Hello there! It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but several months ago I was talking with my buddy Kirk Hamilton, and…what, you don’t know Kirk? He’s a musician (check out his site), gamer, writer/editor extraordinaire for gaming site Kotaku, Benedict-Cumberbatch-scarf enthusiast, and generally all-around awesome dude. Even more awesomely, we came up with the idea of tag-team-recapping an episode of Terriers, and I wasn’t going to waste such an opportunity by covering anything less than one of the show’s finest offerings. Despite that, I did almost waste said opportunity by waiting months to get my shit together, but now that Mad Men‘s done, I am goddamn ready. [You can see when we got started here. -- JR] [Apparently I take even longer to get my shit together than you do. - KH] So!
Since this is out of order, I’ll quickly mention what the previouslies cover: Our introduction to Laura Ross, the journalist whom Zeitlin menaced in the previous episode; that douchey classmate of Katie’s reminding us that she “went home with Professor Owen,” though he little knew exactly what that meant; Hank instructing Katie never to tell Britt; Britt freaking out at Gretchen’s wedding and breaking up with Katie after she failed to heed Hank’s advice. And now…
…Britt is drinking liberally from a bottle of something, and I know I said Mad Men was over but suddenly it’s like I never left. The reason for his indulgence is that he’s cleaning his stuff out of his and Katie’s place, although while in the closet, he takes a sniff of one of Katie’s dresses, so either he really misses her or he’s been hanging out with Winston too much, which probably amounts to the same thing. Hank appears in the doorway, and with typical Hank flair (the term “sumptuous repast” is used), suggests Britt forget moving, wait for Katie to come home, and have a nice life. Britt asks if Hank is suggesting he forgive her, and Hank agrees: “It’s implied.” Hee. Hank goes on to offer an alternative suggestion, that being Britt punishing Katie by marrying her, to which Britt retorts that the best punishment would be him keeping the place and having Katie move in with Hank instead.
Of course, as they make their way out, they see that Katie has chosen that moment to return, which just goes to show that if you’re trying to avoid an awkward confrontation with the boyfriend that’s on his way out for good, you should wait until an hour after you think it’s completely, one hundred percent safe, and when that hour’s up, wait another one for good measure. As bad as she’s feeling, hearing the boys engage in what sounded like light banter at her expense has to be a punch in an already aching gut, but she gathers herself and tells Britt with some slight defiance that she thought he’d be gone by now. Britt, suddenly raspy, explains that they got a late start before asking if she didn’t see the truck, and she admits that she did, the implication probably being that she was hoping for a more positive meeting here. She tells him she left the ring out for him, and when he claims not to have seen it, she grabs it and gives it back to him, saying she never should have taken it. She’s clearly thinking about the fact that she’d already been unfaithful by the time he proposed, but whether he absorbs that or not, it’s not exactly what he wants to hear, so he gets back at her by calling Winston and saying it’s time to go.
Katie’s stunned, and seeing that, Britt wavers, asking uncertainly if she wants him and adding that he did get him for her. She counters that she thought he got Winston for them, and I sympathize with her, you know I do, but she’s only making things harder for herself here, so I’m with Britt when he barks (sorry) that he can’t cut the dog in half, even though the decision is kind of begging for someone to impose some Solomon-esque theatricality on it.
There’s a kind of heartbreaking shot of the dog sitting at their feet and looking eagerly from one to the other, like he thinks Mom and Dad are taking him to the park instead of breaking up, and then when Katie quietly concedes, saying the dog should be with Britt, Britt wastes no time in getting the hell out of there, which is probably best for everyone but still suddenly makes me see my own breath. However, Katie, in tears, tells them to wait before kneeling down and saying goodbye to Winston, sobbing and saying she loves him, and this really isn’t fair given how much I heard that the show IS NOT ABOUT DOGS. Britt does not look like he’s enjoying this, but neither does he spare her a glance before leaving; Hank does, but it translates to “Why did you ruin this for all of us by telling him,” which again, I shouldn’t be shivering in LA in July.
Entering his house, Hank tells Britt that if he’s going to be really crazy, Steph’s bedroll is still up in the attic, and given that Britt is newly single and also looks like Britt it might be the better part of wisdom for him to consider the idea. Hank’s at least used to weird noises coming from up there. Britt, however, is more a fan of the guest bedroom, and then their attention is diverted from the sleeping arrangements by the sounds of a woman playing with Winston, who is adorable and also the WORST GUARD DOG EVER.
Turning the corner, Hank and Britt discover Laura Ross, who chuckles as she apologizes for letting herself in. “It’s probably better not to be loitering around your domicile.” That’s such a Hank-like thing to say that I can only imagine the eventual plan was to get these two together, and thinking about Season Two is threatening to make me do my Katie impression here.
Britt, given his mood, is not particularly interested in witnessing these two engage in ten-dollar-word flirtation, so he goes to unpack, leaving Laura to comment that she was admiring Hank’s “artwork,” which refers to a map highlighting Zeitlin’s land. Hank asks if Laura has any idea what he plans to build, but Laura tells him she’s there about a different case, asking if the name “Billy Whitman” rings a bell. Hank rather stonily tells her he “ran into Whitman” during his cop days, and given how much he was drinking at the time it’s possible he’s being literal here. Laura lets us know that the Whitman case is what got Hank fired, and Hank smiles his assent as the insides of his cheeks beg for mercy from the sudden activity of his molars. He adds that the case also “arguably” was responsible for the end of his marriage, and that he never could close it. Laura: “Well, I think I may have just solved it.” Hank, his mouth full of water, admirably avoids a spit-take, at least for the moment, and rather than tempt fate, we hit the opening credits.
