The Good Wife, “Ham Sandwich”

Holy crap that was a fantastic episode of The Good Wife. “Ham Sandwich” had all the makings of a legitimate finale, but also found a way to serve as a catalyst for what will surely be a wonderful string of final episodes. This episode was full of great moments, shocking twists and some intriguing little nuggets of information that could completely destroy the dynamics between Alicia and the three people closest to her. She might have delayed making a real choice between Peter and Will, but she still feels strongly for both of them and before too long, something is going to change once she knows the truth about those two men and Kalinda as well. There’s a moment early in the episode where Kalinda asks Alicia if she ever feels like bad things are about to happen and that could basically be the thesis for this episode and the rest of the season. Bad things have already happened and those individuals trying to cover their tracks are going to have a heck of time doing so.

I’ll be honest: Sometimes Kalinda bores me. Archie Panjabi is fantastic and I do really love the character but in certain moments here in season two it felt like the writers were trying too hard to make her mysterious, cool and all of the above related adjectives. This is what happens when you have an excellent breakout character, but there were times there in the middle of the season where I would just roll my eyes at some of the scenes between Kalinda and Blake — most notably that stripping/beating sequence from a few episodes ago — because it felt like overkill. We get it, she has a mysterious past and has no problem getting physical in hopes of getting what she wants.

Thus, I was very happy to see that “Ham Sandwich” turned the tables on Kalinda just a bit, or at least appeared to from our and Alicia’s perspective. After months of threatening, Childs’ office finally subpoenaed her to testify in front of a grand jury and the assumption was that he was looking to take her down for beating that doctor and generally doing illegal stuff to help her firm win. Childs gives Blake immunity and allows him to “tell the truth” in such a way that paints Kalinda into a Fifth Amendment corner. But she and Alicia quickly realize that the grand jury actually has nothing to do with Kalinda specifically, but Lockhart/Gardner, as Childs appears to be trying to blow up the firm in his final moments as a lame duck DA. That dick.

Meanwhile, Alicia gets roped in to helping David Lee defend the returning Lemond Bishop in divorce proceedings. Bishop doesn’t want to lose his wife, but she’s ready to come after all his assets from his illegal drug trade — his legal businesses are all within moments of Chapter 11 — and as the case moves along, the episode does a fantastic job of humanizing the previously sketchy Bishop. The presence of a mediator allows the couple to talk about his drug dealings honestly and it’s clear that this is a man who really wants to keep his wife around, and not just because it would be easier for his business. He loves his wife and he particularly loves his adorable son. Unfortunately for Bishop, his wife is probably cheating on him and it’s probably with the lawyer played by The Wire‘s Pablo Schreiber. Alicia and David decide not to tell Bishop this, but the wife’s push for around a quarter of his illegal income and custody of his son pushes the proceedings to actual court. Well, it was supposed to. The next morning before the first proceeding in front of a judge, Schreiber’s lawyer character shows up to let everyone know that Bishop’s wife just OD’d and at that moment, Bishop clicks in to BA Drug Kingpin mode, with icy reaction to the news and assertion that the lawyer better just shut his mouth or something awful will happen to him as well.

I found this plot to be particularly awesome even if it followed a predictable pattern. Bishop is clearly not going away due to his connections with Blake and most certainly Will and the episode did a really nice job of making it seem like Bishop was a normal human being there for 35 minutes before totally pulling the rug out from underneath us and Alicia. You could tell that throughout the proceedings Alicia was beginning to connect with Bishop and feel sorry for him despite his occupation. But by the time the episode ended, it was clear that Alicia had misjudged him and she’s now left again wondering what it means to work for a firm that wants so badly to be business with a guy like Bishop. This season has done a lot of work to suggest that Alicia’s moral code doesn’t always hold up in situations like these and I’m wondering if there will be any sort of major pay off to that in the future.

Connecting the threads together is Kalinda’s fantastic second grand jury performance. She eventually breaks her Fifth Amendment silence and admits that she had followed Blake to a hotel a few days earlier but stopped because he appeared to be meeting with a woman. Of course, this hotel happened to be the one that Bishop’s wife was staying at and the woman happened to be her, so now Kalinda has hinted, under oath (with the help of Cary!), that Blake was the one that murdered Bishop’s wife. Of course, he might have really done it since he works for Bishop, but nevertheless, this means Kalinda has finally rid herself of Blake, who is leaving town. But before he could go, he dropped one final bomb on her: It was Peter that helped her change her name/life. Oh, and the two of them also had sex.

BOOM. The series has hinted at a special relationship between Kalinda and Peter before and due to his particular indiscretions, it always made sense to me that the two of them probably hooked up. But to actually hear it and have that be the pay-off to all the nonsense with Blake, worked completely. Kalinda and Alicia have grown especially close this season and she’s secluded herself away from the campaign and all that comes with it, but now she’s going to be thrust right in the middle and I don’t think she’ll be leaning on Kalinda for so much support. This also re-shades their earlier interactions, as it did seem like Kalinda befriended Alicia for really no apparent reason aside from the series dictated that they be friends, so I’m really, really excited to see how things unspool from here. There has been a lot of discussion about the series juggling a number of different plotlines this season, but “Ham Sandwich” does a tremendous job of merging together previously only barely connected threads in such a way that the season’s endgame can be a bit more streamlined and effective. And I’m sure it will be fantastic.

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