Welcome back, Good Wife. Thank you for staying away until How To Get Away With Murder wrapped up, because those two at once were a few too many lawyers for my taste. And now, without further ado, we resume the weekly Power Suit Ranking — which, as a refresher, mixes an appreciation for the hot business attire on this show with each character’s actual level of influence. And is also subject to my own whims. As such:
16. Finn Polmar
Headline: NO GOODE IS BAD. Finn wasn’t present. AGAIN. So we have to settle for a screen grab of him from Downton Abbey. I’m starting to get concerned that maybe Matthew Goode and Julianna Margulies don’t get along, or something. Because although a slow burn is understandable with any post-Josh Charles romance for Alicia, it just seems weird that Finn is THIS DELICIOUS and their chemistry is THIS PALPABLE and yet nothing has come of it. And we have no idea if he’s returning, in light of his commitment to Downton, and… seriously, Good Wife, don’t be insane. LIVE AND LET BANG.
Moving onto people who actually DID appear on The Good Wife this week…
15. This Woman With A Terrible Job
The lady in red, giving us that “Uh huh, whatever you say” facial expression, played the assistant to a rich old homophobic hate-speech-hurling bastard who took the form of Ed Asner. Even worse, I THINK he said she’s his daughter? It’s unfortunate enough that she sits there texting while listening to the old man make sexist passes at women and toss around gay slurs. But if he really was her father, then it’s grosser because it’s your DAD talking about wanting to “bang that bitch and “split her in half.” Bang That Bitch Until She Splits In Half’ (And Other Surefire Ways To Get Your Junk Sawn Off), by Ed Asner coming soon to Barnes & Noble. Anyway, basically, this lady needs to quit and move to Canada REAL soon.
14. Marissa, a.k.a. the Body Woman
So, Marissa — Eli’s daughter, assigned to be Alicia’s go-to girl for anything — is smart and quippy. But the show doesn’t seem to have any idea why she’s really there. So she makes dopey comments about cookies and things, and sasses everyone, and gets lengthy scenes where she talks about serving in the Israeli army. She even flukes into a correct hunch now and then. She lacks any kind of larger purpose, though, and the show has gone to the trouble of creating an interesting backstory and casting an intelligent actress with good comic timing, and then proceeded to squander it on a character who just wants to skulk around offering Alicia milk and then saying things that are vaguely surly but couched in good cheer. I want more. NAY, I demand it.
13. All-American Mike
Listen Mike. Yeah, you on the left. If your entire school is teasing Lemond Bishop’s kid Dylan about whether his father kills people, and you are still stupid enough to BULLY said kid — to the point where he ends up with a black eye — then you may be the dumbest roughhouser in existence. You are going to get put in a microwave.
She spends a lot of the episode in this half-reptilian-pleather black coat, which looks good on her, but was distracting enough that I kept staring at it and forgetting to pay attention to her actual words. Basically, Kalinda is yet again reduced to being Lemond Bishop’s lackey. I can’t entirely tell why. Maybe because he was so mad at her for using Dylan as a bargaining chip for Cary, or maybe because he knows that she knows that he knows she never did anything with her girlfriend Lana and that key card (seriously, whatever happened to ANY of that story?). Whatever it is, she’s at his beck and call, and this week that means agreeing to pick up Dylan from school and drive him home for two straight weeks. She notices someone tailing them — badly; ham-handedly — and also has to listen to Dylan saying things like, “The kids at school say my dad killed my mom,” and asking her not to tell Lemond that someone harassed him because (and this went heavily implied but not directly said) Dylan didn’t want any of his classmates to turn up dismembered. She’s little more than a babysitter and a therapist. For Lemond, too: In a moment when he swallows the impulse to Murder and instead just calmly talks something through, she shows up to try and halt his baser instincts and then just shares a drink and encourages him to continue not stabbing people.
In short, Kalinda has been neutered.
But, she’s neutered with a good bracelet, which is some consolation.