Oh, hi there! I’m Kirk. Thanks to John for that lovely introduction: I’m wearing a scarf right now, and doing my most Cumberbatchian voice. I am looking forward to recapping this (fabulous) episode of this (fantasic) show along with you, John, though it is going to be hard not to refer to you as “Couch Baron” as we do this. I suppose I’ll survive. [I mean, it’s no hardship for me, buddy. -- JR/CB] It’s also going to be kind of emotionally difficult to do this recap, since MAN this is right where the show really hit its stride, just before the rug was so cruelly pulled from under our feet.
So, the credits sequence plays as we the viewer recover from Laura’s SHOCKING REVEAL of the fact that she’s solved the case that ruined Hank’s life. The Terriers theme was so crazy good. I recently made a list of the best credits sequences and I left off Terriers, so I guess that means my list was invalid. Shit. (The credits song, I will point out, is by Rob Duncan and is called “Gunfight Epiphany“, which is a very good name for a song. Maybe that’s been pointed out in past recaps but I PLAY BY MY OWN RULES.) [I always think of you as a Rebel with a Scarf. -- JR]
Immediately post-credits, we see title text that reads “Three Years Earlier.” Aah, so it would appear that we are going to learn the true nature of the case Laura was referring to. I wonder if we’ll learn anything else? Maybe about Hank, or about Britt, or about ourselves? Time will tell.
Fade up on Hank and Gustafson as they haul a perp into the police station. Hank is doing that thing TV cops do where they rattle off all the charges that the perp is about to eat. Hilariously, Hank ends his list with an emphatic “and second degree evading police” like that’s such a great stinger. What are the degrees of evading police? Did he just walk away, and not run away? Is first degree premeditated? Anyway.
Gustafson pushes the perp to identify his supplier, since this is what cops do, and he refers to him as a “D-Bag,” which is one of the approved-for-TV insults that I most enjoy. Another cop, presumably named Dan-o, comes and takes the perp away for booking.
Hank and Gustafson are both dressed more or less like homeless guys — Hank is wearing a dirty jacket and has a knit cap perched atop his head, and Gustafson is wearing a ratty jean-jacket. So, clearly they’ve been undercover, a point which their Captain (who is probably has a name but I’m forgetting) confirms when he tells them he hopes their two weeks undercover pay off.
Also noteworthy: Gustafson spends this whole scene with a real cigarette clamped in his teeth, as opposed to the plastic one that he has in the present day. It’s a fun little character note and an easy way to remind us that we’re watching a flashback. (I’ve always been a fan of the Gustafson cigarette.) Though I bet that cigarette gets pretty gross and soggy by the time he finally lights it. Okay since he’s a Real Human Person in this episode, I’ll stop calling him Gustafson and start calling him Mark.
Hank and Mark walk and talk with their boss, who tells them that there’s another case that’s come in — a serial rapist. Seven women have been raped, the most recent one this very night, and the police finally have a suspect, who was caught fleeing the scene.
Their witness is a guy named “Billy Whitman,” which is such a hilarious “douchey entitled rich kid” name that I instantly love it. [It sounds like a perfect name for The Bachelor. -- JR] Hank knows that name, and that’s because Whitman is one of “The La Jolla Whitmans,” the family who own the Whitman Library, and who donated a whole building to his college to keep him from getting expelled. Since Laura already told Hank before the credits that this is “The Billy Whitman Case,” we the audience already know to be paying attention to Whitman, and that hmm I don’t know maybe he’s more involved in this than it may seem.
For now: Whitman caught the rape suspect breaking into his BMW and detained him until the police showed up. Hank looks at the sheet for the guy that Whitman caught, and points out that the guy is small, so he doesn’t match past witness descriptions of the rapist.
As they talk, Tim Minear’s writing credit flashes across the screen, and I flash back to “Out of Gas,” the similarly structured (and similarly great) episode he wrote for Firefly. Kaylee having hot sex in the engine room! [Before taking that surfer dude’s job -- see, I watched it for you, Kirk! -- JR] [OMG next can we recap “Ariel”? Can we? I swear I’ll be faster at doing my parts. - KH] [We'll talk. -- JR] Aah, memories.
Hank wonders what a rich punk like Whitman was doing over in Brunswick Heights, but they move right on to the suspect, who the Captain wants questioned before he asks for an attorney. Again with the weird cop-show clichés – hard to imagine that a criminal like Britt, who had been in jail before, wouldn’t know to immediately ask for a lawyer.
Oh whoops, I totally spoiled the reveal. Yeah, Hank goes in to question the suspect, and it’s Britt. Hi Britt! Actually, the first time I watched this episode I wasn’t expecting it to be him, so it was a neat little reveal. I know, it’s like I’ve never seen TV before or something. Sorry! I’m not used to recapping TV. It’s hard not to call out all the contrivances as they happen. [So cute! -- JR]
Hank and Britt do a funny back and forth where Hank thinks Britt’s name is “Brett,” and Britt corrects him and it’s all like a Bizarro-world version of that “Britt-As-In-Brittany?” scene from Flight of the Conchords.
Britt seems surprised that Hank is a cop, given that he’s dressed as a homeless guy. “It’s casual Friday,” Hank says. Heh. Britt says okay, if Hank is a cop, then he wants to lodge a complaint because Whitman assaulted him. Again, it seems strange that he would do this without asking for a lawyer but okay whatever, going with it.
Hank and Britt do some back-and-forth, and they really do have good comedic timing for a couple of guys who just met. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship or something! Hank does the other thing where he reads Britt’s rap sheet to him so we’ll know his backstory, talks about how Britt has been in jail before, all for petty thievery. So then Hank wonders how Britt went from B&Es to rape. What was the progression? Did Britt break into a house and “come across a pair of panties on the floor, soiled? Give ‘em a sniff?” Ew. This subtly ties back to Britt smelling Katie’s dress at the beginning of the episode — we know that Britt loves Katie, and that he’s a good guy and definitely not a rapist, which all serves to reinforce Britt’s horror at hearing that he’s suspected of such an awful crime. Nice touch.
