Maybe one day we’ll look back on season 4 of The Good Wife and remember it as the year Alicia struggled to balance her conscience and her ambition. This week, her angelic side may have lost a point.
But her good side’s not giving up without a fight. How else to account for Alicia’s inability to respond when an opponent asks her, “When did you sell your soul?”
The Case Before the Court
It’s been several months since we last saw Lamond Bishop, one of Chicago’s biggest drug dealers — and one of Lockhart & Gardner’s biggest clients. In “Runnin’ with the Devil,” he’s waiting to go on trial for the murder of a confidential informant. It’s up to Alicia to prove at the pre-trial hearing that the government’s case is too weak for court.
Bishop denies everything, but fears the US Attorney’s office will put him away for the one crime he didn’t commit. (Based on what we learn, it’s likely he’s actually innocent this time.) To hedge his bets, Bishop calls in his other attorney, Charles Lester (played by Wallace Shawn, probably best remembered from The Princess Bride). Lester at first seems like a male version of Elsbeth Tascioni — a little scattered, a bit of an oddball. But, like Elsbeth, there’s a method to his madness. Shortly after Alicia and Lester interview each of the government witnesses, the person recants his testimony in court. At first, Alicia’s baffled by each turnaround.
The opposing counsel, AUSA Liz Lawrence, is an old law school “nemesis” of Alicia’s. She seems to carry a grudge against her former classmate and, not surprisingly, hates it when Alicia gets the judge to throw out witness after witness. Moreover, someone appears to have threatened Liz, who accuses Bishop’s people of trying to intimidate her and her family. (The irony: Liz has been using her own sneaky prosecutor’s tactics to force people to testify untruthfully against Bishop.)
Alicia is furious at the accusation she’s done any wrong, but the more time she spends with Lester, the more concerned she becomes about his methods. She tries to believe him when he flat-out denies the charge. But her concern turns to dismay when the government’s final witness — Bishop’s sister, Judy — withdraws testimony that would have derailed Bishop’s alibi. The judge dismisses the case for lack of evidence. Bishop and Lester are elated, unlike Alicia.
She should be dismayed, because we know something she doesn’t: that Lester visited Judy the day before, “just to talk.” Riiiight.
We Call Another Witness
The firm, finally free of bankruptcy, wants to expand back into larger office space. Diane’s cautious, though; she feels all too keenly how recently they were at the brink of disaster. Will pushes her to accept L&G’s success, but the two soon start bickering over every little thing.
One thing they agree on, however, is the need to hire another investigator to help Kalinda. (Although you have to ask yourself: if they have 300 employees, as Will says, how did they get away with only one PI before now, anyway? But I digress.) The two people not as enthusiastic at the prospect of another investigator are Alicia and Kalinda. New partner Alicia asks to sit on the hiring committee to look out for Kalinda’s interests.
The committee agrees to hire Robyn Burdine (played by Jess Weixler), a former Treasury agent. Robyn at first seems like yet-another Elsbeth type — bubbly and talkative. Kalinda is, to put it mildly, skeptical. But the newcomer turns out to be a sharp cookie. In fact, she’s the one who figures out how to prove Bishop wasn’t near the murder victim on the night of her disappearance. Unfortunately, it’s not evidence Bishop wants to use, since it would mean admitting he was meeting with his underworld associates at the time. He’s worried he’d lose custody of his son forever to his sister, Judy. (Notice how Judy might have a motive for sending her bro to the slammer?)
Thanks to Lester’s visit to Judy, however, Bishop doesn’t need to worry about discussing his whereabouts on the night in question. So while they don’t end up needing the evidence, Robyn earns Kalinda’s grudging respect.
Two minor plotlines fill out the hour, and at least one may lead to something. Or should I say, a little somethin’-somethin’.
First, Will and Diane hash out their differences. He accuses her of not being willing to accept that the firm’s doing well, and they need to spend money to show their clients that Lockhart & Gardner’s back. She reminds him they only recently cleared bankruptcy. She also notes that she paid the bills and kept the lights on, a not-so-subtle dig at Will over his absence during his suspension.
Before our usually agreeable twosome can say something they’ll regret, however, Will calls for a truce. He brings out a bottle of whiskey so they can celebrate their new-found success, something they’d never taken the time to do. Peace reigns once more!
Second, Kalinda discovers during an investigation that Cary solicited one of L&G’s long-time clients back when he thought about jumping ship and opening his own firm. She warns him that if Will and Diane find out, they’ll fire him.
He’s intrigued, Not only did she warn him, but she also withheld the information from the partners. He wonders if there’s more to her interest besides friendship. At a bar, he tries to kiss her, though she backs away. She doesn’t want to get involved with someone from work.
When he points out he’s thinking of leaving the firm, however, Kalinda seems to change her mind, and the courting begins in earnest. The next day, they share a friendly “Hey” in the halls, along with secret smiles.
Are you happy now, Cary-Kalinda shippers? ‘Cause I think you finally got your wish.
Among the prime interactions of this week’s new Good Wife:
Angry at Alicia for her having testimony thrown out during the pre-trial hearing, Liz tells her their old law school crowd used to feel sorry for her because of Peter’s public humiliation, but not anymore. Alicia coldly says, “You know what I thought about you after law school? Nothing.” Burn! (Still, Alicia can’t refute Liz’s accusation about selling her soul later on.)
“People here must have a lot of money for clothes; I’ve never seen clothes like this,” says Robyn to Kalinda on her first day. And let’s face it, the new PI is dead on. Alicia and Diane’s clothes really are to die for. Elie Tahari! Christian Louboutin!
“As long as we got each other, we got the world spinning right in our hands…” Will says, singing the theme song to Growing Pains as a way to explain how he feels to Diane.
After a string of stellar episodes, “Runnin’ with the Devil” seems like a bit of a letdown (which still makes it one of the strongest hours on network television anyway). Both new characters, Charles Lester and Robyn Burdine, feel too closely modeled on Elsbeth, what with the whole “Don’t underestimate me because I’m an airhead” vibe.
That said, I enjoyed both of them, though I really, really wanted Wallace Shawn to say, “That’s inconceivable!” at least once during the hour. (Admit it, you did, too). More important, I’d love for Robyn to evolve into an excellent counterpoint to Kallinda — someone who relies on strong deductive reasoning and observation more than wiles and guile. They could make a formidable team.
The real storyline here (besides the blossoming Cary-Kalinda relationship) is Alicia, of course. We know that her suspicions about Lester’s tactics are correct; she just can’t prove it. Will she listen to her gut and keep pressing for answers? (Knowing what we’ve seen of Lester, that could actually be dangerous to her and her family.) Will she just take the Bishop case’s win and try to forget about it? Which side will win, the angel or the devil? I’m certainly hoping the name of the show remains The Good Wife.
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(Image courtesy of CBS)