His function this week is as go-between. It’s illegal for Elfman to know who Alicia’s PAC is (we know it’s Lemond), much less give that PAC information about where money needs to be spent. But Elfman and the campaign have set up a Twitter account — TobyZiegler44 — for sending coded messages. He gets points for using social media to game the system, even though if they’re not talking to the PAC then how does anyone know what Twitter handle belongs to whom? Anyway: The PAC, thanks to this enigmatic insider information about Alicia’s polling, has apparently started making Robo Calls delivered by a male voice that fulfills every stereotype of a homosexual, talking about Niles Crane’s stance on same-sex marriage and other such issues. The idea is to freak out the conservative suburban voter — it comes off like the Robo Call is accidentally going to the wrong district — but it’s also ugly and embarrassing, and Alicia instructs Elfman to use his “West Wing tweets” to tell the PAC to lay off the homophobia.
And that’s IT. I swear, the Good Wife is just wantonly pressing pause on things. Sexual tension with Finn? PAUSE. Alicia plants one on Elfman, then apologizes, then they have an awkward eye-boning? PAUSE.
Also: Stephen Pasquale’s ex-wife is Laura Benanti, who was way better in this episode, so… sorry to take it to a personal place, y’all, but I never said the Power Suit Rankings played fair.
10. Ann from America’s Next Top Model season three
She was Ann Markley for along time, and now she’s Annalaina Marks or something. But she is still the third-place finisher in ANTM’s third season — the one that yielded Semi-Blind Amanda and F’ing Yaya and Eva the Diva. I treasure that season immensely, not least because Tyra gave her a frumpy bob and a terrible blonde dye-job and every success Ann has had since then involved going back to the look that got her on the show in the first place.
Anyway, Ann, who appears to have had some nasal shaping that I don’t believe she needed, plays a lawyer in a TV show which is a Law & Order-style “Ripped From The Headlines” hour. Which is rich considering The Good Wife just ripped Ferguson from the headlines so hard and so hastily that they had to slap a disclaimer in front of the episode when events between the filming and airing made it feel even more insensitive and ill-advised. [The commenters agree that it’s supposed to be Alicia, and I actually had thought that also when I watched it because Alicia rolls her eyes at it, but then I psyched myself out and thought that Alicia wasn’t involved in the original murder trial and ergo it had to be someone else. But maybe she WAS. I haven’t had a second to refresh my memory of it yet. ANYWAY. If you’re reading this, know that I HEAR YOU and it probably IS a pseudo-Alicia and my brain just sucks.]
Ann may also have very limited acting skills. But in this particular role, that turns out to be an asset, because it’s not a well-acted fake TV show. Bravo, Ann. Way to pay the rent. I’m serious.
9. Niles Crane
He is fading. He and Alicia still meet up on the sly — like in hotel rooms — to discuss the shenanigans of their various campaigns. But she’s able to steal information when she notices the name on his caller ID at one of their meetings. Until now, too, we haven’t seen what Niles is up to enough that we know his true intentions. Is he playing Alicia, or does he really mean well? Here, in a storyline about Niles and Alicia competing for Ed Asner’s donor millions, we get the first scene entirely from Niles’s perspective — where the viewer experiences something WITH him that Alicia is not witnessing, meaning he’s not just acting for her benefit but out of honesty. When Ed Asner’s wealthy old chauvinist says he met with Alicia and then discusses the caliber of her ass, adding, “Give me an hour with her and she wouldn’t be walking straight for a week,” Niles’s startled response is to say that he doesn’t wish to denigrate his opponent because their disagreements are purely intellectual. “I’m not talking about denigrating her,” Ed retorts. “I’m talking about banging that bitch until she screams like a five-thousand-dollar whore.”
Niles is not impressed. If Mary Tyler Moore were here, she’d walk up and throw her hat directly into Ed’s face and sneer, “I will turn your world OFF with this smile, you classless knave.”
