HOLLYWOOD—Well, this is a new TV series that I’ve seen quite a few teases for in the past few months. I got my first glimpse at the multiplex, and I must admit it was interesting. Since then more teases have surfaced for the original TNT series “Good Behavior” starring “Downton Abbey” star Michelle Dockery. Yes, we’re talking about Dockery who hasn’t been known to portray dark characters. But WOW, Dockery is a revelation in this role and the first episode was full of so many thrills and drama I could not take my eyes away from the TV screen.
The episode opens with Letty Raines (Dockery) working at a run-down diner. It’s apparent from the look on her face that this is the last place that she wants to be. And with the snap of a finger, Letty is out of a job, but the audience soon learns that she is a thief and quite good at it. It becomes apparent that Letty has a ton of problems, and I mean a ton of problems. She is a con-artist, an alcoholic, a recovering addict and recently released from prison.
The one caveat that I love about this character is that she is so flawed, yet at the same time she is unapologetic in those flaws. She fights like hell to do the right thing, but it is easier said than done. Her battle to fight her urge to drink has the audience rooting for her on one hand, but at the same time we question rather she’ll give in to temptation. In one of her cons, she smoothly moves from one room to the next room in a hotel stealing valuables from the room before finding herself in a sticky situation, where she overhears a riveting conversation where a husband has hired a hit man to murder his wife.
Watching this scene was so intense; I mean it was a given that Letty would be caught, but her ability to maneuver herself out of the stickiest situation is what makes this character so enjoyable to watch on the screen. While it’s evident not much bothers Letty, the audience soon discovers she has a fractured relationship with her mother that inches her closer to taking a sip of alcohol, but she resists.
Now be aware people, all this madness takes place in North Carolina, but the narrative is so strong the geography doesn’t distract too much from all the madness that was loaded in just 1 episode. Dockery is a pure revelation in this dark, torturous and unique role. She convinces the audience with her southern accent, her debonair look, her choice of wigs and her ease to say what’s on her mind without consequences that she is Letty Raines!
I know this is early to say this, but Dockery could be a contender in the Best Actress race in a drama series. She was so innocent and likable in “Downton Abbey,” but this role is delicious. It makes it apparent the actress can indeed go to dark places if need be, and it’s such a treat to watch.
Letty actually has a conscious and chooses to do the right thing by schmoozing Javier (Juan Diego Botto), while she gets the details on Chase’s wife, Daphne to prevent her from falling victim. Man this woman is a bad***! I mean taking a rifle and guarding herself like she is about to go full-blown Sigourney Weaver on a guy she just met. Low and behold, Javier was indeed planning to kill Chase’s wife, and Letty has thwarted that plan. When he came face-to-face with her he was stunned; she totally hoodwinked him.
Our protagonist was tempted by a hefty amount of money to forget he was even at the home, but Daphne turned the tables. She informed Letty to take the keys and the money and get out the house, which Letty had no trouble obliging to. So in the long run she still came out on top or so we think.
The climactic moment of the episode occurs near the end as Letty comes face-to-face with her mother hoping to pay a visit to her SON Jacob. Yes, Letty is a mother, and hasn’t seen her child in over 2 years, but her mother is tough as nails and refuses to allow her daughter to see her son. It is that moment, that shatters Letty, but from a distance she spots her son wave to her in the upstairs window. Before leaving, she leaves a stack of cash in the mailbox, as her son watches from a distance.
The frustration seethed in those moments where Letty allowed her dysfunction to get the best of her as she resorted back to drugs, while fantasizing about a future with her son. All looks good, but Javier bursts into her motel room with a gun pointed at her. He makes it clear he knows all the details about her family and her life. The fact that he read her the riot act in less than a minute was fascinating. Unfortunately, Javier was unable to pull the trigger, and poured her drugs down the toilet, before revealing her little deed makes her indebted to him.
Now I will admit that ending I expected a mile away; the sparks between Dockery and Juan Diego Botto could be seen from miles away. However, I would make the argument that Letty brings out the good in Javier and in return he forces her to acknowledge the sins of her past to do better. Very rarely can a new series nab my attention so quickly and I’m so eager to see how things unfold. Mark your calendars because “Good Behavior” will be on my TV watch list each Tuesday at 9 p.m. on TNT!