The Good Wife Recap: A Knife in the Back

Photo: JOHN PAUL FILO/?2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: JOHN PAUL FILO/?2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There’s a certain trope in action and horror movies when a main character fights off her enemies and emerges bloody and triumphant, only to be taken down mid-jubilation by a knife to the back. That’s what the ending of last night’s episode felt like; a punch to the gut, a gurgling last gasp. Only it was worse. Because this time, the main character was Kalinda, whom we’ve come to love, and the knife, while thrown by Blake, was a weapon of her own creation, forged with Peter, that will likely bring down Kalinda, Peter, Alicia, Grace, Zach, and Eli, all in turn.

This was the week (after an interminable hiatus in episodes … again, what is up with the scheduling of this show?) that we finally got down to business with Kalinda’s grand-jury investigation. Blake is the state’s attorney’s key witness and he’s been granted immunity to lie through his teeth about just about anything, but namely about Kalinda having put Dr. Booth in the hospital with a baseball-bat beating (actually administered by Blake) and about Will having given her the direct order to do so (which he did not).

The grand jury is a nice showpiece for Matt Czuchry, since Glenn Childs is inexplicably letting a first-year ASA who is best friends with the target of the investigation take the lead role in questioning. Has an ASA ever had as many lead-attorney slots on so many important cases? Help us out, lawyerly readers. This seems mighty fishy. Anyway, we learn that Blake was unceremoniously let go when Bond got pushed out of Lockhart Gardner, which is probably why he’s more than eager to lay out a grand conspiracy by which the firm’s lead partners have been systematically using illegal practices to win cases. Blake also details that he’s been working security for Lemond Bishop for quite some time, and continues to do so, which will become important later on. And if we weren’t sure what Cary means when he asks Blake about Bishop’s businesses in drug trade and prostitution, we have some ham-fisted expository shots from director Griffin Dunne to show us what a drug deal and a hooker look like. (Tangent: We really disliked Mr. Dunne’s A.D.D. directorial work on this episode. It was like he didn’t trust any scene to play out without some visual tricks; there’s a cut to a different image every five seconds.)

Over beers (which Alicia refuses to drink because Grace thinks she’s an alcoholic), Kalinda retains Alicia as her attorney, and finally tells her what really happened with Dr. Booth. A shocked Alicia asks Kalinda why Blake is doing this — the violence, the lying, the betrayal — and Kalinda just answers, “He’s not a good person.” That’s as good an explanation as any. It’s in these tender moments between the two friends that we see how deep Kalinda’s friendship with Alicia has grown. It becomes clear that the only two people Kalinda trusts and cares about in the world are Alicia and Cary. It may not be her “nature” to open up, but she values those relationships, which only makes the revelation of the final scene more devastating.

As Alicia explains to Kalinda, “a Chicago grand jury will indict a ham sandwich,” so she needs to give them nothing to work with. She pleads the Fifth to every question, inflecting each “I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me” with a different meaning. That scene ought to be studied in an acting master class. Through Cary’s questions, Kalinda realizes that the SA’s office is targeting her as a way of bringing down Lockhart Gardner. Alicia suspects it’s Childs’s way of getting back at Peter through her. Or maybe the SA’s office really has bought into Blake’s lies. Either way, the stakes are high. As we discover, Blake helped Will cover up a theft Will committed at his old firm in Baltimore, and he has no compunction about exposing him. Kalinda, on the other hand, is facing a minimum of two years in jail, unless she turns state’s on Lockhart Gardner, in which case she’ll get full immunity.

Meanwhile at the office, Bond’s people are packing up as Will and Diane order the remaining lawyers to shore up their client lists to avoid the domino effect that might occur if any clients left with Bond. Chief among the clients they want to retain is one Mr. Lemond Bishop, who, we were very pleased to see, brought along his associate Bodie from The Wire, bringing the total of Wire alums in this episode to three by our count. (Just waiting for Bubbles to get his shot!) After a period of flagrant ass-kissing from Will, Bishop decides to stay with the firm, then drops the news that he needs them to represent him in his divorce.

A drug-kingpin divorce poses an interesting dilemma: How do you divide ill-gotten assets when the only way to prove they exist is to admit in court that you were a party to the illegal business, and therefore set yourself up to go to jail? The mediation plays out like a game of chicken. Lemond and Bodie play like Lemond’s only assets are his legit businesses (dry cleaners, health clubs, gas stations), all of which are on the brink of bankruptcy. Katrina Bishop and the one lawyer she could find who was ballsy enough to help her take on her drug-lord husband, Pablo Schreiber (Wire alum No. 2), call in the FBI to testify that Lemond’s illegal holdings are probably worth $88 million. Then they threaten to take away his kids. Mediating all this is Bill Irwin, a rainbows-and-puppies kind of conflict manager who really had no idea what vipers he’d be dealing with. And we’re just talking about David Lee. (Our favorite contemptuous line of his: when he asked Pablo if he would be doing the mediation out of his mother’s living room.)

