I guess we’re not quite done with the transitioning, as The Good Wife gave us another table-setter with lots of hints at the rest of the season’s direction in “After The Fall.” Everyone was giving each other serious looks and watching through the windowed office walls and sighing and considering things and, well, you get the point. To balance that out, we had the introduction of not one, but two bratty Will Gardner sisters (played by Merritt Wever of Nurse Jackie and Nadia Dajani of Delocated among other things) but overall, this one wasn’t too essential in the grand scheme of things.
The case of the week wasn’t the most arresting, for starters: A documentary filmmaker played by Christian Camargo (most recognizable from his memorable turn on Dexter) sees his film accused of inciting and glamorizing the suicide of someone who’s a subject of the movie. As a narrative hook, that’s not bad, but the proceedings were a little dour, and Camargo’s muted performance didn’t really help. The best thing about it was the pitting of Nancy Crozier (Mamie Gummer, making her fourth appearance) against Caitlin, a younger, even more heartfelt lady, in a battle for the affections of Judge Serena (Josh Hamilton, whom I will always love because of Kicking And Screaming), who has an eye for this sort of thing.
Caitlin’s first time doing cross-examination so impressed Diane that she’s now a full-time litigator, a jump she’s made surprisingly quickly (facilitated by Will’s suspension, which has put an extra burden on the firm). The show was very portentous about this promotion, with Alicia watching Caitlin enter her office as the final, suspenseful image of the episode. Earlier, Diane’s suggestion that the two share an assistant for a few weeks (so Alicia can help mentor her) sent a juddering shock across Alicia’s face. Objectively, I don’t know how much she really has to worry about, but the show clearly thinks she needs to watch her back, and I guess there are a few red flags.
For one, there’s the matter of David Lee, who took his niece Caitlin aside this episode to discuss whatever power play he’s planning in Will’s absence. Then there’s the matter of Caitlin’s crush on Will, which was hinted at earlier and earned the barest of nods here (Will for a minute thought she had been fired, and seemed surprised). That crush isn’t too much of a thing, but it definitely underlines the way Caitlin could usurp Alicia’s role at the firm. I guess. The whole thing seems a little thin to me.
Much of the episode was taken up with office politics in the wake of Will’s departure, with Julius, David, and Eli all throwing their hats in the ring to replace him on the letterhead and Diane hoping to wait them all out until Will’s back in the office. Julius actually made a decent point—who’s to say Will’s clients would still be interested in him after his suspension? David assured Diane he doesn’t want the job and just wants to keep Julius from getting it, which is plausible, but still suspect. Eli is mostly bored and worried that he may not have a gubernatorial run awaiting him next year.
I like the inter-office politics, which are all the livelier because David and Julius are well-rounded characters played by two terrific actors. The idea of them becoming more important parts of the show is not altogether ludicrous, so the threat to Will’s status actually makes sense, because it’s less sensational than, say, Derrick Bond last year. Plus, anything that gives Diane a lot of scree-ntime is good by me, especially since she’s very good at looking sick of it all. But I just don’t want everything getting too theatrical, and all these death-ray glances by everyone hovering outside everyone’s offices got a little silly by the end of the episode.
Eli’s own political machinations were more interesting, and brought us our first real glimpse of what’s going on with Peter in a while, as he wrestled between doing what’s ethical and what’s politically practical, and ultimately caves and does the second thing, mostly because Donna Brazile looked at him all serious-like. In an effort to get the keynote address at the 2012 convention, Peter hires some Democrat hack so that he’ll be well-spoken of in political circles. This shunts aside the very capable Geneva Pine and also hits Cary pretty hard—perhaps he’s been spoiled when it comes to integrity since Peter’s been so saintly for the last few months. One of my favorite moments of the episode came when Kalinda teased him about being in a bad mood, and he flashed a Cary grin and admitted he was. Usually, Cary thinks someone else is to blame, but he realizes this time he can’t really be mad at Lockhart/Gardner.
But, a few things about the Peter storyline in terms of plausibility. I don’t believe that the Obama campaign would give a Chicago state’s attorney the keynote spot less than four years after he admitted to having sex with a prostitute (even though he didn’t pay her), especially not when he admits he’s still separated from his wife. I also thought it was a little simple to have the whole political scene dissing Peter until he makes one token hire and suddenly everything’s turned around. Plus, I don’t know why that party hack would want an actual job in the State’s Attorney’s Office, since it’s not like it pays big money unlike the think tank he referenced. It does come with a little power, so that was the most plausible thing, but it was still kind of a stretch.
The only reason I’m complaining is that this show is so often on the money with its political material, even if it has to fit those storylines into 40-minute episodes. Nonetheless, I appreciated the main thrust of Peter’s dilemma, and appreciated his decision—it wasn’t great, but on its own, it’s not like he’s corrupt again. Just a slippery slope.
Finally, Will’s sisters. I was thrilled to see Wever (a terrific comic actress, and a terrific actress in general) show up on his doorstep, but things quickly got cartoonish—one of the sisters is a free-spirited Buddhist; the other is snippy and married. And they’re both nosy. And Will can’t stand it and they talk loud and drown him out! The whole thing felt sitcommy and stale, especially from a show that really values its cast of recurring characters. I’d be happy to have them back (especially Wever), but hopefully, they’ll get more to do aside from natter on at him about getting another job as if they don’t realize he’s a ridiculously rich attorney.
So, let’s keep waiting on what’s next, I suppose. I’m sure things will kick off in the next episode or two. Someone has to move into that office of Will’s. And there appears to be some sort of Kalinda story on the horizon.
- Will’s apartment is pretty phenomenal. I don’t believe we’ve ever seen it before.
- Nancy was a big fan of Hugo.
- Diane doesn’t think David would like being a named partner. “You hate people.” “I don’t hate people, I hate… some people.”
- Will’s sisters think he’s dating Kalinda. Honestly, though it’s not gonna happen, I’d be fine with that. They’re very suited to each other.