“Your cheques always bounce. Your life bounces.”
– Gretchen, to Hank
Hank Dolworth is a loser. A recovering alcoholic who lost both his wife and his police job to the bottle, he now spends most of his days driving around town in a pickup truck as unlicensed private investigator along with his buddy Britt. He has no steady income, and he struggles to pay his bills. But one day, fortune strikes with a chance for him to make a quick buck and get his life back on track.
On the trail of Elenore Gosney, the daughter of a longtime friend, Mickey, Hank and Britt meet Robert Lindus, millionaire real estate mogul. Lindus offers the duo $40 000 to return a “sensitive item” that Elenore has taken from him. Quick, easy cash, right? It is, until Hank and Britt find Elenore’s phone on a dead body belonging to one of her friends. On it, there’s a sex tape of Elenore and Lindus, followed by a brief snippet of video where Lindus admits that his real estate development isn’t sound. At this point, Hank and Britt could have simply returned the phone to Lindus, taken the money, and washed their hands clean of the whole mess. But Hank wants to stay the course, believing Lindus to be behind the murder, and Britt follows him.
We see this pattern repeat throughout the episode, and we’ll see it again over the course of the series. Hank is stubborn and governed by a strong sense of justice; he’ll always fight for the little guy, no matter what. His ex-wife Gretchen, his former partner Gus, and his lawyer Maggie all tell him to back out, but he’s obstinate to the point of self-destruction. Even if it costs him everything, he has to fight for what he believes in. This stubbornness extends to his personal life as well. When Gretchen decides to sell the house that she and Hank once shared, Hank decides to spend all of Lindus’ $20 000 advance as a deposit on it. He would be devastated to see the house leave the Dolworth family, and he still vainly holds out hope that he can one day set things right with Gretchen.
Britt, for his part, looks up to Hank. He enables and indulges Hank. He occasionally offers a dissenting opinion, but he never refuses to help. Britt is somewhat of a man-child, devoted to his girlfriend Katie, but still reluctant to settle down and live a quiet life with her. He’s too busy having fun with Hank.
It would seem strange to pair these two men together. Not only do they have the potential to bring out destructive tendencies in one another, but they also have different and often opposing views of the world. Hank sees the case against Lindus as a crusade; Britt sees it as an adventure, although he sometimes snaps back to reality to remind Hank how dangerous it is. However, Hank is determined to stay the course, even more so after finding Mickey dead in a shed from a (forced) heroin overdose. With Britt by his side, he confronts Lindus at the mogul’s construction site and warns the man that he’s going to take him down. But how to link Lindus to either of the two dead bodies? In Hank’s words: “Cheat.”
So Hank and Britt plant the gun that probably killed Elenore’s friend in Lindus’ home, framing him for the murder that he probably committed. This could be a dealbreaker for some. Up until now, we’ve seen Hank use a little deception and trickery, but nothing drastic. He has been portrayed as a flawed but sympathetic hero. However, planting evidence to get someone arrested, regardless of the fact that he is probably guilty, is an entirely different matter. Terriers is asking us to accept some pretty questionable behaviour from our hero. But we can allow it, as long as it puts Lindus behind bars, because we know that Hank thinks he’s fighting the good fight. Hank is an underdog who fights with his heart. It’s hard not to root for that.
For more information on the Terriers rewatch project, please click here.