“Runnin’ With The Devil” S4 / E16
- B+ Community Grade
Did The Good Wife just resolve one of its longest-running subplots with little more than exchanged glance in an office hallway? If so, bravo, and bravo all around on an excellent episode, one of the seediest explorations of the pitfalls of representing Lemond Bishop that the show’s ever done. Things were much tauter this week than usual since we didn’t have any slow-moving Peter/Eli campaign stuff and the firm’s financial state is much more settled, allowing everyone to get back into traditional alliance-building mode.
We begin with art being unpacked, beautiful food being arranged, Alicia being welcomed in as the firm’s new partner and attending her first meeting. (She lingers in the back, bites her lip, and silently disapproves of David Lee’s typical brusque manner.) With bankruptcy over, Nathan Lane (sadly) gone from our lives, and the economy in recovery, Will and David are already hungry to expand, wanting to reclaim the two floors they lost and project the image of a firm expanding, not one conservatively guarding its recently-regained assets. Diane understandably feels nervous about spreading things too thin, and it means we get some lovely Diane and Will time for them to figure it all out.
I was a little amused by Will offering Diane a drink and saying they never had time to celebrate—all these two ever do is crack open fine liquor and toast each other’s success. But whatever. I suppose things have moved along quickly from the brink of financial ruin, and it gives Diane a chance to articulate her feeling that Will (serving his suspension for much of the bankruptcy) never really felt the fear of losing everything in the same way she did. Whatever everyone’s motivations, it is a fine, fine interaction topped by Will singing the Growing Pains theme song to really give voice to how Diane’s feeling. It is absolutely one of the most delightful moments this show’s ever had (and Diane and Will’s relationship is generally delightful).
So the firm will expand, because this show is always messing with its status quo. I hope it doesn’t mean the end of Alicia and Cary sharing an office, but I figure it will, since she’s becoming such a bigshot, and he’s quietly nursing fantasies of rebellion and forming his own firm. Kalinda finds out about it through her investigation of a nervous client and immediately tells him to shut it down, sticking her neck out to protect him when Will and Diane demand the names of any mutineers.
Kalinda was such an obvious bad liar in that scene, which makes no sense—she’s an excellent liar. But I suppose it underlines that she’s a little emotionally off-kilter when it comes to Cary, even though nothing has ever definitively happened in their relationship. A few kisses, some longing looks, a lot of missed connections, but nothing definitive. And even here, I can’t definitively say anything’s happened. But… come on. They had sex, right? That’s what that glance in the hallway was, right? Cary professes his desire for Kalinda once again in a bar, she shuts him down, but we cut before anything’s really resolved, and the next day, she’s sexily brushing him off.
If it’s more teasing, well, fine, TV shows do that all the time, and I can deal with it. But I hope they’re just secretly exploring things now, because they are one of the best will-they-won’t-they couples to watch. They don’t dominate storylines and suck up time with their drama, and neither does their failure to couple really feel like it’s rooted in the show’s writers stalling for time. Cary and Kalinda forever, is what I’m saying.
There’s also a plot about the hiring of a new investigator, Robin (Jess Weixler of Teeth and other notable indies) that feels a little out of place in an already busy episode—Will and Diane clash a little over whom to hire, even though she’s the obvious pick, and Kalinda continues to be treated poorly for no particular reason. Why can’t she be the superior investigator? Why is there a power struggle there? She does so much work for the darn firm! She’s even keeping Cary in check now!
The main plot ate up more time than the usual case of the week, but it was justifiable—we finally returned to Lemond Bishop’s arrest in a rare example of the show actually adhering to a legally plausible timeline (often cases that would drag on for a while get crammed into a single episode, like most legal dramas). Alicia and Cary are trying to toss out Lemond’s case legitimately, but he quickly insists on them using his own consultant lawyer, Charles Lester, who turns out to be some sort of enforcer who convinces every single witness to change their testimony through some kind of secret magic.
In a stroke of genius, Lester is played by Wallace Shawn at his most nebbishy and unassuming, asking seemingly meaningless questions of witnesses and somehow terrifying them into changing their statements in court, leaving federal prosecutor Liz (Audra Macdonald, introduced as an old rival of Alicia’s from law school) grasping at straws. Lester at one point seems to go too far, having Liz followed with someone subtly threatening her child, but the whole time, he professes innocence and shows no sign of any wrongdoing.
It’s intriguing stuff, creepy without laying anything on too thick. It’s also extremely disappointing for Alicia, who wants to win the case on the merits (she really believes Lemond didn’t do what he’s accused of, even though she knows he’s a bad man) and mop the floor with Liz. No such luck. Her final efforts to do so would jeopardize Lemond’s illegitimate business, and so he resorts to threatening his own sister, winning the dismissal for Alicia, even though she’s hamstrung the whole time.
This show is always cynical about Bishop and the ethical conflict Alicia faces with him, but this has to be the dirtiest the show has ever gotten about it, and I have to applaud the approach. At no point did it get over the top and while Shawn’s casting was a little gimmicky, it played perfectly. Again, I say: bravo.
- “It’s time we look like a real law firm again, and not like a Burmese tent city.” David Lee, master of tact.
- Kalinda doesn’t even have a desk. GET HER A DESK!
- Lester denies being anything scary. “I’m a small-time lawyer with a small-time practice. Like Abraham Lincoln.”