NBC’s Good Girls has been one of the network’s most intriguing shows, basically coming off as feminist Breaking Bad. But rather than cooking meth in the desert in a trailer, three housewives hard up for cash decide to support their families using other shady means. Beth (Christina Hendricks), her sister Annie (Mae Whitman) and their friend Ruby (Retta) have been through a lot but Season 3 now finds them working with longtime associate Rio (Manny Montana) to make counterfeit bills.
However, one big thing the show’s doing so well this season is being unafraid to kill major characters, and it’s working remarkably well. The reason is that each player feels important to the conflict at hand, it makes the stakes relatable and real, and these deaths cleverly advance the narrative to paint a true boogeyman in Rio.
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Now, this isn’t an easy thing to do as seen with shows like The Walking Dead. The AMC series has been afraid to kill Rick or Michonne, instead holding them off for movies or to resolve threads later down the line, but all this has done is make things feel a bit stagnant. But Good Girls isn’t scared of pulling that trigger, because it helps make Rio all the more of a threat.
It’s essential because while the show is a comedy, it’s very dark and messed up at its core. These housewives have done despicable things — from laundering to chemical trading to robberies — and while fans empathize with them, it’s harrowing to see the more they let greed get ahold of them, the deeper they dig themselves. And in so doing, they just end up in bigger holes under Rio, with debts racking up and the gangster losing his patience. They often double-cross him, sometimes for self-gain, sometimes to get out the business, and while it’s cute and funny, there must be repercussions.
While the show often flirts with the deaths or disappearances of characters like Mary Pat (Allison Tolman) and Boomer (David Hornsby), Rio finds himself putting an end to the fun and games at the start of this season. Off the cuff, the premiere “Find Your Beach” leaves FBI agent Jimmy Turner (James Lesure) dead when Rio (who we thought got killed last season) sets him up on a string. After the bust turned out to be empty, gunmen slaughtered Jimmy and his operatives, which shocked fans who swore he’d see it through to the end. The reason being is Jimmy brokered deals with the wives and was their only way out. He got them to flip and without him, they’re back to square one. He also kept his deal with Rio secret, nursing him back to health so Rio could help him get the bigger bosses. But by taking him off the table, Rio has protected these elites and kept himself in the clear. However, it’s also made Rio look fallible and that’s why he’s much more ruthless. His rivals and employers are on his back so he has to make more money and intimidate, so the death was used to evolve the main villain. It feels nuanced and not done for shock factor.
It doesn’t stop there because in Episode 5, “Au Jus,” Rio also murders Lucy (Charlyne Yi), a graphic designer who worked at Beth’s flower and card shop. She was duped into making the templates for the ladies’ counterfeit printing, which led to Rio trying to steal her from the wives. But when they reminded him he needed their hands-on skills for machinery operations, he stunned fans by getting his crew to shoot the expendable Lucy a couple of times in the dead of night in a van. It’s one of the show’s most chilling moments as the millennial was such a warm, jovial, and innocent character who did what she could to avoid being taken hostage. Simply put, Rio’s playing for keeps but with a purpose.
It’s also strategic: Lucy’s death is on the ladies’ consciences so it’s hard for them to sell Rio out as they pulled Lucy in the first place with their selfish attitudes. They tricked her and it’s cost them big time so Rio has them in checkmate. They can’t snitch as it’s their fault, and now, their guilt is making them work harder as they need money. Mostly, they have to keep him pleased as they fear for their lives. It’s about time the series did more than just thinly-veiled threats and empty promises, and through this direction, the show is treading much darker waters than ever before.
Good Girls stars Christina Hendricks, Mae Whitman, Retta, Matthew Lillard, Reno Wilson and Manny Montana. Season 3 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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