"Two Courts" S2 / E11
- B+ Community Grade
"So much complaining!" is one of the notes I wrote for this episode; everyone's all bitch, bitch, bitch! Eli is mad that Peter brought in some douchey Republican pollster his mom likes to the campaign. Kalinda is mad (quite rightly) because Blake is an evil douchebag, who says he's her new superior and basically asks her to bend over for him. Also she wants more money. Diane and Will are very mad at each other because they think they're both traitors. Cary is still mad that Alicia didn't get fired and he did. And Alicia's mad (again, this one's quite right) that Blake investigated her at the behest of Bond. Half the scenes in "Two Courts" were people complaining about each other. It got pretty boring.
But some good rose out of it. Finally, the ambiguity about Bond and the merger has been put to rest, with Diane and Will back together, where they belong: against Bond, who apparently has been playing them off each other from the start in a play to control the company. He dangles the temptation of a SuperPAC, a $100 million political client, in front of Will to get him to push Diane off the board; meanwhile, she's been led to believe Will's working against her. The intrigue of the season's first half has been fun at times. I like Michael Ealy's poker-faced performance, and after making the firm financially solvent, I recognize that they had to do something. But I'm glad the innuendo isn't being dragged out any longer. Everyone on this show has great chemistry with each other, even pairs like Alicia and Eli or Diane and Cary or Will and Kalinda that we don't see as often. But Baranski and Charles together have always been a reason to watch the show for me.
The biggest flaw with this episode was the central case and Will's feuding with a young judge (played by David Oyelowo, a Brit actor of some note) leading the judge to make biased decisions against him. The case itself was unfocused, perhaps purposefully, as there was too much other stuff going on in this episode for the audience to really get into a big murder trial storyline. Instead, we're looking at the periphery: the biased judge and a wacky "jury whisperer" played by Norbert Leo Butz, who's some sort of OCD genius who can read the emotional "microbursts" of a jury. At the end of the episode, Alicia brought up a witness' Scientology beliefs as a way to pin the murder on him, a development way out of left-field that just made the whole thing feel more ridiculous.
Regarding the judge, I just didn't buy that he'd care so much about Will fouling him on the court and then getting in his face. Why does he give a shit? Sure, maybe he's a petty man, but outside of the bias plot, he didn't really have a character at all, which is less than we usually get from The Good Wife's colorful coterie of judges. Butz's character was a big waste of the actor's talents, in a savant-y role also devoid of character outside of being a little creepy. The final point, and the beat the show ended on, rather jarringly (but successfully), was that juries are basically unreadable, even if they think the judge is biased or the prosecution is playing hardball or what have you. "He did it. Hope that helps," the jury foreman tells a baffled Alicia in the closing scene after they lose the case. I'm not sure I buy the point. We're talking about a murder trial, and as fickle and ridiculous as juries can be (having served on one recently myself, I know what I'm talking about), I didn't really see them taking 20 minutes to render a verdict in a case that's hardly open-and-shut.
But realism aside, the point was well-made, dramatically, and it backed up Kalinda's assertion that Butz was just a magician who picked easy cases to build up his reputation. It's also good for the show to let Cary win once in a while, if only because it'd be easier to believe in his holier-than-thou act if he really was putting murderers away at the State's Attorney's office. I remember one of Ally McBeal's biggest flaws (and that was a show with a lot of flaws!) was that Renee, Ally's prosecutor friend/roommate, was so damn good most of the time, usually blowing the defense away in her summations, but she lost basically every time. The Good Wife is definitely better than that, but it's still important if we want to believe in Cary.
With Diane's pitch to Cary near the start of the episode, I imagined a scenario where she did break off and start her own firm, bringing aboard Cary, Alicia and Kalinda, all of whom had good reasons to join, and leaving Will in the cold with Bond. By the end of the season, he'd be petitioning them, hat in hand, and they'd have a smaller, learner practice. That sounds fine, but it also sounds pretty formulaic. It's weird to argue that restoring the status quo on a TV show is the best way to go in terms of avoiding formula, but one of The Good Wife's strengths is that it's a show that sometimes allows its characters to be ethically compromised. If they formed some smaller, do-gooder firm, that wouldn't happen. Watching Will and Diane wage boardroom warfare against Bond is a much better idea, and I can't wait to watch it unfold.
- I missed Eli and the campaign, but there's not much to say about this week's rather silly plot. I don't think Eli would be impolitic enough to kick a fundraiser out on his ass like that (he's more of an operator), so his big triumph rang a little hollow for me.
- "So what do we do?" asks Diane. "I wanna make things different so you won't leave," says Will. "You'll stop seeing other women?"
- The Butz character really was silly. "People are like dogs; the way to read them is like dogs."
- Blake continues to look two sizes too small for his fuck-you attitude in his scenes with Kalinda. Panjabi doesn't even have to try to act Scott Porter off the screen.
- Kalinda's best moment in the episode was learning she would become a member of the country club. They need to do a scene with her there.