This show is the Jacuzzi of television. I don’t care where it is or what it looks like; as soon as I get in, it’s just full-on soothing. I think the reason the Kalinda/Crazy Mr. Kalinda storyline of yore still grates like a block of cheddar is because there are rarely other such missteps. Or if there are, the show covers it with really, really slick writing, unlike Pretty Little Lawyers, which covers it with Cheez Whiz.
And now onto the recap/ranking.
So: The confidential informant inside Lemond Bishop’s organization is missing, and Finn figures out that he disappeared a) the day Cary was released from prison, b) shortly after Cary hung out with Kalinda, and c) right after Kalinda was seen talking to him. Finn is full of puzzle pieces and he’s not all bad at putting them together. EXCEPT. He loses, so TAKE THAT, and also, someone authorized him to change his hair. It might not be all bad, but it’s a little Hail Caesar for me right now. I just need some time, Finn. It’s not you, it’s me. But it might also be you.
He is the current State’s Attorney. This fool gets off on threats, so he purrs to Alicia that she can make Cary’s charges go away if he’ll just testify against Lemond Bishop. Then he tells her it would be unwise to run for his job, saying that this whole drug escandelo won’t look very good in the eyes of voters. Finally, later, he stops her at the courthouse and hisses that he isn’t sure why she’s running — even though at that point it was STILL conjecture — spitting out a few potential reasons before landing on, “Your lover Will Gardner was gunned down in one of my courtrooms and you blame me for his death.” Alicia stops dead and narrows her eyes, and in that second, ugh, she’s totally going to run. I don’t know why that upsets me so much, but I think it’s because I like her camaraderie with her cohorts, and also — much as with Finn’s hair — I fear change deeply.
11. Taye Diggs
His Holy Tastiness gets to work with Alicia for the first time this week, but he doesn’t contribute that much except a buttery baritone and a quoted piece of scripture. Oh, and the reveal that he wanted to be a priest: “[But] I decided I wanted justice in this world, not the next.” Now, I love me some Diggsy, but I have to object to the combination of costuming and posture in this shot. The vest plus his hunch = his shoulders are sloping like a black diamond run, as if that vest weighs a hundred pounds. It’s FINE but in this shot it makes him look put-upon, when he should look edible. By contrast:
Shoulder pads: It’s what’s for dinner.
Eli provided his usual semi-angsty brand of comedy, and little else. But he’s being immensely restrained in the way he plays Alicia like a guitar — lots of knowing smiles and protestations of innocence, and then one exceedingly casual plea for other candidates because Peter has to endorse someone the next day and he’ll be forced to throw his support to Castro. Alicia nearly vomits all over his necktie, because Castro is a slimy gross smarmbag. It is a master stroke. HOWEVER: As much as I enjoy his suit, I hate his office color palate. He loses marks for stuffy interior decor.
Let’s start with the bad news: That tie is not photographing well. Cary is also under scrutiny from Linda Lavin, who as his pre-trial service officer is evaluating him as a flight risk. What’s more, Finn wants to throw him back in the slammer for threatening their CI’s life and forcing him into hiding. Which is crazy to me, because nothing about Cary Agos reads as a mini-mafioso. Linda elicits the info that he lost four clients through all this but kept one, which… I’m unclear whether that means he only had five clients, or we just only HEARD from one because he is the Case of the Week. Regardless, the universe and the legal system he purports to uphold are conspiring to press down really hard on his head and see whether it can pound him into the earth like a Whack-A-Mole.
And look, he’s really trying to keep up in the suit game, but he’s been in prison. He’s rusty. he’s just that little bit less precise, a little but rumply.
HOWEVER, he’s back in Kalinda’s bed — and inspiring her to let out some rapturous noises — so his scantily clad rump gets to scoot up the ladder a few more spots this week. Nothing saying a power suit can’t also be a birthday suit.
Diane gets caught unawares this week by the missing confidential informant, and the video trail leading to Kalinda. She has to turn to Kalinda to get them out of it, and otherwise is stuck as a bit of a sitting duck when media outlets start reporting (prematurely) that Alicia is going to run for State’s Attorney — which prompts people to show up at the office looking for jobs on her campaign. Diane herself, in her Linda Lavin interview, indicates that she feels her position at Florrick Agos Lockhart is less stable even than Cary’s. And although her business attire for that interview is nice, she blows off the accessories. Oh, Diane. Don’t hold back.
