This post contains spoilers for CBS’s legal drama, “The Good Wife”, up to Season 4 Episode 8 – Here comes the Judge.
This week we see Judd Hirsch join the show’s Honour Roll as the judge presiding over a bench murder trial. When Will discovers that his honour has already pre-judged his client as guilty, the firm decides to fight the case with a tactic I call – Trial by Ambush.
First they ambush the judge by turning the tables on him, putting him on trial. Then they ambush unwitting witnesses into testifying against him. Subpoenaing the law clerk was bad enough, but the fellow AA member was crossing the line.
However, as appalling as their methods were, I found myself entertained by the way everything played out.
Highly amusing was how Will blithely padded his co-counsel chairs. We start out with a smug Will facing off alone against brand-new ASA Laura Hellinger (Amanda Peet). The next time he is in court, he has Alicia by his side. And the next time they are in court, Diane is first chair.
Still unfamiliar with civilian court, Laura flounders under Will’s barrage of objections. Alicia witnesses this and gives her a piece of rather apt advice, “Don’t retreat. You’re either advancing or retreating.”
This must have really resonated with Laura, she was in the military for twelve years after all. Back in court, when she spots an opportunity to object, she glances at Alicia (seated in the gallery) who smiles and nods in confirmation. That was all the encouragement she needed and twelve years of litigation, albeit in a different court, come flooding to her aid.
Another clever addition to this week’s cast was the return of Kurt Fuller as Judge Peter Dunaway, someone they pulled a similar stunt on with a previous case, in order to get a mistrial. The look of acknowledgement between Alicia and Judge Dunaway was pure eloquence.
It was only fitting that the trial ended with Laura ambushing Will and team with a plea bargain, telling them of a solid lead on their client’s guilt. The look that Alicia gave Laura as the ex-JAG officer strode confidently away, was the same look she leveled on her children at the end of the episode.
It was the look of a guardian watching her wards grow up too fast, and the pain of growing was all hers, not theirs. It was the look of consternation as Alicia realised that the people she thought she needed to safeguard, no longer needed her guidance.
A frazzled friend who can now hold her own. A daughter who did not need to be comforted about a schoolmate’s death nor to be given advice on dating. A son who did not need protection from his father’s campaign but instead wanted to help out.
Zach and Grace are remarkably well-adjusted kids, considering the wringer they have been put through. Their father’s scandal, his imprisonment, trial and subsequent release. Their parents’ separation. Adjusting to a less afluent life, a new school. Dealing with the pressures of being a politician’s child.
I mean, Grace’s idea of acting out is reading the bible. When Alicia warned her about the trackers (“That always sounds so sci-fi.” Alicia quibbed to Eli), Grace responded with a curt, “I know, is that it?” But when Alicia drew back in hurt, the girl immediately reached out in apology. And though she kissed Connor, she did not agree to sex nor smoking nor cutting class. She really is a good girl.
And Zach is so ready to protect and help his parents, wanting to see them successful and their family whole again. Wanting to share their burdens rather than be one. He is unfazed by the scrutiny of the press and I cannot believe that nobody in the campaign office recognised him as Peter’s son.
However, the biggest ambush was not part of the case at all. Cary, or at least I think it was Cary – hard to tell with the rain and darkness, was jumped in the carpark and given a vicious beating. I would not put it pass the writers to make us think it was him but it turns out not to be.
Whether it was really Cary or not, at least we know that the attacker was sent by Nick and the target was Cary, because the thug mentioned a Calvin Klein suit. And with this beating the stakes suddenly got higher, a lot higher.
If Nick was willing to go this far, he is not going to leave Chicago quietly, whether he wins the government bid or not. Was this what he did in Canada? Made Kalinda doubt her friends. Drove anyone who grew too close to her away? Threatened them? Harmed them?
Because he must have figured out by now that Kalinda did not run away this time, not because she wanted to get caught, but because there was something holding her here. Halfway through last season’s finale, Kalinda was all ready to run.
We could see that she was full of regrets about having to leave. She liked working in Lockhard-Gardner, Will and Diane took good care of her and she was in turn loyal to them. She loved working and hanging out with Alicia and Cary, and she had friends all over the city, all dying to do her favours.