Back to Hank’s proposed version of events: Maybe Britt came back to the house where he broke in, “Except this time you don’t have a wi-fi in your crosshairs?” (One of several examples of this episode’s technological out-of-touchness, the idea that a guy would rob a house to steal a router. I guess it was a little while ago, but still.)
Hank is deliberately gross about it, and you can see on Britt’s face that he had nothing to do with this. This scene is all shot with a bunch of extreme facial close-ups, and both Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James are doing a fantastic job. Britt’s face fills the screen, and you can see in his eyes that he’s clearly not a rapist, that he had no idea any of this was coming. Hank doesn’t betray his feelings yet, but we can tell that he gets it. This isn’t their guy.
Hank keeps going, dropping the suspect description in front of Britt, who immediately complains that this guy is six-foot two. Plus, he’s wearing a mask.
“And dark clothes!” says Hank, as if that’s damning.
“Yeah, lots of people do, it’s slimming!”
“That’s funny.” Hank barks. Hank does not seem to think this is funny. He then tells Britt about “Slim,” and how “Slim” went and raped seven women. He targets women who live alone, and then he “rapes them for hours.” Jeez, Terriers! You are being really intense right now!
After that, the rapist makes his victims take a bath to “wash away the evidence,” which is also kind of weird since I’m pretty sure there would be DNA that wouldn’t wash away in a bath but OKAY SORRY I’ll stop nitpicking Terriers.
Then Hank drops the bomb that the last incident was tonight, right next to where Britt was busted. Britt looks shocked, and says he doesn’t know anything about any of this. Hank breaks out Britt’s lockpicks, saying that it’s likely they’ll find residue from the victim’s window on them. Britt suddenly looks busted, and even though anyone with a brain can figure out what likely happened, he doesn’t say anything, probably because he’s worried about getting in any deeper.
Instead, he asks Hank, “Is she gonna be okay? The girl he tried to rape tonight?”
“Who says he tried to rape her?” Hank says.
We cut to Hank and Mark talking with some other cops about what happened, and it’s revealed that the victim in this instance wasn’t raped — the guy tried, but then he ran. Hank puts it together that Britt must have been there even though he clearly isn’t the rapist, which means Britt was breaking into the apartment and happened to interrupt the rape, inadvertently saving the victim. Hank thinks that if they cut the charges, Britt might relax and ID the real suspect. Gustafson is skeptical.
The two of them sit at their desks in the detective pool of the police station — Hank has a bowling trophy on his desk which is either a tie-in to a background bit that I can’t remember, or a Lebowski reference, or maybe both. A uniformed officer comes in with a recording of the 911 call from the night of the crime. Mark plays it, and of course, it’s Britt, calling in to report the attempted rape. The Captain orders them to cut Britt loose.
Mark heads out to have a cigarette (presumably a fresh one, since he got rid of the one he was sucking on earlier), and Hank walks out into the hallway to watch Britt picking up his belongings from booking. They exchange a look and Britt leaves. Hank comes back into the office and Gustafson is sitting back down — evidently some time has passed, as Hank is now wearing a super-duper wrinkled linen shirt and appears to have taken a shower. Gustafson is looking dapper as usual in a blue suit.
Mark tells Hank that the guy they brought (“Dobbs”) in at the beginning of the episode is ready to roll over on his drug supplier (that was easy!) but Hank is still on the rape case. He mentions how strange it is that rich Billy Whitman was in the neighborhood to see a married woman he didn’t want to identify.
Hank asks about the incident that almost got Whitman expelled from USV several years ago. Mark describes it as a “frat party gone wrong,” which sure sounds pretty rape-y to me. Boy, I’m really thinking this Whitman guy merits closer investigation.
Hank seems curious, and as he further expresses his doubts about Whitman’s story, he reaches down into his desk to pour some whiskey into his coffee. Mark points out how Hank would just LOVE it if Whitman turned out to be the rapist, because Hank has a massive chip on his shoulder reserved for anyone who has more than he does. Hank smiles, even though Gustafson totally just called his ass out, and brings up his now-loaded coffee for a sip.
“That ain’t cream,” Mark says, chidingly. “Sweetener,” Hank says: A sad, quiet joke. He neglects to say that thing that all alcoholics neglect to say when they joke about their drinking: “I know, I know, this is killing me, but for now can we please keep it light? Just for now.”
Thanks, Kirk, and the “Oh, Hank”-ness continues with a close-up of an Alka-Seltzer dropping into a glass, done not by Hank, who stirs upon hearing the plop-plop-fizz-fizz of it all, but Gretchen. And it’s not like we didn’t know she can be a bit of an enabler, but this is certainly a reminder that’s as efficient as it is effervescent. Hank asks what time it is, and upon hearing it’s 9:30, admits he “tied one on” the night before, when I’m guessing not having tied one on would be far the more newsworthy story, and adds that he got in so late he didn’t want to wake Gretchen, as if we all don’t know it was a miracle for him to make it as far as the couch. Gretchen’s only response is a sad smile, which is an effective choice for the audience if not for Hank, who plows on that she looks beautiful. She reminds him that she has some City Council thing that morning, and when he groggily starts to get up to move his truck, she tells him that won’t be necessary – it’s on the lawn. Well, I admire her for holding that card back until the most appropriate time to play it, evidenced by the fact that Hank for once has no witty rejoinder to offer. And being met with silence, Gretchen goes on that she thought Hank’s job as a cop would be a constant source of worry for her, so it’s funny (finger-quotes implied) that she only really agonizes over his safety when he’s off-duty. Hank lamely chuckles like he’s trying to play that as actually hilarious, which is ill-advised, although no more so than when he tries to change the subject to a social thing with another couple he thinks is that night — only it was the night before. Hank groans that he’s batting a thousand, but Gretchen softens with a smile and tells him he’s just lucky she can’t stand the woman in question before kissing Hank and starting to head off. Wow, that’s the extent of the discipline? Just as well they never had kids, I guess. [You know, of all the stuff I called out earlier for being unbelievable, her reaction here might be the least believable thing of all. - KH] However, as even-tempered as Gretchen may be, when Hank brings up the fact that she went to “USV” and asks if she knew Billy Whitman, she stiffens before sharply asking what he thinks. From her reaction, it seems obvious she thinks Hank has done a lot more research into this connection than he actually has, but he’s too shattered to pick up on that, so he plows on until she asks, “Why would you dredge this up now? Do you have a list of all my old boyfriends?” Well, after this, I’m thinking Hank will see some wisdom in the idea. Anyway, Gretchen tells Hank that whatever happened with Billy, she doesn’t remember much, and what she does remember she’s tried hard to forget, so could he please respect that? My guess is he’ll respect it about as much as he respects their front yard, because unlike Kirk I have watched TV before.
