11
Mar
2013
The Good Wife: Season 4, Episode 16
Runnin' with the Devil
Jordan
The Good Wife has never shied away from the darker aspects of lawyering, and Lemond Bishop often finds himself at the center of these stories. As episodes of this show go, "Runnin' with the Devil" is fairly tight and focused. There's no Eli or Peter subplot, and most of the firm plots were focused on more standard politicking, allowing a focus that the story truly benefits from.

The largest subplot is Will's desire to expand again, releasing the 27th and 29th floors, and Diane's reticence to grow too quickly. She fears returning to a more precarious financial position, while Will is certain growth is the only way forward. This is fairly thin stuff, but any episode with a scene of Will and Diane drinking together will always make me a happy camper, so I don't have much to complain about on this front. I mean, yes, Will and Diane have seemingly been celebrating constantly since they avoided bankruptcy, but as a plotline mostly dedicated to being satisfying filler, this does the job quite nicely. Will and Diane are both great characters in their own right, and the show has a great sense of their relationship. They aren't always easy allies, but there is a lot of respect, and a lot of history between them, and their scene together is pretty wonderful.

The other plotline is the first Kalinda story that has even sort of worked all season. My biggest issue is her seeming difficulty lying to Will and Diane when she covered for Cary, which makes no sense. If we know one thing about Kalinda, and if one thing has been constantly underlined especially in this season, its that she has no trouble lying. I don't know if the show felt it needed to underline that she knew about Cary's defection in that scene, but it felt off, and left me confused about why the character was being so obvious. She was covering for Cary, not trying to tip off Will, right? That I had to think about that for a second means the scene was off, but the rest of this plotline is fun, and does interesting work with the long-simmering Cary/Kalinda flirtation. Basically, Cary and Kalinda have sex, but the show spends so little time underlining it, it basically amounts to a quick glance in the hallway and Cary being a bit awkward. Its disorienting that the show can be so overly obvious at one end of this subplot and so wonderfully subtle at the other; I'd chalk this up to the writers' continuing issues figuring out what to do with Kalinda.

As we turn to the main plot, I want to give The Good Wife kudos on the way Lemond Bishop's murder trial has actually been developing for several months, as it would in real life. So often in legal procedurals, a case that would take months or years is crammed into a few days, and while this show is usually good at referencing the fact that things have built for a while, we usually only see the same few days other shows give us. So its nice that the show has used Bishop to underline the way actual legal cases proceed, though again, its hardly showy in the way that it's done so. It just returns to a story that has been back-burnered since earlier in the season.

Alicia and Cary are dedicated to getting the case dismissed on the merits (the case against Bishop really is pretty weak, even with all the turns the AUSA throws out), but Bishop insists they consult with his "other" lawyer, Charles Lester (the delightful Wallace Shawn, being completely malevolent without ever dimming his smile). What's great about this is how completely The Good Wife avoids showing Lester's intimidation tactics. He just shows up, and suddenly the witnesses change their stories. This completely flummoxes Alicia's old law school "rival" Liz (Audra Macdonald, who doesn't get enough to do here and will hopefully become more of a recurring antagonist for the show), and makes Alicia do that looking down thing she does when The Good Wife wants us to know she thinks something is wrong. The episode is almost better for how little it actively addresses the blatant witness intimidation that's going on. Lester denies wrongdoing, Alicia tacitly denies any knowledge of witness tampering, and the two of them constantly, aggressively press for a dismissal even when the victory is coming clearly from Lester's underhanded tactics more than Alicia's staying up all night finding some precedent (doesn't she have associates for that now?).

"Runnin' with the Devil" could easily be another in the Lemond Bishop saga of Alicia feeling really bad but defending her client despite of his illegitimate business ties. Instead, by mostly glossing over the "sometimes lawyers have to do bad things" beats, it becomes a more interesting story by far. "Runnin' with the Devil" is a fairly smooth surface, but beneath it are surprising depths. Most of what this episode means for The Good Wife is going on beneath the surface, waiting for the audience to ponder over it and come to its own conclusions. And its all the better for it.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-Alicia is on the steering committee already?

-David Lee thinks the firm looks like a Burmese tent city. Because he is the greatest.

-"I looked into your background, Mr. Lester." "That sounds...dramatic..."

-"I'm a small town lawyer with a small town practice. Like Abraham Lincoln."

-"You know what I've thought of you since school?" "What?" "Nothing."
Tags: The Good Wife
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