Later, when Niles tries to have a nice conversation with Alicia about Ed Asner, she starts turning off the faucet. He sadly seems to realize where her bread is buttered, and slinks out of there. Niles is still winning slightly in the polls, but as of this episode, he comes off like the better man who’s also going to lose. And maybe that’s ALSO all somehow part of his act, but… in that moment I found myself wishing he’d wipe the floor with Alicia, and force her to live with the person she’s became purely to get the thing that then slipped through her fingers. I also want to hug Niles. David Hyde Pierce is SO GOOD in this role. It’s a sincere pleasure to watch him.
8. Cary and Diane
These two are working for the infamous Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker), suspected — okay, near-certain — wife-killer and all-around creep who retains their firm, and specifically normally Alicia, to represent him in all manner of sleazy dealings that usually involve his wife incriminating him in order to extort things form him. In this case, a TV show ripped the murder of Colin’s first wife from the headlines and then cast an actor who looks and sounds identical to him. The twist is: Just when Diane and Cary prove that Colin has indeed been defamed, the prosecution turns around and says you can’t defame someone over something that’s TRUE, and proceeds to try and prove that Colin absolutely killed his first wife. Diane’s necklace takes this extremely well, surprisingly. But the problem is, Colin doesn’t trust them. [“Cary and Diane don’t like me,” he whines to Alicia. “I don’t like you either,” Alicia replies coolly, to which he says with wonderful dismissiveness, “Don’t be silly.”]
All you need to know is that C&D Music Factory achieves nothing in court until Alicia comes up with strategies to save them, over and over again. Diane Lockhart, for sure, is better than that.
She is also better than a sartorial ode to Colonel Mustard.
And I’m sorry, but that blazer is not even trying. It’s red, yeah, but that’s just a crutch. The blazer hopes we won’t notice how zippy it ISN’T if it’s a bright color. When it goes home at night, it nurses a bourbon while rereading its rejection letter from one of those Tanger Outlet malls.
7. Dylan Baker
First, stop the presses: Did y’all know that Dylan Baker is married to the actress who plays Lena Dunham’s mother on Girls (Becky Ann Baker, also Linda Cardellini’s mother on Freaks & Geeks)? My mind just punched a hole in itself and is slowly leaking air and making a tiny whistling noise. Almost like a kettle.
As Colin Sweeney, the divine Mr. Baker is as supercilious as ever — dripping with perversion and smug self-satisfaction. It’s a sight to behold. Especially when he fakes a breakdown on the stand and pretends to weep over the memory of the first wife he so deeply loved… whom we’re also pretty sure he strangled and then buried in a hole in the yard. Which he HUNG UP ON HIS 911 CALL TO DO. No, seriously, he called 911, reported that something happened to his wife in the CALMEST tone of voice, and then sighed and said, “Oops. I have to call you back.” It’s classic Colin Sweeney creepiness and it’s beautifully done, AND with a great tie on, to boot.
However, this mixed-up and bloody ensemble is what he was wearing when he learned he’d be under the microscope again for murder. A bit literal.
The TV show that portrays this crime hires a totally douchey British actor — he calls himself, earnestly, “a raconteur” — to portray Colin Sweeney, and they put him on the stand; it’s Dylan Baker in character makeup. It’s delicious. He’s SUCH a drip. He is ablaze with raging dinkfire. Baker must have enjoyed the hell out of this episode.
Anyway, Dylan Baker The Man, on his own, would have been atop the listings for being a damn national treasure. But we have to factor on the show, and Colin Sweeney dilutes that exultant win somewhat for being, well, Colin Sweeney. That he’s even THIS high is because, simply, he’s Colin Sweeney. He is so certain that he’s Teflon, he does himself no favors at any turn and still manages to get off. Alicia despises him, yet still — when pressed (okay, blackmailed, a little, because he knows the identity of her PAC and will release it) — she coaches him on how to get around the truth without perjuring himself. He is a great manipulator, even when he’s also blinded by his libido. He’s also totally creepy and I am concerned Alicia might end up on the business end of one of his nooses if she keeps sassing him. But that’s final-season material.
