The Good Wife did very well with its more concept-y episodes in the first season (like the episode set from a jury's perspective), so ever since Cary made the jump to the State's Attorney office I've been waiting for an episode done from his perspective, and "Silly Season" was it… sort of. I guess it was too much to hope for an episode solely from Cary's point of view; this is The Good Wife, and it couldn't help throwing in a half-dozen other plots, including some nice developments on the political front (which had been quiet for a while), to move things along. But I'm very appreciative of Matt Czuchry's performance, and he acquitted himself well in the spotlight tonight.
Cary's case against a prison inmate (played by Dion Graham, another Wire alum—he was Baltimore DA Rupert Bond) who murdered inmate another two weeks before he was set for release unfolded very well, revealing connections to drug lord Lemond Bishop and Lockhart/Gardner's courtship of him. But outside of that, we got a good perspective on what it feels like in Cary's new shoes against Alicia, who is constantly conferring with Kalinda and finding new ways to weasel her clients out of danger. "Whenever I see that bitch, I know we're in trouble," Cary's associate Geneva sighs. Peter ropes in a former Innocence Project colleague who is now a full-time dad to do some counter-investigation with amusing results, as Andrew (played by Tim Guinee, one of those actors who's been in every TV show ever) cracks skulls while giving orders on parenting over the phone. "Pretend the baby carrots are a train."
What I was most looking for here, though, was a look into Cary's new-found self-righteousness and how much of it was an act. And I'm happy at how good a balance the episode struck. Childs (who's been missing so long, Titus Welliver grew a nice head of hair) doesn't come off as a slimy amoral monster, nor a saint (certainly I didn't expect the latter), and even though there's a hell of a lot of wheeling-and-dealing going on in the SA's office, there's reason to understand why Cary isn't quite as ethically troubled as he would be at Lockhart/Gardner. But it's not that clean a picture. While he gets the conviction against Church by putting Bishop on the stand and daring Alicia to call his character into disrepute (we can assume she doesn't, on orders from up high), his underboss at the office is mad, because they wanted to flip Church to get to Bishop. But Childs isn't mad, saying he wants to make Cary an offer (what it is, we don't know). Does Childs admire Cary's tenacity? Probably. But is he also using him as a weapon against Lockhart/Gardner and Kalinda? Definitely.
How mad we can be at Childs for behaving this way is another grey area. In the first season, he was definitely the closest thing the show had to a villain, seething robotically at Alicia and pursuing every road possible to have Peter put away for good. But really, he's not much worse than everyone else. The Good Wife is a show about operatives, both in the political scene (guys like Peter and Eli) and in the Lockhart/Gardner world, both in the boardroom level and among the junior associates. Alicia—and everyone else—are trying to strike the moral balance so they can go to bed at night. It's obviously about winning cases, but it's also about everyone trying to preserve a sliver of their soul. "Do you ever feel like we're on the wrong side?" she asks Kalinda. "All the time," Kalinda replies, as they look in on Derrick and Blake talking to Bishop, who they are undoubtedly connected to.
The campaign storyline feeds into all of this too (I liked Alicia's silent hunt for the sky-blue paper the Wendy mailing was on in Peter's offices) but fell down a little bit in terms of Eli's confrontation with Becca. It's not that Cumming didn't knock it out of the park as usual (Dreema Walker, as Becca, does a fine job too), but the Becca character has become so ridiculously conniving it's hard to take her seriously. So now she's willing to pin an abortion she had from sleeping with her tutor on Zach, just so he'll call her back? Huh? I won't deny I enjoyed watching Eli shut her down, but I really hope that is the last time we see Becca, because it makes no sense for him and Zach to still be dealing with her at this point.
Eli's scenes with Alicia were much stronger, though, with Julianna Margulies given one of those rare opportunities to let the mask slip when she's told Zach didn't get Becca pregnant. The earlier scenes, like her conversation with Wendy about the mailers (where Alicia conveys everything through death-ray glances) and her brusque questioning of Eli, were typical of the character, and Margulies played them as well as always, but her choking up later on made perfect sense for the character as well. It felt like she was appropriately shocked at the messes she's having to clean up now.
So, Peter's campaign wasn't behind the nasty mailers, but the PAC backing them was. Eli cuts them loose, leaving the campaign bankrupt. There are two ways the election can go from here: Either Peter pulls off some dramatic underdog victory, which isn't impossible, or he bows out or straight-up loses, which feels more like what the show is going for. Peter as State's Attorney would certainly provide some interesting story material as he went up against Lockhart/Gardner. But it doesn't feel like the right direction for the show to go in, long-term. Peter makes an overture to Alicia about sleeping in the same room with her (and Alicia apparently assents by the end of the episode), which means he's concentrating less on the campaign (his focus was more laser-like in the last half of season one/first half of season two) and more on repairing the marriage. There's lots of cool stuff they can do with him after the election, even if he loses. We shall see what they opt for.
- Blake's glacial investigation of Kalinda leads to him at least telling us what we already know: He thinks she changed her name from Leela. More interesting is that Childs seems to have the same info and is also coming at her, to Cary's discomfort.
- Blake did get his best moment so far, though, whistling "O Canada" as Kalinda leaves the room.
- The judge this week was played by Jane Alexander. She didn't get a ton to do, so here's hoping she returns in the future, because I liked her in-chambers scene with Alicia and Cary.
- Alicia tells Peter she discussed sex with Zach, "While you were… away." Awkward!
- "How is it that I can manage aldermen and judges, but I still seem to have this ridiculous mean girl thorn in my shoe?"
- Liked Andrew taking down the speeding car by calling in a favor to get a wheel lock on him.