidelity and though it’s ultimately not the driving part of the episode, the case works pretty well.

Meanwhile, when the episode sets up the thought that Britt’s ready to propose with that sense of darkness hanging over him and Hank, we keep waiting for something bad to happen. When Katie goes to the bar without him and starts drinking a lot, we see it coming. It’s shocking to see that Katie is the one who is going to screw up this happy, albeit funky relationship, but even with that knowledge, the episode keeps twisting and turning until we just can’t take it anymore. We think Katie is going to sleep with the young guy, then it looks like he might take it too far and then suddenly she wakes up in the bed of the professor. Ugh.

What’s telling about this sequence is that I found myself so invested in it. I mean I definitely like Katie and Britt together, but I tweeted just last week that I could never remember her name. And yet, there I was watching this unfold with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Suddenly I couldn’t take it anymore, it hurt too much. I think that’s an obvious referendum on how good this series is at going for the jugular with the character moments, as things just keep getting worse for Hank and Britt, almost to the point that I just want to hug them through the television screen.

So you can imagine my state after the final scene of the episode, where Katie comes to Hank and unloads all this horrible information on him.* And as a person with lots of experience in covering up mistakes caused by too much drinking, he suggests bottling it up and telling just a little lie. But knowing this series and these people, the secret is not going to be kept under wraps for too long and it looks as though those suggestions about Hank screwing up Britt’s life are going to come true.

*It will never, ever happen, but my lord does Donal Logue deserve an Emmy nomination for his work on this series. Hank’s reaction to Katie’s news is heartbreaking and Logue completely sells the fact that his character truly loves both of these people, even if he’s put in an awful situation that requires him to lie to one to protect the other. Laura Allen? Also awesome.

With Mad Men and Rubicon leaving the air this Sunday, it looks as though Terriers gets the “Best Series on TV” belt. And I’m not sure anything airing now or coming on in the next few months can take it away.

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