When you’re working with such a deep cast of series regulars and fantastic guest stars, it’s fairly easy to step away from your lead character to tell a great story about someone else and not lose a step. The Good Wife is one of those kind of series and last night’s “Silly Season” is one of those episodes.
Although Alicia is certainly busy in this episode, particularly after she gets even more mixed up in Peter’s campaign, “Silly Season” is damn-strong platform for Matt Czuchry’s Cary. This surely been discussed a lot this season but since this is still only my third live viewing, I’m going to pretend it needs to be said again: The writers could have easily screwed up Cary as a character. Though he was always presented as an antagonist based on the LG junior associate competition with Alicia, by the end of last season he was much more overtly villainous. When he walked out with that evil look on his face at the end of season one with my knowledge that we would still be around in season two, I was a bit worried.
But with little exception, Cary’s actually become more likable and interesting this season since he’s joined the DA’s office. Sure, there are certain instances where he’s an obvious foil for Alicia and the firm, but it is a legitimate testament to the writers and Czuchry for keeping Cary fairly even-keel. And as more and more information comes out about the sketchy activities of Derrick Bond and Blake that seemingly re-colors some of the season’s earlier cases and practices, Cary looks even more reliable and admirable in his intentions. I think he certain has it out for Alicia professionally, but if I were him, I’d probably feel the exact same way. From Cary’s perspective, Alicia got the job because of her personal connections, not her professional skills and that’s total BS. And the series hasn’t been ignorant in shying away from that; Alicia isn’t a saint, she worked some angles at the very end of the competition and Cary more or less lost because of that.
This is all a lead-up to say that “Silly Season” shows us yet again that while he might enjoy beating the hell out of Alicia in the courtroom, it’s Cary who seems to be more moral and centered than the people at LG&B. I do think that Alicia is just as morally concerned as Cary, but she’s been manipulated by Bond, Blake and even Will in the past and it’s sort of nice to watch her recognize that being a defense attorney can sometimes be a really difficult thing when you disagree with what you’re saying in front of a judge and jury. Of course Cary gets the benefit of the doubt because he’s (presumably) working on the side of the law, but “Silly Season” goes out of its way to show us Cary’s process and how the sketchy actions of LG&B continue to make his life even more difficult. Hell, there’s even a great moment here where Cary sees Alicia get some new information from Kalinda and he just knows that he’s probably screwed. Private resources usually trump public ones and even though Cary can be a self-righteous twit, he’s often working up against a stacked deck.
Thankfully, Cary’s a smart guy and he’s got a few tricks up his sleeve as well. Tired of Kalinda’s expert investigating and whatever the hell it is that creepy Blake does, Cary digs up an old friend who is now more concerned with taking care of his kids than anything else, but still serves as an excellent investigative and preparing mind. I unfortunately can’t think of the character’s name right now and I deleted it off my DVR, but I’d love to see that goofball return. He humanized Cary without trying too hard.
The case involves an inmate’s death and a possible connection to the drug kingpin Lemond Bishop and just when Cary thinks he has Alicia and the defense by the throat — thanks to an awesome witness preparation — Derrick and Blake plot a “new strategy” without really running it by Alicia that involves some sketchy(ish) manipulation that she presents even though she doesn’t like it. But because Cary knows that LG&B and specifically the B in that namesake want Bishop’s business, that can use Bishop to testify against his former employee and Alicia will not be able to call Bishop’s character into question. Therefore, Cary wins the case, slaps Alicia in the face with a little legal knowledge and makes the whole firm look a bit stupid.
Presenting things from Cary’s perspective also means a better look inside the DA’s office which, I think purposefully, seemed like the haven for villains particularly in season one. Here, Childs isn’t so much a black and white villain but a guy trying to do a good job at his current pace so he can also get re-elected. In the past it seemed like he only wanted Cary around for his LG&B knowledge, but we get a sense from this episode that Childs recognizes that Cary is a damn smart guy who can get the job done no matter who he is up against. And hey, if the people he is up against just happened to be loosely associated with one of Child’s campaign competitors, that’s extra icing on the cake. It’s smart to add some layers to Childs, who has been a bit absent this season, because The Good Wife shouldn’t be about obvious villains and obvious heroes. These are all people working in shades of grey when it comes to the truth and fiction or right and wrong. Sometimes the search for those answers leads people down some dangerous paths, but like Cary, it’s not like Childs’ crusade against Peter was totally unwarranted. Sure, he’s a total dick most of the time, but Peter still did some nasty stuff while in office. I look forward to more Childs as the season progresses.
In all-things not-Cary, it felt like the Eli Gold show. When Wendy Scott-Carr brings to Alicia’s attention some awful campaign ads about Wendy’s biracial children and Becca’s possible abortion due to sexual relations with Zach, it’s damage control time. Which of course means Eli Gold time. Much like Cary, there was some danger with using Eli more often, but the series has figured a really great way to make him a more human, compassionate character. Though she doesn’t want to be involved in the campaign, I think Alicia feels comfortable in that choice because she trusts Eli and a few episodes ago when she found out about the wire-tapping, the concern was written all over her face. She understands that Eli’s probably done some sketchy stuff in the past, but whenever he’s needed, he’s there. I really love their relationship.
And of course, when Eli’s asshole side needs to come out, it does. He has another epic scene with Becca that suggests nothing has changed in the last year. Becca might think she’s older and wiser — and kind of obsessed with Zach and/or the limelight, right? — but she can’t come close to touching the skills of one Eli Gold. He finds out that Becca did have an abortion, but not when she was having sex with Zach and that’s that. She won’t be a problem again, or at least for another six episodes.
Although Alicia has little to do here, she does get a few nice scenes at home with Peter. The series has backed away from Will a bit (he’s barely in this episode) and so it’s kind of nice to see Alicia and Peter have the sex talk with Zach or discuss sleeping in the same bed. They both recognize the issues and the tension, but they’re adult enough about the whole thing to not push it too far. Smart writing, great acting from Margulies and Noth, as usual.
I’ll be interested to see the response to this episode from people who are a bit more hesitant to like Cary, but I think if you either love him or hate him, “Silly Season” is a nice change in perspective without losing the normal ingredients that make The Good Wife great.