Another football-induced late start on the East Coast for this week's The Good Wife,
but it was worth the wait. With nary a hint of Nick in sight, we got the Kalinda we love, the Cary we've missed, the Diane who wins and the Eli who spins. Even wacky Jackie Florrick's back -- out of the hospital and on the road for Peter.
Meanwhile, it's a mixed few days for Alicia. Things are looking up financially for Lockhart & Gardner, but despite everyone's best efforts, Peter's campaign worker scandal won't die down -- yet.
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Here's the brief on this week's episode, "Don't Haze Me, Bro":
An angry Diane is a winning Diane. The case of the week finds Diane and Alicia pushing to prove that a Chicago university owes damages for the hazing death of a young water polo player, Trey. Though the actual killer is already serving time, the family believes the college knew about and even encouraged the hazing. The slippery defense attorney (John Glover, aka Lionel Luthor) keeps the Lockhart & Gardner team on their toes by continually changing the terms of the argument. It wasn't just hazing -- it was a sexual orientation hate crime! (The killer thought Trey was gay.) No, wait: it was a racial hate crime! (The killer and Trey pledged to rival fraternities, and Trey accused the other young man of "not being black enough.")
Ironically, it's this last idea that traps the defense. If indeed racial animosity between frat brothers was a possibility, then the university should have known trouble might be brewing. Payout to the parents: $6 million, with a sizable payday for L&G. But they wouldn't have gotten there if Diane hadn't gotten up ahead of anger -- by the defense's lies, by the firm's financial situation, by just about everything. Her energy drives them in for the win.
Eli is good as gold. We got a few hints of the old Eli in last week's episode, but this week the writers double down. Eli is fighting the (mostly) righteous fight to get Peter elected, and as always, it's fun to watch. This includes proving young campaign worker Indira Starr lied about her affair with the candidate, keeping Jackie in line during public appearances and quashing reporter Mandy's story about the fake affair. He even gets Alicia on board -- so you know he's on a roll. Unfortunately, just as Peter seems poised to win the Illinois governor's straw poll, Eli receives a call from a political blogger. He says he's about to go live with the news that a national magazine is sitting on the affair story. Despite Eli's denials, the blogger warns him that all goes public in an hour.
Cary speaks! As an offshoot of L&G's bankruptcy, trustee Clarke Hayden plays musical chairs with everyone's offices. (Software mogul and political powerhouse Mattie Hayward has taken over the 27th floor, leaving associates stacked like cordwood around the place.) Though Diane flatly refuses to share her space with Will, Alicia isn't so lucky: her new office mate is none other than Cary Agos. Alicia welcomes him, but it's clear the close quarters may lead to conflict as both try to handle their work loads, client interviews and, in Alicia's case, political responsibilities. Something's got to give, but it's great to see Cary back in action. He even gives Alicia and Diane the winning strategy for their liability lawsuit. Let's hope this is the beginning of a new trend.
Let Kalinda be Kalinda. Another new trend I can get behind? Kalinda at work. As in being a private investigator, not a player in a skeevy game of cat-and-mouse. (Really, I may never be able to eat soft-serve ice cream again.) This week, as if in answer to fans' prayers, we neither see nor hear of Kalinda's ex, Nick. Instead, it's like old times, with Kalinda quizzing hotel clerks and interrogating the (apparently) duplicitous intern. For those of us wondering if we'd ever see the Kalinda we love again, this is our chance.
Hey, maybe the whole Nick debacle is just a dream. I, for one, could stand to see Kalinda step out of the shower, scratching her head at the vividness of her nightmares. (But why do I fear this is just a lovely interlude and that Nick will be back?)
The Usual Suspects
Much of the first few weeks of The Good Wife season 4 focused on guest stars, often at the expense of screen time for favorites like Cary and Jackie. (And don't get me started again on the wasted time spent on Kalinda and Nick.)
Although I'm a big admirer of the show's casting director, I miss seeing the regulars. Now, we have Cary in Alicia's office, which forces him back into the action. We've got Jackie on the campaign trial post-stroke, which makes for some squirm-inducing moments as she defends Peter's reputation as a lady-magnet. And, as noted above, it's a pleasure to watch Eli play the political game. And now that the blogger's backing him into a corner, expect the sparks to fly. (We still don't know who's behind the lies, after all.)
Fortunately, we do get a couple of choice scenes with Maura Tierney, one of the best recurring guests ever, as Mattie. Drinks with Alicia? Funny but still awkward.
Best of all, Diane gets to make one of her choice rants, which I''ve missed lately, too. After winning the giant settlement, she returns to her office (still just hers) and says to Will, "I like the law. And we're going to get our firm back. Then we're going after Louis Canning's firm. Then we're going to open a branch in New York. And DC."
Will says he understands what she's feeling, that when you have nothing left to lose it feels pretty good to play to win. "Welcome to the lifeboat," he says. Something tells me they'll be bartering with Mattie for the 27th floor again someday soon.
Maybe I'm easy to please, but how great was it to have a Nick-free episode? It can't last -- to its credit, The Good Wife almost never leaves simmering storylines behind unresolved -- but it was nice to be reminded why we liked Kalinda in the first place.
I enjoyed the not-quite-ripped-from-the-headlines case of the week (reminiscent of the tragic Florida A&M hazing death of a drum major). By making it a liability suit rather than a criminal case, TGW takes a less-literal interpretation than, say, Law & Order, and is more interesting in the retelling. And whenever an opposing attorney gets Diane's dander up, so much the better.
Finally, I've always loved how TGW weaves the personal and the political, a specialty dating all the way back to the pilot. With Peter once again trying to overcome an infidelity scandal, Alicia has been dragged into the campaign in a much bigger way than she prefers. This gives us a conflicted Alicia, one who is very far from the "not very interesting" woman she describes herself as to Mattie. Instead, she's the Alicia who tells the reporter that she "doesn't like being lied about. No one does." That's the Alicia we like to see.
What did you think of tonight's episode? Were you happy to see Jackie and hear from Cary? What about Diane on fire? Or was the return of the old Kalinda more than enough to make it a good episode?
(Image courtesy of CBS)