Jesus H., Good Wife. Way to freak me the fuck out. Now I knew, in the back of my mind, that nothing was going to happen to Grace during that tense final act where she was “missing” (in fact, she was getting baptized, which is a whole other conversation the show hasn’t had yet). But I have to admire that the show took me to that place, and it didn’t feel completely exploitative, because my little emotional journey was just like Alicia’s: There were a million rational explanations for why Grace might not have gotten home yet, but the scariest ones seemed to make the most sense for a second.
Still, the whole thing was a little jarring on a show that usually reserves its high-drama stuff for inside the courtroom (or the boardroom). Grace’s brief disappearance was foreshadowed: Alicia had a creepy, unseen dream about her getting in trouble to start the episode off, plus they had an involved conversation about how Alicia had been a little distracted as of late (i.e. distracted by Will’s sexy pants).
Plus, the whole episode was up to that point a fun little confection. You had Alicia and Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox, good as ever) waging a proxy war in a minor arbitration hearing between Martha and Caitlin. Eli was shuffling around the office, trying to find something to do. And Kalinda got in some majorly unimportant sex talk with Dana, in case you were missing that.
The proxy case was maybe a little too flimsy to be our A-plot, particularly because the joke dawned on everyone pretty quickly. Alicia and Canning were doing whatever they could to spar with each other, exploring every nook and cranny in the case until the actual reasons behind Pamela’s (Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter) firing just didn’t matter anymore. The return of Martha (Grace Rex), who lost the junior associate job to Caitlin a few weeks back, was a little ham-fisted. There’s no way she’d be that expositional and upfront if she was truly hurt by not getting the job, which she absolutely was. But her rivalry with (a completely unknowing) Caitlin was fun to watch, and the case itself was a pleasant diversion. I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, knowing all those references to the scary Neo-Nazi weren’t just in there for fun.
I probably could have done with more of the Eli plot, although it was necessarily shorter just because the whole concept was that he has nothing to do. His chat with Diane was cute; the one with Will was more to the point, as Will pressed for details on Peter’s investigation. Honestly, I had almost forgotten how integral Eli had been to Peter’s life. Have they mentioned that as a justification for him hiring Wendy Scott Carr? The whole firm is really an ethical minefield for Peter, since technically, he could be considered their client now that Eli’s shop is in-house.
The investigation itself plods on, waiting for a sweeps week to reveal something interesting. Wendy (who had nothing to do here) insists to Peter that she needs lots of money and time to really ream out Lockhart/Gardner. He turns her down, citing a tight budget, but really, her status as an independent investigator should also be questioned, since she’s looking into a firm that employs a woman who campaigned against her (Alicia) and Eli, who represented Peter in the same campaign. I’m glad they brought Wendy back, I’m just increasingly unsure this was the right sphere to put her in. On the other hand, investigator Andrew is also back, and he fits into the dynamic very nicely, taking his kids to Will’s basketball game and being his usual mix of affably flustered and single-mindedly good at his job.
My big problem with the episode is that Alicia needed to believe her child was in danger to break up with Will. Now, that’s not an entirely fair characterization, because their relationship had been slowing down for weeks now. But the inciting incident for the breakup was this whole mother-horror for Alicia that reminds her she needs to BE THERE FOR HER KIDS. In case we didn’t get the point, Canning makes it a few times himself, telling Alicia to join his firm because he’ll give her a more flexible, kid-friendly schedule (and that Diane and Will are childless monsters).
Of course, her kids are going to be a big part of Alicia’s decision-making when it comes to Will. We’ve seen that already, with the awkwardness around him meeting Zack. But the point could have been made less dramatically. It probably would have been less compelling television, but it probably also would have avoided a shot of Alicia picking up her sexy nightie and tossing it in the garbage as she frets over Grace missing.
Plus, there’s a bunch of good reasons the relationship should fizzle out. The workplace drama is just going to get more pronounced, the excitement of the relationship comes in how clandestine it is, and really, Will’s in trouble up to his neck right now. Weirdly, the breakup scene itself felt very adult and well-earned. Alicia had good reasons for calling it quits, Will understood, and no plates were thrown, no voices raised, no insults made. I just didn’t love everything that came before.
- Nice to see the arrival of John Michael Higgins as the arbitrator here. He’s such a familiar, welcome guest star, I actually thought he’d been on the show before.
- I was worried Canning would be a little too sympathetic this week, what with helping Alicia find Grace and all, but he got in a bit of scoundrel behavior at the end of it. It’s always good to see him on this show.
- I was similarly worried that Kalinda finding Grace would be a pat opportunity for Alicia and her to reconcile. Doesn’t seem like the writers are resorting to that somewhat lazy trick, though. Alicia’s frostiness to her earlier in the episode was epic as usual.
- Dana is the biggest oversharer. “Cary talks about you during sex.” “Really.” Kalinda obviously has the upper hand here.