Back in the present, Hank has brought Laura down to see Mark, who seems skeptical about her credentials as he asks what paper she’s with. “Laura: “I don’t work for dead-tree media. I’m an independent — I publish on the Web.” I have to tell you that I am sure Kirk gave his scarf a gleeful flip after that line. [Pretty much. - KH] Mark, unfazed: “So she blogs. Do you Tweet?” Oh, tech jokes. Kirk is right — how comically poorly you do age. Hank tells Mark they have to reopen the case, but Mark points out that there is no “we” here, given that Hank is no longer a cop, and besides, he remembers Hank asserting Whitman’s guilt once before. Hank looks to the side…
…and back into the past, and I wish I could see three years ago that clearly by turning my head to my right. I’d love to know what I was thinking when I paid money to see Wolverine. [Probably something about Hugh Jackman, but I’m just guessing. - KH] [Kirk Hamilton, I am shocked! (And called out.) -- JR] A sweaty Hank is hauling a cuffed Whitman in, and Whitman complains about Hank arresting him for a broken taillight. Hank corrects him that he got pulled over for the taillight but arrested for being belligerent, and when Whitman asks how, exactly, he was being belligerent, Hank replies, “There you go again!” Hee. Hank drags Whitman on…
…and then we cut to an interrogation room, in which Whitman complains that Hank should arrest the valet at the restaurant at which he was eating, since the taillight wasn’t even broken before he got there. That’d be a reasonably subtle point had we not all already jumped to the conclusion that it was Hank who busted the thing, not that he lets on. Instead, he proclaims it “interesting” that Whitman doesn’t have much of a rap sheet, given that he’s been arrested quite a few times. “Somehow it all just seems to go away.” Whitman decides to reinforce that point by telling Hank he could have his job, and when Hank calls him a “rich prick,” Whitman tells him he wants to speak to Hank’s boss. Hank tries the effect of dropping photos of all the raped women onto the desk for Whitman to look at, but Whitman evenly tells Hank he doesn’t know any of them. His temperature rising, Hank then places a photo of Gretchen on the table, but Whitman denies knowing her too before saying, just to make Kirk happy, that he’d like his attorney. Hank, however, tells Whitman to take a good long look at the photo of Gretchen and see if he remembers her — maybe in conjunction with a frat party he hosted when he was a junior? One at which six freshman women claimed they were drugged and used as party favors? Women that brought charges through the university, which were subsequently dropped when the Whitman family sprung for a new football stadium? Whitman’s only reply is a sardonic mouth twist, so Hank seethes that all the women were members of Gretchen’s sorority. “AND I WANT TO KNOW IF SHE WAS ONE OF THEM!” With the hangover he must have, I can’t believe Hank can stand even to hear himself talk that loudly…
…and one person who definitely isn’t a fan of the volume is Mark, who, once he catches wind of what’s going on, rushes in just as Whitman taunts Hank about how he probably did screw Gretchen and Hank upends a table in response. It’s easy to pass over in the moment, but as it happens, Mark learned of what was going on from another cop who we’ll learn is called Detective Reynolds, and you’d think that Reynolds might have broken the situation up himself, especially since he noted to Mark that Whitman had asked for a lawyer about ten minutes earlier. But why would it have been in Reynolds’s interest to let this play out? Whitman looks gleeful at how far he got Hank to go…
…but outside, Mark is freaked out by same, and even though Hank rails about Whitman’s “ugly history” with women, all Mark can ask is how much Hank has had to drink. Hank admits to having “fortified” himself, which is another “Oh, Hank” moment, but does get Mark’s attention when he brings up the possibility of Whitman having put his paws all over Gretchen. But although Mark is sympathetic, he rightly points out that this is all the more reason Hank should not be the one questioning Whitman, so he will take over, while Hank will go home before the Captain sees him in this state. Hank reluctantly takes off…
…and then the camera sidles back into the present from one alcohol issue to another, as Britt is drowning his sorrows, and even though Hank doesn’t seem to mind I wonder about the protocol of getting wasted in the home of a recovering alcoholic. You’d think the situation at least merits a brown bag. Hank, entering the room, asks if Britt wanted to see him, and Britt shows him a Polaroid he accidentally grabbed while taking his stuff of Katie and Gavin The Third Grade Note Passer and asks who the hell the guy is. Hank, truthfully enough, says he doesn’t know, but Britt jumps to the conclusion that it’s “the guy she banged,” and given what a douche Gavin The Third Grade Note Passer is, I can see where Britt would find the prospect really depressing. Hank counsels Britt to forget about the photo and points out that he doesn’t know what it is, to which Britt yells that he KNOWS HE DOESN’T KNOW — he’s trying to figure it out, but he’s never seen the guy before, and here’s Katie being all cozy with him at a bar? Britt, you know I’m on your side, but Katie must have invited you to a bunch of those karaoke nights and you never went. Is it that much of a shock she’d have friends of whom you’re unaware? [Moral of the story: Always go to your girlfriend’s karaoke nights. -- KH] Hank, walking a thin line given that he knows the truth, tries to dissuade Britt from doing anything stupid, holding up the photo as he tough-loves that the road Britt is thinking of traveling goes nowhere. Britt starts to cry as he asks if Hank won’t help him, but Hank tells him he is helping – Britt should drink and get shitty if he wants, but he needs to stay there and not do anything he’ll regret. Hank then gets a text, presumably from Laura, and agitatedly says he needs to go, and this is a great example of how close these two are that the emotional stakes could seem so high, that Hank having to leave Britt alone is a real crisis. Britt sniffles without passive aggression that he’s sorry he called Hank down there, and Hank tells him not to be sorry and begs him to call him again if he needs him, saying he’ll come right back. He makes Britt get up so he can hug him, and Britt cries some more as Hank tells him not to think bad thoughts or do anything stupid. As Hank leaves, Britt mutters that he’s the worst sponsor ever, and it’s nice of him to give me a moment of levity so I have a chance of seeing my computer screen again. Over to Kirk.
