'Good Behavior' creator Chad Hodge on that Christmas episode shocker

Mandi Bierly
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Letty and Juan Diego Botto as Javier in ‘Good Behavior’ (Photo: TNT)

The third episode of Good Behavior‘s second season may be the most enjoyable of the series to date. As star Michelle Dockery summed up for us, “It’s Christmas, and the audience is sort of lured into this false sense of security, like everything’s okay, Letty’s relationship with Estelle seems all right, and then of course, it takes a huge 180 at the end.”

That twist: Estelle (Lusia Strus) had told Agent Lashever (Ann Dowd) that she and Rob (Joey Kern) were taking Letty (Dockery) and Javier (Juan Diego Botto) to a luxury resort in the Smoky Mountains for the holidays while Jacob (Nyles Julian Steele) visited his dad. When the FBI finally made its move to arrest Javier for threatening an agent posing as a man stalking Estelle, Letty pulled a gun on him and Lashever — landing her in cuffs as well (which was not a part of Estelle’s plan).

The show’s co-creator, Chad Hodge, who penned the episode, “Because I’m Mrs. Claus,” broke down the hour for Yahoo Entertainment and teased what’s next.

What was the inspiration for this episode?
Chad Hodge: During Season 1, like way back, I had this idea with the writers. I was like, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Rob takes everybody on a Christmas vacation, and then thinks it’s all inclusive and doesn’t have the money to pay for it, and so Letty has to help him steal money from the hotel in order to pay for the vacation?” I just thought it would be so funny to put Letty and Rob in their own storyline — so that’s where it started. Then it became this family vacation with Rob, Estelle, Letty, and Javier at a fancy hotel in the mountains of Tennessee, and, at the same time, Lashever is looking for them, so it’s got all this tension. And, also, Javier’s paranoid that someone’s trying to kill him, so there’s a lot going on in this episode.

Everybody is lying to each other for most of the episode, which made it challenging to write. Estelle is having Javier help her, because she says she has a stalker who’s at the hotel, and Javier says he’s going to take care of it, and then Letty and Rob are doing their thing, and Lashever’s looking for them [instead of just vacationing with Christian] — so it’s this big, fun episode.

My favorite part is when Rob has to dress up as an elf to get the room numbers from the kids in line waiting for Santa, so that Letty can go into those rooms when the parents aren’t there. We were just talking about Santa Claus and Christmas and stuff, and one of the writers, Chitra Sampath, told me how when she was little, the way she knew that Santa Claus wasn’t real is that she told Santa Claus one thing that she wanted for Christmas and then walked away, and her parents said, “What did you tell Santa you want for Christmas?” So she told her parents a different thing to test. I used that in the script, because I thought that was so funny.

Joey Kern as Rob, Dockery, Botto, and Lusia Strus as Estelle (Photo: TNT)

Rob’s toast to the family is so sweet.
Totally, yeah. Rob has the biggest heart, and he’s the biggest yes person. He’ll help you with anything, he’ll be there for you, he loves this weird family. Like you said, the toast he gives at dinner is so heartfelt, and he didn’t feel at home with his own family, but he feels a part of this family, and this isn’t spoiling too much, but, eventually, Rob finds out what Javier does for a living, and then he kind of is like, “Well yeah, but, I mean, maybe he’s like a good kind of hitman. Like maybe he only kills bad guys.” Like he will just see the good in everybody. It’s an episode about family, and how families help and hurt each other. There’s a twist at the end…

With Javier and Letty getting arrested.
That’s how it became a Good Behavior episode, because if it was just an episode about Letty helping Rob steal money from a hotel, it would be fun and cute, but it wouldn’t be enough of a thing. So we were really talking about, “What’s the thriller component to it? Where’s the tension?” I knew that I wanted them to get arrested, and to put them in the same world with Lashever, because the reality is a hitman, a thief, and her kid on the run from the FBI are not going to last long. I like to try and be realistic, to a degree, about what their lives would really be and what this story would really be. I mean, yes, it’s a TV show, but, also, we play things to make them very real world, and so they’re going to get caught. I didn’t want it like, “Oh, they’re so amazing, and so cool, and so superhero-y, that they’re never going to get caught.” So I said, “They should get caught pretty much halfway through.”

If you’re Lashever and you’re looking for Javier, the first thing you’re going to do is find out where Letty is, if you think they’re together. So she does, and she uses Estelle to basically set up a trap for Javier, which is what this entire vacation at the Christmas hotel turns out to be. Estelle betrays Letty and Javier in a major way, but she thinks she’s doing the right thing. And, by the way, if you asked probably anyone, “If you knew that your daughter was on the run with a hitman, would you try to catch them so that you could save your grandson?” they’d be like, “Yeah.” She thinks she’s doing the right thing, and she is doing the right thing, to a degree, but it gets Javier arrested, which was the goal. It wasn’t the goal to get Letty arrested. But then Letty gets herself arrested, too, so now Letty and Javier, at the end of Episode 3, are going to prison. They’re on their way.

What can you tease about episode 4?
So it’s Letty and Javier trapped in the back of Lashever’s Mercedes Sprinter, and Christian is along for the ride, and they have to figure out how to get away before they actually get to the destination and wind up in prison. There was the Tesla episode from the first season — I like writing episodes which are about one thing and keeping them very simple every now and then. The Christmas episode is a huge episode with multiple storylines and huge sets. We built all those hotel rooms and hotel suites, and all that stuff was like massive. [Episode 4] is two locations really: inside the back of the Sprinter and then at the Holiday Inn Express, where they get trapped for the night. Letty is very perceptive and in tune with other people. If she has one super power, that would be it, and she uses what she picks up about Lashever to try to get them out of a situation.

One thing I love about Good Behavior is that the sex scenes are always story-driven in addition to steamy. What did you want to say with the one in episode 3?
Letty and Javier had not said these words to each other, which are, “We knew the very worst things about each other from the very beginning and we’re still here, we’re still together. We keep trying to run away from each other, but then we keep coming back. What are we doing? Why are we together?” Finally saying those words — which are the words that everybody else is probably saying about them — brings them even closer together. “Why do we keep trying to change each other?” is what Javier says. “You keep telling me to stop killing, I keep telling you to stop stealing, but we’re still here, and we’re still both doing those same things.” It takes them to a semi-acceptance of the other, which, obviously, brings you closer together and makes you feel even more attracted to that person. Then it turns into this beautiful lovemaking scene, which was really different from any of the other ones we’ve done. Very much Letty in control of it. That episode was directed by Clare Kilner, and she did an amazing job. It’s all about the intimacy of that sex scene versus f**king. It’s more about bringing these two closer together as partners.