Golden Globes red carpet opinionating kept us from getting this review up in a timely manner, and to be honest, all the red carpet catching up we have to do is going to require that we keep this one brief. But that works out well, because this final episode of the season was somewhat light on plot, which means this doesn’t have to get complicated.
Although we might have welcomed a little more complication from a season finale. Not that we have an issue with how the first season wrapped up. In fact, it stuck the landing better than most shows do on their first finale. But it felt like all the really dramatic stuff had already happened and we were just watching the story play out to its natural conclusion.
Sure, there was some tension that Letty wasn’t going to get custody of Jacob or that Letty wasn’t going to be able to stop Javier from getting picked up by the Feds. Neither of those developments were entirely assured going into the episode and they would have both made fine cliffhangers upon which to hang the entire season. And of course, we would have been highly disappointed if we didn’t get to see Letty in one more wig and getup (and they saved one of the best for last).
But if there’s one thing we can say in summation of Good Behavior‘s first season it’s that it never quite goes where you think it might. We’re not talking wild narrative twists and turns here. Just that, for instance, one might have assumed early on that this was going to be a crime-based drama about a Bonnie and Clyde-like couple wreaking havoc through the south as they run from the law. Certainly, the first two or three episodes gave that impression. Or one might have assumed that this was some sort of high-simmer prestige soap opera with multiple storylines and ever more complicated plots. But in the end, it’s really a fairly straight-up light drama about relationships; part family-based, part romance-based. It’s just that the family is colorful and dysfunctional and the romance is between two lifelong criminals and broken people. Every time the show does something that we wouldn’t have expected it to do – like effectively wrap up all of the first season storylines to a more or less happy ending (with several prominent asterisks attached, of course) – we realize it’s unexpected because we had lost sight of what kind of show it is. This was not the season finale of a crime caper drama and not even of a romance drama, but it was the right finale for a southern gothic family drama. A broken woman fights for her son and for her man. There are, of course, no guarantees at all that she’ll be able to hold on to both or either of them. In fact, there’s every indication that she won’t. But it was a pleasant surprise to end a season feeling like we’d reached the last page of a fun and entertaining book. As for the asterisks…
There’s really only one major one going forward. Every character we’ve met has the potential to upend the story in unexpected ways, but the main one right now is Sean. And again, we credit the show with handling him fairly well. There was always a chance that Sean would turn into a full-on bad guy and do something … well… bad, but Good Behavior mostly managed to avoid that cliche. Sean was mad and threatening, but the story did a good job of showing that he had good reason to be. For all the talk of what a scumbag he was in the past and how untrustworthy he still is in the present (and you could say the EXACT same things about Letty), not one of his arguments as to why he should be in his son’s life were wrong or dishonest. Letty IS a bad mother – on paper at least, and largely in the past. The judge’s decision WAS clearly dirty and highly questionable. Jacob clearly wants him in his life. What father wouldn’t, in those circumstances, react angrily and almost violently?
Anyway, Letty got to be Letty, got to keep her son, got to win her man back and gets to ride off into the sunset – literally. That there are sirens wailing in the background means the story has places it can still go. The trick is remembering not to make assumptions about which places it’s going to go. Fingers crossed for a season 2 because we love all of these characters and performances too much to let go of them.
For more discussion on your favorite shows, check out the Bitter Kittens TV & Film forum.
[Photo Credit: Brownie Harris/TNT]