Sunday, January 4, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Kalinda Races Against the Clock to Help Cary While Alicia Has a Practice Debate in 'Hail Mary'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 6.11 "Hail Mary"

Cary hires a prison consultant to prepare him for incarceration while the team at Florrick/Agos/Lockhart does everything in its power to help him. Meanwhile, Alicia practices for the State's Attorney candidates' debate.

The Good Wife's first episode in the new year is a very tense one. Diane and Kalinda are racing against the clock to find a Brady rule violation that will keep Cary from going to prison. They have to do so in only six hours. They are racing against the clock to find proof - whether actual or invented. The score is at times overbearing but also adds to the atmosphere of tension and fast-paced action. Things happen very quickly in "Hail Mary." It's a highlight of Cary's various legal problems this season. It also happens to be one of the best episodes of the season so far.

This whole trial has been weighing down heavily on Cary. His odds at trial weren't looking that good so he took a plea deal. He pleads guilty and is sentenced to four yours - with the possibility of getting out after two for good behavior. And now, he has to face what all that means. He barely lasted a week the last time he was thrown in jail. Going to prison will be entirely different. He hires a consultant to help prepare him for the experience. His advice includes finding a white friend, don't trust the girlfriend but do bang her before being sent in and how to eat food. He engages but he's not actively enjoying his life anymore. Like he said, all he wanted to do was be a lawyer. And now, he can't even be that and that is majorly depressing.

This last ditch effort to save Cary's life is exciting and nerve-wreaking. It's almost entirely shown through Kalinda's eyes. It's largely just a pleasure to see her get an actual story again where she is making decisions and having to deal with the consequences. Too often the show loves the ambiguousness of that character. Her interactions with Lemond Bishop have strongly been filled with that dynamic this season. She fears him but also needs him in order to protect Cary. That leads to having to fulfill a favor. Answering a phone call seems simple but it has to be more complicated than that. But the more pressing and exciting issue is the fact that she falsely creates the evidence that leads to Cary's case being dismissed. She really does love him even though their relationship has always been complicated. His legal problems may be ending now but her's may just be starting - and could end in a very different way. That doesn't take away from the moment Judge Cuesta dismisses the case and the weight of it all leaves Cary's shoulders. But Kalinda definitely carries an "oh s#!t" face throughout that entire final sequence in the courtroom.

Meanwhile, Alicia is preparing for the upcoming State's Attorney debate. Between all of the stuff happening with Cary and the frequent swapping out of Frank Prady stand-ins, it's a highly tense story as well. She's distracted at first - and isn't aided that strongly by Chris Elliott's professor being high on "medical" marijuana. And then, Finn steps into the role and she becomes much stronger until Peter stops by to be supportive of his wife. Alicia and Finn continue to have a wonderful dynamic together. But Peter is also making a point to interject whenever Finn starts talking. That ultimately leads to Peter taking up the podium against Alicia. It's as juicy a scene as ever between the two post-separation. She really digs into the shortcomings of the office across the last few State's Attorneys - including Peter. Jonathan thinks she nails all of her arguments while Eli is more concerned with preserving the Florrick marital image. They are both right. And then, there is Alicia in the middle who feels confident and has a platform explaining why she's in the race.

Then there came that final scene. The charges against Cary have been dropped and Alicia gets the good news via phone call. She is so excited that all she can do is smile and let out a cheer of excitement in the parking garage. It's a terrific moment for Julianna Margulies. She is so happy for her friend. But she is not alone in the parking garage. She marches towards Jonathan and plants a big kiss on him and then walks away. Does this seem like something Alicia would do? I'm not sure. It's a little too reckless. Did the show focus heavily in previous episodes on the Alicia and Finn relationship just to make this kiss between her and Jonathan much more surprising considering they've never really had that kind of chemistry? I don't know. Let's just see how it plays out in next week's episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Hail Mary" was written by Erica Shelton Kodish and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez.
  • Was Judge Cuesta's Supreme Court offer a serious one or was it a stalling tactic by Peter? It was very ambiguous. Diane had no knowledge of it and I suppose Peter could have orchestrated it. It just felt a little off.
  • The prison consultant name drops Oz and Shawshank Redemption but not Orange Is the New Black. Only because Cary wouldn't be going to a female prison, right?
  • Diane shouldn't be around technology, should she? Kalinda figured everything out and then Diane used her forged evidence from her computer. At least that's consistent though.
  • Since Cary's not going to prison, he doesn't need the white friend who Bishop had lined up. Doesn't that mean Kalinda doesn't have to answer that phone call?
  • I refrained from talking about this above but could Kalinda forging the evidence be the storyline that ultimately takes her off the show? We all know that Archie Panjabi is leaving sometime at the end of the season and this seems like the buildup to something huge.