As if to add insult to injury, last week’s referendum of a midterm election bumped The Good Wife from CBS’s schedule. At least this week we’re back to fictional politics, which has fewer crazy people, won’t mess with health care, and is over in 42 minutes.
It was a bit jarring, going back to procedural-usual after the last episode’s structural innovation and Moo Cow hilarity, but the return to the typical structure allowed space for a better plot than last time, including deep insight into Kalinda, the welcome return of Cary’s charm, and a great week for Alan Cumming reacting to things. And then there was guest star Michael J. Fox, wonderful as always as Alicia’s opposing counsel, but whose appearance nevertheless felt like a stunt-casting ratings grab.
Alicia first meets the fantastic Mr. Fox outside of the courthouse as she’s getting a coffee to calm her nerves before voir dire in a test case for a class-action suit against a pharmaceutical company whose antidepressant made patients want to kill themselves. He tricks Alicia into being late to court by asking her to look for the bus pass and I.D. he claims he dropped by the coffee cart and is too disabled to look for himself. Then he “inoculates” the jury to his condition by explaining that when he takes drugs it gets better (sneaky move since the case is about drugs being bad), and by warning them that it worsens when he’s perplexed, usually when his opponent is questioning witnesses, ensuring that the jury will be watching him instead of the testimony. He’s a big fat liar; he doesn’t even take the bus. But as Diane points out, going after him for his tricks, or the way he uses his condition to manipulate jury sympathies only makes their side look like Goliath.
As a test case, Lockhart Gardner had picked that of a sweet cross-wearing girl whose mother killed herself and her husband (the girl’s stepfather) while on the antidepressants. Fox tears down their case with impressive precision, first suggesting that the murder-suicide was a result of jealousy; the mom thought her husband was cheating on her, perhaps with a younger, prettier woman at his work (on cue, a young, pretty woman storms out of the courtroom, no doubt a plant), or perhaps with his own stepdaughter. That the mom was suspicious is true — the drug intensifies jealousy and paranoia — but the affairs never happened. Still, lies sell better than boring medical testimony, and Josh tasks the firm with figuring out how to make medicine sexy. “A lie always beats the truth,” he says. We have a feeling this philosophy is going to come up again in Josh’s personal life.
So they get their expert witnesses to talk about how the drug increases sexual appetites, suggesting that there is no way the victim’s husband had been unsatisfied, and then they show video of rats on the drug having violent sex and then killing each other. Fox breaks out the mother’s psychiatrist, who testifies that she had suspected her daughter and husband of sleeping together, and Josh sics Blake on the shrink, who, it turns out, had slept with a patient and had to move to another state to avoid her suing him. Conveniently, the good doctor can’t come back and rebut his patient’s testimony because he got hospitalized the night before in a burglary attempt at his office. Hmmm. Wonder who could have done that. They settle the entire class action for $35 million, of which the firm gets to keep $7 million, meaning they can get a whole new floor of offices, and perhaps a company gym. They throw a party to celebrate their win. But was it really a win? Not according to sneaky Mr. Fox. “I didn’t lose,” he tells Alicia. “Lockhart Gardner stumbled their way into a $90 million class action. MRG pharmaceuticals asked me to lower you to 50. I landed you at 35. I’m going home with a bonus of $1.3 million and stock options. That’s not losing.” He then wishes Alicia luck for the next time they meet and goes off to finish the settlement with a smug Diane. We’ve been itching for Lockhart Gardner to lose a case, but this wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Sure, they’re smug and they deserved a comeuppance, but learning they could have won a bigger pile of money than the pile of money they already got doesn’t really feel as good as watching them really go down.
Elsewhere, we finally get around to addressing Kalinda’s sexuality. Why Kalinda is so secretive about being lesbian or bi seems unclear, unless perhaps that knowledge being out there means it will be harder for her to use sex to manipulate men. Whatever the reason, we like that the subject has been broached since it means more Kalinda-Blake tension and a lot of innuendo-filled confrontations with Sexy Boots of Justice’s spurned lover, public defender Lili Taylor. (Er, Donna. Terrible name.) Their first confrontation, as Donna is defending a crazy old perv who can barely stop himself from masturbating his way through his trial for public masturbation, ranks right up there with Eli’s strategy meetings with Peter at elementary schools. From what we gather, Donna is pretty pissed that the first time Kalinda talks to her in four months it’s to tell her to stay away from Blake who’s out to find Donna and get her to fess up Kalinda’s secrets. We like getting insight into Kalinda from Donna’s eyes. “If this guy approaches me, I won’t tell him how heartless you can be, how insensitive, how self-preservation is your No. 1 concern, how after four months you can barely say hello,” she says.
