Season Finale — Terriers, “Hail Mary”

I’m a little short on time, but I certainly wanted to get some thoughts about the Terriers finale out there.

Even though I suggested it might be fine for Terriers to drive off into the sunset (to Mexico, apparently) after this one great season, I still approached the season finale, “Hail Mary,” with some sadness. The best thing Terriers has done is populate the small world of Ocean Beach, CA with great, quirky characters that I don’t want to have missing from my life — even for a short period of time. Hank, Britt, Katie, Gretchen, Mark, Laura, Steph and even the three members of the OB geek squad, I love them all.

Ted Griffin and Shawn Ryan have also done a nice job at parceling out the overarching arc so that it kept sucking in more of the characters without us really realizing it until last week or in “Asunder,” which helps “Hail Mary” from being too didactic and conclusion-y in its framework. I do think there were a few issues with this episode in how Hank and Britt kept justbarely sliding out of trouble or in how some of the logistics of those maneuvers really work, but any time I’d get slightly annoyed for 10 seconds, something great would happen with a character and I’d just let it go. And I think that kind of plays into the Terriers vibe: These are people with flaws, major flaws, but they find a way to make things work around all the mistakes they make and problems they cause. So when an episode has a few gaffes or confounding bits, it’s easy to move on.

For the most part, I liked the conclusion to the Zeitlin/airport story because it smartly pulled back in characters and moments that reminded us why Hank was so dedicated to this case in the first place. Mickey’s daughter Elanor, the missing girl from the pilot episode, turns out to be a small, but crucial part of the investigation and fittingly, Zeitlin ends up being little more than a frustrated and scared middle manager who happens to be good at presenting himself as an intimidating presence. And in traditional Terriers fashion, it ends stories while not really ending them, as Zeitlin’s boss (played by the always awesome Neal McDonough) is now the only picture up on Hank’s ass-kickin’ board. But if Terriers does get canceled, plot-wise, I’m okay with how things came to a close here.

However, like I said previously, I don’t want to leave this characters, ever. And amid the small-time conspiracies of OB, this episode continues to show us how important Hank and Britt are to one another. Most of the reason the story is over-but-not-really-over is because Hank won’t and can’t let it be over. He needs the cases, needs those monolithic villains and needs Britt, because if not, he’ll have to wake up and realize that his life is pretty much a mess and not really much better than it was when he first lost Gretchen and his job due to all the drinking. And in a way, I think Hank knows that though. Throughout this episode, he tries to convince Britt that it’d be better if they just head down to Mexico and avoid any of the possible death threats or prison sentences because he’s probably a little scared of what will happen with Britt in prison and the airport thing “finished.”

But despite all that and Mark’s early ominous speech to Britt about Hank betraying his friends at the last and worst moment, it still never really happened. Sure, Hank’s tunnel vision and supposed character improvements don’t always align in ways that are helpful to those around him, but when it mattered, Hank was there for Britt. In his own way, he helped Britt deal with the Katie’s infidelity, he constantly protected Britt when he needed to and he always seems to have both their interests in mind, no matter what he does.

The last few episodes have seen the two of them separated for a lot of the time, and I think that was obviously intentional: both of them have made some very stupid mistakes in that time period.There’s a point in the episode where one of them, I think Hank, says “We should stop splitting up” and after all the crap they’ve been through, I think they’ll take that advice. Britt’s hopefully done making stupid decisions and acting like an immature version of himself and keeping the earnest Britt around keeps Hank from being too self-destructive. They’re not co-dependent, but something close to that in the best way possible.

Moreover, “Hail Mary” is really, really good at showing us how Hank’s power of personality can really take someone over in the best of ways, as the suspended Mark becomes the unofficial third member of the team. Mark is quickly willing to break some major rules for Hank and trusts him enough to let him go so Hank and Britt can crack the case wide open. Mark is probably still rightfully skeptical of Hank because of their past, but the two of them are so obviously close that it’s damn near impossible to not forgive and forget in a lot of ways. And though it’s not as good as the Logue-Raymond-James pairing, Logue and Rockmond Dunbar are still damn good together.

I could talk about the finale’s great small moments — like Steph’s awesome return, the flirtation between Hank and Laura, Britt punching Zeitlin in the face even though he answered the questions and more Winston! — forever, but like I said, I’m short on time. Just know that “Hail Mary” feels like a damn fitting ending to Terriers season one, whether it’s the final episode ever or not. It’s hopeful and heartfelt with just enough attitude and bite to avoid any cheese. It makes all the small moments feel like big moments. And it’s a great end to one of the big introductory season of recent memory.

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