Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Foot: Review of Terriers--Change Partners

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="384" caption="Donal Logue as Hank Dolworth in Terriers"][/caption]

Sometimes, network executives ask a showrunner to write a few episodes that act as a sort of pilot for any viewer just jumping. When this happens, episodes can be frustrating because nothing really happens in a story. Joss Whedon's Dollhouse found themselves in a spot where they had to promote the sixth episode fiercely because nothing happens in the first five episodes (besides the awesome episode two). In fact, Joss had do this with Firefly as well, and possibly ANGEL. I don't have confirmation on ANGEL though. I digress though.

After last week's Terriers, an episode that acted as a sort-of pilot, the third episode abandons the pilot quality and delivers two good stories about Hank and Britt.

In "Dog & Pony," Hank's dark side appeared as he dealt with his struggles to pay for his house and his ex-wife's impending marriage. The dark side doesn't exactly disappear in the episode so the light-hearted Hank that dominated the pilot was clearly outside of the norm. I'm fine with this. I like the anti-hero in the hero's role. Right now, Hank a mix between the two identities. In "Change Partners," he's eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with his dark side. Not only does he steal his ex-wife's fiance's credit card information to put seedy charges on the card but he sleeps with another man's wife; however, that story is much more complicated than it sounds. Britt remains unhappy with Hank because of the way Hank's used the money they earned without consulting Britt.

The case for this week comes to Hank after he's rejected for a loan. One of the bosses brings him to the office to cut a deal with Hank: if Hank captures one photograph of the boss' wife with another man, the loan will be his. It's a simple enough job complicated by the revelation that the boss is a masochist who likes the idea of his wife with another man. The wife, played by Olivia Williams, has been telling her husband about her infidelity even though she's never been unfaithful to her husband. She just loves him very much, and she even describes this behavior as masochistic. Hank is desperate for the house loan so he hatches a plan for the wife to keep her husband and for him to keep his bank loan. He enlists Britt, with permission from Katie, to create the affair. The plan seems to work. The boss promises Hank that he'll prepare the papers.

Meanwhile, Hank, Gretchen and her fiance get together to talk about the house. Hank didn't expect the fiance to join the two. The dinner unfolds rather awkwardly, especially when the fiance asks Hank to look into the credit card stuff. Afterwards, when Gretchen and her fiance leave, Hank throws the leftovers on the floor because he's frustrated, angry and, mostly, in pain. The wife shows up at the door to thank Hank but the two eventually end up in bed together. The next day, Hank goes to the mortgage offices to sign the papers but finds Masochist unhappy because he figured out the affair was created for the sake of the loan. Hank loses his cool and tells the guy, plainly, that he knows his wife cheated on him because he slept with the man's wife three times last night. Soon after the papers are half-signed and Hank leaves, the man jumps out of the building to his death. All this guy wanted was a reason to die.

A parallel exists between Hank and the Masochist. In the previous two episodes, various people have told Hank about the kind of pain he's going to experience living in a house he used to live in with Gretchen. The house places Hank in situations in which he has to interact with his ex-wife frequently, a painful situation in and of itself. Hank's a masochist in a way as well. He could've walked away from the house but chose not to. There are signs that Hank could harm himself in the way the boss eventually harmed himself. Hank won't commit suicide but he's a recovering alcoholic so he might return to the bottle. His partnership with Britt is already on shaky ground, mostly due to the house and Gretchen. Hank's desperate to show Gretchen that he can return to the man she once loved and he won't allow himself to think that Gretchen simply moved on.

This episode is about relationships and the transformative nature of relationships. Gretchen is now a girl who is uncomfortable eating around Hank. Olivia Williams' character, whose name I forget, would've been healthier by walking away from her husband. Instead, she does what he wants and then deals with the news that her actions caused the man to kill himself. Britt and Katie also deal with a transformative piece of information.

We've known that Britt was a thief before he met Katie. His old thief buddy, Ray, returns to recruit Britt for a job. Britt's reluctant. Ray decides to scare Britt by breaking into the house and following Katie to school. Additionally, Ray dangles a piece of Britt's past as a threat in his recruitment. Britt agrees but quickly arranges for Hank to take Ray's gun when Britt briefly holds up the bar where Ray first appeared in the episode. Ray will be going back to jail.

The important part of the story is Britt's past and the information will transform his relationship with Katie. A week before he met her, he and Ray broke into Katie's apartment and stole a few things. Britt saw her picture on the refrigerator, went to the bar and met her. Katie's temporarily disgusted and orders Britt to leave the house; however, in an episode full of weird kinds of sexuality, Katie tells Britt to wait five minutes while she undresses, and instructs him to break in through the window. Britt's speechless and nods. The dog barks at Katie and she says, "don't judge me." So, at least, one relationship doesn't self-destruct because of change.

As the series moves forward, we'll probably discover shadier things about Britt because he and Hank aren't the typical heroes. We live in a post-modern existence, after all. The episode was very strong. Great character development and good story progression.

I particularly enjoyed the guest spot by Olivia Williams, who once portrayed Adelle Dewitt in Dollhouse. She was outstanding in Dollhouse.

Phoef Sutton wrote the episode. Guy Ferland directed it.


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About The Foot

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.