I’ll get to Alicia in the soup kitchen in a moment, but I’ll start with the Cary storyline, because it featured what was easily the best acting Matt Czuchry has done all season. It took eight episodes, but tonight we finally got to hear the damning recording of Cary yucking it up with Bishop’s crew. Cary insists that the recording doesn’t tell the whole story of that conversation, but since pretty much everyone who could have possibly testified to that effect has been murdered, Cary says he has to testify himself. No one thinks this a good idea, and they bring in Rita Wilson to mock cross-examine him. Cary sucks on the mock witness stand, just like everyone said he would, and things aren’t looking good for him at all.
Let’s get real — Cary’s not spending ten to fifteen years in federal prison. Like, that’s just not happening on The Good Wife. So we should only really be caring about where this trial brings Cary as a character. That Cary can be entitled and a bit cocky is a surprise to no one; it’s not a coincidence that the actor playing Cary is the same guy who starred in I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. (And Nichelle Tramble Spellman’s script draws a nice thematic line from Cary’s entitlement to Alicia’s perceived entitlement in the focus group.) What this episode taught us about Cary, though, is that in the right environment, Cary’s actually the uncool one, looking to be cool and boost his street cred. The wonderful irony of this is that Cary shot himself in the foot by trying too hard to fit in with a bunch of drug dealers.
To make matters worse for Cary, the woman he wants to be his boo is sleeping with someone else. And it’s driving him crazy — so crazy that he goes to Kalinda’s apartment and waits for her there in the dark. Of course, we know that Kalinda is sleeping with Lana Delaney not just because she doesn’t want to be exclusive, but also because she’s trying to figure out what the Feds know so that Lemond Bishop won’t strangle her to death with one of his brightly colored ties. One night, while Lana and Kalinda are slinking around in satiny sleepwear and drinking wine (get it? they’re ladies), they both get phone calls. Kalinda overhears Lana say Bishop’s name flat-out, and she knows that’s bad, because all Bishop knows how to do is wear pinstripes and murder everyone. So she tries her best to lie to Bishop, but he doesn’t believe her and gives her some strange blank credit card-looking thing to put in Lana’s wallet. At the last moment, though, Kalinda snaps the thing in half, ensuring that a target’s going to be on her back. Knowing that this is her last season, I would be worried for her physical safety, but they just killed Will thirteen episodes ago, so she’s probably not going to die. But what is the price she’ll pay for defying Bishop’s orders?
No show is as good as this one at coming up with topical cases that don’t feel topical. Even the guest stars in these cases feel like real people. In this week’s case, Alicia is brought in by Owen to be a silent advocate for one of his students, who has filed a complaint seeking to expel her alleged rapist. But Alicia can’t stay silent, and she plays Cyrano for the victim through her cell phone, texting the student and Owen to get her argument across. I loved the strategy, but Stevie Wonder could have seen that they were being fed their questions by Alicia. Anyway, when it looks like the case against the rapist will be dropped, the accuser sues the whole school. It looks like the case will turn into a class action suit thanks to a “rapist wall” at the university, but when the university decides to expel the alleged rapist, his accuser drops the suit.
The other great thing about this case was the chance to see Louis Canning again, this time as the attorney representing the university. In true Canning style, he plays up the symptoms of his tardive dyskinesia to expedite the suit. It’s only later that we find out that the kidney transplant he claimed to be getting wasn’t actually happening. That final scene between Alicia and Canning was good, but I have to say that when Canning isn’t around, I don’t really miss him. I wonder how much I’d enjoy this character if he were played by someone other than Michael J. Fox.
Meanwhile, on the campaign front, Eli and Johnny (who’s looking more and more vulpine these days) have convened a focus group to determine how everyday folksy folks feel about Alicia the Candidate. Predictably, the initial feedback ain’t great. That’s an understatement, actually; one woman in particular, Sally (played wonderfully by my pal Ceci Fernandez), reads Alicia to filth. According to Sally, Alicia is selfish, entitled, and a doormat, all at the same time. Jarred by this, Alicia goes to her favorite drinking buddy Finn, who tells her to go volunteer with him in a soup kitchen. She actually shows up to do dishes, but of course, she’s coming straight from court, so she’s in a suit. And Finn, much to Alicia’s pleasure, is in a pullover hoodie. (Did y’all see the up-and-down look she gave him? Either that was hot, or I’m just really trying to make fetch happen with Finn and Alicia.) Somehow, Alicia’s surprised when the cell phone picture of her scrubbing a pot turns into an online article claiming she’s phony and opportunistic. Eli flips out on her and makes her promise to follow his lead on photo ops because he’s a pro. Her next photo op goes so well that Castro drops out of the race, and it’s now a head-to-head between Alicia and Frank Prady. I must say I will miss Sweeney Todd, but Frank seems like a much more formidable opponent for Alicia.
We know all too well what The Good Wife’s take on politics is by now. But with this episode, the show almost seems to be saying that we the voters see through politicians’ nakedly insincere attempts to seem folksy and down-to-earth and we reward them for it anyway. Wait. I guess that’s exactly what we do. That’s insanely depressing. But I still didn’t really buy it when Sally all of a sudden changed course and said she likes Alicia. Because here’s the thing about Alicia: she’s not likeable. In fact, the most likeable thing about Alicia is that she’s not likeable. She doesn’t seem to care what people think of her, which is part of what makes her a terrible politician. But in a world where women are socialized to be appealing (to men) at all times, forever, every moment, on pain of death, The Good Wife paints a portrait of a woman who’s shedding that burden. Thank goodness for that