“The mood is worrisome.”
Alicia Florrick may be referring to her down-low feelings for friend/drinking buddy/late-night hand-toucher Finn Polmar in this week’s episode, but given the overarching vibe of The Good Wife‘s sixth season, I’m about ready to declare it an official motto, hashtag it and put it on a T-shirt.
Cary not merely putting himself in harm’s way, but curling up in harm’s lap like a docile kitten? Check. Alicia and Peter exploring their sexual options — but not with each other? Mmm-hmm. The race for State’s Attorney taking a walk on the negative side — complete with allegations of closeted gay Republicans, indiscriminate bed-hopping and dinosaur costumery? You betcha.
So let’s dive chest-deep into the muck and the mud and discuss the happenings in “Sticky Content” — including (at last!) a mention of Robyn’s fate:
CARY ON, WAYWARD SON | Cary learns from the FBI — or specifically, Lana and her boss — that Bishop’s been caught on a wire tap saying he wants to deal with his troublesome attorney via “one to the back of the head.” Cary’s convinced the tape has been faked — the better to get him to testify against his former client — and exits the room in a huff, adding that next time the agency wants his cooperation, “Don’t have the woman sleeping with my girlfriend tell me [the information].” Oh, snap! But when Bishop comes by the Florrick-Agos office to wrap up some business and spies Cary with the bodyguard Kalinda and the firm have hired (just in case), Cary freaks out — wondering if it’s a signal to Bishop that he’s about to flip. And so, our beleaguered lawyer goes right to the home of Chicago’s top drug dealer for a heart-to-heart — just as Kalinda confirms that the tape (on loan from Lana) is authentic. GAAAAAH!!! I know, I know, it’s not like Bishop is gonna gun Cary down on the spot and risk staining his hardwood floors and tasteful dining-room set, but this is still watch-from-behind-a-throw-pillow scary, right?
What follows is more tense than Obama’s neck at 11pm this past Election Night — with Bishop’s son wandering in and wanting Cary to play cards with him, and Bishop emphasizing the first syllable of the card game in question: Rat-a-tat-tat. When Cary finally swallows hard and tells Bishop about the tape, the elegant-but-murderous businessman crosses his arms without a word — and then finally shoots… down Cary’s suspicion that it was somehow faked or altered. You see, sometimes Bishop just needs to blow off a little verbal steam. Yeah, he said it, but he didn’t mean it. If he were Bill Clinton, he’d have smoked but not inhaled. And everything’s totally cool between the guys, with one added warning as Cary departs: “Don’t hurt me, and I won’t hurt you.” Maybe I’m too trusting — or don’t have enough dealings in the criminal underworld — but I believe Bishop, at least for now. And I believe Cary fears Bishop’s style of justice even more than he fears the possibility of 15 years in the clink. The question is how far the State’s Attorney and the FBI will push Cary to bring down the more elusive target in their midst.
Oh, and while it’s only mentioned in passing, it’s still worth a paragraph of its own: Jess Weixler’s Robyn Burdine remains a Florrick-Agos-Lockhart employee! (Woohoo!) When Diane asks Kalinda to clear her plate to determine the credibility of the threat against Cary, she asks her to pass all of her current case work to the plucky (but currently MIA) blonde investigator. I knew they wouldn’t fire her after offering to put up her life savings to help with Cary’s bail, but her disappearance since Kalinda’s hiring was nevertheless… worrisome? Right? Either way, I’d also like to see her smiling face back on my TV in 2015, it must be noted.
YOUR WEEK IN KALINDA | Kalinda spends the hour trying to make sure Cary will live long enough for them to kiss and make up — or at least not end their relationship on last week’s “Thank you and go to hell.” She even breaks his court-mandated parole by sneaking into his apartment to introduce him to his bodyguard — a scene set up nicely by a paranoid Cary looking for the bogeyman in his corridor and freaking out from the shifting light underneath his doorway.