After that brillo scene between present-day Hank and Britt ends (and I get bummed out about the lack of a second season again), the camera fades over Britt’s shoulder into the bedroom, where past-Hank and Gretchen are fighting about her relationship with Billy Whitman. Gretchen doesn’t want to talk about it: “I never said that, Hank. I never used that word.” “That word,” presumably, being “rape.”
“You didn’t need to,” Hank pushes. Gretchen pushes right back — she’d just as soon forget her college experience with Billy Whitman, whatever it was. Hank seems more than a little drunk, yelling at her about how she’s protecting Whitman, “just like he’s always been protected his whole life,” even by his victims. “I never said I was a victim,” Gretchen yells back at Hank, “Why are you so eager to make me one?”
“I’m not,” Hank shouts, even though he is. “I know this guy, Gretchen.” No, you don’t, Hank. Hank is fixated on making Whitman into the worst dude ever, not because he has the whole story, but because of what Mark called out earlier: He hates it that Whitman has more than he does. The fact that he had Gretchen, of all things, has sent Hank well and truly over the edge. “I think for whatever reason, you want to punish him,” Gretchen says. “Don’t do it because he slept with me. Do it because he’s guilty.”
Hank screams at Gretchen about how she clearly remembers everything, even though she’s trying to forget, but Billy Whitman forgot about her “the second he was done,” and this whole scene is a kind of ugly that we’ve never seen from Hank before. So this is why Gretchen left him, then — whatever his excuse, it’s hard to walk back from this. She slams the door in his face, and he punches it. He is drunk, and sweaty, and horrible. This sucks.
Cut to modern-day Britt, who is breaking into Katie’s place like a bad-idea-jeans-wearing champ. Yay, I’m so glad Britt took Hank’s advice! Oh fuck, wait, this wasn’t Hank’s advice! This is the exact thing Hank told Britt not to do! Crap. With the grace of a professional burglar, Britt casually snags Katie’s Macbook off of a shelf and pops it open on a kitchen counter. He whips out the photo of Gavin the Third Grade Note Passer and a flask, because he is on such a danger-bender that even his evidence procural must be accompanied by booze.
Britt quickly logs in to Katie’s computer, bypassing her password protection because, obviously, they were in such a trusting relationship that he knows her password. It’s a little detail, but it is both gross and pretty sad. There was probably a time when she needed him to check something for her. “Here’s my password,” she probably said. He probably logged in and found what she needed, and she never changed it, because why would she change it? And now here we are.
Britt opens up Katie’s Facebook page and, picture in hand, begins to scan her wall for Gavin the TGNP. He finds his page, which does not identify him as Mr. Gavin The Third Grade Note Passer but simply as “Gavin.” [Those FB fields are pretty short. - JR] Britt appears to realize that he’s got his man. This should go awesomely.
Hank and Laura are back in the police station when Reynolds comes up and tells them Mark wants to see them in observation. On the way, Reynolds asks Hank what’s up with him revisiting the case. “Just trying to put a period on it,” Hank explains, dryly. “With you, it’s always an exclamation point,” observes Reynolds. As he enters the observation room, we fade back to the darkened hues of the past.
Past-Reynolds, Hank, and Mark are also in the lineup room, as our heroes give Reynolds the rundown and lineup suspects walk into the room beyond the one-way mirror. They’re bringing in the woman who escaped the rapist’s last attempt to try to ID him. Billy Whitman saunters onto the lineup, looking creepy and detached as usual. They don’t have quite enough potential suspects in the lineup, so Mark sends Detective Reynolds in to take a spot between two other guys. Hank mentions that they might still not have enough suspects, and offers to go into the room. Gustafson calls out Hank’s attempt to get into the same room with Whitman again, noting how well that went last time. The degree to which it seems Hank is willing to sabotage this case for his own dumbfuck reasons is astonishing — whatever his drunken or careless state may have been before this case, Gretchen’s tangential involvement has clearly pushed him well beyond his usual more-forgivable fuck-uppery. Mark, once again, asks Hank to let him handle this, and Hank backs down, for now.
They bring in the witness, a terrified-looking woman who clearly doesn’t want to be here, or much of anywhere. Mark gentles her, explaining this this is an auditory lineup, so it’s more about listening than about looking. He makes sure to tell her that no one can see her. This episode does a great job of showing what a fine cop Mark Gustafson is, and what a perfect counterpart he was to Hank’s erratic brilliance. Which, of course, makes it all the more of a drag that he and Hank no longer work together.