But she was ready to run. The thing that finally stopped her was Alicia telling her that Nick’s henchman had called her at home and said her name, a number and name she had not given.
Did Kalinda truly fear for Alicia’s (and her family’s) safety or did she just not want her friends to deal with the trouble that Nick might cause. By trouble I thought that it was going to be harrassment or threats, but actual physical danger? That is a whole new ballgame.
When Nick realised that Kalinda stayed for a reason other than him, he set out to discover and neutralise it. When he found out about Lana, Kalinda was not worried, thinking that he would not mess with a federal agent. However, when he ransacked Lana’s apartment, Kalinda almost told the other woman, but decided not to.
Was it because she was not ready to share her secret? Or was it because she did not want the FBI to go after Nick? There is also something in her past that Kalinda does not want the authorities to know. When she tried calling the police on Nick, he got her to stop by revealing the place she hid her guns and money, a cool ten thousand dollars.
And apparently, that was only a portion of what she stole from him. Though she did maintain that it was not stealing, that it was community property. What the hell kind of secret is she hiding?
When Nick showed Kalinda that surveillance photo, I was not sure if he was lying. After all, Lana had been investigating Peter since the first season. It only stood to reason to have Eli (his campaign manager) under surveillance as well. Also, we know from an earlier episode that the FBI have been wire-tapping Eli’s phone.
He might really have found it in Lana’s apartment. But this beating just makes me think that Nick is trying to get rid of his competition. Since intimidation might not work on a federal agent, he came up with a plan to discredit Lana, turn Kalinda against her.
With Lana out of the picture, he probably thought he was home free. Then up pops Cary Agos, being so chummy with Kalinda and his possessive gene kicks in again, zeroing in on a new target.
“You need to give it a rest, the whole alpha-male thing.” Kalinda gently tells Nick. We can see that she enjoys his company, at least in bed. A couple episodes back, Alicia asked if she loved Nick and she said, “No…I have difficulty being away from him.”
Is it because of the kinky sex? Her attraction to danger? Does she owe him a debt? Or does he have a hold on her, helping her keep a secret that she does not want disclosed? Or is she attempting to keep him in line, control his temper and actions, with her usual tactic of sexual seduction? Or is it all of these and more?
This week, Kalinda goes drinking with Will and she asks him a most interesting question, “Do you ever get jealous?” And Will comes back with a killer line, “Yeah. I’m narcissistic enough to think women should give up sex altogether after me.”
But what she really wants to know is, “How do you stop being jealous?”
Since this happened shortly after she told Nick to drop the alpha-male posturing, I thought she was trying to find a way to make him not act out in jealousy. She enjoys his company but does not like his possesiveness.
“Stop caring. Start seeing other people. Like anything, it wears off after a while. Or you tell the person – I don’t want you to see other people. But then you have to be ready to pack it up.” Will shares.
But when Kalinda appeared to be carefully processing his words and even thanked him, it threw me for a loop. Because as sound as his advice was, none of it was going to work with Nick.
Nick had already declared that he could love no one else, he tried. Furthermore, he was already telling Kalinda to stop seeing other people and he did not look ready to pack up and leave if she refused.
So either she was just being polite in thanking Will, or it was not Nick’s jealousy she was seeking advice on. After downing a few drinks, she lands an excellent parting shot, “I have to go to an AA meeting now.”
We end the episode with many questions. Did Cary really get beaten up? How badly? And how the hell can they be happily celebrating Thanksgiving if he is lying in a ditch or hospital somewhere, half-dead? Does Kalinda not know how dangerous her husband really is? How long will it take the people at Lockhart-Gardner to find out? How will they retaliate?
And I am beginning to fear for Alicia’s safety, because with Nick’s rampant paranoia and jealousy, she is in real danger of being his next target, even if she is the State Attorney’s wife.
But next week’s promo is an awful tease. Stockard Channing blitzing everyone, Dallas Roberts and Zach Grenier back for turkey day, it looks like an episode one would give thanks for. Now, if only Cary manages to enjoy it as well. Cannot wait.