Just when they thought they were out, Beth pulls the ladies right back in
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and apparently in the suburbs, Satan’s built himself a superstore in the girls’ neighborhood. Though, really, let’s not forget that this is Beth’s fault. After all, she is the one who invited him back into their lives, unwilling to go back to her humdrum Stepford life now that she’s broken bad. But, as I said last week, playing with fire will get her burned, and tonight brought her dangerously close to the flames.
As Beth and the kids come home after grocery shopping, her son Kenny is begging her for a banging birthday party that involves decadence like chocolate fountains because his friend Tommy had a birthday celebration worthy of Vincent Chase. While Kenny keeps trying to negotiate, little Emma is trying desperately to get Beth’s attention because, well, there’s a man in her bed. But unlike Robert Downey Jr.’s mid-90s bed crash, this guy has been wounded to the extent that he’s left a nice little blood puddle in poor Emma’s bed. Beth is surprisingly calm as she tries to redirect Emma with the opportunity to go swimming at Dean’s motel.
Ruby, meanwhile, is working a shift at the diner, dealing with three teen boys. The leader has clearly made harassing her his entitled-rich-white boy pastime, and today is no different, as he starts in, “How does one become a waitress here? Like what college has the best program? Do you have to buy the uniform? ‘Cause that’s some high quality polyester right there.” One of his friends laughs hard enough to do a spit-take with his milkshake, and the leader tells Ruby to go make his friend another one, “chop, chop.” Considering it’s Ruby and she’s by now actually shot someone and faced down gangsters, she calls him out on his boorish behavior before leaving him with his sizzling fajitas platter. Because he’s as stupid as he is ignorant, he ends up burning himself on the plate as Ruby walks away, off-handedly throwing back, “Ohhh, that might be hot.” Burn.
At Annie’s apartment, she’s knee-deep in the struggle all parents know too well: trying to get your kid out the door on time. Sadie can’t find anything to wear, and the pants Annie just bought her are apparently too big. Because she has great mom intuition, Annie asks Sadie if people at school are pulling her pants down. “They want to know what I am,” Sadie reluctantly admits. Annie’s eyes well up, but she composes herself before deciding to approach it with a breezy response that gets Sadie to laugh. As someone who’s also had to face people who have wanted to know what I am, I love the writers and Izzy Stannard for making this moment so real that I felt those seven words in the deepest part of my soul. As a mom, I am grateful to Mae Whitman for giving Annie those few seconds before addressing her daughter’s pain because it gave so much truth to the interaction as a whole. Scenes like this are why I’m willing to forgive the more far-fetched moments of the show (i.e. Beth reacting a little too nonchalantly to the bleeding man in her daughter’s bed). The anchor of this series will always be the immense heart in their familial interactions.
Speaking of the bleeding man, Beth calls Ruby and Annie over to ask them for help and to confess that she’s volunteered them to do another gangster job. Ruby’s face after said confession is priceless because at least 75 percent of Retta’s acting is done with her eyes alone. Her expression makes me think Jesus Christ landed on a unicorn in front of them after Beth admits what she’s done. “You can’t sign people up for criminal activity like it’s a bake sale,” Ruby hilariously rebukes. Still, they have to figure out how to get in touch with Rio, especially since it’s doubtful that Beth has another string of pearls to throw on a doorknob. So Annie bravely volunteers to grab the bleeding man’s phone after managing to get his gun out from under him. Amazingly, Annie is able to unlock his cell phone and they go through his recent calls (Papa John’s and, sadly, his mom repeatedly) until they get Rio’s number.
Summoned to Beth’s house, Rio holds court with the girls. Beth protests, saying this is not what she had in mind when she offered them up to work for him. “Oh, so you think you can pick and choose which you want to do and when you want to do it?” he asks her. Ruby pitches back, “She thought it would be like driving for Uber.” Rio offers them stack after stack of (hopefully) real money to look after the man until he comes to get him. They unsurprisingly acquiesce because let’s face it: Emma is going to need a new bed.
Boomer is also having his own meeting with one Agent Turner of the FBI. He’s telling Turner about following and losing the girls in Canada, and how they stole a car to get there. The FBI agent is mildly amused as he indulges Boomer, though clearly does not believe him.
At Ruby’s house, she’s telling Stan how the sizzling fajitas teen is now threatening to lawyer up and that her manager, Tony, wants her to apologize. Stan reminds her that their children are more important than her pride and that they have to put the next month of Sara’s medicine on four different credit cards. He also sees her three Trumps-in-training and raises her his being called Paul Blart every single day. Honestly, it might be a draw.
Ruby goes back to Beth’s house to check on Beth, Annie, and their new charge, who they discover is finally awake. As Annie and Ruby look for the gun that Beth had hid, Beth tries to find the man in Emma’s en-suite bathroom. I grow new white hairs as Beth turns on the bathroom light and swear to myself that if he jumps out from behind the drawn shower curtain I will not scream. Thankfully, he steps out from the other side of the bathroom, gun cocked and pointed inches away from her face.
The guy is understandably confused as to where he is and just wants to get the hell out of there. Beth tells him to take the keys to her minivan on the kitchen counter.
Of course then Beth also realizes that the guy just made off with about $600 worth of car seats in the back of her minivan, not to mention Emma’s stuffed bunny, Carl. “He was on the dash,” Beth exclaims before Annie perfectly responds, “Now he’s on a drive-by.” I almost want to commit a drive-by when Beth asks them what they’re doing and says she’s so tired of almost dying. The snarky “oh, are you?” that Ruby hits her with is not nearly as severe as I want it to be.
