Monday, April 23, 2018

REVIEW: 'Good Girls' - Rio Has a Test for Beth, Ruby and Annie That Infuriates Them in 'Summer of the Shark'

NBC's Good Girls - Episode 1.09 "Summer of the Shark"

Rio asks the women to complete a seemingly simple job so he can get the operation up and running, but Beth, Ruby and Annie fear there may be more to the task than meets the eye. As the ladies' long-simmering tensions with the gang leader boil over, Ruby learns that Sara has risen to the top of the transplant list.

Good Girls is asking some serious questions about morality. It ponders if Beth, Ruby and Annie can still see themselves as the good girls after everything they have done this season. They would like to believe that they are still moral and good people. They were just handed some crummy circumstances and broke bad just to make a better life for themselves. They got caught up in all of this criminal activity because they had bills that needed to be paid and responsibilities to uphold. They were all struggling. They've continued to struggle. None of them have the money to continue moving on up in life. They are just faced with new problems as a result of their various schemes this season. Rio cut off their operation and took all of the money back they made from this business. That was such a horrifying and controlling move. It proved that he knows every single detail about their lives. They were operating under the plan of just doing this business for six months. They figured that was enough time to pay off their debts while saving enough to build something legitimate. It always seemed unlikely that they would succeed in that plan because the show functions as the three of them having to commit some new, criminal act every week. They are juggling so much in their lives right now. It seems like next week's season finale will have a lot of plot it will need to address. It should be fascinating to see how everything resolves. But right now, the three girls are talking about whether they can still be seen as the good and virtuous heroes in their stories if they are willing to turn on others and possibly get them killed solely so that they can maintain their current lives and support their families.

This was already a conversation on their minds after the girls learned that Eddie was arrested by the police. They know that someone in Rio's crew has been turned and is informing the FBI on everything happening in the organization. They know exactly why Rio had to shut down business so quickly. And yet, they are eager to get things up and running again. They've hated their lives as they've tried to go straight once more. They could no longer deal with the financial difficulties of their lives any more. They were right back to where they started. They are still in that position as well. Sara has the potential to get a kidney transplant if her parents can afford it while Sadie is staying with Gregg until Annie can make a responsible impression in her custody case. They have no money to support these people that they love more than anything else in the world. Rio presents the girls with a new job that if done successfully will lead to business being up and running again. All he asks is for them to move a truck from a parking complex back to his base of operations. It seems simple. It is always presented as a test for Rio to see just how much of his business is currently being surveilled by the feds. He continues to see the girls as expendable. He is right to view them that way as well. They have only created more and more problems for his business when his counterfeit money is so good and realistic that it doesn't even need to be washed. He doesn't really need to include them in his business. As such, he has shown more than enough patience for their various problems even though he hasn't warmed up to them in the slightest.

Of course, it was also inevitable that everything would work out perfectly fine for Beth, Ruby and Annie in moving this truck. They go straight from Rio to the parking structure where the truck is currently sitting. They pull up so they are directly facing it. If the feds were watching this vehicle, they would have seen the girls at that time. It was a foolish decision. It was mostly for the audience's benefit of seeing what this truck was like and where it was currently sitting. The girls didn't see any police watching them but understood they could be hiding in secrecy. But it's still such a risk to actually pull up even if they don't actually get into the truck and drive it away at that time. That would only serve as more confirmation to Agent Turner that Beth and company are involved with Rio. He bought into her story in the beginning but seeing them continue to be associated with this investigation would be very suspicious. But the show isn't telling that story. Instead, the girls get confirmation that the truck probably isn't being watched. Yes, there is the fake out of Beth being pulled over by a police officer and forced to share what she is currently hauling in this truck. That leads to the reveal that it is actually empty. It was just a test by Rio to see just how exposed his business was. Beth is right to be angry with him. She doesn't want to be seen as expendable to someone who holds her life in his hands. She has a family and responsibilities in this world that shouldn't just be tossed aside because some criminal doesn't value her in their business arrangement. But it also proves that Rio is done with the girls long before Beth confronts him in the aftermath of her near arrest.

