“You’re more reckless sober than you were drunk.”
— Gretchen, to Hank
In the previous episode, we saw the good that Hank can do when he looks out for his friends. In this episode, “Pimp Daddy,” we become acutely aware of the harm that he’s capable of causing.
It’s often said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Hank tries to do good, but he goes about it recklessly and ends up creating a mess in the process. The problem is that he has tunnel vision. He wants to help Gretchen, not just for his own sake, but because he still cares for her. However, he doesn’t stop to think whom he might be hurting in the process. He doesn’t realize that he could be disturbing Maggie’s son by barging into her office or endangering her law practice by conducting unethical background checks. He doesn’t realize that he could be harming others by bringing up the old Voloway case. He even coaxes one of the Voloways’ molestation victims into painfully recalling what they did to him. He does this all for Gretchen’s sake.
Of course, he never stops to think that maybe Gretchen already knew all of this and that she and Jason had already talked it out. In his rush to be a white knight, he condescendingly forgets that the woman whom he is attempting to save has agency. That’s a perfect example of the problem Hank has with Gretchen: he knows how to be in love with her, but not how to love her.
As if to reinforce the message of Hank’s ability to cause damage, Hank and Britt spend most of the episode apart. Britt works the case alone, with zero assistance from Hank. In fact, Britt manages to work two related cases in the span of one episode. Both cases are relatively straightforward, and Britt doesn’t need to break any laws or do anything shady to crack them. It’s almost as if having Hank on a case is an unnecessary complication; all he does is get Britt into trouble. In fact, it might be Britt who is the positive influence on Hank, not the other way around. Left to his own devices, Hank is stubborn and reckless, as we see in this episode.
The second case of the episode ties into this episode’s central idea. Britt, along with the help of a transsexual prostitute, helps find the true identity of one of her friends, Crystal, who is now dead. It turns out that Crystal was once known as Trevor Dale, and she ran away from home back when she was a boy. Her parents were conservative folk who wanted to raise their son “right” (i.e. as a cisgendered heterosexual male), but in the end their good intentions drove her away.
Similarly, Hank wanted the best for Gretchen, but in the process of giving it to her, he ended up “disinvited” to her wedding. Hank destroyed his potential friendship with Jason, wrecked his relationship with his ex-wife, and proved by his absence that he’s not really needed on cases. If that weren’t bad enough, his meddling in his friends’ personal affairs has caused Katie not to confess to Britt about her cheating. At this point, we must ask ourselves: what good is Hank to anyone? “Pimp Daddy” makes us re-evaluate Hank and look at him in a different light. We now understand why Mark has been so dismissive of him. Hank Dolworth is capable of doing great good, but he’s also capable of screwing things up for everyone.
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