Lucky for her, Beth is saved by the kids after Dean drops them back home. Kenny tells his mom not to be upset at his dad, who’s promised him the birthday party Beth refused him. Kenny informs her that while five of his friends can’t make it, 32 can! Beth gives Dean a look of death as Ruby and Annie usher Kenny out of the line of fire. Before Beth can go all in, Dean tells her that Kenny asked for his mom and dad to get back together. “The least we can do is throw him a damn party,” Dean says.
The girls go shopping at Cloud 9 (yes, that Superstore) for party goods, which are woefully sad until they find out Cloud 9’s generous return policy: 30 days with a valid receipt on anything in the store. Cue fun shopping montage wherein the girls get 10Gs worth of dream fiesta goods: popcorn machine, cotton candy maker, a water slide, and, yes, the chocolate fountain.
As they’re checking out, Annie gets a text from Sadie’s school. Greg’s already there and has spoken to the principal because Sadie punched a guy. Annie tells him that some kids have been pulling down Sadie’s pants in the cafeteria. She stops him from going back into the principal’s office, convincing him that she will handle it.
At the diner, the sizzling fajita teen and his mom are awaiting an apology. They have pictures and throw around the phrase “skin graft.” When Ruby refuses to relent, the mom accuses Ruby of setting a bad example for her own children. Fajita jerk mouths “chop, chop,” setting Ruby off, despite her manager’s considerable efforts to broker a ceasefire. The redress they get is certainly not the one they came for: “I am sorry you have your head so far up your ass that you think it’s okay to blame everyone else for your son being a moron,” Ruby begins in earnest before she quits her job.
The day of Kenny’s party finally arrives, and there’s a surprise guest: Rio! He shows up just in time for the cake, but the goodie bag that he’s there to collect is no longer there. I’m not quite sure at this point why the girls never thought to let him know after the Bleeder made off with the minivan, and apparently I’m not alone. Rio is not happy to leave empty-handed, and is made furious when Beth acts indignant about the manner in which the Bleeder left. She naively still believes she deserves to be paid for housing him, to which Rio responds, “Whatchu think this is? Little League? You get a trophy just for playing?” After a nonplussed Beth answers that she tried, Rio gives her the worst pep talk ever: “I don’t give a damn if you tried. You gotta win, bitch.” As he storms out, he almost runs into Boomer, who had delivered Kenny’s birthday cake. Boomer vaguely recognizes Rio and takes a picture of the gangster that he later hands over to Agent Turner, correctly suspecting there’s something seedy about him.
The girls aren’t the only one ruffled by Rio’s party crashing; Dean gets nervous after he asks Emma if Mommy ever has any men over and she conflates male visitors: “Just the man in bed, but I’m not s’posed to tell you.” After the party he confronts Beth about Rio, but she refuses to admit to any wrongdoing, citing his infidelities as a defense. As their argument boils over, Dean announces that he has cancer. (Recap continues on page 2.)
Distraught over Dean’s news, Beth is unable to pull it together to get the kids out the door for the day and return all the party goods to Cloud 9. Annie offers to help out, and as she’s collecting the newspaper from outside, the Bleeder has returned sans blood and with Beth’s minivan, now riddled with bullet holes. “Thanks for loaning me the whip,” he says by way of apology. Because he’s a gangster with a heart of gold, he’s also filled up the tank. After he tells Annie that he owes them, she asks him if he needs a ride.
They drive to Sadie’s school, where it’s already lunchtime (even though Annie was just about to give Emma breakfast) and her bullies are throwing grapes at her. The gangster with a heart of gold sits down at their table to intimidate them into stopping their harassment, but the lead kid is so stupid, he tells his friends, “Wait ’til he finds out who my dad is.” Gangsters don’t care about such things, so he breaks the kid’s finger, warning him that next time it’ll be his thumb.
Taking advantage of Cloud 9’s return policy gives Beth a business idea, which the three pitch to Rio at the Cloud 9 cafeteria. (“Oh, you guys didn’t hit me up to do brunch?”) They want to clean his fake cash at big box retailers with generous return policies. Ruby points out that no one thinks twice about a wife buying her husband a flat screen TV or new tires for their minivan. They’ll purchase everything with Rio’s fake money and get back real money when they make their returns.
Rio asks him what they want in return, and after they tell him 20 percent of the profits, he balks: “Anything else while we at it? You all want healthcare? Union breaks?” I laugh out loud when Ruby tells him, “Just for the record, I’ll never smuggle anything up my butt,” and then Annie counters, “I could be talked into it if the compensation was…appropriate.” The meeting is over when Rio announces he has to go buy a duvet cover, saying they’ll give it a try. “We’re not here to try. We’re here to win, bitch,” Beth throws back at him.
After squaring away their new business, Beth is getting Dean set up in Kenny’s room. He’s looking at brain scans on Kenny’s computer when Beth comes in with some pillows. She’s let him move back in to sleep in their son’s room and offers to accompany him to his doctor appointments. After the doorbell rings and Beth leaves to answer, Dean turns back to the computer, where it turns out he’s really Googling things like “How to fake having cancer” and “How to verify if someone has cancer or is just lying.”
As Beth goes to answer the door, I’m worried it’s another of Rio’s cronies, but then I remember they just show up without bothering to knock or ring the doorbell. It is someone just as frightening, though: Agent Turner.
And the heat is on.