6. Laura Benanti
Laura here plays Dylan Baker’s wife, Renata. And she’s hella creepy herself. She gets on the stand and tells everyone that Colin boasted to her about the way in which he killed his first spouse, all because she wants to extort more money out of him (she has done something similar before, to get a seat on his board, in a non-euphemistic way). When Sweeney gets on the stand to try and defend himself, he gives a whole speech about how the Bible demands that man should punish his wife’s disobedience, and says, “That’s all I’m here to do – to DOMINATE.” Laura Benanti’s job is to get visibly yet still subtly turned on, as if this has all just been the hottest of foreplay. It’s funny.
You’d think that would make it seem like he has the power over her, but no. She gets $2 million more out of him by leaking things to the prosecution and basically being the puppet-master. He can’t see past her pheromones, which may be his undoing in whatever the final season of this show is (next year?).
Also, she looks totally foxy, and gives a hint of arousal to every single conversation she has with anyone. Including Marissa, about the Israeli army. Which is not hot talk for most people.
I just liked this shot of her glancing back at the TV screen, and being perfectly reflected in it. I want her to be on every show I recap. So far, it’s just Nashville and this one… COME ON, Scandal. Make my day. For once.
5. Lemond Bishop
Y’all, I fear Lemond’s reign at the top is over, perhaps for good. LOOK:
What is that unsightly garbage cloaking this tasty, hot criminal? Bright stripes sullied with Metallic Pee? He MUST be distracted. He has scaled the Cliffs of Insanity and thrown the end of his rope back over the rocks. He is somewhat discombobulated in this episode, asking Kalinda to drive Dylan around and then scrambling to figure out who’s on their tail — and barking things into the phone like, “That’s not how I asked for this to go down,” suggesting that the entire empire is on shaky ground. I am scared he’s going to die. He’s an AWFUL DRUG-DEALING KILLER who tried to send Cary to jail just out of spite over something Kalinda did, and yet I don’t think I can deal with it if he dies. Damn you, Bishop. Even at No. 5, you are still as high on my list as your customers are off your product.
This is a bit better, although that pocket square is hiding, confused. In the scene, you think Lemond is going to have Dylan’s bully killed after he extracts his identity from Kalinda — merely by asking, because she folds like a cheap pair of sunglasses these days — but when Kalinda goes back inside to talk him out of it, he’s on the phone with the boy’s parents, politely asking for them to speak cordially to their child about his behavior. Bishop tells Kalinda over a drink that he never had an attentive father, and that Dylan is the thing he’s proudest of in the whole world. Basically, he knows how to fight fire with fire if his family is threatened by drug mules and assassins, but when it’s just some dipshit with a Jansport, he’s powerless.
But, hello, lover. You’re not TOTALLY off your game. That outfit is a Valentine to us all. I want to make crepes on your beautiful cranium. YOU BLOODTHIRSTY DEATH-PEDDLER. I love you.
This kid gets points for being the one person Lemond will put before anything else, and thus, the probable impetus for his downfall. Much as I think Colin Sweeney’s proclivities will be the end of him — or at least, the fact that he is wrapped around his equally psychotic wife’s gorgeous finger — so do I think that Lemond’s protectiveness of Dylan will lead to him overlooking something, or acting rashly, in a way that takes him out for good.
3. Eddie Redmayne
First he wins an Oscar; then his name turns up on Niles Crane’s cell phone. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!