The suspects begin to repeat the phrase: “Get on your knees, bitch. Scream and I’ll kill you.” And watching this terrified woman listen to those terrible two sentences over and over, reliving the moment when they were said to her, when she thought she was going to die…have I mentioned that this sucks? It does. As they go down the row, she says “no” to each suspect, until they land on Whitman. She pauses…then says no, it’s not him.
In fact, she says “no” to each of the suspects; she’s clearly distraught, and she says she really wants to help, but she just isn’t hearing it. Mark makes it clear that she doesn’t have to choose one, if she’s not hearing it. After a moment, she asks to hear the second suspect again. Hank leaps in, pushing her to ask if she means the second from the last (which is Whitman), but nope, she means the second suspect, who is…Detective Reynolds. Womp-womp. Reynolds repeats the phrase, and the witness says doubtfully that maybe this is him? But she can’t be sure. Hank is shaking his head behind her, and Mark is clearly disappointed as well. Mark tells her she did fine, and they see her out and dismiss the suspects from the lineup.
Hank begins to say something about how they should’ve had him, but Mark, clearly pissed at Hank about trying to lead the witness into identifying Whitman, shuts him down. Cut to commercials.
Fade up on the present day, where Mark is leading Billy Whitman and his lawyer into the police station. It’s not clear what’s going on — we cut to the observation room, where Hank, Laura and Reynolds are watching Mark, Whitman and his attorney through the mirror. Whitman’s lawyer says that they’ve agreed to come down as a courtesy, and that she’ll be advising Whitman as to whether he should answer any questions at all. Gustafson says that he doesn’t have too many questions — just some information, to which they can react however they want. I don’t know from lawyering, but if I saw a cop making the canary-eating expression Mark’s making right now, I would be doing my best Admiral Ackbar impression.
Mark says that some new information and evidence has come to light. Whitman pipes up, douchily saying that he hopes it’s better than the “so-called evidence” they had three years ago…
…and we fade to the past, as Mark interviews…Hank, in the same room. Past-Hank is looking tore up, in that no-man’s land between “hungover as shit” and “still drunk,” a walking corpse in a dirty jean-jacket. Past-Mark asks him here he was tonight. Hank drunkenly slurs that he’s pretty sure he was at home, where Mark came and picked him up. Mark is babying Hank, and has a uniformed officer bring Hank some coffee.
“I wasn’t even on duty tonight, Mark,” Hank whines, “I had a few drinks, I let loose a little.” Oh, Hank. Mark wonders how loose, and Hank asks why the hell he’s even here. Mark says that Hank is here “so you don’t make a mistake, for both our sakes.” He asks Past-Hank again where he was.
Hank remembers a bar he visited, Corky’s, then pauses drunkenly, and asks again why they can’t do just do this tomorrow. Mark, with the patience of a saint, smiles and says that they might, then drops the bomb that Billy Whitman was in a car accident that night. Hank snaps out of it a bit and calls this good news. With a vicious sneer, he says he hopes Whitman is dead. Hank is so ugly here.
Mark says no, then pauses. “Before we go any further. As your friend, as your partner…I am suggesting that you get a union rep here. Maybe even a lawyer.” And wow, in the space of an act, this show has gone from “Ignoring the fact that people usually ask for lawyers” to “Cops taking the time to suggest that suspects get lawyers.” It’s like they’ve been listening to me and retroactively changing the episode! TV is magic! John, why didn’t you tell me TV is magic? [Since you already knew video games are magic, I thought you’d make the leap. - JR] [Don’t even get me STARTED on the possibilities of a Terriers video game. -KH]
Anyway, this gives Hank pause. “You think I did something to Whitman?” “Somebody ran him off the road, Hank,” Mark says. Hank says it sure as hell wasn’t him. Mark pushes Hank to tell him where he went after Corky’s. “I imagine, I went to my home,” Hank says. He pauses. “Probably not though…I don’t know…” Hank is out of it, so Mark asks if he blacked out. “I don’t think I blacked out…I mean…I don’t remember…I sure as hell didn’t see black though…I see black now…black coffee…” Hank attempts to pull out of this insanely depressing little monologue with a joke, but it falls flat, bringing this episode’s “Oh, Hank” count up to a solid four.
Hank asks how Whitman is, but not in the caring way you might be expecting, more like “How is that piece of shit? He didn’t have a chance to rape someone tonight?” Mark says that Whitman only hit his head on the steering wheel, and that he was treated and released. He didn’t see who did it, but they found some interesting things in his trunk: A ski mask, a length of rope, some electrical tape. Hank is cheered by this, “Great, so you found his rape kit!” “No, we found the shit that somebody planted there,” Mark counters. Turns out, an hour before he got a flat, Whitman called roadside assistance for a flat tire. The technician was in the trunk and didn’t see any of that evidence, so it must’ve been planted. Fail.
Mark asks Hank one more time if Hank wants a lawyer. Hank starts to smile psychotically. He points to the one-way glass. “He’s in there, isn’t he,” he asks, referring to Whitman. Mark pushes back from the table, “I don’t want you to talk anymore.” Hank starts mouthing off about Whitman while Mark tells him to shut the hell up. “YOU WANNA KNOW IF I PLANTED SHIT IN WHITMAN’S TRUNK?” Hank roars, “The answer’s no, that’s a sure as shit fact! And I’ll tell you who did: WHITMAN DID! He planted his own shit in the trunk!” By Hank’s reasoning, Whitman got spooked that Hank was onto him, so he got the flat on purpose, got a prior witness, ran himself off the road, and set the whole thing up to take Hank down.
