The Good Wife is not one of those shows like Grey’s Anatomy, wherein the characters’ tough cases parallel neatly with their tumultuous personal lives. Yet as new in-house investigator Blake shows Alicia surveillance footage from the Northbrook sniper killings, it feels as if he’s summing up the atom-bomb effects of Peter’s transgressions. “You never know what’s going to happen. You’re out just living your life, then out of the blue, no warning. How many seconds do you have? And everybody scatters.” It seemed a fitting way to start an episode that has given us the best look yet into Alicia’s psyche and why she hasn’t left Peter.
There’s a second echo of Peter and Alicia during a deposition of cute Bobby Steggert (Tony nominee for Ragtime and recently really great in The Grand Manner at Lincoln Center), playing a kid whose father died of a heart attack after being falsely tried as the Northbrook sniper and who is now suing the state for malicious prosecution. It’s the job of new ASA Wendy Scott-Carr (Anika Noni Rose) to prove the State’s original theory, that Steggert’s dad killed two random people in order to cover up the murder of his wife, and instead of coming down hard as Derrick did in prep, she plays the part of Steggert’s therapist and confidante. Her mom and dad fought, too. But her mom didn’t have to get a restraining order against her dad. (Oh, she’s good. More to come from her for sure.) Does he believe … “That two people can love each other and fight? Yes,” says Steggert. They can also love each other and cheat with prostitutes, no?
Most of the fun with this case comes from watching the Blake-Kalinda thing play out. It’s become clear that, whatever it is, it’s not going to end in a hookup, but in Blake’s spectacular destruction. They’re just setting him up to play himself into a hole with his mind games and then flame out. Serves him right, the way he wanders the halls of Lockhart-Gardner with his hair full of secrets. And what’s going on with his obsession with Alicia? He seems intent on winning her over. Last week, he brought her all that evidence for the court marshal. This week he tests the water again. Is she friends with “Leela”? Oops, did he let that slip? But Alicia, awesomely, sees right through him. “Don’t put me in the middle of your thing. I have no idea, but whatever games you’re playing, you play with her. I’m too busy.”
Whatever Kalinda’s reasons for changing her name, this Leela tease is getting old. Just tell us about her sordid past life already! Every time Blake brings it up, his investigative skills seem more and more pathetic. Is that all he has? Kalinda has photos of him playing basketball with Will at Georgetown. And she followed him and saw him have that weird interaction with the prostitute and the businessman on the corner. When he first brought up “Leela” in the season premiere, Kalinda was so taken off guard she could think of no other reaction than to shove him. This time, she’s prepared; her “don’t forget to use condoms” comeback was choice. Blake tells her she doesn’t know what she thinks she knows, but Kalinda doesn’t seem as interested in knowing Blake’s secrets as she is in proving she could know them. Plus, she totally kicked his ass picking up on the fourth Northbrook sniper shooting via police scanner while Blake was doing his shady stuff on the street corner. It seemed a little implausible that the police in riot gear would let her run through the middle of a standoff to take a better look, but then again, she’s Kalinda and she’s a superwoman. It was worth it just to see Derrick make late-to-the-party Blake talk to the hand and then assign him to the purgatory case of Murphy-Gomez, which has been mentioned so many times this season and never discussed that it’s beginning to look like the lawsuit equivalent of the mother on How I Met Your Mother.
Eventually it’s Kalinda who figures out the pattern in the shootings, even though Childs is determined to prosecute the fourth death as a copycat. Yet again on this show, femininity wins out, and through her keen girl astrological senses, she figures out that all the murdered women, and the one sorority den mother who got away when the sniper missed, were Gemini. That leads to her illegally visiting the suspect in jail, which leads to her realizing that our sniper is actually bald, which leads to her Photoshopping his hair out of a photo and showing it to a sorority mom, who, of course, recognizes him as that bald guy she went on an online date with. Childs crumbles, Steggert gets $4 million, and, just like that, the number of Good Wife fans on OKCupid drops to zero.
