Sometimes, all it takes to make for a fun Good Wife episode is a nice case of the week. Often, things get so busy on the serial plot front that the case of the week can feel like the laziest component, especially if it’s ripped from the headlines. But while this week’s case had that component (a guy who was killed after being repeatedly hit by a stun-gun at an Occupy-style protest), it was also a pretty gripping yarn. And this was a busy episode! Alicia, particularly beset with drama, notes that she’s tired by lunchtime, and she doesn’t have to deal with a frisky ex-husband.
Well, that’s not quite true, actually. Alicia and Peter are getting closer, giggling on the campaign bus together at the end of the episode. Since a reunion with Will would be both implausible and impractical, Alicia doesn’t have a lot of romantic options, and Peter has continued to prove himself as a man reborn. His scenes with lefty lady plutocrat Maddie (the delightful Maura Tierney, whom I’m always delighted to see on television), who is interested in him mostly because of Alicia, even helped turn me around. She asks why Alicia can trust that he won’t sleep with prostitutes again. “Because I just told you,” he says. After four seasons of no philandering, you believe him.
But that’s an undercurrent to an episode that’s largely still concentrated on the firm’s financial future. Will, back in litigation for the first time, decides to pursue the protestor case against the advice of trustee Clarke (Nathan Lane, still nicely inscrutable). He blows through a decent settlement offer only to find the jury’s sympathies turning against him, leading to a bunch of mysterious unsolicited questions from a specific juror (some new Illinois law that is news to me, but pretty fascinating if it’s true).
The whole thing unfolds like any Good Wife episode. Will thinks he has the case in the bag, it turns against him, but then with the help of Alicia and Kalinda, the firm figures out a way to turn it around. I don’t mean to make the show sound formulaic—it constantly messes with its patterns, but still, it needs something to mess with. But when done right, it’s a very good time even if the other plots never get off the ground, and I liked the twist of the cops mistakenly thinking the protestor was dangerous because he was wearing a red pin. Turns out they “tag” particularly anarchic kids beforehand and jump to brute force quicker on them.
Whether or not that’s a real phenomenon, it was a nice twist that didn’t seem too implausible and didn’t rely on particularly wacky law-breaking behavior by Kalinda. The mysterious question-answering juror turned out not to play into things, which was a bit of a dropped thread, and Alicia and Cary didn’t have much to do, but since the focus was on Will’s excitement at being back in litigation, it didn’t really matter.
Anyway, Kalinda had plenty of other ridiculous behavior to indulge in this week. The Good Wife’s writers seem to have introduced her nasty husband Nick just to see how much they can get away with on CBS. The whole thing certainly isn’t dramatically effective, and aside from how gross it can get, it’s not very gripping. If this were the '90s, Kalinda’s 50 Shades Of Grey antics would be all the talk of the water cooler, I’m sure. Imagine a character on L.A. Law or Ally McBeal fingering a lady and then dunking his fingers in her soft-serve, and her happily eating it up anyway. That shit would be in Time Magazine! But these days, it’s just noise, and it serves no useful purpose.
What’s the idea with Kalinda and Nick? She’s glad to be rid of him and has no sympathy for his time in jail or regrets about stealing his money, and yet, he has some strange sexual power over her. Even though Kalinda’s taken many a bedroom tumble since their separation (when was that, again?), I guess the first cut is the deepest. I’d care, but Kalinda isn’t a fascinating character like this. She’s at her best when she’s cracking skulls for Lockhart/Gardner, and it was honestly a little upsetting to see Will chew her out for being bad at her job here. She’s gotten in trouble before, but it was when Blake was messing with her. She’s never actually sucked at investigatin’ before and never seemed so flustered.
I hoped against hope (and logic) that Nick would be gone after this week since Alicia decides to dump him as a client when she finds out about his involvement with Kalinda. But, of course, he’ll be around at least a little while longer, screwing everything up and boring me with his dumb mirror-punching antics. This time it’s Clarke who puts his foot down, saying that the firm needs as many paying clients as it can find.
We shall see. After what I felt was a lackluster, busy premiere that was trying way too hard, episode two found The Good Wife back in its groove. It’s not like this is the first time Kalinda’s storyline has been dumb, so I’m willing to accept it as long as everything else (the campaign, the firm’s financial troubles) moves along at a nice clip. And Maura Tierney, guys. You can’t go wrong with Maura Tierney!
- Alicia manages to solicit money from Maddie without ever mentioning Peter’s candidacy, but fails at getting the firm a financial break. Classic example of Alicia being a little too passive as a character, with her celebrity carrying her through instead.
- Loved the return of Edward Herrmann as Lionel Deerfield, this time arguing against Will in court. The more of him, the better.
- Also enjoyed James Urbaniak making his first appearance as a judge, this one obsessed with anyone from Harvard. A little one-note, but he’s always a funny screen presence.
- What was up with that scene where Nick drank San Pellegrino aggressively? Christ.