The Good Wife
“This is semantics.”
“No, it’s the law. Know the difference? I get a gavel.”
So says Judge Schakowsky, while presiding over bail/bond court. I never thought I’d really be into the dramatic work of a performer I know best as Shooter McGavin on Happy Gilmore, but I’ve been loving Christopher McDonald’s performance so far this season. The Good Wife is full of surprises … and so is bail/bond court itself! Alicia’s happened upon yet another fascinating case, even though my attorney friends say this is happening to her roughly 700 percent more frequently than it should.
Alicia’s defendant, Roland, was arrested for making GHB. He claims to be innocent because he wasn’t making ACTUAL GHB — he was making a GHB-like substance, one that didn’t have the same chemical compound as GHB itself and was less dangerous. But Alicia, taking Lucca’s advice, tries to get Roland to say that he was trying to make GHB, even though he wasn’t, and it all gets considerably more complicated from there. It’s this very weird Catch-22 situation (and a trust-level check for Lucca and Alicia), but it all turns out it doesn’t matter whether it was real GHB or fake GHB or just a Ziploc bag full of Kool Aid powder, because Alicia’s defendant isn’t a real defendant. Sidebar: The prosecuting attorney in the case is played by Luke Kirby, A.K.A. JACK CREW FROM SLINGS AND ARROWS. Remind me to send The Good Wife’s casting people an Edible Arrangement at the holidays?
Grace, of all people, is the one who figures out that Roland isn’t who he says he is, by figuring out his address information doesn’t add up and by running his face through facial-recognition software, which produces a picture of him in a huddle with a bunch of other FBI agents. Rookie mistake, Roland! Alicia confronts him and he admits that, yes, he’s an FBI agent, and that if she blows his cover, he’ll tell the judge that she encouraged him to perjure himself about the GHB. (Technically, she didn’t tell him to perjure himself, but she did tell him HOW to perjure himself.) The FBI is trying to entrap the judge in a bribery sting — he’ll be offered a substantial cash bribe. All Alicia has to do is ask for a dismissal, and if the judge approves the dismissal, it’s proof he’s accepted the bribe.
But this is Alicia Florrick we’re talking about, and Alicia doesn’t play by other people’s rules. (Anymore. Should’ve come by in season one, Roland!) She tells Eli what’s happening, and he goes to the judge to warn him. On the one hand, it’s a win for Eli in terms of looking out for Alicia’s best interests, and Peter’s campaign, but it’s also a win for Eli himself, because he tells the judge that as repayment he’s going to need a little help with Frank Landau. Now we’re playing nice and dirty.
And warning the judge pays off for Alicia, too — when she next shows up for court, she’s given the bulk of the bail/bond cases for herself (she nicely shares with Lucca). But the most fascinating moment of the entire episode comes just after Roland learned the judge hadn’t taken the bribe. He’s furious, and Alicia stays composed, but after leaving the room, she has to stop and lean up against a wall to catch her breath. Was it nerves? Adrenaline? Surely not guilt. Guilt is more of a semi-annual emotion for Alicia. For the millionth time, I wish I knew what, exactly, went on in her head.
Meanwhile, Howard Lyman wants, 1) Alicia to represent him in an ageism suit against the firm for trying to oust him, and 2) To go on a date with Alicia’s mother-in-law. How does this man not have his own web series yet? He very literally wines and dines Jackie and comes away with $33 million in union billing for the firm, which is basically the definition of a baller move, or as baller a move as an aging, pervy attorney can pull off.
Back at the firm, Diane, wearing what appears to be a leather suit (since I guess now that Kalinda’s gone someone had to shoulder the leather suit mantle), tries to tell one of the new female associates she’s interested in mentoring her; the associate responds by saying she’d rather spend more time with her boyfriend. This makes Diane miss Alicia. (I guess?) And so she asks the equity partners whether they should start funneling Alicia work, which leads to her visiting Alicia in her in-home office … and then coming back the next day to rescind the offer, after she hears that Alicia has been helping Howard Lyman. Look, I’ll take any scene that puts Diane and Alicia together in the same room, but I never like seeing them bicker like this. Remember last season when Diane leaned across a table with sparkling eyes, talking to Alicia about how together, they could helm one of the biggest female-led law firms in the entire United States? I miss those days.
And because this is how politics work now, the next big, important thing for Peter’s campaign is to arrange for Alicia and her mother, Veronica, to appear on a mother/child cooking show called Mama’s Homespun Cooking. Stockard Channing’s inability to constrain her laughter at this prospect while Eli describes it is a high point of the episode. Predictably, the two of them can only hold up the charade for about 90 seconds’ worth of live television, and Eli’s thrilled, mostly because he knows Ruth will have to scramble to downplay the appearance and because he knows something — a lot of somethings — she doesn’t know about managing the Florricks. There’s a running gag throughout the episode about people trying to get in and out of Eli’s new, small office that I seriously could’ve watched go on for hours. Who knew it would be so satisfying to watch some of the greatest character actors of their respective generations squeeze through tiny doorframes?