Good Girls Season 3 Episode 5: ‘Au Jus’ Review

[Header Image: Mae Whitman as Annie Marks, Retta as Ruby Hill, and Christina Hendricks as Beth Boland | NBC]

Another week over, another Good Girls episode down and this one is definitely the darkest we’ve seen so far. While not necessarily the best episode of the season, there were still so many great moments throughout. I’ll be honest, I have no idea where this season might go and I’ve been trying my best to keep my speculation to a minimum but it does seem like they’re moving into newer areas and so far, the tone is a little different (understandably so) while still maintaining that great comedy/drama balance.

After the events of last week, Beth is back to working for Rio in order to save her life and as a way for him to hop back into business fairly quickly after his absence. It does seem like there was at least an attempt at distancing themselves through Rio having his boys picking up the money from Paper Porcupine under the guise of being customers but, of course, in true Good Girls fashion, that doesn’t last very long at all.

[Mae Whitman as Annie Marks, Christina Hendricks as Beth Boland, and Retta as Ruby Hill | NBC]

However, before the two of them come face to face again, Beth ends up going down her own route to convince Lucy to design another template. Stealing the bird, Au Jus, wasn’t a total surprise – it was in the season three trailer after all – but the entire thing was even better to see played out in full especially when coupled with the ransom photos that Annie took. It wasn’t a bad plan really. A little disastrous with Ruby messing up the timer and Annie only just getting out of the house in time but we’re pretty used to that by now and it would have been odd if it went perfectly.

It’s also very in tune with the girls’ way of handling things and it contrasted interestingly with how Rio chose to handle things. Chances are, taking Au Jus would have worked to get Lucy to comply but, of course, Rio’s way was blunt, showing up with his boys and pulling out their guns to make sure Lucy did what they asked and it got the job done fairly quickly. Beth, Annie, and Ruby have always tried to go down routes that minimised casualties and have rarely been cutthroat, at least not right off the bat. It’s one of the many differences between them and Rio that highlights just how deep in he is and fairly good indicator that he’s probably been doing this for a long time. It makes me wonder just how much Beth, Annie, and Ruby might change the deeper into crime that they get.

This episode alone is bound to have some effect on them. Other than shooting Rio at the end of 2×13, none of them has ever really seen this level of violence or finality before. It was clear from the moment that we saw everyone in the back of Paper Porcupine that Lucy wasn’t getting out of this alive. Between Mick taking photos of the press and the design/template being complete, it freed Rio up to be able to get rid of Beth, Annie, and Ruby and because their process relied on Lucy’s art skills and with her reluctance to design more money, it made her disposable as well once she completed her task. Which, I have to say, even though I would have loved to see even more of her, I did appreciate how they handled Lucy’s death and everything leading up to it.

There was a bit of naivety coming from Lucy that made a ton of sense considering her personality and her lack of involvement in the crime world. It worked well with the fact that Beth, Annie, and Ruby knew exactly how dangerous the situation was and what would happen once Lucy did as Rio asked. I have to say, I appreciate that a good amount of this came across in their body language and facial expressions that continued on even after Lucy is shot. So much is conveyed to us without words and it made the whole thing even better.

Between their reactions to everything and the way Lucy interacts with everyone and handles the whole thing, it ramps up the intensity slowly but surely until it all bursts through Beth’s speech. There’s never much of a chance to breathe and the show, rightfully so, left its comedic side behind. Something Good Girls has always been relatively great at is balancing their comedy and drama. When a scene is really serious, there’s usually nothing overly funny about it, especially in a laugh-out-loud kind of way. If anything, there might be a comment or a joke that falls flat because it’s told by a character who is either nervous or doesn’t have any context as to the seriousness of the matter. Think of Stan and Ben both making light of things at the end of the episode because neither of them realise what’s gone on. At no point did it feel like we were supposed to think lightly of what was happening to Lucy nor did it feel like the show was trying to pull us into thinking that maybe she would survive. The show, through various avenues, is clear that this is a serious part of the episode and one that rightfully packs a pretty hefty punch.

[Charlyne Yi as Lucy | NBC]

This is a side of Rio that has always been there but has usually happened off-camera. The closest we’ve seen is when his boys start trashing Beth’s house in 1×02 and he ends up telling Mick not to shoot her after her speech. We know he ordered the death of Eddie back in season one, perhaps he did it himself, and in this season he organised the hit on Turner. Ordering Mick to shoot Lucy is simply us seeing something that isn’t normally shown on screen as well as a situation that Rio normally backs out of because it often involves Beth who usually talks her way out of being killed (not to mention their history is bound to play more of a part now). Really, we’re diving deeper into the crime world and that means seeing sides to Rio we wouldn’t normally be privy to because originally we, and the girls, were somewhat shaded from it. It has me excited to find out just how much we’ll see of that world as Beth, Annie, and Ruby fall deeper into it.

