There are few things better than when a show finds itself and hits its stride. Some take their time getting there (see: Parks and Recreation) and some never do (see: Pitch). When a show finds itself, though, we stop seeing it as a program and start seeing the characters as our friends. We become invested in our friends’ lives and tune in every week to see what predicaments they’ve gotten themselves into. We laugh along with them, and we cry just the same. In its third episode Good Girls finds its stride on the road, and like with most road trips, the girls discover who they really are.
Beth breaks the news to Annie and Ruby that Rio wants them to go to Canada to pick something up, but he wouldn’t elaborate on what the mystery package is. “Drugs — up our asses” is Annie’s guess (complete with hand gesture), which she points out is going to be more comfortable than having to “swallow a baggie.”
Beth then tells them that Rio wants it done on Friday, which doesn’t really jive with Annie’s schedule because she has her home visit for her custody case. “You’re gonna tell the man with the crying skull tattoo that Friday doesn’t work for you?” Ruby deadpans. “Fine,” Annie replies, “but we have to be back in time for me to clean up and get all the drugs out of my cavities.” Which, to be fair, is a salient point; social workers tend to frown on illicit drugs being anywhere in the home, let alone in a parent’s orifice. Beth offers that it could be something other than drugs, perhaps guns. “How is that better?” Ruby asks, incredulous. “Can’t fit up your ass,” Annie points out.
Regardless of whether the mystery package involves drugs or firearms, Beth brings the bottom line home: They pull this off and Rio forgives their debt and they’re done, it’s over.
Before they can go to the land of Tim Hortons, though, they each have some business to take care of in their family lives: Annie assures Sadie that she will slay the home visit; Beth realizes that for as commanding as she’s becoming in her double life, the reality of her everyday life is that relinquishing control to Dean for the past 20 years has ultimately left her with very little to show in return; and Ruby’s marriage is tested by a curvaceous interloper named Sheila who’s had her eye on Stan since high school.
There’s also the small [penis] matter of a particular Fine & Frugal manager Annie still has to work for, which just makes for an awkward dynamic. She’s asked Boomer for Friday off, claiming she needs it as a personal day. He asks if they’re going to hit up a bank next, comparing them to Ocean’s Eleven and racking up more points in the Reasons to Hate Boomer column by saying the all-girl version is going to suck. After subtly reminding him of the incriminating photo she took, it’s clear that Annie will be able to take her personal day without issue.
During church, Stan testifies that he’s grateful to their anonymous benefactor who helped them with Sara’s medical expenses. Seeing an in, Sheila lies and says that it was her, that she couldn’t stand to see Sara so sick. Ruby, of course, can’t call her on it because, well, she’s their anonymous benefactor by way of her Fine & Frugal heist. One uncomfortably long hug later, Ruby is misdirecting her frustration over this predicament at Stan, who is just trying to properly thank the woman he thinks helped their daughter. “The woman gave us 10 grand,” Stan reminds her. “Oh, yeah? What’s she get for 20?” Ruby fires back.
But none of the girls’ problems can top the one they need to solve in order to get to Canada: They need a car. Annie’s gotten six tickets, so now her beater has the added beauty of a boot; Stan needs Ruby’s car to drive the kids; and Beth, still convinced they’re being sent to pick up drugs, is afraid of heroin residue in her minivan. In addition to armed robbery, grand larceny, kidnapping, and attempted breaking and entering, our new favorite criminals are quick to decide that the best way to solve their latest conundrum is to steal a car from Dean’s dealership. Apparently armed robbery really is a gateway crime.
After a hilarious debate about which vehicle will best ferry them on their presumed drug run, Annie accidentally sets off all of the car alarms on the lot because she tried to “make it rain” with all the key FOBs, and as the camera pans wide we see creepy Boomer watching the girls fumble through their first grand theft auto.
Finally, the girls are at the Canadian border, looking, as Annie says, like they already have the drugs up their butts. As they watch the guards checking the cars ahead of them, Ruby admits that she brought Stan’s gun because they’re about to commit a crime in a “foreign country.” Annie reminds her, “It’s Canada. We’re not meeting El Chapo in Guatemala here.” Beth fact-checks her sister: “El Chapo’s actually Mexico.”
Successfully through the border with one smuggled firearm and better knowledge of drug lords and their homelands, the girls are shocked to find out their pickup point is a Cascade Canadian Crafts store. As Beth goes to get the package from Mike, one of the stock guys behind the store, Annie puts on the Indigo Girls and starts singing badly enough to incur a look and some snarky comments from Ruby. Ruby confides in Annie that she’s in a mood because a “thirsty skank” took credit for the money, trying to get to Stan.