Hank goes crazier than ever and attacks the glass, shouting at Whitman that he’s onto him. Cut to the other side of the glass, where Whitman, his lawyer and the police captain are standing. “He’ll be gone by the end of the week,” says the captain, as Mark wrestles Hank away from the mirror. And so endeth the police career of Hank Dolworth.
Kirk’s off taking a much-needed emotional break, which was kind of one of the points of tag-teaming this episode. The camera slides sideways through time yet again to the present, and we’re in the station once more, with Hank, Laura, and Reynolds looking through the glass as Mark shows Whitman and his lawyer an evidentiary pair of women’s undergarments. He informs Whitman that they come from the investigation of a string of rapes up in Temecula, and goes on that their working theory is that those crimes were committed by the same perp they’ve been seeking, only before he had time to “perfect” his MO, which gives Mark hope that the panties are going to come back with Whitman’s “joy juice” all over them. Two things: One, not to make light of it, but there’s fine-tuning an MO, and there’s making an error that anyone who’s watched more than two episodes of any Law And Order franchise would know to avoid. And two? Ew. Mark offers to let Whitman plead out now, but although his counsel looks a bit thrown, Whitman merely regards him impassively…
…and then the group of supposed white hats watches Whitman and his attorney depart the station, with Laura noting Whitman is one cool customer. Mark then hands the evidence to Reynolds and asks him to give them back to “Gina,” and when he’s gone, Hank asks Mark if he thinks “he” took the bait. It seems like a straightforward enough remark until you think about it — what “bait” did they really present to Whitman? It’s an example of one of many plot points in the ep that make the actual solution obvious in retrospect — the lineup business is another — and is one reason why Kirk’s not the only one who still misses the show terribly.
That said, the upcoming scene is tough to watch, but at least it has the benefit of brevity. Britt waits in the parking lot until Gavin emerges from some strip-mall bar, accosts him at his car, and, not to put too fine a point on it, beats the living shit out of him, throwing in several blows to the face after the guy has clearly lost consciousness. In deference to his ordeal, I’ll at least drop the Third Grade Note Passer nickname from here on out. [I think Britt just took care of dropping the Third Grade Note Passer for ya. Heyo! - KH] [Terrible puns are an integral part of earning your recapping stripes. I couldn't be prouder! -- JR]
Reynolds comes into Mark’s office to drop something off, but Mark, who by the way has Hank sitting next to him, invites Reynolds to come on in and close the door, and if Reynolds knew Mark the way we do that casually gleeful tone in his voice would send him running for the exits. [It’s like no one on this show notices when Mark stops being funny and starts being scary. - KH] But Reynolds is not live to the situation, and as such idly asks Mark if he thinks Whitman will take a deal, which is Mark’s cue to play with his victim a little by way of bantering with Hank about how there’s no way, since he’s so obviously innocent. Probably most alarmed by Hank’s agreement with the sentiment, Reynolds asks what they mean, so Mark explains that Whitman was never the guy — the guy they’re looking for is a cop. Reynolds plays it cool even when Hank flat-out tells him that Laura came to him that morning having figured out it was Reynolds, so we know now that everything we’ve seen in the episode’s present was constructed for Reynolds’ benefit. Pretty brilliant, especially when you consider that the flashbacks, in which Hank’s Whitman-hate was so acrid, served to obfuscate any new direction Hank was pursuing in the present. As a uniformed cop takes up sentry duty outside the doorway so we can see just how neatly Reynolds has been trapped, Mark asks “Ronnie” [Aw, his name is “Ron Reynolds” -- KH] to take a seat, and after he complies, Hank recalls the incident I just mentioned in which one of Reynolds’ victims almost IDed his voice in a lineup, and theorizes that Reynolds, intent on throwing suspicion away from himself, ran Whitman off the road and planted the rape kit in his trunk, knowing that Hank would take it in the wrong direction. He bitterly tells Reynolds that maybe he’d still have his job and his marriage if he’d been able to see clearly enough back then to solve the case (although I doubt he completely believes that), but adds that Laura Ross saw how likely it was that the perp’s method of covering his tracks suggested he was in law enforcement, which I guess makes her the Donald-Sutherland-in-Backdraft of the piece. She’s less crazy, at least so far. Hank adds that Reynolds was the first cop on the scene of all the rapes, and shows us some icky video of him listening to a victim recount the details of her ordeal, during which Hank snarls that Reynolds got off on having his victims relive the crime in front of him. Reynolds, doing a reasonable job of looking dismissive toward Hank while not descending into contempt, asks Mark if he really believes it, and Mark says he didn’t, at first. “But let me ask you something. Before you got here, where did you train?” Despite what I said about the episode’s subtleties, if you don’t know he’s going to say “Temecula,” I have to suggest you’re not following along quite closely enough. Mark informs us that the Temecula rapes started right after Reynolds was hired, and for their final trick, Hank plays video from the evidence room of Reynolds destroying the panties. I’m assuming those weren’t the real ones, but was no DNA test run at the time? And even if Reynolds didn’t know he’d be recorded in the evidence room — I would think they have cameras going everywhere in the station 24/7 — how did he think he’d get away with this, given that he was known to be the last one in possession of the things? Bothersome little details in an episode that’s fairly tight. Anyway, Reynolds gets taken away, and here’s Kirk again to take it on home.
I always find confrontational scenes like that last one a bit uncomfortable–things never go so smoothly for me in scenarios like that, where I have to sit there and hold more cards than someone else. [That’s not what I hear about you at E3. -- JR] [Only if we’re talking PR business cards or Magic: The Gathering -- KH] At the end, when Mark summons the cops to take Reynolds away…I would mess that up somehow, or say something awkward. I’d like, apologize to Reynolds for misleading him, or something. I’m glad Mark was there to take care of things, is what I’m saying.
