Based on the production code information found on Wikipedia, this was originally going to be the second episode of The Good Guys. It feels like a second episode. I was surprised to see that Todd VanDerWerff gave this episode a “B” for the A.V. Club because after the opening bit at the courthouse, I was totally bored for the next 20-22 minutes until things finally got into gear in the final bit.
Though this episode didn’t struggle with the last few episode’s problem of having too many villains and spending too much time on them and a number of funny, heartfelt moments between Dan and Jack in the back of the semi, the set up of the plot was not particularly engaging. It all felt totally formulaic with the foreign baddie and the local baddie having issues and by throwing Jack’s DA love interest into things, it actually made the story less exciting. I know I’ve cried for the ladies to either A.) have more to do or B.) go away, and I think at this point, I’m certainly pushing for option B.
Like I mentioned above, “$3.52″ felt second episode-y. Jack and Dan have a slightly more combative relationship here than they have in recent efforts and their conversations about the differences between good guys and bad guys — good guys are teams of people with guns, while bad guys don’t know how to work together — is an obvious ‘THIS IS THE MISSION STATEMENT OF THE SERIES” conversation. I actually like that as a mission statement because the series is obviously committed to that, it was just sort of obvious that we were supposed to deduce that from the talk.
Another bad second episode attempt at creating a running gimmick: Jack at the diner talking to the wise black waitress. Yeah, I wonder why that didn’t take off?
But despite my issues with the first half of the episode, once the events caught up with the teaser, things picked up tremendously. The quick sequence of the three baddies making deals to turn on one another was the best use of the X hours earlier gimmick in a few episodes and the subsequent destruction after Dan and Jack broke out of the back of the semi was fun. What I do like about the series is that it is very obvious when it introduces something that it wants to pay off later — like Dan’s $3.52 here — but nearly every time, said payoff is funny and enjoyable.
I was also glad to have Julius back, but he certainly works better as a character when interacting with Dan or Jack, not the dude he was with in this one.
Anyway, I didn’t hate this episode by the time it finished, I just wish it would have but more together in the middle portion. I can why it was pushed back to the week before July 4th, because it is probably the weakest effort thus far. Oh well, I’m still watching next week.