‘Terriers’ – ‘Quid Pro Quo’: House of cards

Senior Television Writer
11.24.10 106 Comments


My review of tonight’s “Terriers” coming up just as soon as I read your blog on my Kindle…

“Dude, my brain is about to shit itself! I don’t know what’s going on.” -Britt

“Quid Pro Quo” is a mess, but in a very good way. It features a complicated “Chinatown”-style land grab storyline, leans heavily on things we’ve learned throughout the season (which is why I made sure to write my Save “Terriers” piece before last week’s flashback episode, which was far more accessible to newbies), features Hank’s plan going off the rails 16 different ways, and has Britt seeming to change allegiances every five seconds.

By many reasonable standards, it shouldn’t work. But it does.

Part of what makes it work is that Hank and Britt are always aware of how far in over their heads they are. As has been established over and over again, they’re not brilliant tacticians. They’re just two guys with a lot of guts and ample supplies of stubborn, and they’re just doing what they can to stay afloat in these deep, murky waters.

Part of the episode’s success is that I don’t think even Britt entirely knows which side he’s on. (Your mileage may vary; Fienberg felt he was playing Zeitlin from the start.) He feels betrayed that Hank didn’t tell him about Katie (which violated both the guy code and set Britt up to go to jail for attacking the wrong guy), he’s deservedly facing real jail time, he’s adrift without Katie, and he doesn’t have the personal stake in hating Zeitlin and Burke that Hank does. (Nor, as Hank points out, is he an Ocean Beach resident, so he doesn’t care that much if the town gets paved over to put up an airport.) I still think he’s 95% on Hank’s side and leaving his options open if he can find a solution that helps himself (and Zeitlin) without hurting Hank, but again: deep, murky waters. Similarly, I don’t think he’d have ever turned Ashley the lawyer over to Zeitlin if she really was the mole, but he sleeps with her to find out for sure, and also because Britt could really use a rebound night right about now.

And as our heroes spend most of the episode apart and on edge with each other, the water they’re in only gets deeper, and eventually winds up claiming both Jason and Laura’s real contact. It’s another spectacular gut punch from a show that’s come to specialize in them – just as we and Hank are finally learning to respect Jason, he gets killed for doing the right thing, and in a way that could forever drive a wedge between Hank and Gretchen – and one of several moments in this episode that led me to write “Oh, this is very, very bad” in my notes.

(And then when Hank pulled the pistol and the shotgun out of the trunk of Freddie’s traveling arsenal, I wrote, “Oh, this is very, very badass.” There’s a fine line.)

I don’t want to write too much because so much of the episode is setting things up for the finale, which I’ve seen (and which is great), but as set-up episodes go, I thought “Quid Pro Quo” was great because it was still so much about the main characters and all the emotional issues they’ve been dealing with of late.

Some other thoughts:

• Though they’ve interacted briefly in the past, it was nice to get a prolonged scene of Katie and Gretchen bonding over their dysfunctional exes.

• A mostly dark episode, but I was amused by Freddie being offended by Hank’s belated attempt at small talk and – before he turned out to be in Zeitlin’s pocket – Councilman Albrecht boasting of how he keeps a powerful stream at his age.

• And speaking of Albrecht, his talk about keeping chains out of Ocean Beach and his love of freedom, independence and iconoclasm made him sound very much like a kindred spirit to the bikers from “Sons of Anarchy.” Shawn Ryan and Kurt Sutter are still tight; could SAMCRO set up an Ocean Beach charter?

What did everybody else think?

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