December 18, 2017

ShowbuzzDaily Season Finale Review: “Good Behavior”


TNT has been burning through its old-line series like Major Crimes and The Librarians two episodes at a time in recent weeks, seemingly in a frenzy to get rid of them.  The network has put its muscle behind darker, more serialized and adult dramas, with mixed results:  Animal Kingdom and Claws are hits, while Murder In the First, Legends and Will are among the duds.  GOOD BEHAVIOR, which ended its second season tonight, is on the bubble, with lukewarm ratings and no 3rd season renewal announced as yet.

The series telegraphed where Season 3 would go in tonight’s finale (to Los Angeles), and if the economics can be made to work, it deserves a chance to get there, since Season 2 was a clear improvement over the first.  That was largely because series creators Blake Crouch and Chad Hodge (it’s based on a series of novels by Crouch) had finally worked their way past what had become a tiresome dynamic, where every week or so hitman Javier (Juan Diego Botto) threatened to kill con woman Lettie (Michelle Dockery) to keep her with him.  In Season 2, they both recognized that whatever their twisted relationship is, it resembles love, and despite occasional break-ups, they were basically a couple.

That freed Good Behavior to tell a circuitous but engaging tale about two badly broken people who do terrible things–to each other as well as those around them–but usually with some style and charm.  The season began with Lettie and Javier trying to make a go of a semi-conventional family set-up that included Lettie’s son Jacob (Nyles Julian Steele), an attempt that fell apart after a disastrous holiday during which Lettie’s mother Estelle (Lusia Strus) turned Javier in to FBI agent Rhonda Lashever (the great Ann Dowd).  This somehow led to Lettie and Javier pulling a heist at a drag club at Rhonda’s behest.  Even as Javier courted respectability by buying a house for Lettie, the evil if ill-defined Teo (Juan Riedinger) was stalking him, a storyline that culminated in Lettie killing Teo and also accidentally murdering an innocent burglar alarm installation guy (played by Brian Baumgarter, Kevin from NBC’s The Office).

Tonight’s season finale, written by Producer Aaron Fullerton and Joshua Karns from a story by Hodge, and directed by Magnus Martens, dealt with the consequences of those actions.  Lettie, who had just recently fallen about as far off the wagon as she could get, and who had never killed anyone before, was wracked with guilt and haunted by her fantasy of the innocent victim’s ghost, even as she helped Javier dispose of the bodies.  Lettie’s inner agonies, though, are always balanced by her practicality, and by the end of the hour she had hatched the plan to sell cocaine Javier had repatriated from Teo in order to finance their disappearance, which is what brought them to Los Angeles at season’s end.

On a week to week basis, it’s hard to know where Good Behavior will go next, and that’s generally a good thing (and unusual even among TV’s more ambitious dramas).  Sometimes, though, its contortions go too far, and this season managed to include not just the drag club heist and Rhonda’s long-con holiday takedown of Javier, but the abrupt reveal that Lettie had a rich grandmother (Holland Taylor) who was an even bigger con woman than she was, which made very little sense on any level.  Beyond that, Javier and Lettie constantly get on each other’s nerves, and sometimes they get on ours, too.

The twists and turns of the scripts, though, keep us interested, and so do Dockery and Botto.  Dockery, in particular, got a workout this season, which took her from the smoothest of cons to a lost soul, addled on drugs and wandering alone through a forest, only to turn her into a guilt-ridden murderer by season’s end.  It’s all about as far as an actress can get from Downtown Abbey, and combined with her strong work in Netflix’s Godless, she’s making a strong case for why that shouldn’t be her go-to credit.  Botto has a more low-key role to play, but without his Javier, Lettie wouldn’t hold together as a character.

Good Behavior is uneven, which is something we’re getting used to in this age of ambitious TV drama.  Despite its flaws and limitations, it’s not hard to understand why TNT sees more value to it than in the familiar procedural patterns of Major Crimes.  Next up for the network:  its adaptation of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."