I’ve finally broken down and decided to cover The Good Wife (see ya, Revenge!). That’s right people: quality Sunday TV for the win!
Let’s bitch it out…
No other show does cold opens quite like The Good Wife. These lengthy, sometimes confusing and often riveting pre-credit sequences offer a tease of things to come, but can just as easily be seen as a kind of miniature film. In my six years of watching the show, however, I will confess that I have seen one that has played out in such a confusing (or absurd) fashion as the opening for ‘The Line’, which finds Cary (Matt Czuchry) arrested and sent to lock-up. It precedes what proves to be a dynamic, fast-paced, “8 plates juggling in the air” kind of episode of The Good Wife and offers further proof that last year’s renaissance was no fluke or one-off. This is damn fine television and a genuine pleasure to watch.
After figuring out that Cary is being targeted as part of a larger attack on one of Florrick Agos’ top clients, Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter), everyone springs into action. It’s a testament to poor Cary’s bonds that so many of his friends are willing to drop everything to help out, including Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) who attempts to investigate and Diane (Christine Baranski) who takes over after Finn (Matthew Goode) has Alicia (Julianna Margulies) dismissed. Even Robyn (Jess Weixler) bravely offers her limited savings to help her boss make the ludicrously high bail. It’s just as telling who doesn’t help Cary, namely the other partners at the firm; they balk at the idea of using their own funds to secure his release (I love Other Carey’s [Ben Rappaport] simpering protest that he needs the money to pay rent. God I love to hate that asshat).
It’s a bit surprising that the case fails to unravel in the course of the premiere. Traditionally this would have been resolved and wrapped up by the end of the hour, so the final shock is that Cary remains in prison when credits roll, armed with little more than a few words of encouragement from Alicia. For the character, this is a truly dark moment: Cary is coming off a row with his partner, his firm is on the verge of adding a second female partner with whom he has an uneasy relationship and now he’s in prison on a significant drug charge that his enemies, including the slippery duo of Canning (Michael J. Fox) and David Lee (Zach Grenier), are already moving to use against him. Professionally, as an actor, this offers Czuchry an interesting and meaty storyline that’s unlike anything else he’s played on the show. I can’t wait to see how this plays out in the week(s) to come.
Of course, this wouldn’t be The Good Wife if it were only focused on Cary and his exoneration. Naturally there’s the question of Diane jumping ship from Lockhart Gardiner (is it still called that after Will’s passing? Too soon?) and when/if the aforementioned vultures will begin circling. Heading out of last year’s finale, one of my biggest questions was what the future held for the characters populating the world of LG if Diane leaves them behind. That question hasn’t been entirely answered, but the continued focus on Canning and Lee suggests that there may always be a role – in some capacity – for the men who love to make our protagonists’ lives miserable.
The other storyline that’s still cooking is Alicia’s potential run for States Attorney – something she’s not prepared to entertain (my husband breathes a sigh of relief), but something that Eli (Alan Cumming) refuses to let go of (my husband groans). The political side of The Good Wife has never been my favourite aspect of the show, particularly when it involves Peter (Chris Noth) and his sexual dalliances. In the beginning of the series, it made sense to include the infidelity / political stuff because it helped to define not only Alicia was, but also shed light on the circumstances that were driving her decisions. I’m not feeling quite the same fatigue over these kinds of storylines as in other years, but aside from the comedy of debating whether the intern is wearing panties (she’s not!), I’m a little worried at how much this will pull attention away from the A-plot, which is – and always should be – Alicia doing what she does best: kicking ass and taking names, while looking amazing in designer suits.
Small complaints aside, though, this is a great start to another season of one of TV’s smartest dramas. Welcome back, TGW. I’ve missed you so.
- Eli (Alan Cumming) pursues the Alicia angle on multiple platforms: he has Bonita (Samantha Mathis) conduct a poll that indicates Alicia would win by a landslide and then pits Castro (Michael Cerveris) against Peter (Chris Noth) so that that bridge is well and truly burned. Gotta hand it to Eli, even when he’s obviously doing what he shouldn’t, he still manages to get away with it.
- Eli’s daughter Marisa (Sarah Steele) obviously has her dad’s wit and bashfulness. I loved her improvised conversation between Peter and the intern around the potential lack of panties. “Really I have to wear panties in the office?” “Not if I had my way. Ha ha ha”. Inserting your own dialogue over other people’s conversations is such fun.
- Shipper alert: despite going after Cary with both guns blazing, how can you not love Finn when he interacts with Alicia? This has been one romance I’ve been waiting for with baited breath since the character was introduced last season. Their cutesy interactions in ‘The Line’ continue to suggest the romantic potential in such a pairing, which makes me exceptionally happy that Matthew Goode is back as a regular.
- Am I a bad fan of the show if I can’t immediately place Kalinda’s old flame, Sophia (Kelli Giddish)? Kalinda sleeps with a lot of generically hot women who owe her favours and Sophia doesn’t strike me as particularly memorable.
- Callback to Cary’s difficult relationship with his father: the old bastard only offers $8,000 towards his son’s bail. Good on Alicia for keeping that from Cary when he asks, because that would hurt.
- Anyone else feel like it’s pretty obvious that Bishop used the $1.3 bail to figure out who the CI in his organization is, knowing if the ADA acted on it that the mole is one of the flunkies he brought with him to Alicia’s office? Lemond made it clear that he would take care of business himself when he warned Kalinda away, so I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t really care about getting Cary out of jail. The real trouble is the alleged recording that proves Cary offered legal advice on transporting drugs. That could get him killed.
- Finally, I debated whether or not to debate the issue of the titular line – which as AV TV Club points out is referenced repeatedly throughout the premiere both verbally and visually. To me it feels a bit obvious in a case about the ethics of helping drug dealers coming back to bite you in the ass, but maybe that’s a disservice? I’ll leave it to you to argue in the comments below.
Your turn: were you utterly confused throughout the entire cold open? Are you excited to see Cary in jail? Excited for Diane to flee LG? Do you care about Alicia possibly running for States Attorney? And should Alicia and Finn hook-up? Sound off below
The Good Wife airs whenever football overruns push it back to – somewhere around 9:30pm EST on CBS