Hooray, guys! I get to stop complaining about Romany Malco not showing up on The Good Wife! Aren’t you excited? Yes, Mr. Malco was back as the lovely legal aid lawyer Justin Coyne in a case that mushed together a death row case, a Bones-esque cold case that involved two seemingly unrelated murders, and a funny little unexpected love triangle between Cary, Dana, and Kalinda. Yes, this was the week that asked the question, “Which ethnic woman does Cary like more?”
I don’t mean to be glib, but the show’s been having a bit of fun about Cary’s history with women of color on this show and took that into high gear with a speedy, and somewhat slapdash, romantic B-plot here that came off as a little too overwrought. The show has been hinting for weeks at a romance between Cary and Dana, and of course, Cary and Kalinda have been making bedroom eyes at each other since he was a little Lockhart/Gardner nipper in the first season. So showrunners and creators Robert & Michelle King (who wrote this episode) decided to crash those two romances together by developing a frisson of romance between Kalinda and Dana.
It frankly didn’t quite work. Of course, we know Kalinda’s a bit of a predator, and Cary knows that even better than us. Their flirty back-and-forth over the murder case and the investigation of Will Gardner was the reason for Cary’s suspicion, which Dana answers by telling him to take it easy, and Kalinda answered by making out with him (although, in her defense, they had just been shot at and were a little shaken up). But it all felt a little too much, too soon for Cary to really be suspicious, and when he warned Kalinda to stay away from Dana (“Don’t, okay? Just don’t”), he came off jerky, not hurt. I mean, we’ve just barely been introduced to Dana, so for him to be so possessive is a little much.
Oh well. What I did like about the storyline is how it explored the tough balance Kalinda strikes between being flirty for business and being flirty because she wants to be. I think she meant it when she told Cary she didn’t know what she was doing by kissing him, but of course he’s going to be suspicious of that. At the same time, Kalinda is pretending to help Dana on the investigation into Will, but she goes right to Will offering her help, a thawing in their relationship that he’s genuinely touched by. “I feel like hugging you.” “No, just ask for my help,” Kalinda replies. She’s still wily as ever, but she’s also definitely trying to be more open with people in the wake of the Alicia drama.
That’s enough about people sitting in trees and K-I-S-S-I-N-G. The crux of this episode was that a scary death row prisoner by the last name of Packer knew something about a different murder case Lockhart/Gardner were working on. We opened on camera footage of the prisoner bad-mouthing the system, and I thought we might be in for one of The Good Wife’s very timely pieces, leaping off from the controversial Troy Davis execution in September.
But that wasn’t really it; although everyone on the show kept looking for reasons that Packer might be innocent or at least looking for a reason behind his evil crime (the rape and torture of two young girls), we’re left with the impression that he was both guilty and truly evil. Hell, even his priest (played by Hector Salamanca himself, the fantastic Mark Margolis) thought there wasn’t any good in the dude. So instead, Alicia ponders whether such a man deserves execution, as Justin believes he doesn’t (he opposes the death penalty in all forms). That didn’t really get explored much past a quick conversation between the two, which was a little disappointing, but it’s admittedly decently-worn ground in TV and film.
In true Good Wife fashion, we got a lot more of a skewed look at the death row appeals process and the embellishments people have to make in court to prevent a man’s execution. Father Salamanca (I didn’t catch his real name) says Packer has reformed and found God, which he hasn’t. Packer’s poor mother, who by all accounts treated him very nicely, is trotted out in front of the court as Diane spins a yarn of poverty and neglect that the mother just has to nod through (in the episode’s most powerful scene). One judge’s religious conversion is leaned on by the firm to get Packer’s appeal heard. All of this is not really to prevent Packer’s execution, just to keep him alive long enough so that Alicia can extract some info out of him about her case.
Nice and cynical, just like we like it. But the final moment of the plot was a bit much, as Alicia brought Packer’s mother and brother to see him in the minutes before his execution, and he told them all to burn in hell and laughed at them. Some version of that moment was probably necessary (a gooey reunion was not really on the cards), but the Kings laid it on very thick indeed.
Meanwhile, our Eli subplot of the week was back in full force after getting excluded last week for time. We had the return of Michael Kelly as Mickey Gunn, exploring a run for a Republican-turned-Democrat who has an embarrassing picture or two floating around on the internet of him fellating statues. This felt like a rehash of other Anthony Weiner-inspired plots the show has already done this year, but it was worth it for the scintillating chemistry between Zack and Eli’s daughter Marissa (a sub-sub-plot, that one) and for Mickey saying, “It ain't the real Santa, it's a statue! And there is no real Santa, so he wouldn't have a penis!” That’s where I think I’ll end this review, since I’m certainly not going to top that.
- Chris Matthews is our latest figure from the world of politics to show up. Those cameos are getting a little annoying.
- Alicia and Will have a quick discussion over whether they should take a pause and end up agreeing that they wouldn’t be able to. Sounds about right.
- Even more shockingly, Grandma Jackie rifles through Alicia’s underwear looking for… something this week. Bad Jackie! Luckily, she’s foiled by being unable to turn on a laptop.
- Kalinda’s best flirty moment tonight: when Dana checked the label of her leather jacket. Hot.