“Love, man: it’ll screw your shit up.”
– Britt

“Change Partners” is about the secrets we keep from our loved ones, whether out of shame or to protect them from harsh truths. For some, the revelation of those secrets has minor repercussions. For others, it has tragic consequences.

Hank and Britt’s relationship is definitely one of love, but it’s difficult to find a word to describe it. The characters on the show refer to it as a “partnership,” but that terminology feels too cold and clinical. “Bromance” and “father/son relationship” feel inadequate, as Hank is too old to be Britt’s brother, but too young to be his father. In any case, the two of them share a level of emotional intimacy of which most romantic couples would be jealous. So when Hank gets Britt to steal Jason’s wallet without telling Britt who Jason is, Britt is understandably upset. It’s a violation of the trust that the partners have built up over the past couple of years, and Britt feels exploited, especially since robbery is a bit of a sore spot for him.

Before he met Katie, Britt was a professional thief who made his living by robbing other people of their valuables. But since meeting Katie, he has stayed largely on the right side of the law. However, his old partner, Ray, is intent on exploiting Britt’s skill for a new job. Britt, having left that life, isn’t interested. But Ray is insistent, using the threat of revealing one of Britt’s dark secrets to Katie as blackmail. Towards the end of the episode, Britt admits to Katie what that dark secret is: Katie was actually one of his robbery victims. We now know why thieving is such a difficult subject for Britt: he is ashamed of how it led him to meet a woman he felt he didn’t deserve. He was not only trying to protect Katie from his past; he was also trying to protect himself from his shame.

Ultimately, neither of these two secrets has major consequences. Hank and Britt have a minor spat, but they’re right back to being buddies the next day. As for Katie, she finds herself weirdly aroused by Britt’s secret and even tells her dog, “Don’t judge me.” But even if neither Hank nor Britt faces any significant backlash, at least Hank learns that secrets have the ability to tear a relationship apart. For Miriam and Armand Foster, secrets actually lead to death. Armand is a masochist who gets off on hearing tales of his wife’s infidelity. Miriam, however, does not want to cheat on her husband. So, she pretends to have affairs in order to satiate her husband’s desires. But when Armand finds out about Miriam’s ruse – and Hank and Britt’s complicity in it – he is outraged. Infidelity, for him, is a turn-on. But secrets are a dealbreaker. And so, he leaves his wife. However, Hank, in an attempt to secure the loan he so desperately needs to buy his house, makes the situation even worse. He reveals that he actually did sleep with Miriam, and Armand, having the information of the affair so grotesquely presented to him, realizes how much his demands were hurting his wife. He can’t live with the guilt, and he takes his own life.

Thus, the proceedings of the episode serve as an important lesson for Hank: secrets are poison. Secrets can ruin the relationships we have with the people we love. It’s a lesson that Hank would do well to learn, considering the immense secret that he’s keeping from his ex-wife. He’s the one who orchestrated the theft of Jason’s wallet, and he’s the one who put Jason’s credit card info out there for others to exploit. It’s a massive piece of information to withhold from Gretchen, and if Hank doesn’t come clean, it’s going to have huge consequences for him.

For more information on the Terriers rewatch project, please click here.