Beth is at a loss for how to react to this news. She understands that there is no way that Rio would just let the girls walk away from this business. He tells her to drive back home to her family instead of expecting any more shipments of fake cash. He promised the girls that they would be back up and running as soon as they finished this run for him. It wasn't even as illegal as smuggling the money across the border. But it is so precarious because it's Beth standing up for herself and the respect she demands to a man who is completely unwilling to get it. She is now afraid for her life. She believes it's only a matter of time before Rio and his crew kills her and the girls. It's a daunting time for all of them. Ruby and Annie are given these moments where they desperately want to tell the closest people in their lives what's truly going on with them. They believe the time is ticking down on how much life they have left to live. They don't know how much longer they will have to say all that needs to be said to their families. As such, Ruby wants to know what's the line that she could never cross because Stan would then leave her. She wants to know what is still forgivable in his eyes. Yes, he's a cop now. But he's more than comfortable getting high with her as she pulls information out of him about his investigation. Would he be able to forgive her for all that she has done if she tells him the truth? She isn't able to tell him though because they get the call about a kidney becoming available for their daughter. Meanwhile, Annie is outside Gregg's house just recording voicemail after voicemail for Sadie telling her how proud she is of who she is as a person. It ultimately just becomes a brief voicemail of saying "I love you" because she is soon interrupted by Gregg. They once again have playful banter that is sweet. And yet, Annie chooses not to let him in on what's truly going on in her life. She wants to rely on their relationship more but she just can't quite pull the trigger on it.

And so, the girls once again can only rely on each other. They are planning for the end. Beth is already making up a colorful calendar for Dean to remember all of the appointments and important details in the lives of this family. She is ready for this. She has accepted her fate. And then, she questions whether or not they are the bad ones here. She wonders if Rio is the actual villain of this story because he has corrupted the girls in so many ways. Yes, he was able to pull this excitement out of Beth that she didn't know she had. The girls would still be dealing with financial difficulties if Rio was cut out of their lives completely. But right now, they are invigorated by turning on Rio. That's the exact reason why he can't allow them to live any longer. He doesn't want anyone to disrupt his business opportunities. He wants to continue climbing the ladder of success in this business. He still has so much more he wishes to conquer in this profession. He won't be taken down by a trio of suburban moms. And yet, they are the most motivated and personally invested in turning on him before he ruins their lives. It's certainly an ominous but exciting way to go into the season finale. This relationship has always been fraught with so much tension. Rio has had his amusing moments. He has also had his moments of true companionship with the girls as he tried to teach them the ins and outs of this business. He wanted them to see this job for what it truly was. But now, they have accepted that and are willing to rat on him to the police just to save their lives. That's a thrilling conclusion. And yet, it's still bound to go awry somehow because they will still need to break bad in some way to continue affording the lives their families need.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Summer of the Shark" was written by Bill Krebs & Jeannine Renshaw and directed by Michael Weaver.
  • Mary Pat shows up at the supermarket in order to blackmail Annie into paying for all of the groceries she has just bought. It's a move that shows she will continue asking for more and more from the girls as long as they keep giving into her demands. She still has the leverage of going to the cops whenever she wants. As such, she is able to get more out of them whenever she likes.
  • Of course, it's also fascinating to see a relationship flourish between Mary Pat and Boomer. It's something that fills me with dread because Boomer is such a despicable human being who has very little regard for women. Mary Pat has always been portrayed as a deceit person who needs financial help just like the main girls. As such, it seems inevitable that this relationship will explode in a major way next week.
  • Is it true that organ transplants in America will only be done for the families who have paid for the procedures upfront? That's what Ruby is claiming here. And yet, if that's a requirement for getting an organ, then Sara shouldn't be at the top of the list. Of course, most shows say that the patient most in need of the organ gets priority in the rankings. But it mostly feels like something the show makes up in order for Ruby to be worried about money once more.
  • Annie is now just staying at Beth's house. She can't bear to return home because Sadie is no longer living with her. She doesn't want to be alone right now knowing that she may never have custody of her daughter again. It also just makes it convenient for the show to feature so many meetings at Beth's house. The girls are always coming up with their schemes there as opposed to anywhere else.
  • The show plays its characters being high on drugs story very broadly. It's noticeable that the show never mentions the drugs by name that Ruby and Stan partake in. It's just important that they both get high. That seems a little irresponsible especially since Ruby has an ulterior motive of getting Stan talking about the suspect he arrested who is cooperating with the feds. But it's the show playing things for the comedy in a way that hinders the drama later on.