They've got two big problems, but a basic bitch ain't one
Good Girls - Season 1
Credit: Josh Stringer/NBC
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Considering how the pilot ended, I was mildly worried about the second episode of Good Girls. Precariously walking the razor-thin line between a brilliant comedy and pitch-black drama, the pilot didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be, but by the end of this episode it’s apparent that the series is more than comfortable walking that blade and showing no fear of being cut.

The show opens with a 2-days-single Beth trying to navigate her kids’ questions about everything from when their philandering dad will be allowed back in the house to how to work the remote control. Her son Kenny is in desperate need of homework help, and he tells her that she can’t help him because she can’t do math. Ouch, Kenny.

Little does Kenny know that while mom may not be able to help him with his math homework, she’s more than capable of hauling a man’s body into his tree house. Yes, it turns out that attempted rapist Boomer is not dead. He’s been bound and gagged for the past 48 hours when Beth and Annie finally come clean to a very confused Ruby: “WHAT AM I EVEN LOOKING AT RIGHT NOW?!” she hilariously shouts as she tries to come to grips with why there is a hog-tied man in her friend’s backyard. Even after Beth and Annie explain what happened, it doesn’t negate the fact that there’s still a gang they owe money to, and they still have to come up with almost 60K to repay them. Because one of our heroines makes minimum wage, one works for tips, and the other doesn’t work outside of the home, they tell Annie she needs to hit up the richest person they know: her ex, Greg.

Driving through a super-sized neighborhood of McMansions with Sadie in tow, Annie is clearly dreading the task before her. Greg’s girlfriend, perky aesthetician Nancy (Sally Pressman) meets them outside dressed in her scrubs and asks them to take off their shoes when they enter. She sells Sadie the idea of tacos and “fresh pico de gallo” for dinner before heading off to work, making the world a more beautiful place.

Wasting no time, Annie asks Greg for the 60 grand, to which he replies, “What is the matter with you?” He then presumes that Annie is going to use the money to hire an attorney for their custody fight, which, considering what she’s asking, isn’t really that off base of a presumption. So Annie ends up leaving without the money or any pico de gallo. Now that is a crime.

Licking her humiliation wounds at the diner where Ruby works, Annie gets little empathy as the three women are still at a loss about what to do. Their brainstorming is interrupted when Ruby sees Rio and his gang cronies in a corner booth. He’s positioned his gun next to him so Ruby is reminded of what’s really at stake. She tells him they don’t have the money just yet, and he gives them a deadline of 1 o’clock the next day at Beth’s house.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why Beth visits the pawn shop, selling enough of Dean’s things to cause the elderly woman behind the counter in the small town to ask, “So, what’d he do?” When Beth responds by putting her wedding portrait down, noting that it’s in a sterling silver frame, the pawn store clerk gives a pitch-perfect response: “Eek, something bad.” Still, the amount the she’s willing to give Beth is nowhere near what Beth needs, until the woman eyes up Beth’s engagement ring. “It was his great-grandmother’s,” Beth bemoans before being answered with, “How much do you hate him?”

Playing with his own wedding band (and with fire, since Amber is still working for him), Dean is holed up at his car dealership, barely able to sell a Mustang to someone clearly determined to buy it. In a scene that’s a little too on the nose, Dean uses the potential sale as a metaphor for his own personal regret over trying to get into a newer model when his older model was everything he needed.

Ruby’s sick daughter Sara is still relishing the effects of the expensive medicine they were able to get samples of from the fancy doctor and has joined the soccer team. Concerned about the after-effects of being unable to afford the medicine, Ruby’s sweet-but-totally-clueless husband Stan tries to convince her that everything will work out because they’re “winning.”

Stan’s can-do attitude is exactly the fuel Ruby needs to navigate the trio out of their mess. She busts into Beth’s house and tells Beth and Annie that they’re going to fund their botched armed robbery with their kidnapping by ransoming Boomer to the highest bidder, who turns out to be his rich grandmother Marion (June Squibb). The old lady apparently doesn’t believe in banks and keeps her fortune in her home “like Scrooge McDuck.” Annie gets the idea to use a voice-distorting app to call Boomer’s grandma and demand she drop 60K in the nearby park (because they “always do money drops in parks on Law & Order”). But their plan seems foiled before they can even get to the park because Marion never answers her damn phone, and who wants to leave a ransom message on an answering machine?

Eventually they realize that if Marion isn’t answering, that means she’s not home, leaving her fortune unattended. So the group rolls up to Marion’s old folks’ building, hoodies high and shades on as they stand in an elevator with a cotton ball-topped woman wearing wrap-around sunglasses, in a pre-heist lead-in reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven. The next scene is even better, though, as Annie is on her knees trying to pick Marion’s door, and Beth is holding her smartphone so Annie can watch a YouTube video on how to pick locks. Before they can get it, the door opens anyway, and Marion is standing there, looking at Annie on her knees with Beth and Ruby behind her. Quick thinking on Beth’s part earns the three of them entry into the apartment under the guise of being Medicare volunteers, there to help Marion with cleaning or whatever else she may need.