When Beth comes back to the SUV empty handed, Annie gives it a go, assuming that Mike is trying to keep whatever this package is for himself. She tries the relatable angle and fails. Done with being nice, Ruby pulls out Stan’s gun and says she’s just going to scare Mike “a little” with it. She walks up to him, and as she says, “So, Mike…” she accidentally fires, shooting him in the foot. Between Ruby’s ear-splitting scream, all the girls’ faces, and Mike falling to the ground, I laughed so hard during this scene that…well, let’s just say I liked it better than The Pirates of Penzance. (Recap continues on page 2)
On their way back to the Canada-U.S. border with the package safely in the back of their SUV, Ruby cannot process that she just shot a man and starts praying. Good friend that she is, Beth tries to reassure her with, “He’s being a baby. He’s gonna live. He may not walk again, but he’s about to get the best free care socialized medicine can buy.” Annie chips in with an arm pat and, “We should all be so lucky.” During the next several minutes I chew all my fingernails down as the girls’ car goes through search and seizure with a customs dog (which Annie unwisely and hilariously tries to pet) and their mystery package is opened, though amazingly not enough for the customs agent to tell what they’re really smuggling. Like Beth, I don’t breathe again until they cross safely into Michigan.
Beth can’t wait for the drop-off to find out what exactly they’re muling. At first it seems like a ton of wrapping paper until we see the familiar balding head of Ben Franklin on the other side. As we find out soon enough at an abandoned warehouse, Rio is running a massive counterfeit money operation. Those sheets of $100 bills, just like the ones being wet, cut, run through washers, and stacked in the warehouse, seem to be the backbone of Rio’s business. Fearless, Beth asks Rio to confirm that they’re all done now. “We’re good,” he finally admits after Beth persists.
Getting square with a gang leader can work up an appetite, so they head to the nearest pub, where Annie tipsily tells the waitress that they’re celebrating “smuggling a bunch of counterfeit money over the Canadian border and escaping a violent drug gang.” Beth adds, “And no drugs in our butts!”
Their celebration is short lived, though, as Beth learns from Dean that the police are investigating the dealership getting hit. Now faced with having to get rid of a stolen vehicle, the girls decide to abandon the SUV at an empty parking lot until Annie’s phone rings and shows up on the center console screen. True to her nature (which, you may remember, I totally called in my initial reaction to the series), well intentioned though she may be, Annie will consistently mange to screw things up royally. Remember when she synced her phone to be able to play the Indigo Girls in the car? Well, if you’ve ever tried to undo a car/phone sync, you will understand how Annie officially makes the worst car thief ever.
In the second most hilarious scene of the episode, we watch along with our despairing friends as the SUV is slowly sinking in a lake — this seemingly being the only possible solution to erasing Annie’s “digital fingerprint” on the vehicle. I almost pee my pants when Annie’s still-synced phone rings and, standing on the shore, Annie shouts her responses to the social worker’s phone call. The meaning of “you’re cutting out” will never again be the same.
Though her mom is woefully late, Sadie manages to save things with the social worker with some shrimp cocktail and a prevarication about Annie’s whereabouts. Things are rebounding well until Annie and the social worker see that Sadie cut her hand very badly while deveining the shrimp. Everything unravels terribly fast as the social worker realizes how often Sadie must be left home alone, and to top it off, Annie can’t even get her daughter to the ER because there’s a boot on her car.
Since this episode has had me in tears from laughter, it’s unsurprising that it would also have me crying out of heartache when Sadie later asks Annie where she was. After her mom helplessly tells her she had something “really, really important” to do,” my heart is cleaved in two when Sadie asks her in a sobering tone, “What’s more important than me?” It’s clear that while we are merely new third-party observers of Annie’s shortcomings, this is something Sadie has lived with for years. While I myself have only been a mom for a short time, the idea of failing my child as a result of my own flaws is perhaps one of the most difficult things about loving someone more than yourself, and seeing this play out so clearly in such a small exchange is just part of what makes me love all of these characters as though they’re real.
Ruby manages to make up with Stan and take care of Sheila by beating her at her own game. Standing up in church to testify, Ruby announces her gratitude to Sheila for not only her generous donation, but also for offering to pick up the kids from school, babysit so that Ruby and Stan can have a date night, and even buy organic groceries from Whole Foods, no less.
After a heart-to-heart with Dean, Beth realizes that her anger toward him has now subsided into apathy, which is, in so many ways, much worse. It’s clear that while the flames in her marriage have been extinguished, the crimes have most certainly lit something inside of her. She heads back to the warehouse, which has now been completely emptied, and you can see the disappointment register. She leaves her string of pearls on a doorknob, and in the final scene, she stands across from Rio in her kitchen. “So, what’d you want to talk to me about?” the devil asks, a smile twisting across his lips, the heat between them palpable.
Please be careful, my friend. If you play with fire, I’m afraid you will get burned.