The Good Wife has so many different story arcs going that a major storyline went unmentioned in “Here Comes the Judge” and was barely missed.
There was nary a mention of Peter’s devious political rival Maddie Hayward or the fact that she is behind the whole Indira Starr scandal. That freed the show up to focus on Alicia’s children, who haven’t really been seen since the season premiere. I know many viewers take issue with Grace and Zach, but I’ve always appreciated how different they are from other TV teens. They are complex and fully realized characters. Insecure and sensitive Grace, who is always trying to find herself and her place in the world, befriends Connor, a student whose ex-girlfriend committed suicide. Peter’s Republican opponent Mike Kresteva gets pictures of Grace and Connor cutting class while Connor smokes a cigarette. Given that Peter has never been the poster boy for family values, this is a problem. “My daughter is two steps away from dating Keith Moon,” Alicia laments while making an age-appropriate pop-culture reference.
While Grace is making questionable choices in friends, Zach is secretly helping his dad’s campaign by working as a tech volunteer. The show long ago established Zach’s computer prowess, and it is fun to see Eli coach Zach on how to get Alicia to allow him to work on Peter’s campaign. These family scenes also do a great job of emphasizing just how much Alicia is juggling at any given point. “You would tell me if there was anything wrong,” Alicia says to Grace, echoing the fears of many mothers.
While Alicia’s kids are up to trouble, Will is defending a woman accused of having her boyfriend kill her husband. He’s facing brand new ADA Laura Hellinger (returning guest star Amanda Peet) in court. In a typical example of how the show’s legal cases zig when you think they are going to zag, Will runs into Judge Creary (guest star Judd Hirsch) at a bar, and the judge tells Will his client is guilty and that Will is a thief and a liar. Not exactly the things you want to hear when you’ve chosen a bench trial. Suddenly the episode becomes about Will and Alicia trying to get Judge Creary recused from the trial.
Hirsch was excellent as the beleaguered judge who has started drinking again after his recent divorce. In the end, even though Alicia and Will successfully got the case reassigned, Laura still prevailed because she found proof of the wife’s affair. It’s great to see Will being beaten at his own game and really great to have a character viewers are rooting for in the District Attorney’s office. Even Alicia was giving Laura advice on how to try the case.
This storyline brought back Giada Cabrini, the cunning and aggressive law student Will met back in season one as well as Kurt Fuller’s Judge Dunaway, with whom Alicia has clashed on multiple occasions. The case also showed the impact Will’s recent suspension is still having on his career. He’s become a joke within the legal community.
Unfortunately the episode also brought back Kalinda’s husband Nick. Having already threatened Kalinda’s FBI girlfriend, Nick now turns his attention to Cary. He’s jealous of the friendship Cary shares with Kalinda and, in his sneering way, suspects more is going on. You know from the moment Nick sees Kalinda and Cary giggling together that things are not going to end well for Cary. And, sure enough, by the end of the episode Cary is being viciously beaten up. I know I’ve been complaining about Cary needing more screen time this season, but this isn’t what I was talking about. Perhaps this will be the event that finally forces Kalinda to end her relationship with Nick. Because I don’t even know what to say about this storyline anymore. It hasn’t made sense to me from the beginning that strong, confident Kalinda would let herself be so easily manipulated by Nick. The storyline has caused irreparable damage to Kalinda.
Nick’s return did allow for some fun exchanges between Kalinda and Will, who had several scenes at a bar. Will tells Kalinda that mentally she’s been missing from work but doesn’t push her. And Kalinda asks Will if he’s ever jealous. “I’m narcissistic enough to think women should give up sex all together after me,” he responds.
Next week Dallas Roberts returns as Alicia’s brother Owen (hooray!) and Stockard Channing makes her debut as Alicia’s mother (double hooray!). I can’t wait to see those family dynamics in action.