It’s entirely possible that when Lemond Bishop made a major return to The Good Wife in season six’s premiere, you had one of two reactions. Either you were pumped to see one of the show’s more complex villains again, or you squinted at your television while thinking, Wait, who? Your confusion would be justified — The Good Wife has a Mister Rogers–esque cast of rotating guest characters, all of whom tend to pop by unannounced when you’re least expecting them to.
Bishop’s back as the drug lord all of Chicago loves to hate, and this time, he’s the reason Cary’s been suddenly arrested on felony drug charges. Allegedly, Cary helped Bishop secretly move $1.3 million dollars of heroin — a pretty big surprise, considering Cary and Bishop haven’t had a professional relationship that goes that far above and beyond, at least, as far as we viewers know. He’s been a character waiting in the wings for some time now, but it would seem that over the course of the coming episodes, we’re about to finally understand who Lemond Bishop really is and what he wants. Before The Good Wife dives into those answers, here’s a look back at what we’ve learned about Bishop so far.
“Fleas” (Season 1, Episode 16): In Which We Meet Bishop
We meet Lemond Bishop after his attorney allegedly leaks the name of a federal witness to him; the witness winds up murdered. Bishop needs new lawyers and tries to woo Alicia and Lockhart/Gardener by leaving $20,000 in cash (tastefully arranged in a shopping bag) in her office as a “retainer,” which leads to an exploration of the relative merits and morality of taking on a known drug kingpin as a client. The episode ends with Bishop forcing his bodyguard to take responsibility for the murderer, Will deciding he wants Bishop’s business anyway, and Bishop turning the tables by turning him down. “I need someone who’s hungry,” he says. Ouch.
“On Tap” (Season 2, Episode 8): In Which Bishop Shakes up Kalinda
There’s no argument when it comes to placing the title of The Good Wife’s resident badass, right? It’s Kalinda by a mile. So it’s telling to watch her hands shake as she loads and primes a revolver while she watches Bishop walk up to her car through her rearview mirror, and to see how meekly she listens as he warns her to stop investigating his (anonymous) donations to the political campaign of an alderman who’s under suspicion of taking bribes from Muslim extremists. (Turns out the alderman’s not working for extremists — he’s working for Bishop.) It’s a reminder that Bishop may be charming — funny, even, at times — but he’s indisputably dangerous, too. (Apparently, Bishop hasn’t learned many new tricks over the years — intimidating Kalinda was one of his first priorities after he learned of Cary’s arrest.)
“Silly Season” (Season 2, Episode 12): In Which Bishop Is a Plot Device, Mainly
You know those episodes of The Good Wife where so many events are crammed in that, by the end of the episode, you’re not actually sure what happened? Welcome to “Silly Season.” I still (after multiple watches) have no idea how we get here, but once again, the episode ends with someone dead and Bishop, bewilderingly, in the clear.
“Ham Sandwich” (Season 2, Episode 17): In Which Bishop Is “A Drug Kingpin in Love”
Bishop isn’t all business; in this episode, his wife wants a divorce and he wants her to stay. The Lockhart/Gardner lawyers are both charmed and befuddled, especially when his wife declines a generous settlement offer, determined to take him to court (and, presumably, to bring him down). Just before the trial, Bishop’s wife mysteriously overdoses. Maybe it was a combination of her desire for custody of their son, maybe it’s because of the amount of money she wanted, maybe it’s because she knew too much, but no matter the reason, are you noticing a pattern around Bishop and people just happening to end up dead? Two’s a coincidence; three’s a trend. Anything past three probably qualifies as a crime spree.
“The Penalty Box” (Season 3, Episode 21): In Which Bishop Has a Warning For Lockhart/Gardner (Again!)
After a visit from an investigator (and erstwhile Kalinda lover), Bishop shows up at Lockhart/Gardner, demanding to know why he’s being targeted and why his interests aren’t being protected more vigorously. “I pay you not to be surprised,” he growls, but he does not appear to have killed anyone this time around, so there’s that.
“Waiting for the Knock” (Season 4, Episode 5): In Which Bishop Auditions for Father/Felon of the Year
A single dad ever since he had his wife killed, Bishop’s just trying to make sandwiches and get by and stuff, but now his accountant’s been arrested, and Bishop knows he’s likely next. Alicia spends much of the episode grappling with whether to tip off Bishop to the fact that he should start destroying evidence, and ultimately chooses to, in part because of how sweet the relationship between Bishop and his son Dylan is. It all highlights the true complexity of Bishop — you want to empathize with the guy until you remember he wouldn’t have to be raising a kid on his own if he hadn’t offed his wife. He’s a real conundrum that way.
“Runnin’ With the Devil” (Season 4, Episode 16): In Which Bishop Is Accused of Murder
Bishop’s been accused of murdering a confidential informant who just so happened to be an employee at one of his health clubs; for a change, Alicia actually believes he’s innocent. Bishop’s willingness to go to any lengths to protect himself are as impressive as ever, but his secret weapon (his personal attorney, played with aplomb by Wallace Shawn) is particularly outstanding. Shawn’s character has no trouble skipping around town, doling out veiled threats to people who never saw him coming.
“The Decision Tree” (Season 5, Episode 10): In Which Bishop Drops by the Firm Christmas Party Largely to Remind Us That He Still Exists
Bishop’s appearance at the firm Christmas party isn’t particularly major or memorable, aside from the problematic moment where he greets Governor Florrick and asks if they might work together on charity projects someday, an interaction that Eli frets over but that comes to nothing. His appearance does introduce one of the show’s all-time best lines; after Alicia tells her kids that Bishop is the top drug dealer in Chicago, Zach replies, “Sometimes I think of you as Mom, and other times just as this interesting person who lives in our house.”
“Parallel Construction, Bitches” (Season 5, Episode 13): In Which Bishop Drives Around With Bisquick in His Trunk, and That Is Not a Euphemism
Bishop’s most recent stop by the Florrick/Agos offices had less to do with him and more to do with advancing the ideas about privacy, wire-tapping, and ethics that dominated much of The Good Wife’s fifth season. Accused of moving huge amounts of drugs (and later acquitted, because it’s Lemond Bishop we’re talking about here), Bishop becomes convinced there’s a leak at the firm he’s hired to represent him and sets a trap to try to prove it. In a delightful twist, the trap also involves Bishop driving around town with a trunk full of pancake mix. Turns out the feds were tipped off through a wire tap, with which they heard Alicia leave herself a voice-mail about Bishop. The call was literally coming from within the house.
Bishop seemed like a benign enough force in that last appearance — like, almost to the point of being whimsical — but it all it takes is one look at the blood gushing from Cary’s hand in a prison cell to realize that whatever Bishop’s up to now, he’s not messing around. Stay tuned.