That being said, Beth does the exact same thing this time and uses a big speech to convince Rio to spare them. For now, she’s not wrong. Chances are Rio doesn’t know how to use the press properly, especially considering he had Mick taking photos and asking questions, questions that weren’t all answered. It is a risk that Rio really can’t take if he wants to get back to business and go back to the level he was running before. If Beth, Annie, and Ruby continue to hold value in their roles then they remain safe but there’s nothing to stop Rio from killing them once he figures everything out for himself. However, as the show has made clear before, there’s usually a different set of rules regarding how he handles Beth. There have been countless times where he should have killed her but didn’t. If he didn’t pause after the pregnancy lie, he might have finally killed her at the beginning of this season but that opportunity has passed.

Even though they didn’t personally address it, this episode had Dean mentioning that Rio won’t kill what he loves, meaning Beth. Although she pushes back and says money is the thing he cares about, this is the first time that the idea of love has been approached when it comes to her and Rio. It gives an insight into how people around them see the way they interact and how they are with one another. While I’m sure Beth and Rio won’t approach the topic themselves, especially not directly, I do wonder if this is just the start to exploring where they stand after everything and just how intertwined they are.

[Manny Montana as Rio | NBC]

Ruby and Stan continue to have one of the best relationships on the show. They’ve both come a long way since he figured out she robbed Fine & Frugal back in season one. Despite the various ups and downs that they’ve experienced, they always seem to come back together and this episode wasn’t much different only the stakes, at least in Ruby’s mind, are much higher.

Stan has definitely come along way to understanding why Ruby does what she does and realising he loves her anyway and what they have is much stronger. Still, in this episode, we discover that Stan knows about Sara stealing the pen and is just happy that she couldn’t live with lying about it. “When you lie, you sleep like a queen” was such a great line and it shows how Ruby’s actions can look to an outside perspective. It also unlocks that fear in Ruby that Stan sees her differently and the two of them will drift apart until one day he leaves her. 

There’s always been something so real about their relationship and the more episodes we get, the more honest they are with one another, at least as much as they can be without roping the other into something dangerous. Usually with Ruby only telling Stan just enough about what she gets up to. In this episode, after the dark and emotionally draining scenes with Lucy, Ruby goes home and spills her feelings and fears about Stan leaving her. It was such a perfect moment. To see all of her worries from throughout the episode finally come out at the end and for Stan, in his usual and wonderful fashion, try to make things more lighthearted and comfort her anyway.

Even though they always seem to find their way back to a good place, there’s still a lot they’ll have to go through in the future, especially with there being even more dangers coming at Ruby. It’s been great to see them fight and somehow, no matter what, find themselves together and stronger than ever.

[Reno Wilson as Stan Hill and Retta as Ruby Hill | NBC]

The show seems to be doubling down on Ben being the person who brings Annie to her senses and the one person who’s opinions matter most to her. In this episode, he brings up how she’s once again sleeping with people who aren’t good for her and even goes so far as to call her an addict. One thing that seems to suggest is that Ben has no idea that Annie was in therapy. There doesn’t seem to be any confirmation in this episode as to whether she ever went back to Josh but after Ben calls her out and is still somewhat upset with her by the end of the episode, I’m wondering if Annie will go back to therapy and really try to change her ways.

Still, I loved that after such a traumatic event, Annie’s first thought was to crawl into bed with Ben. It was such a touching moment that was really well done. With Annie clearly upset and asking if she can sleep there for the night mixed with Ben trying to make light of the situation but still not holding back on being upset. Similarly to the scene with Ruby and Stan towards the end of the episode, there’s this sense of togetherness with Annie and Ben even though there’s somewhat of a rift in both relationships.

By the end of the episode, the girls are all left in a state of shock. Ruby and Annie go to seek comfort but with Beth, there is no scene like that. She’s in shock just like them but the next time we see her, it’s a new day where she’s essentially adopted Au Jus (now named Doritio) into the family. Now, even though there’s no scene of her seeking comfort, we do get to see that she’s still thinking about everything that happened and it is affecting her. Killing Lucy, while arguably being due to collateral damage, was also a message to Beth who, as I said before, is someone Rio clearly can’t kill but is still, to some extent, a problem.

With everything that happened and Max being concerned about Lucy’s absent, we’ll have to wait and see just how much this changes things moving forward. While I’m sure either Rio or somebody he knows is good at covering this kind of thing up, in Good Girls even if the smallest things have a lot of blowback and killing Lucy was not a small thing by any means.

Some other things:

  • Annie using her gym locker key to cut a sandwich that she and Ruby are sharing. It was so ridiculous and manage to add to how pent up and on edge the girls are with everything going on.
  • Right before Beth speaks to Mick and offers to print him his own stash of money, there’s this sound of machinery banging together in the background. It grows louder and becomes more frequent as Beth moves through Paper Porcupine and it does a fantastic job at ramping up the intensity in such a simple way.
  • Annie running across the road with the bird in her hands and Beth questioning why she didn’t just take the birdcage.
  • That moment where Ben goes into the bathroom only to find Au Jus in there. It worked so well that once the door was shut, we didn’t see his reaction, we heard it instead.

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