As the women are dusting and making small talk with Marion while surreptitiously trying to figure out where the money is hidden, Annie notices a picture of Boomer next to Jessica Alba. It would seem Beth isn’t the only adept liar; Boomer has told his naïve grandmother that Jessica is his fiancée. “I know what you’re thinking,” Marion tells them before adding, “She’s only half.” The faces that Beth and Ruby make in that instant are enough to sign, seal, and deliver my fandom forever and ever. (Recap continues on page 2)

Beth manages to find her way upstairs to Marion’s bedroom, wherein she starts searching frantically for the money. Just as she finds it, though, her babysitter calls her to ask her how to work their television. Beth hears a lawnmower in the background. Turns out, in an effort to worm his way back into the house, Dean’s idea of a grand romantic gesture involves mowing their lawn when Beth’s not home, and there’s a grocery store manager tied up in his kids’ tree house.

Downstairs, Marion has Ruby vacuuming while Annie is sitting white and privileged on Marion’s couch, eating and looking at family pictures. Unlike her sister, though, Annie thinks nothing of learning about the old woman’s family history as they plot to rob her of her life savings. Ruby asks Marion if she’s “going to make the white girl clean as well,” but before the brilliance of her truth can even register on Marion’s radar, Beth comes racing back down, pulling them off their heist.

She tells Annie and Ruby she couldn’t do it, not only because she now has to get home before Dean finds Boomer, but also because she saw that Marion had this full life that she’s loved. “You couldn’t rob the sweet, old, racist lady?” Ruby asks, incredulous. “We’re robbing lonely old people. This is who we are now?” Beth snipes back.

When she gets home, Beth confronts Dean and tells him that she can handle everything in her home, including the backyard and the remote control. The measured anger with which she’s able to deliver lines to Dean makes me think Christina Hendricks took all of Joan Holloway’s leftover relationship angst and channels it regularly into Beth’s conversations with Dean.

At Ruby’s house, she’s awake in the middle of the night, preparing to not be around for her family after the gang sees that they’ve come up short. Watching her dutifully make lasagnas and telling Stan to reheat them at 350 is heartbreaking.

The episode continues to drive the emotional stake deeper as we see Beth tell her daughter, who was scared when she woke up to find Beth gone, that sometimes mommies go away, but they always come back, no matter what. And it just finishes us off cleanly after Annie shows up on Greg’s doorstep to tell him that Sadie still sleeps with a nightlight, how not to make her feel embarrassed about it, and that she doesn’t like to swallow pills so he should make sure to buy her gummy vitamins. After she tells him she won’t fight him for custody, she asks him not to make Sadie take off her shoes in her own house. “She’s a kid,” she reminds him.

Just before their deadline (sorry, couldn’t resist), a possible solution comes in the form of Hans, a Hummel figurine that Annie stole from Marion. The little drummer boy is racking up thousands of dollars on Annie’s eBay, and he and the other Hummels that Annie stole just may be the Hail Marion Pass they need. But Rio doesn’t see it that way, and despite the girls’ enthusiasm for the “super rare treasures,” he smashes the figurines and orders one of his guys to kill them, starting with Beth. Ever the quick thinker, Beth calls his bluff, telling him he’s an idiot. Sure, in the past he’s been able to murder people whom no one cared about, but they’re women with families and ties to the community. There will be “hashtags and movements” on their behalf, and the attention their murders will bring will make his business very difficult. This seems to make sense to Rio, and it buys them a reprieve.

Before they can celebrate, though, Boomer has finally escaped and the women are chasing after him before he falls into a ditch. In the best stroke of genius this side of Regina George, Annie uses Boomer’s phone to take a photo of him pantsless. She then tells him that she’s texting the picture to her 11-year-old daughter. If he ever goes to the police regarding the robbery, she will too.

As things finally start to settle, a grateful Ruby goes home to a leftover tray of mostly eaten lasagna and a note that says, “We ate all of them. Now you can’t leave us. Love, Your Family.” Beth pours herself some Bourbon before figuring out how to work the remote. Annie curls up in bed with Sadie as she Googles “badass custody lawyer.”

The next morning, Beth triumphantly shows her children that she can work the television, but Kenny is missing. As Beth goes to find out where he is, she hears him working out a math problem involving Jujubes in the backyard. “You know how many he would’ve taken if he had a gun, though?” the voice inquires before revealing that it’s Rio “helping” Kenny with his homework.

A clearly shaken Beth tells Rio she can get him the rest of the money, but he’s already past that. Her monologue about her being a “basic bitch” gave him an idea: “You ladies got passports?” he asks, propelling the series right along that precarious blade, just daring us to get cut.

Episode Recaps

Good Girls
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