The Good Wife began somewhat unusually this week, with a procedural-type opening where we see a crime’s commission and know that our client of the week, sad-sack Travis, is innocent of shooting a convenience store clerk in a robbery (although we don’t see the actual perp’s face). I don’t have an encyclopedic enough memory to actually tell you how rare this is for the show, but it sure felt rare. But Travis’ case ended up playing out as one of several story threads, at times feeling like it was being lost in the shuffle. That’s why knowing he was innocent was essential, because every time the case felt like it was about to be dumped, you felt a pang.
Travis is barely glimpsed after the first two scenes, where he witnesses the robbery and gets arrested at the police station. There’s a brief moment with his wife and kid in the courtroom, but mostly, we watch Alicia and Cary jockey over a plea bargain, or Kalinda try and figure out an angle to pin the crime on anybody else. That in itself isn’t that unusual for this show. But Diane has looked at the firm’s budget and decided that they need to shed their pro bono work for Legal Aid, so she tells Alicia to plead out the case as fast as possible.
I briefly thought the episode would take a truly cynical tone, even for The Good Wife, and focus only on Alicia trying to negotiate a reasonable murder plea for her guy because Cary has an eyewitness who says he did it. That didn’t happen, and instead, we got a more abbreviated version of the usual case of the week stuff, with Kalinda eventually figuring out that the eyewitness was actually the murderer, interrupted in his crime by a cop. In the end, the plot was not too remarkable, but it was interesting in its unconventional presentation for the show.
Almost everything else this week was office politics, with Alicia’s family not in view and Peter only making a brief appearance (mostly to be teased by Celeste, who dropped hints at Will’s affair with Alicia). Eli opens the hour asking for Alicia and Kalinda to work for him full-time (which seems an unlikely prospect) and realizes that he has to navigate all the major players in Lockhart/Gardner to get what he wants.
Diane can be reached through David Lee (whom we still haven’t seen this season!), according to Kalinda; as we see this week, she’s wrestling with the sad state of Legal Aid (the lovely Romany Malco making the first of what will be several appearances, it seems) and her outward image as the budget lady. Will, trying to recruit Celeste at Diane’s request, is sickened by the reminder of his old, more free-wheeling life. Apparently, he rolled deep with Lutz from 30 Rock, which is enough to give anyone pause. The best way to Will, Kalinda notes, is through Alicia (of course).
Celeste returns this week and is basically being irritating once again. As I said last week, I don’t really have a problem with Edelstein’s performance, but her character is so incredibly obnoxious that it’s hard to imagine what Will ever saw in her. She certainly doesn’t seem to present a threat now, either to Will and Alicia’s relationship or to his career prospects (her offer to make him baseball commissioner was tantalizing but ultimately an exaggeration). In a weird repeat of last week’s episode, Will once again walks away from a game of poker with her with a look of disgust on his face and her chasing after him, saying that lawyering with her is all he wants to do.
It all doesn’t make much sense, and in scenes like the one where Celeste makes Will talk to Peter, she reminded me more of a jealous high school student trying to get her old boyfriend back than anything else. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the fact that when Will glimpses her, he reflexively says “love you” to Alicia on the phone; does that reflect negatively or positively on Celeste? Either way, Alicia isn’t interesting in solidifying whatever she has with Will right now, cutting him off just as he tries to commit to her. This is hardly a surprise, considering Alicia has enough commitment in her life (kids, job, estranged husband), and Will is her escape from that.
It all comes together quite nicely. Diane decides to bring in Legal Aid, who have lost their office space. Will is fine with it, looking for a little personal development himself. Eli appears to be gunning for something more than just having Kalinda and Alicia on staff, but what that is isn’t clear yet. Alicia, for all her troubles, is doing the best out of everyone here – she knows what she wants, she’s getting it, and she’s not having any crises of confidence. She’s on her A-game throughout the episode, with her poor man’s deposition working wonders in her case and her interactions with Will purposefully drama-free. Nice to see our main character doing so well, although something tells me that could be changing quickly.
- New character Imani (Nicole Beharie) is an AUSA looking to stamp out racially-tinged plea bargains at Florrick’s office. She and Cary already have some decent chemistry going on; she may be here to replace the blonde investigator lady played by Kelli Giddish who’s on SVU now.
- Harvey Firestein has a good time as Judge “Tie-Die.” Lotta good guest stars this week.
- Celeste is a bit of a nut. “My first threesome was with Will.” Peter, with a Mr. Big response: “Well, you have to start somewhere.”
- With Will’s potential future as baseball commissioner, think of all the spinoffs Good Wife could eventually lead to. Alicia running for office; Diane as a judge; Kalinda breakin’ legs as an investigator, with Cary as her sidekick; and, of course, Eli yelling at people.