Before I watched last night’s episode of The Good Wife, I kept my eye on and briefly participated in some back-and-forth on Twitter about whether or not it’s out of character for Alicia to be running in the State’s Attorney’s race, especially now that Castro is out of the running. I’m of the opinion that Alicia’s actions are out of character only if you expect her to still be the person she was in season one, episode one. She’s changed! It’s exciting! So I was surprised to see how divisive an idea this was — apparently, a lot of people feel that Alicia’s “too private of a person” to run for office. But what I think last night’s episode proves is Alicia’s desire not to be private, but to be public on her own terms. That’s maybe a hair-splitting distinction, but, then again, The Good Wife’s always been fond of nuance.
We don’t get an explanation as to why Castro suddenly dropped out of the race — and honestly, I’m not quite sure why I’ve fixated on that so much when the reason was probably something along the lines of “David Hyde Pierce was available, so …” But we also don’t get a clear explanation as to why Pierce’s character Prady was able to enter and immediately leapfrog three points ahead of Alicia in the polls, but her campaign manager and his crack team of political ad consultants are determined to get Alicia back on top. I’m not sure how many political ads the average State’s Attorney campaign typically has (probably way less than this), but I’m not going to complain about any story line that gets us David Hyde Pierce’s head on the body of a dinosaur. Priorities.
While Alicia’s team is focused on attack ads, she’s not so sure she wants to go negative — Prady shows up at her office with a neatly taped box of opposition research Castro passed on to him, and a promise not to use any of it. Alicia’s skeptical but takes the box home and lasts almost until bedtime before tearing it open and discovering proof of Peter’s affair with Ramona, whom he’s apparently had a thing with on and off since before Grace was born. (This bolsters the “Peter is Lauren the Panties Intern’s dad theory.) Alicia smiles through a joint interview with him, then finally unleashes on him alone in the back of a town car with a speech so majestic, I’ll include its conclusion without further commentary: “You want to be reelected? You want me to be elected? Then zip up your pants, shut your mouth, and stop banging the help.” Peter tries to break things off with Ramona and winds up kissing her instead. Whoops. Somewhere in the midst of this, Alicia and Finn have a brief bout of awkward hand-holding, swinging me firmly over into the “Guys, just make out already” camp. The tension there is almost literally unbearable.
Alicia’s equally uneasy about the positive ads her campaign managers want to put out there — it’s not that they’re crass, but they’re definitely unsubtle, especially the ad they’re assembling that references Will’s death, intercut with interviews from Finn and Alicia and sad Irish music. Marissa Gold, who needs all the lines in every episode, offers some scoring suggestions, saying, “How about the music from Titanic? You could even cut to scenes from Titanic?” Alicia’s first crack at her interview about Will is properly moving, but there’s a problem: She’s wearing the same dress that Prady’s mother is wearing in one of his ads, so Elfman asks her to do a reshoot, and it’s hilariously bad. Alicia lapses into Dixie Carter mode and presses her palm to her chest melodramatically and can’t get back a second of the authenticity that made her initial take so moving. Marissa offers Alicia a glass of consolation milk.
Prady and Alicia speak a few more times throughout the episode, and both seem legitimately sincere in their desire to keep the campaign clean but come to the realization that even though it’s their race, it’s not really their campaign. Prady had promised he’d try to make things right if his PAC ran negative ads, but both he and Alicia are realizing they have less control over their PACs than they’d like to. “They’re going to drag us down into the pit, Alicia,” Prady warns her, but with one ad out that questions whom Alicia is in bed with now (complete with crude animation) and another ad with Prady’s head on the aforementioned dinosaur body that heavily implies he’s a closeted gay man, let’s face it. They’re already in the pit.
Meanwhile, in “Cary doesn’t really care that much if he goes back to jail or gets murdered as long as another woman isn’t sleeping with his not-girlfriend” news, Cary and Diane get called down to the FBI offices, where they’re played a wire-tapped recording of Bishop planning to kill Cary. Because Lana, the agent who’s sleeping with/dating Kalinda is in on the meeting, Cary storms out and insists the tape has to be fake, but Kalinda gets him a bodyguard anyway. And then, for no discernible reason aside from, like, the YOLO spirit, Cary gets his new bodyguard to drive him to Bishop’s house, where he confronts him in his living room.
Bishop explains that he was just saying he wanted to kill Cary, which seems flimsy, and calls out Cary for having hired a bodyguard in the first place, but the two of them reach an uneasy truce by the end of the meeting. Still, I can’t quite reconcile the risks that Cary keeps taking with his life and liberty — he’s always been a risk taker professionally, but he’s never stopped looking out for himself quite like this. Stay tuned for next week, when I analyze the metaphorical resonance of the fact that Bishop’s son was begging Cary to play Rat-a-Tat Cat, a game whose packaging warns, “a poker face is just one of the skills players need to perfect.” Way to start ‘em early, Bishop.