2. Ed Asner
So, yes, “Redmayne” is actually a different Eddie altogether. Mr. Asner, as I’ve mentioned, plays the deeply inappropriate Democratic powerhouse with the deep pocketbook. When Alicia sees that he’s calling Niles, she tells Elfman, and they coach her on how to pip Niles at the post. This was not SUPPOSED to involve letting an octogenarian paw at her legs…
… but it does. He also says to her, “I’ve got the testicles of a twenty-year old,” to which she snaps, “Where? In your briefcase?” He finds this hilarious. I can’t tell if he’s testing her or not, with all the sexual stuff. Later on, I do think he was testing Niles — not that he doesn’t THINK all those gnarly things about Alicia, but that he believes any Man’s Man would chortle and agree with him and throw some sexual remarks on top of the bonfire. See, Ed’s problem with Niles is that he hates gay people, and he thinks Niles is one of them. (This is the hot rumor.) He chucks slurs around left and right and tells Alicia that she can have his money, because she shares his “traditional” values. “Kick the fruitcake when he’s down,” Ed chuckles, as Alicia looks on in horror (and Ed’s daughter/aide just plays Candy Crush and stares into middle distance, because she clearly had a mental break like seven campaigns ago).
But, Ed lands here because his money is make-or-break, in a way, and Alicia badly needs him. So badly that I think she accepts his offer even though he’s vile. Because it’s “dark money,” and thus, I believe, anonymous. SHE knows where it’s coming from, though, which means she now has two gross people paying into her campaign in some way. Which brings us to…
She DOES look good in this suit. I wish I had gotten a clear grab of the whole thing — it’s read and black and sleek but not tight… classic Alicia Florrick. And in Classic Alicia Florrick fashion, she gets everything she wants this week and is the engineer of her own fate, so straight atop the rankings she goes.
This jacket is also very Alicia…
… as is this one. Also, we get this facial expression a lot. Alicia spends the entire episode winning Diane’s case for her — it’s she who realizes they can get it thrown out for copyright infringement, because the episode shows almost four minutes of a ChumHum logo they did not pay for, including a scene implying Colin Sweeney USED ChumHum to help murder his wife, or something. And THEN Alicia gets Ed Asner’s money, and it would appear she is willing to use it. Because when Niles comes to her at the end and clearly wants to discuss what a homophobic pig-ignorant crasshole Ed is, Alicia coolly shuts him down by wondering — oh so sweetly — if their illicit backchannel of conversation has run its course. Niles seems crestfallen; Alicia, hardened. Somewhere in here, she became ruthless, and it doesn’t look great on her, except in the sense that everything looks great on her because of Julianna Margulies’ DNA.
Consolation wine! DRINK. On this week’s Blabernet Sauvignon podcast, Alicia is like, “Liv, I’m being held hostage to my campaign,” and Olivia is like, “I was being held hostage AND SOLD TO IRAN,” and Alicia goes, “But I took a million bucks from a homophobe,” and Liv counters, “I COST TWO POINT FOUR BILLION DOLLARS ON THE FREE MARKET AND ALMOST SOLD MYSELF TO TERRORISTS TO FORESTALL MY OWN EXECUTION OR SOMETHING AND DIDN’T BLOWDRY MY HAIR FOR LIKE FOUR DAYS.” And Alicia’s all, “Yeah, but I didn’t spill my wine.”
And then there’s a tacked-on-feeling scene in which Alicia and her wine cardigan cry to Grace about how she’s a bad person who does bad things. Grace basically says, “That’s impossible, because you’re the best person in the whole world,” or something equally sycophantic and largely unrealistic out of the mouth of a teen. This causes the deluge of tears. It’s VERY abrupt and unearned, at least in this hour. Possibly the problem is that we’ve had a very long hiatus and it might have felt LESS sudden if we’d been watching in the season-long flow. But I can’t tell if she’s upset about helping Colin Sweeney, or taking Gross Ed Asner’s money, or kicking Niles Crane to the curb, or a combination thereof; the thing is, I believe Alicia would have been troubled by all that a season ago, or even a couple episodes ago, but this scene felt too much like a network note to me. As if someone said, “But we can’t have our heroine being such a jerk; please make her cry about it.” So… unclear where this is going, but I do know one thing: I need that wine cardigan.