It gets uglier. We learn that Lemond cheated on his wife, and that’s probably why she’s going, as David Lee says, “scorched earth” on his ass. Either that or Kalinda’s theory: She’s having an affair and wants to get as much as she can from Lemond before he realizes it and cuts her off. Their kid gets called in to testify, and it turns out that Lemond is the kind of dad who takes his kid to school and teaches him how to play baseball and sleeps for three days in a hospital room when he gets sick. He’s also the kind of dad who wants to protect his kid from knowing what a bad man he is, and from having to testify in his parents’ divorce. But when the case moves to open court, Katrina suddenly O.D.s, after ten years of sobriety, paving the way for Lemond to get full custody and not have to pay a cent. Did Lemond, as lawyer Pablo accuses, “get to her” and make her so terrified for her safety that she turned back to drugs? Probably. And while the minutia of the Bishop divorce doesn’t matter much in the long run, we bet Alicia’s conscience will continue to be troubled by her firm’s ardent determination to stay connected to such a shady character. Will Bishop be the reason she bolts from Lockhart Gardner?

Also among the clients Lockhart Gardner is desperate to hold on to is Eli, who is on the phone with Diane when he discovers the campaign is closing within a point of Wendy Scott-Carr. It’s no supply-closet jig, but Alan Cumming’s reacting to stuff is in impeccable form throughout the episode. Nerd pollster (in an oh-so-tight shirt practically bursting with pectorals … what are they doing to us???) declares, “We’re going to win this,” and Eli reacts in a delightfully Eli way: He makes him go outside and come back in and have that whole conversation over again. Superstition aside, Eli is gloating. Seconds later, Frank Landau of the DNC comes in, promising to get behind Peter (whom they’d abandoned earlier this season) as long as he promises retain a few of the DNC’s “people” in the SA’s office. As Landau is talking, Eli starts unbuttoning his pants. Why? “To make it easier for you to kiss my ass!” It was awesome.

But getting back in bed with the DNC also means accepting some hard truths. Landau insists that the only way Peter can win this thing is by going after the conservative blue-collar and suburban whites. (Wendy Scott-Carr already has the black vote and the liberal white vote sewn up.) We took a little umbrage with all blue-collar whites being classified as racist, but who knows? Maybe in Chicago that’s the case. Anyway, Eli sets to work removing the black faces from the website and replacing them with happy white folk saying things like, “Peter Florrick wants to bring back the old Chicago” and “I feel safe with Peter Florrick” and “Peter Florrick knows that crime isn’t limited to the inner city.” All of which are code for “Peter Florrick will protect us from black people.” Eli even goes as far as canceling Peter’s spiritual-guidance meetings with Pastor Isaiah (Gbenga Akinnagbe, Wire alum No. 3) until after the election. Peter, mysteriously, is absent for the whole of this whitewashing. We suspect this has something to do with Chris Noth not being under contract and him currently starring in That Championship Season on Broadway, but either way, it’s odd. How does Peter feel about this turn of events? Is Eli the one really driving it? Is Eli an undercover racist? He’s at least uncomfortable with the subject when Grace, talking to Pastor Isaiah, asks him if he thinks Jesus is black. And he’s even worse when Grace, sensing his discomfort, corners him in the elevator and breaks the news that Zach plans to bring his black girlfriend, Nisa, to Peter’s next speech, and that Grace has met a new black friend on the Internet, Jimmy Patrick. The Jimmy Patrick thing is a lie, but Grace gets a giant kick out of telling Eli, “The Florrick children just LOVE black people!”

It’s admirable for a show to deal with race in such unflinching terms. On one end, there’s Lemond Bishop, stereotypical drug kingpin who turns out to be an unstereotypically terrific dad, if also a terrible person. And on the other end, there are the Florrick children, so comfortable with race that they actually come off as more racist than the adults as they try to snatch up every black friend they can get their hands on.

But back to Kalinda. Cary starts peppering her with questions based on Blake’s testimony, that Kalinda beat up Dr. Booth, then gave Blake the baseball bat to hide, then knocked Blake unconscious and stole the bat back. Kalinda finally breaks her streak of pleading the Fifth and tells the grand jury that she went to confront Blake about his lies. But when she found him, he was meeting an African-American woman at the exact same hotel room where Lemond Bishop’s wife was supposedly meeting her lover for their next tryst. Blake, not only having been caught in a lie but also framed as having an affair with Lemond Bishop’s wife, has no choice but to flee the grand jury and Chicago.

Afterward, Cary calls to tell Alicia that, with Blake gone, the SA’s office can’t proceed against Kalinda, and they share a tender moment on the phone, acknowledging without so many words that they just helped their friend escape a really bad situation, even though it’s likely going to make things very bad for Cary at work. Then Alicia and Kalinda go out for a celebratory tequila, over which they basically admit that they’re best friends, and Alicia confesses that she doesn’t ever want to go back to her old life as a suburban housewife again.

It seems fitting, then, when Blake confronts Kalinda about her past life again, for old time’s sake. As Blake lays it out, Kalinda changed her name simply because she was bored of her old life. And she did it while she was working at the SA’s office under Peter Florrick. (We just KNEW that was going to come back into play!) Peter is the one who helped her change her name. He’s the one who covered up all traces of Leela. And he’s the one she slept with, grateful, in return. How did Blake figure this out? Because every time Kalinda went crazy on him with her baseball bat was immediately following something he’d said about or to Alicia. “Alicia is what you care about,” he says, just before telling her that he’s told everything to an ASA and she can expect them to start interviewing everyone involved. It’s one hell of a bombshell, with the potential to destroy not only Peter’s campaign and family, but also the beautiful, important friendship that Alicia and Kalinda have built up. And you can tell from the devastated look on Kalinda’s face that it’s true.

The Good Wife Recap: A Knife in the Back