Willicia who? Maybe we’ve just been starved for glimpses of genuine chemistry this season with all the bus sex (ew) and food play we’ve had to endure, but I thought that non-kiss/seduction moment between Cary and Kalinda in the bar was just about the sexiest thing the Kings have given us in more than a year. How many of you with DVRs rewound to watch Cary’s perfect, vulnerable expression after Kalinda tells him to “say something nice”? And then the way he touches her hair and she brushes his hand away and bites her lip and then we know things can only go one way. GOLD. I don’t care that the entire history of their relationship was glossed over in two minutes ⎯ “you want more and I can’t give you more” ⎯ and that all the subsequent action here happened offscreen. I adored this exchange; I think the two of them together (Agoslinda? Commenters: We need a name for this!) is dynamic and hot and complicated and everything this show does well and always needs more of. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
But let’s back up and savor how we got there, shall we? Forget Eli, forget Elsbeth, forget the election. Most of the action in “Runnin’ With the Devil” focuses on the Lemond Bishop case of the murdered Confidential Informant who was working at one of his health clubs. Twelve episodes later and we’re finally going to a preliminary hearing, wherein Alicia faces off against her old law-school nemesis Liz Lawrence (Audra McDonald), now an AUSA, and the presiding judge is the measured Claudia Friend (Bebe Neuwirth). Bishop has a lot going against him here, what with being a drug kingpin and the clubs being connected to all sorts of money-laundering schemes, but he swears he wasn’t behind this one, and Alicia believes him. But there are plenty of sticking points: The CI’s abusive boyfriend who was going to be a big part of the defense suddenly ends up dead, and Bishop’s only alibi is his sister Judy who has been his son Dylan’s guardian during the time he’s been in jail and may want full custody. Plus, there are all these employees at the clubs who have witnessed plenty of Bishop’s cagey tough-guy behavior.
Bishop knows he’s in a fix, so he tells Alicia he’d like her to work with his personal lawyer Charles Lester (Wallace Shawn) as well. “What does Mr. Bishop’s personal lawyer look like?” Cary (and we) would like to know as he and Alicia head out out to the L&G reception area to meet him. No, it’s not the dashing African-American man on a smartphone, it’s the nebbishy grandpa-type behind him, holding a crumpled notepad that looks like it’s from 1971. Ha! Cary and Alicia are flummoxed as to the added value of this guy, but after the government’s witnesses one-by-one start recanting their damning testimony on the stand, things get a little clearer.
What’s really going on here? If we don’t see the witness intimidation with our own eyes, is it really happening? Was Bishop (or Lester?) behind the scary man who threatened AUSA Lawrence’s son on the playground about his mommy working too much? Could the unassuming Charles Lester ⎯ whose only client before Bishop was a murdered mafioso ⎯ be that much of a monster? It’s dirty and compelling stuff, and puts us right back into the heart of the legal/moral gray areas that this show does so well. Alicia wants to win this case on her own clean merits and wants to believe that the arc of what gets rewarded in the law does bend toward truth and justice, but in the end it’s clearly the back alley maneuverings that resulted in the government dropping its case. “When did you sell your soul?” Liz Lawrence hisses at Alicia after that judge’s chambers conference about her son being intimidated. It's hard not to feel sympathy for Alicia in that moment, but since this is TGW, it’s not entirely black and white.
Other points of note: There’s a new investigator at L&G, at least for the time being, and she’s Robyn Burdine (Jess Weixler), a somewhat bumbling former Treasury agent who no one can believe could be good at what she does since she doesn’t have legal or detective experience. Kalinda is obviously not a fan of someone encroaching on her territory, and honestly it didn’t make sense to me either that Will and Diane wouldn’t just make her Robyn’s supervisor. They’re clearly not going to be Cagney & Lacey–esque buddies off the bat ⎯ not Kalinda’s style anyway ⎯ but Robyn manages to stay out of Kalinda’s way just enough and asks a few key questions (one being to the stable manager with enormous muttonchops!) to suggest that things just might work out well here.
There’s also some ongoing disagreements between Will and Diane ⎯ (David Lee: “Mommy and daddy are fighting”) ⎯ about whether to be fiscally conservative or expand the firm now that they’re out of the red, and these scenes are great, getting at the deep affection and professional respect between the two of them. But it’s a throwaway thread of a potential client leaving that leads us to THAT MOMENT back at the bar. Will and Diane are concerned that their prominent chef client, DeLuca, might be thinking of leaving since he paid his bill in full. They ask Kalinda to see what she can sniff out, and she learns that Cary may have been trying to poach him for his own start-up firm. Yikes!
Kalinda doesn’t mention his name when she has to report back to Will and Diane, but she does a lackluster job of covering, and Will has an inkling there’s something she’s leaving out. It’s then that she marches into Cary’s office and tells him to watch his back, and he’s genuinely touched that she didn’t give him away. (Sidebar: Did anyone else notice the portrait of what looks like a 7-year-old girl on the bookshelf next to Cary’s desk in the scene?)
It’s at thank-you drinks later that night when the real stuff goes down. “All in a day’s work,” Kalinda demurs. “No. It wasn’t,” Cary bats back, slow as molasses. What happens next? We can only imagine, but Cary’s smirking glow the next morning is about the closest thing L&G has ever seen to this, so we’re assuming a good time was had by all. Kings: You made us suffer through Kalinda/Nick bedroom flashbacks, so filling us in a little more here is the least you could do.