The fourth and final season of NBC’s Good Girls has come to a close after failing to secure a fifth season that would have given everything a proper close. Through this extended 16-episode season, the girls continue to find new ways to bring in money, while also plotting their potential escape from a life of crime.
By the end of the third season, Good Girls was in a bit of a sticky position. It seemed to have almost completely run its course in terms of fresh ideas, but wasn’t showing many signs of slowing down. In this season, any time it looks like things might be coming to a close, it’s as if something in the narrative sparks back up and the adventure chugs along for a few more episodes. Considering it was public knowledge that this would be the final season, it makes it harder to watch knowing it’s not heading for a big finale and rather trying to keep that spark alive in any way possible. I will say, there are some fun character arcs and minor cliffhangers through the season, but it largely feels like it’s hitting more of the same beats as before – leading to no real urgency in starting the next episode.
It’s hard to know where the season is going at any point because it doesn’t feel like it has an end goal. Not until the final two episodes does it seem like it’s ever heading towards a final destination. For this reason, the bulk of this extended season just meanders through a series of subplots that almost feel like they’ve been ripped from the seasons passed. The same old Rio and Beth power struggle is still ongoing, although I will give the season some credit for successfully mixing things up with new character Nick (Ignacio Serricchio). He brings some depth to the narrative and is the only thing in these episodes that feels wholly fresh. It’s nice because it’s a dynamic we haven’t seen before – almost every other dynamic and subplot is either something we’ve seen or it’s just not engaging enough.
Look, the series still does a decent job at including little twists and turns here and there to try keep you on your toes. That, combined with the fact that we do care about these main characters after having spent years following their lives, does help to keep you somewhat invested. It’s just that their journeys are met with disappointment when it’s clear the writers went for a conclusion that both closes the book and leaves it open at the same time. This indecision really wastes the potential for a strong ending. So, despite there actually being some good stuff in the season, the bulk of it really just falls flat – capped off with an ending that is just average.
The dynamic trio of Christina Hendricks (Beth), Mae Whitman (Annie) and Retta (Ruby) will always the the reason for this show’s success. The chemistry they share is absolutely unbreakable. All things about the narrative aside, the back and forth interactions between these three absolutely never get old. Their banter and comedic timing makes for plenty of genuinely entertaining and funny moments within each episode, keeping things fun even when the actual content may not be. They just make their respective family-centric narratives more engaging than the actual main driving plot of the season, all while injecting each episode with a hit of comedy that would be absent without them.
Once again, the presence of Manny Montana’s Rio enhances almost every single scene that he’s a part of. He plays the role of this gang leader who you love to hate, but is also so oddly charismatic that you just genuinely love watching him. The most disappointing returning cast inclusions come in the form of Lauren Lapkus (Phoebe) and Jonathan Silverman (Dave). These two had a smaller role in season three, returning here and not really having as strong of an impact as I’d hoped. They’re largely forgettable in the grand scheme of things, just because they’re not really given much to do – popping in, dishing the girls some information, and then leaving. I think the lack of intriguing arcs for the husbands and boyfriends of the girls in this season is also what lets it down. Don’t get me wrong, Reno Wilson (Stan) and Matthew Lillard (Dean) do have an arc throughout the whole season, it’s just not interesting.
In the end, thanks to the decision not to close the story in this season, combined with the cancellation of a fifth season, Good Girls goes out with a whimper rather than a bang. It had a really good, strong run with its first and second seasons, losing steam in the third and further failing to craft something wholly engaging this time around. It just meanders through a whole bunch of subplots, with none really engaging enough to make this season a great one. Despite the narrative woes and failure to craft a fulfilling ending, the chemistry between the girls is as strong as ever, bringing heart and laughs to each episode and making getting through the season worth it to see their journeys through to the end. For fans of the show, there’s still fun to be had despite the ending being a bit of a misfire.