Most intriguing, though, in this excellently Kalinda-centric case, is her interaction with Cary. They’re talking about his new life as a prosecutor. “I like the moral clarity,” he says. “Do you miss me?” But that doesn’t feel like what they’re talking about at all. There’s just something in the way they circle each other, the way she opens his jacket to stuff a manila envelope inside, the way he watches her when she leaves a room, that makes it feel like something very hot has happened between them. Or is going to happen. Either way, we’re in favor. But what will the implications be for Cary next episode, when Childs realizes Cary had Kalinda’s evidence but didn’t brief Childs before he went into that ambush of a deposition?
Political and Personal Intrigue
How amazing was it to finally get a peek behind Alicia’s steel curtain of decorum and strength? We’ve known for a while that she’s not over Peter’s dalliances with hookers. She wouldn’t be following the case of that Colorado congressman with his pregnant girlfriend (she reportedly had an abortion) and his scorned but loyal wife so closely if she were. But other than Kalinda, she hasn’t had a single confidante. Queue up her wonderful brother Owen (Dallas Roberts). He’s a professor in Oregon, which seems like a bit of a lame reason for why we haven’t met him until now, but, oh, he’s lovely. Alicia hasn’t seemed this relaxed and this human, well, ever.
There’s nothing not to like about Owen. He shows up at Alicia’s door wearing a pleather Village People outfit and bearing gay porn for Peter. He’s our doorway into understanding Alicia’s issues with divorce; how her mom is just now breaking up with husband No. 3; how during her parents’ divorce, she stood up and said, “You can do this to me. You can’t do this to Owen!” He even gets Alicia to admit she still loves Peter. His first theory, that she’s holding onto Peter because she doesn’t like the way it would look if they got divorced, seems a little facile. But his second theory, when he realizes Alicia has been writing Peter’s speeches, seems right on the mark: “You’re Hillary, working your agenda through him,” he says.
It’s also Owen who sets off a panic within the Florrick campaign to prove Peter loves gays and Israel. One of those ubiquitous trackers is in his classroom during a guest lecture at DePaul, and asks Owen about his sister while very obviously recording the whole thing on an iPhone. Of course his crack about Peter hating him because he’s gay ends up on YouTube and Alan Cumming has yet another virtuoso spit-take reaction involving choking on his sad sandwich and throwing some books. If there were a show entitled “Alan Cumming Reacts to Stuff,” we would totally watch it.
It’s pretty funny that, when Eli broaches the gay issue with Peter, Peter automatically thinks Eli is talking about himself. To be clear, Alan Cumming is gay. Eli is not. We hadn’t even thought about Eli’s sexuality, but we’re guessing that given how tightly wound he is, he’s not getting any. We’ve now seen the distinct possibility that he might die choking on a sad sandwich while alone in his office watching Internet videos. And he lies to a gay Jewish lobbyist about Peter and Alicia throwing him a dinner to break fast for Yom Kippur, but uses the best possible explanation for why these gentiles would be throwing him such a dinner: “As you well know, I don’t have a life.”
Oh, and what a dinner it is. Eli is so tense he looks like he’ll need a huge dose of Seacor Laxatives by the end of the night. They’ve got grandma Jackie cooking kosher: “So you don’t put pork with cheese?” And there she is talking about that nice Jewish lady she met in the market and how even if gays get marriage, “You’re still going to run around like little boys with your pants down.” Owen is about five glasses of wine in and shouting out how much Peter loves gays. Even Grace is stirring the pot, arguing about Israel’s unprovoked attack on flotillas supplying aid to Gaza with the very lobbyist Peter is trying to convince of his love for Israel.
Then in perhaps the episode’s most surprising moment, just as Owen is tossing out remarks about how Peter hurt his sister with his “whoremongering” ways, Peter lashes back, pointing out how Owen visited her only once when Peter was in jail and how he still never calls. No one is immune from having hurt Alicia when out of the blue that atom bomb detonated her life. Everyone scattered. Owen realizes Peter is right and he misses his plane so he can say a real good-bye to his sister and let her know that he will call soon. She watches him get the elevator, but why do looks of worry and dread keep flashing across her face between the smiles? Is it because she doesn’t believe she can really trust anybody to stay by her side? Why did the ending of this episode feel so incredibly ominous?