Later, they meet again at a dark bar and Donna again calls Kalinda out for her commitment issues and all her sneaking around. She accuses K of breaking her heart, of using the excuse that she didn’t want to be domesticated when she’s quite aware that’s not what Donna wanted. It’s good, believable animosity, coupled with lingering sexual tension and the kind of kiss that leads to regrettable things. Later, she shows up on Blake’s arm as his date’s to the Lockhart Gardner celebration party for winning their lawsuit and when she meets Alicia, immediately thinks that this is the woman Kalinda left her for. She storms off, claiming to have cut all her connections to Kalinda, but she clearly has a bunch of Boots’s secrets up her sleeves. She’ll be back.
The best part about the Kalinda subplot, though, is the welcome return of Cary as charming smart guy instead of aggrieved avenger. He’s still sitting on his throne of righteousness, describing his office as “small but pure” and making cracks about how he gets drug dealers off the street only to have them defended by Lockhart Gardner. But he doesn’t seem angry or one-note anymore. There’s a wonderful ease he and Kalinda have together; they respect and suspect each other in equal measure. When she automatically starts rifling through the files on his desk, he just smiles and moves them out of reach. He asks her what she wants and when she asks why he thinks she wants anything, he simply replies, “Because you’re Kalinda.” True that. She needs info on Blake, who’s just getting more evil by the minute. Cary discovers that while in Baltimore, Blake not only worked for Derrick Bond, but also had a second job protecting Baltimore’s biggest meth gang. He was arrested and never charged, and Bond got him off. Why would Bond continue to employ him after he’d gotten into such a mess? Or did he know about Blake’s criminal connections beforehand and hired him because of that?
Cary’s warning to Kalinda seems particularly apt: “You’ve got a lovely little viper nest going on over there. If I were you, I’d be careful.” How thorough of a background check did Diane and Josh do on Derrick and Blake? We have a horrible feeling that the firm is headed toward self-destruction. And it wasn’t very comforting to see Josh ordering Blake to go after that psychiatrist and “kneecap him.” Last episode, we saw Blake ransack an apartment. This week, he’s actually kneecapping the opposition’s witnesses and tracking down an angry, jealous Donna and parading her before Kalinda in front of everyone at the firm. Kalinda took a crowbar to Blake’s car, but he seems ready to do a lot more to bring her down. This is going to get good.
Meanwhile, Eli is trying to figure out how to discredit the seemingly perfect Wendy Scott-Carr. She’s as close to infallible as it gets, but there’s a seething ambition just below the surface that we suspect will become her Achilles’ heel. In the meantime, though, she’s singing the National Anthem at ball games. “Of course she has perfect pitch,” Eli mutters. She volunteers at a soup kitchen and pitches in at her daughter’s school. Public school, of course. She has a white husband, but Eli doesn’t feel comfortable going after the “miscegenation vote.”
He does have a new political ball-buster on his team, which makes for a lot of fun as they conduct their hilariously low-rent secret meetings in the copy room. Ball-buster says she might have had an abortion. “What, did you film it?” Eli asks. Later, Ball-buster brings evidence that Scott-Carr got a breast augmentation, and Eli can barely contain his delight. “So Mother Teresa got breast implants?” he says, with excitement. She also spent $19,000 over two months, even though her main platform involves her commitment to the poor “It’s Clinton’s haircut! No, it’s better than Clinton’s haircut!” Eli crows before pulling his best move of the episode: Calling Glenn Childs’s campaign manager and screaming, “Go to hell! That was ours!” Two seconds later, he watches as a low-level staffer (who looks eerily like nymag.com’s own Chris Rovzar, BTW) gets a phone call seconds later. He’s a Childs plant. Eli tells Ball-buster that he’s known for weeks and was just waiting for a chance to use him properly. Soon an animated viral video called “Wendy Scott-Carr’s Double D’s” set to the tune of Yankee Doodle starts making the rounds. Eli loves it, especially the part where it can’t be traced back to him.
Scott-Carr’s reputation is falling into tatters, but she’s finding sympathy from an unexpected source: Grace Florrick. Grace goes to a Scott-Carr rally and speaks out on her behalf. And at home she stands up for her right to continue being a public Scott-Carr supporter because she’s so disgusted about the viral video that she knows her dad okayed. It’s only after Scott-Carr reveals on national television that she got the implants after undergoing a double mastectomy, and Childs’s campaign manager has to resign in the wake of the ensuing scandal that Grace starts warming up again to her dad (demonstrated by her cleaning up his room for him). Is this the end of the Childs’s campaign altogether, or just the end of his campaign manager? Will Grace’s support of Scott-Carr come out later to haunt Peter’s campaign. While watching the Childs campaign manager give his resignation, Eli and Ball-buster toast themselves for a good day’s work, but like Lockhart Gardner, we have a strong feeling that they’re toasting way too soon.