Mark Watches ‘Terriers’: Episode 11 – Sins of the Past

In the eleventh episode of Terriers, Laura Ross helps Hank close a case that changed his life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Terriers.

Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of rape.

If this review seems short, don’t let that speak to the quality of “Sins of the Past.” Just in terms of writing, this is perhaps that tightest, most ambitious script of the season, and I’m happy to say that Tim Minear just kills it. The sheer amount of information – from the case details to the extensive backstory to the present day resolution – packed into forty minutes without seeming crammed is unreal, y’all. This episode felt like AN ENTIRE SHOW just transpired. You could have dedicated a whole season to this case, but Minear trims it down to a single episode without it feeling like he did so. I mean, are we surprised? Dude wrote some of the best episodes of The X-Files, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse, so yeah.

But my brevity here is just for my own sake. While I wasn’t triggered while watching this – I was more nervously horrified than anything else – it’s very hard for me to linger on rape and stories having to do with it. There was a scene here that hit a little close to home, though, and I think I’ll start there. It’s a great way to talk about how insightful “Sins of the Past” was, since it finally revealed to us how Hank sabotaged his career and his marriage. Now, Terriers has always been willing to portray Hank and the other characters as deeply flawed, even if that means that in moments, they aren’t particularly likable. In this episode, there are quite a number of these scenes. Hank’s alcoholism is shown in graphic, detail, and we watch him mess up procedure. We watch him pursue a likely suspect in ways that could easily backfire on him and ruin the case.

And then we watch him berate his wife for not being the “right” kind of victim. It’s a stunning moment that is absolutely portrayed negatively, which I appreciate because it is such a common occurrence. I understood Hank’s frustration because Whitman had been so terribly protected by everyone around him. However, he horrifically miscalculates his wife’s complicity in the ways that Whitman is not held accountable. Even though we find out that he’s not the Condo rapist, he still did disgusting things to women while in college, and it was very likely that he violated the consent of numerous women and sexually assaulted them, too.

None of the reason this happens is ever Gretchen fault, and that’s a huge reason why she reacts as she does. A victim always has the right to call themselves a victim or a survivor or whether not to; they also get to determine who they tell their story to; they also get to decide if they forgive someone or not. Blaming them for their rapist’s lack of accountability is a losing game. How does Hank know that Gretchen didn’t report? How does he know that she didn’t try to get Whitman the first time around? Instead, he assumes that she is holding Whitman back. Can you see how dangerous that is? Can you see how Hank continues to assume things about others and then impulsively acts on that, thereby ruining everything? It’s what he did with Gretchen in “Pimp Daddy,” which adds another level to her anger at him.

That’s why Britt’s behavior is so saddening. He’s not like Hank, but he becomes like him once he assumes Gavin is the one Katie had sex with. It’s an impulsive act that happens while he’s drunk, and it’s disastrous. Yet even in that? Hank still finds a way to hurt his best friend. I wasn’t surprised by that development, but what did Hank expect? That Britt would understand why Hank lied to him?

Anyway, the scene is set for the next chapter in Britt and Hank’s relationship, which fits since this episode provided Hank with a huge amount of closure for him. That story has ended, and Hank now understands why his relationship with Mark and Gretchen suffered so much. That’s a huge moment for him, so it’s tragic that his friendship with Britt crumbles so spectacularly just MINUTES later.

This episode was great. REALLY, REALLY GREAT. I still can’t believe how good this show has become.

The video for “Sins of the Past” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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