Kalinda’s still living out the lyrics to “Torn Between Two Lovers,” though, as she’s spending time in bed with Lana, while taking offense to the federal agent’s protests that Cary’s parting shot to her boss put her in a pickle. “He’s about to be murdered,” reasons Kalinda. “He’s the one in a precarious position.” Touché. Still, our unknowable investigator seems to take it to heart when Lana insists she wants her to take their relationship more seriously. “I take you seriously,” Kalinda replies the next day, once Cary’s threat level isn’t at High Red. “It’s not easy but I take you seriously.” I wonder, though, if Kalinda keeps the sexy fed under her thumb because it gives her more leverage to bail out Cary. That’s the thing about Archie Panjabi’s portrayal: Kalinda knows better than to let her vulnerabilities turn into weaknesses, so even her deepest emotions are kept in check. When Lana gets busted by her bosses in the episode’s final scene — yep, they know she leaked the wire-tap tape to Kalinda — it signals a game-changing twist. Will Lana turn on Kalinda if her professional fortunes are shattered? Or will she expect Kalinda to invest more deeply in their relationship now that she’s been burned? Hopefully we’ll find out before the Thanksgiving table is set.
PANDORA’S BOX IS REAL | If the Cary-death-threat assessment didn’t cause you enough agita, there’s the matter of Alicia’s campaign for State’s Attorney. The opening scene — Alicia in a filmed, campaign stop where one voter asks her, “What do you do about everything?” — is being edited with scenes of “morning in America” (minus the cows). But Alicia and fabulously tart “body woman” Marissa draw the line at including exploitative footage of the courthouse scene of Will’s death as part of her 10-minute campaign video. “How about the music from Titanic?” Marissa asks, seeing the crassness through her fresh eyes. “You could even cut to shots from Titanic!”
Problem is, though, Prady is up by three points — and then he shows up at Alicia’s day job with a box filled with oppo-research bequeathed to him by incumbent Castro (who dropped out of the race with as much fanfare as your last lose eyelash) and the proposal that neither one goes negative. Alicia finally succumbs to the temptation and opens it — and finds that familiar pic of Finn exiting her apartment, but also some shots of Peter and old family friend/new legal counsel Ramona — sharing an intimate laugh over dinner. Oh, and Peter in a state of undress. And Ramona exiting whatever building they were in in haste. Alicia knows how to add one plus one, but as her campaign manager notes, perhaps this isn’t simple math. Maybe Prady is trying to shake her. Maybe he’s got bigger skeletons to keep hidden — and Alicia’s new ad man’s got a doozy of a clip with imagery of Prady as a Dino (Democrat in name only), putting his costume in a closet (the better to imply that’s where he’s keeping his sexual orientation). “I don’t want to be remebered for a closeted dinosaur!” Alicia insists, but her political operatives can barely contain their disdain for her kinder, gentler campaign style. Prady reveals, in a one-on-one meeting, that his team is ready to roll out an “Alicia was sleeping with her murdered boss” smear if rumors of his secret gay life become a part of her stratgey — so, yeah, it’s ON, whether or not Alicia or Prady want it that way.
In the midst of the madness, Alicia submits to an interview for her highlight reel where she candidly talks about Peter’s jail time and its effect on her family, her friendship with Will, and the devastating effect of his death by random gun violence. But when Prady’s team releases its own “get to know the candidate” piece featuring his senior-citizen mother in the same exact dress as Alicia, Johnny decides she’s got to reshoot. In what may be the most genius bit of acting I’ve seen on TV all year, Alicia tries to give all of her candid answers a second time — in a second outfit — but everything comes out forced, right down to a cheesy hand across her chest as she declares herself having been “terribly shocked’ by Will’s murder. It’s meta, and it’s brilliant: The most talented actress in TV drama right this second playing a character who’s a terrible actress when she has to read the script of her own life experience.
Saint Alicia starts hearing shouting from the devil on her shoulder, though, when Prady’s PAC releases a nasty parody video titled “Who Is Alicia in Bed With Now?” that attacks her associations with Colin Sweeney and Lemond Bishop — and hints at rumors about the state of her marriage with Peter. She continues to reject the release of “Closeted Dinosaur,” which draws this piece of disdain from her ad-man (played by Numb3rs‘ David Krumholtz): “You think you’re bringing something new to campaigning — but there is nothing new under the sun!”
