I’d hoped one of the (many) benefits of the cancellation of The Michael J. Fox Show would be additional chances to see Fox on The Good Wife; after some token appearances earlier in the season, last night’s episode finally delivered a nice, meaty Louis Canning story. He’s representing Chicago Polytech in a suit brought by Alicia’s client Jody, a young sexual-assault victim whose case wasn’t properly investigated by the school. Canning bangs into the courtroom in a wheelchair and requests a speedy trial in light of his upcoming kidney transplant, which leads to Alicia pulling him aside and demanding, “Are you dying?” Canning responds, “Well, everybody’s dying,” to which Alicia immediately asks, “Are you dying now?” Classic.
In response to Alicia’s announcement that she’s going to seek to expand Jody’s suit into a class-action claim, Canning has weed planted in the dorm room of her attacker. With him out of her life, Jody wants to drop the suit and forget about it, and frankly, that’s better for Alicia, too — a “politicized” high-profile rape case isn’t exactly the best choice for a State’s Attorney candidate. But she asks Canning again if he’s dying, and he says he doesn’t know, since there’s not a kidney for him yet. She asks if there’s anything she could do, and he, in a really sincere and affecting moment, asks her to visit his wife if he dies.
I just want to put it out there that if Archie Panjabi is written off the series by way of Bishop murdering Kalinda, I’m going to be very irritated. The Kalinda/Bishop stuff still confuses me (even after talking to Mike Colter himself!), since I still can’t quite make sense of why she fears and defers to him the way that she does. Still, even with my lopsided understanding of their dynamic, I know that her refusal to help Bishop isn’t going to end well. He gives her a flat white card with a recording device in it to slip into her FBI-agent girlfriend’s wallet. Instead of planting it, Kalinda snaps it in two, then smiles at herself in a mirror. Hmm.
Meanwhile, as Cary’s trial draws closer, he realizes he’ll need to testify in order to explain the tape that incriminates him. Alicia and Diane tentatively embrace the idea — after all, what choice do they really have — but bring in Rita Wilson for a mock trial to expose any weak spots in his testimony. (I know Rita Wilson’s character has a name and a backstory, but it’s equally fun if you imagine that Rita Wilson was appearing as herself.) Rita Wilson tells Diane what she already knows: Cary’s a bad witness. Is anyone else upset that Cary stomped out of the room before Rita Wilson could ask her Beyoncé-related question? Would it somehow hurt his case if Cary thought “Drunk in Love” was overrated?
The show has repeatedly asked us to believe that Cary would be cavalier about the conditions of his bail, but I’m still not buying it, especially after Cary’s already been incarcerated, gotten shivved, and had a close call with his pre-trial services officer already. So it’s especially hard to believe that Cary would hide in Kalinda’s apartment to see her after Diane directed him to “talk to whoever he needed to” in order to get his head right for trial. Also, why would he think it was a good idea to hide in the dark at the home of a woman with a weapons arsenal and martial-arts training? Cary begs her to “act like she cares” about him for the two weeks before his trial. She refuses, and I think we’re supposed to believe she does so because she cares a great deal but doesn’t want to put his case in jeopardy? Maybe?
And so it’s Alicia who brings Cary the advice and comfort he needs in order to get in the right mental space for the trial. “You’re lost in the indignation and the anger,” she tells him. “You can’t see past them, and neither will a jury if you don’t get them under control.” She goes on to tell him that he’ll be great, and it’s maybe the most visibly emotional we’ve ever seen Cary. He’s legitimately moved. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I have a few friends who are just starting to watch The Good Wife, which means I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Early Alicia Florrick lately, and the ways that she’s changed. The friendship between Cary and Alicia, adversaries early on, is such a strong example of that.
But there were other strong examples of how Alicia’s changed in last night’s episode as well — framed by a focus group discussing Alicia’s candidacy, which Alicia stumbled on just as a woman was calling her an entitled bitch. What follows is a tailspin that’s not at all dissimilar to the one Leslie Knope went through on Parks and Recreation, when a focus-group member says he won’t vote for Leslie because she doesn’t look like someone who bowls.
What’s fascinating is that Alicia really cares by the end of the episode, assuring Eli that she’ll do whatever he says in order to win and happily showing up to a photo op he arranges at a soup kitchen she’d been caught Paul Ryan–ing earlier in the week. She wants the cameras around. She wants everyone to like her. It’s a far, far cry from the woman in the series premiere who just wants to be left alone and go back to work. Have we reached the end of Saint Alicia?
Next week, we’re going to dive into why Castro left the race, right? Just like The Good Wife to sneak that detail in with such studied casualness and two minutes left in the episode.