See? It’s so good when you just accept the decorative arts. Also, I like the plaid suit. TV had a real plaid moment this past week, what with four people on Scandal and now Diane Lockhart. I’m ready. I’m ill-prepared (and ill-suited) for The Return of Culottes — some fashion mag posted a picture of some the other day with the phrase, “These basic culottes will look perfect with anything!” and I screamed, because IT’S LIES — but I embrace plaid with the same part of me that was happy to see paisley. Also, I’m pretty sure a celebrity baby is going to turn up named Paisley.
This is what Diane would wear if she needed to attend a courthouse wedding. Not her own, but someone else’s.
And this is what she wears when she’s bogged down by legal details: another chain around her neck, heavy, thick, yet indisputably still awesome because even in symbolism she kicks ass. (Cary, by the way, also got docked some points for how terrible that tie is.) Diane scores for the necklace and the color of the outfit, but given that she essentially reacted instead of acted — and then delegated said acting to Kalinda — and is going to be left holding the bag at the firm, she didn’t have a whole lot of Diane Rockhart moments this week.
7. John Boy Walton
Richard Thomas is Cary’s remaining client, who has invented some kind of bionic seed or whatever, and he has a huge monopoly. He found out his neighbor is planting and replanting those seeds without paying for them, and after a lot of agriculture porn, the gist is: He’s impatient with courtroom bickering and so he and his neighbor get together and kick this thing to Christian Moderation.
And no, that doesn’t mean “Something Moderated By Christian Borle,” although Christian is present, as the accused’s counsel. Anyway, this thing is called The Matthew Process, and I can tell you right now that a writer for The Good Wife got the idea from this New York Times article dated March of this year. It essentially requires mediation and conflict resolution per the tenets of the Bible, and I will tell you right now that this ends up played mostly for quaint laughs about the vagaries of scripture and what the show presents as a (largely) simple-minded adherence to them. The laughs they mine out of Christian and Alicia trying to one-up each other through verse were effective, but the story was RIFE with eye-rolling and did not, in the end, do a great job NOT being condescending. I say that as someone who is not religious. The whole thing was like, “Look at this ridiculous thing that small-town people do!”
John-Boy and his friend ultimately hate all the bickering and come to a solution on their own. Which you’d think would give them LOTS of power, but they are written almost as sad-sacks, and were the most boring part of the storyline, so: Sorry, farmers. First you have to deal with nosy livestock whispering about your personal life, and now this.
Observe the iconography at play. God did pretty well this week; His loyal believers negotiated their own settlement, picking the pockets of the lawyers, and Grace Florrick had a nice moment of discussing her faith with Alicia. However, said moment involved disavowing that God created the world in seven days — she basically says, if you’re telling a story about something true but you want it to be memorable and impactful, you might fudge the details; if God created the world, telling people He did it in a week makes it sound super impressive and sticks in your mind. He can’t have been too pleased with her busting His storytelling strategies wide open like that. And, of course, His Christian moderaion/The Matthew Process broke down and got roundly snickered at, so He is probably going to get a case of the Popcorn Sads tonight in front of his television (this, in case you can’t tell, involves watching whatever is on cable while plowing through a bag of Orville Redenbacher). But He’ll have to deal with it, because in the bargain He got a LOT of Bible verses quoted, as Alicia and Christian Borle went head-to-head trying to use scripture to prove that intent is irrelevant when you commit a sin. And as any Kardashian worth her Ks can tell you, any press is good press. Unfortunately for the G…
5. Robert Sean Leonard
Robert Sean Leonard, the moderator, goes off to pray about this and essentially comes back and says, “You’re right, this Bible is FULL of contradictions; screw religion, let’s go with FACTS.” And God is like, “Listen, I created the world in seven days and that Book is long AND I DIDN’T HAVE A COPY EDITOR. CUT ME SOME SLACK.”
I’m glad RSL popped by Josh Charles’ old stomping grounds, but I wish he’d gotten to go up against Knox Overstreet himself. I also wish — per a discussion on Twitter the other day — that we’d get vists from other Dead Poets Society cast members. Maybe even in an episode where half of them just drift through the background of other scenes. Josh Charles could direct. We could all stand on our desks.
After last week’s pelvic glyphs, Alicia bounced back with some perfectly polished business ensembles like the above, and then this AMAZING one below:
This was paired with simple black pants, and she looked so good in it that I was actively annoyed that the episode required her to change clothes. Please, show, let her bust this out again when she’s on her inevitable campaign trail.
