The Good Wife
You can relegate her son to pariah status for getting his ex-girlfriend pregnant and annex her daughter until she’s needed to advance a plot point, but last night’s episode of The Good Wife proved that you can’t take the mother out of Alicia Florrick. Just look at what she did for Cary. He needed to get ready for prison and she didn’t have the tools to teach him what he needed to know, so Alicia did what all upper-class moms do and sent him to day camp. (I know this comparison hinges on the idea that Alicia and Cary have a parent-child relationship, something I wouldn’t have suggested at all before this season, but how else do you classify the relationship between you and the person who pays for your “camp,” drops you off, and tells you to call her after?) Like all effective camp counselors/pre-prison consultants, Cary’s knows exactly where to start. “Let’s find you a white friend.”
Lemond Bishop is exactly as pleased as you’d imagine to be asked to be Cary’s convict matchmaker, but at the same time, he’s also a lot calmer about the sight of Kalinda in his kitchen — again — than perhaps he should be. He’s still incredibly intimidating, but he loses a little clout as the show’s all-encompassing bogeyman every time a cast member gets to show up in his home uninvited and waltz out unscathed. On the phone with the connection Bishop’s made to help Cary, Kalinda gets a bit of news: Trey Wagner and his crew were trying to export drugs out of the city and into Toronto, but Cary was convicted of helping them import drugs to Chicago. The drugs were already in the city, so there was no way for Cary to conspire to get them there … only Cary’s already plead guilty.
And so begins a six-hour scramble to exonerate Cary before his sentencing, and a master class in everything The Good Wife does perfectly. I spent a lot of the show’s hiatus wondering how they’d undo what they’d done to Cary — for the record, my money was on a time jump with Cary nearing the end of his sentence and Alicia already in office as State’s Attorney. My main concern was that whatever trick or storytelling The Good Wife’s writers used to change the course of Cary’s story would feel like a letdown or a ripoff after everything that went into actually getting him into prison. And to be fair: There’s a certain writerly audacity behind the decision to take down ten episodes of storytelling in less than an hour. But it’s intricately constructed and perfectly paced and, perhaps most important, it gives Christine Baranski multiple opportunities to make “rally the troops”–style exhortations. And not for nothing, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
Here’s how it all shakes out: Diane brings the new information (Cary is charged with trying to help import drugs two full weeks after they were already safely in Chicago) to the case’s judge, who says he’ll only let Cary change his plea if there’s a Brady violation in the case — that is, a situation in which the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence. (I love that The Good Wife thinks I’m smart enough to know what it’s talking about when it comes to due process.) Kalinda leverages her ties with the Canadian police and finds that an officer in Ontario emailed Detective Prima about the drug export, but never heard back — her near-sprint through the firm’s offices with her laptop and Skype session still open after she discovers this link was particularly well-executed.
Even though Kalinda’s discovery leads to a subpoena of the police precinct’s backup files, it’s a dead end — the email from Canada went to Prima’s spam folder and was never opened. Kalinda starts down the dicey road of asking how she could fake the metadata of the email to make it appear as though the email had been read. Other Car(e)y comes by with a lead, and Kalinda walks away from the metadata files she’d been toying with. Also, at some point in all of this, Cary’s prison day-camp counselor tells him to “get laid” because he needs to “start making memories now,” so he and Kalinda have weird hotel day sex (after a yell-fight about the hunt for the Brady violation), which is probably exactly what Alicia had in mind when she spent $9,000 on prison consulting.
THEN (seriously, this was like nine episodes’ worth of television), Kalinda goes to Detective Rodriguez, who admits he was dismissed from Trey Wagner’s case for not wanting to follow James Castro’s exact agenda. She pushes him to testify, but he’s reluctant, and she’s called away to court anyway, only to discover Carey and Diane there with the falsified metadata. An already-furious Judge Cuesta arrives (Peter had arranged for him to be kept occupied by an associate to buy Diane and Kalinda more time) and looks at both the metadata and the sworn statement Rodriguez finally agrees to give, claiming Cary was the victim of entrapment. Geneva Pine asks for a retrial, but Cuesta’s having none of it. “You’re free to go, Mr. Agos. With our apologies.” Cary and Diane’s responses are both profoundly affecting, but Kalinda’s reaction is just as fascinating. With the metadata fraud and the favor she owes Bishop hanging over her head, I can’t help wondering whether Kalinda’s the one who will end up in prison.
Meanwhile, Alicia’s preparing for the State’s Attorney debate, and it’s not going particularly well. Her stand-in opponent is an actual, nutty professor, high on glaucoma meds (Fake Frank Prady needs a spinoff and an all–Middle English Twitter account immediately), and the cameras exacerbate all of her worst tendencies: snarky, defensive, dismissive. Finn Bolmar stops by to spar with her a bit, and then Peter turns up to take his place. From there it explodes between the two of them — it’s more of the same, “You’re nothing without me” “No, you’re nothing without ME” argument — but also, hilariously, between Johnny Elfman and Eli. Honestly, the debate prep is probably worth a full-length television recap all on its own, and that’s a testament to how intricately constructed the episode was.
Alicia’s in the parking garage heading home when she gets the call that Cary’s free. She celebrates a little alone, sets off a car alarm, and then sees Elfman few cars down. She walks right up to him and kisses him square on the mouth, without preamble. Seriously, what on earth more could you want from an hour of television?