Hank: What were you thinking? It would explode?
Britt: I was kind of hoping, yeah.
Terriers is skilled at subverting viewer expectations. After a lengthy comedic build-up where Hank and Britt go back and forth over pushing Lindus’ car into a ravine, the moment when they finally tip the car over the edge feels somewhat like a deflating balloon. The viewer can’t help but feel a tinge of sympathy when Britt says that he wished the car had exploded.
However, Terriers has no interest in blowing things up. It might not be an overly subtle show, but its louder moments tend to be cacophonous rather than explosive. Terriers isn’t interested in catharsis. Every time it seems as if our heroes have reached a resolution, the show yanks it away. This point is best illustrated by the final few minutes of “Manifest Destiny,” in which Steph explains to Hank that the pedological report about the soil on the Montague construction site was faked. Suddenly, Hank realizes that the Lindus case might run deeper than he thought.
Let’s rewind to the beginning of the episode, when Hank and Britt are being held up at the police station for purportedly kidnapping Robert Lindus (something that they actually did). But Lindus died while in their custody (which wasn’t their fault). So Hank and Britt are forced to lie and pretend that they know nothing of Lindus’ whereabouts. To use the previous episode‘s title, it’s a whole “fustercluck” of a mess.
How did Hank manage to get them in this mess in the first place? He has been seeking justice for the death of his friend, Mickey Gosney. Though the cops won’t give the case a fair look, Hank is determined to find out who was behind Mickey’s death. He is being driven by his intense loyalty to his friend, as well as his strong sense of fairness.
But those qualities alone wouldn’t be enough to keep Hank pursuing this case so stubbornly. He’s even beginning to have second thoughts, telling Britt that once they take care of Lindus’ body, they should “let sleeping dogs lie.” But still, Hank soldiers on. He is, to some extent, seeking closure for his own sake. Over a year ago, he had it all: a great job as a police office; a group of caring friends; and a beautiful, loving wife. But now, if anyone needs closure, it’s him. He is no longer an alcoholic, but his recovery is an ongoing process. He still holds a flame for his now ex-wife, even though she is remarrying. If Hank can’t find closure in his personal life, he’ll desperately cling to it wherever he can find it.
So when Hank manages to resolve his “fustercluck” – and land a hit on the man who murdered Mickey in the process – he finally feels the relief of closure for the first time in about a year. On top of that, he’s on good terms with Mark, Gretchen, and Jason, even if he hasn’t addressed the root causes of the problems he’s had with them. Things are looking up for him. But then Steph drops a bombshell on him: the pedological report was faked, and everything Hank thought he knew about the Montague development was a lie.
Steph: You gonna tell anyone what they’re really doing here?
Hank: No, Steph. The case is closed. It’s closed.
Nonetheless, Hank refuses to let go of the little scrap of closure he received, no matter how illusory it might be. Deep down, he knows that he hasn’t actually dealt with how he wronged Mark in the past, and he knows that he still harbours feelings for Gretchen. But those feelings can be pushed aside. As long as the Montague case never resurfaces, he can fool himself into being content.
For more information on the Terriers rewatch project, please click here.