This week, Alicia delves into the Bible to learn a new way of legal wrangling, while looking beautiful…
… wears a waffle-knit hoodie and thick-framed glasses, while looking HIP and beautiful…
… and takes no guff from anyone, including those who insist she should run. But she’s considering it now, because — and this is why she’s not nearer the top of the list — she is decidedly NOT immune to the power of a well-stroked ego. Alicia is not the sort of person who dives into controversy, but I think splitting from Lockhart Gardner and starting her own firm has given her a little courage and confidence, and so all the reasons she thought she shouldn’t run get eviscerated when she comes face to face at a campaign event with Gloria Steinem. And Gloria pushes so many of her buttons that Alicia even starts hallucinating later that Gloria told her she was perfect, and her heir apparent in the realm of fighting for women’s rights. This is not something I ever associated with Alicia — she is calm, she is confident, she is certainly a role model, but she’s not the one to anoint herself any of those things. And frankly, it’s a little unsettling to see her go googly eyed over the merest word from someone, ESPECIALLY one week after she was gobsmacked by boring Valerie Jarrett. I know Eli put Val up to that, but still. It’s too much fluffing. And sort of sad that worked, even if Gloria has a point.
I think that really is what bothers me the most. Alicia, at the end of the hour, storms in to ask Eli what it would look like if she ran. What’s the strategy, what’s the campaign, etc. And I got no sense that she weighed that for HERSELF, and every sense that she just let other people goad her into snapping. Castro is trying to scare her off, but his grossness only galvanizes her. Gloria and Valerie both play to her vanity — the idea that she might be a paragon, an icon to others, leading the fight for more women in power positions. Those are nice things, but they’re also not reasons to run if, fundamentally, you aren’t into playing the game. Because what happens when you win? Then you have to do the job you asked for, and maybe you didn’t think that far ahead.
I forgot to get a picture of Kalinda this week, so I’m rerunning this one. Although frankly, most of what we got from her was of her behind Cary in some way — or, Cary behind her, but, er, rather intimately, and slammed up against a window. She apparently told Lemond Bishop who the informant was, and then warned the informant — Lemond is going to find out about this, because the video of them conferring is on file, and he will not be tickled — so she has to come up with a way to discredit Finn’s argument that Cary got her to threaten the CI. She digs up that said informant’s wife is having an affair, it was super easy, there is sufficient reason to doubt that Cary did anything, and… basically, it’s a tie. Kalinda’s convenient and quick digging saves the day, so she gets huge credit for that — ultimately, without that, Cary is back in jail. But the final vote comes down to…
2. Linda Lavin
She gets some fun scenes as an office drone, who has to assess Cary’s mental state and whether he’ll try and run. Every time we cut to her, she’s on the phone while her interviewee is waiting for her, and she’s always saying something like, “What? I never heard him say that. No.” It’s an entertaining touch. Otherwise, she plays it straight and disapproving, and I got a kick out of it. After lots of dry questioning and skeptical glances, she is asked to be the deciding vote about whether Cary is a flight risk. (This seems dumb to me, that the judge can just be like, “Well, hell, IT’S A TIE, let’s let this random woman decide!”) And of course, though she senses Cary’s terror at going back to prison, she sees that he’s too protective of his job and his firm to ever take such a stupid chance as to threaten the life of a witness. And I have to say, I enjoyed her scenes, but did not, in the end, think they conveyed what she testified. It doesn’t matter, because Cary stays out of jail, but… it was kind of a lame payoff for her, to have her get on the stand and stutter through an assertion that Cary isn’t going to run.
1. Gloria Steinem
I will be honest, I have no idea what the hell she was wearing. Is it a dress? A suit? A sweater? It doesn’t matter. Gloria Steinem was given the Hallelujah moment of the episode, for Alicia. When she saw La Steinem, Alicia practically passed out, and then had two daydreams about winning her praise. Glo also teed up Valerie Jarrett’s cameo and knocked it clean into 2015. Her advice boiled down to: If Alicia thinks she’d be good at it, then why NOT run? Why wouldn’t she want to? They need more women to stand up and go for it, and… it’s not that different of a sentiment, but she says it in a way that obviously tickles Alicia. She cemented Alicia’s change of mind in such a way that all Castro had to do was leer at her; that closed the deal, but it was Gloria that finally brought it to the table. Assuming Eli presents a viable plan, it would seem Saint Alicia is going to put that moniker under the microscope and potentially through the shredder. And then be stuck having to work for Peter. Ugh. I imagine this ending with Alicia winning the election and sitting down at her desk and the episode ending exactly as The Graduate does — with the realization that after you score the big win, you don’t just get to go home while the credits roll. I may have talked myself into this being an interesting story after all.