Anyway, Hank and Mark come out of the office to see Whitman standing with his lawyer. “Did you get your man, detective?” Whitman asks, and Mark says that yes, it appears they have. Mark thanks Whitman for coming down and helping set up the trap, and Whitman says he’s glad it gets a rapist off the street. Hank looks contrite, and also thanks Whitman, saying that “it was the decent thing to do.” Whitman, to his credit, isn’t too gloat-y when he says “Yeah, well, I’m a decent guy.” He points out that his no-doubt super-expensive lawyer bills by the hour, and that she’ll be billing the police department for her time. And with that, Billy Whitman, rich, entitled, creeper, but innocent, leaves the building.
Hank thanks Laura for her help. “I guess this gets you out from under the cloud,” she says. “Yeah, nothing but sunshine from now on,” Hank says, unconvincingly, and walks away. Mark thanks Laura as well, and she thanks him back, for some reason. I once again get depressed that we won’t get to see the inevitable Hank/Laura romance play out in season two. Sigh. Mark heads out to catch up with Hank, who is standing outside looking over the police department motor pool.
Mark tells Hank that it looks like they finally got it right. Hank’s not convinced. “Laura got it right. I had the wrong guy.” Mark looks at Hank and pauses, then says that he had the wrong guy, too. “Mark, until tonight, I didn’t know myself what I did three years ago.” Mark has nothing to say to that, so he just smiles in that way of his and pats Hank on the shoulder, in essence telling Hank that it’s okay. “Hey listen,” Hank says, as Mark starts to walk away. “I’m kinda new to sobriety, but I know I owe you an amends. When we worked together I was completely out of control, and I’m sorry. You were a great partner. Thank you.” Mark is genuinely moved, and I’m not going to lie, so am I. The great tragedy here, as I said before, is that these two men weren’t just friends, they were a great team, and that team was torn apart by Hank’s self-destructive behavior. Of course, the subtext is that in the present day we’re watching the same thing happen to Hank and Britt…only maybe that relationship isn’t too far gone to pull back. Without breaking eye contact, Mark takes his former partner’s hand: “Thank you.” If these two can mend their fences, surely Hank and Britt will eventually be okay, right?
And hey, speak of the devil, who should break up Hank and Mark’s moment but a yelling, drunken Britt, being herded out of a police car by two uniformed cops. “I wanna talk to Detective Gustafson!” Brit is yelling, and then he sees Hank and Mark. “I got the Wolfman! I got him! Aaa-ooooo!” It’s goofy and breaks the tension, but given what Britt just did (and to the wrong guy, no less), it’s not really all that funny. Oh, Britt.
New scene, where Hank and Mark make their way into the jail while Mark reads off the charges leveled against Britt, just like Hank did at the beginning of the episode. And just like at the start of the episode, they’re worse than anything he’s done before — only this time, he’s guilty. Assault, battery…though thank god, Britt didn’t kill poor Gavin the breathing human being who had a life and did more than pass notes in third grade. A cop lets Hank in to see Britt, who is cooling his heels in a holding cell with a bunch of other arrestees. Hank approaches Britt and calls out to him through the bars. “What’s up, tough guy?” Britt laughs, and pulls himself to his feet, approaches the bars. “I took your advice, I kept drinking.”
“That was just half my advice,” Hank says, hoarsely. “You beat that kid pretty good.” Britt seems unmoved, saying that the kid had it coming. “No, he didn’t,” Hank says. “It wasn’t the guy.” This sobers Britt up somewhat. “The kid you pummeled, she didn’t sleep with him,” says Hank. (At which point I say, “‘pummeled’? Who the hell says ‘pummeled’?”)
Britt asks how the hell Hank knows, and Hank spills that he knows because he’s known, because Katie told him, when it first happened. Britt immediately begins to lose it, yelling “No” and punching the bars. Hank tells Britt that she was desperate, that she hated herself, that she made a mistake, that she was lost and she didn’t want to lose Britt, so he told her not to tell Britt. Why? “Because I didn’t want to lose you, because I knew what you’d do. And look what you did! Look where you’re at! You should’ve just listened to me and walked away!” And as good as Hank’s intentions were here, there’s really no winning this — he was in an impossible situation and played it as best he could, but as anyone who’s been the possessor of potentially devastating information like that knows, there’s no right way out, and no way people don’t end up getting hurt. That said, yelling at Britt now…well, it just isn’t the right approach.
Britt tells Hank to walk away. Hank protests, but Britt begins to raise his voice, with a hard edge — “You walk away, walk away, Hank, walk away from me.” Hank starts trying to talk him down, but now Britt screams over him, “I don’t give a shit! Walk away!” Hank is silent, and a rough moment passes. Hank starts to say he’s sorry but Britt cuts him off by hitting the bars and shouting one more time. I flinch, and Hank walks away, his relationship with Britt sundered. Oh, Hank and Britt.
We cut to one final scene in the past, as then-Hank walks into the same cooling tank, and looks through the same bars. He’s accompanied by a uniformed officer, who points to Britt among the prisoners. Looks like Britt is being set free now that he’s been cleared of the attempted rape charge. “Scooter, you’re free to go.” “Cool,” says Britt, standing up. Hank walks Britt to the door of the room and gives him his card. “If you remember anything more about last night, give me a call.”
“What do I call you?” Britt asks.
“Detective Dolworth. Hank.”
“Hank,” Britt acknowledges the first-name-basis, tries it on. “Hey what about that other guy, the asshole with the Beamer?”
“I handled him,” Hank says. “What were you doing out there, stuck without a ride, anyway?”
“I had a ride. The dude bailed on me.”
“Sounds like it’s time for you to get a new partner. And a new line of work.” Hank starts to walk away.
“Hey,” says Britt. “I hope you catch this guy.”
“We will. In time.”
And they go their separate ways.