Johnny gets the video leaked by insisting to the press there’s no way he’d ever let the public see the deeply negative ad Alicia nixed, and suddenly, she’s in the same exact place as Prady. “They’re gonna drag us into the pit, Alicia,” he says to her over the phone. But don’t they both realize they’re already down in it?
STATE OF THE (GOVERNOR AND FIRST LADY’S) UNION | Knowing she’s down by three points, Johnny tells Alicia she needs to do a joint interview with Peter to quash rumors of any marital woes. When Ramona takes the opportunity to whisper into Peter’s ear seconds before the cameras roll, however, something shifts in Alicia. Is it mere competitiveness? Is it newly found rage that her husband’s possibly wandering eye could put the kibosh on her political dreams? Does she still have love for her husband and feel a pang of jealousy that there’s a possible new woman in his life? Whatever the case — and I’m not ruling out the prospect of mere political theater, either — Alicia’s convincing display of affection seems to surprise even the Governor himself. She holds his hand, she recounts their first meeting, she even notes how it was one of the happiest moments of her life.
And then she promptly goes back to Florrick-Agos HQ and pays a visit to Finn’s office one floor above her. Alicia’s already admitted she doesn’t relish the part of pretending to be something she’s not just to placate the public — and apparently that’s not limited to feigning a belief in God. Finn clears off a tiny swath of his office couch for the both of ’em, and Alicia’s not sure what to do with the proximity, the late hour, the lack of anyone else in the vicinity. “I… ” she stammers. “You… ?” he asks. “This is stupid. It was good seeing you,” Alicia says. And Finn grabs her hand. He doesn’t want her to leave. But some inconvenient neighbors stroll by right as physical contact begins, and Alicia dashes out, flight triumphing over fight.
This is where the Florrick marriage reaches a path in the woods. Alicia confronts Peter with the pictures showing his closeness with Ramona, and he denies there’s anything untoward happening. “Do me the honor of being honest for once,” Alicia seethes — and then begins wondering if the affair might’ve originated when she was pregnant with Grace. She’s not trying to shut down Peter and Ramona because their “agreement” to keep the marriage strictly political has been voided, she adds, but he’s allowed his indiscretions to be caught on camera. Peter maintains his innocense, but it just makes his wife angrier. “Zip up your pants, shut your mouth and stop banging the help!” she screams, and it’s hard to imagine the pair ever occupying the same podium, the same dinner table, the same breathing space ever again. My brain flashes to that night not so long ago — Florrick-Agos coming together in her living room; Florrick and Florrick coming together (so to speak) in the bedroom — and it seems like a different decade, a different couple, a different Alicia. Will’s death, her new firm, the introduction of Finn, Zach’s move to college, the eye-opening experience of oppo research… it’s changed her. And it’s fascinating and uncomfortable. Yes, this is where the Florrick marriage reaches a path in the woods.
Finn comes by Alicia’s office to take her temperature in the wake of their unspoken near miss. “The mood is worrisome,” she tells him. It could be simple if she wanted it to be simple, he retorts. And then, Alicia, drifting between her good-wife role, her St. Alicia image and the basic human needs that run in opposition, notes, “I always hated that these offices were glass.”
Peter, meanwhile, is having a different display of emotion. Ramona is crying in the backseat of his limo — saying she should quit her job in his administration, sighing that she hates “being the cause of this.” And Peter kisses her — not like a man who’s hiring prostitutes on the side, but like a man who has made a decision he doesn’t want to live without her in his life. “We’re bad people,” she sighs. And he replies, “I know.” But do they get any points for being honest with themselves? I suspect the remainder of Season 6 will answer that question and so many more.
What did you think of this week’s Good Wife? Were you surprised at the revelation that Peter is sleeping with Ramona? Are you in favor of an Alicia-Finn romance? And is Cary safe — or still in danger? Sound off in the comments!