Screen / The Good Wife

The Good Wife explores shades of grey in “Trust Issues”

There are lots of things I love about The Good Wife, but the worldbuilding is one of them. It’s a modern day, fictional Chicago surrounding fictional people (with an occasional appearance by a real life important person like Valerie Jarrett). A lot of this building comes in the appearances of the guest cast, both clients and judges. “Trust Issues” zeroes in on two of the firm’s most oft-troubled clients, Chumhum and Lemond Bishop. But despite its sprawling world, The Good Wife and all things must pass through Alicia Florrick, just as Alicia Florrick must pass through most things. With her name being tossed into the ring for State’s Attorney, she seems to permeate even more discussions, both onscreen and off, her name, identity and future prospects embedding themselves into both of this week’s cases.

The Good Wife operates within a perpetual gray area for everyone, including its clients who also reflect upon their lawyers. When Bishop first appeared on the show, there was promise of how much trouble representing him would cause. The debates about it mostly went unanswered, mere suggestions of what could come later with representing a known drug dealer. There were tense moments here and there, but none like what’s opened this season with Cary’s career and life hanging in the balance. That Bishop’s dangerous has never been a question, but it’s still surprising that he speaks so easily to Kalinda about killing a traitorous crew member on the sidelines of his kid’s soccer game. His two sides, ruthless drug kingpin and doting father, are running together, as they have in the past, and blurring a line that distinguishes whether or not Lemond Bishop is friend or foe.

Whatever he is, he’s Alicia and Cary’s client which means they protect his interests, and for now, his interests are their interests. Bishop withdraws Cary’s bail money when he learns he’ll be forced to testify, leaving Florrick/Agos flailing and looking for an alternative. Then Bishop kills a witness who could have helped Cary because he thought he was the informant, a name the firm knows but doesn’t want to reveal because it’ll mean their death. But it will help them, much more than both helpful witnesses being dead which is their other option, leaving Kalinda considering whether or not to give Bishop the name.

Despite all the grey areas, everyone knows that’s what their in. Though we can call all of our characters generally good people, they certainly aren’t above doing morally questionable things, even St. Alicia. Taking the money from Dexter Roja was surely a no-no, but Florrick/Agos ignored it to help Cary, and representing Bishop alone has always been a recipe for disaster but he brings good money that they need.  Then there’s the other side of the coin, wiggling around doing the right thing to avoid the perception of wrongdoing. Like Peter refusing to sign the papers that will allow Alicia’s second mortgage to pay Cary’s bail because of how it could make him, the governor of Illinois, look in the future. And the case-of-the-week, a matter of Chumhum wiggling its way around competitors by poaching their people, falls into the same knowingly self-serving category.

And there’s Alicia, around whom this whole thing may be revolving, blurring more lines about where Alicia’s non-candidacy for State’s Attorney begins and the firm’s current legal issues. Castro’s clearly preparing for a fight with her though he’s quick to say he’s not at all concerned about Alicia running. He’s equally quick to point out how Alicia’s interesting clientele and Cary’s apparent drug-running involvement is going to impact public opinion of her. Is Castro especially targeting Cary because he wants to get to Alicia and wreck her candidacy or is that just a convenient plus?

The question of Alicia’s running isn’t a very good one, since this episode at least seems to question Alicia’s resolve just because, lacking some of the nuance that’s permeated other episodes. But I suppose it had to get to Alicia feeling conflicted someway, and an encouraging phone call from the White House’s Valerie Jarrett is something that would motivate a lot of people. With so many people coming out of the woodwork to offer support to Alicia, even clearly-biased polls turning out to be in her favor, and “enemy surrogates” targeting her, there’s obviously something there. And despite Alicia’s adamant refusals, there is that interesting moment where she refuses bail money for Cary, bail money that wouldn’t have really hurt her considering that she refuses to run for State’s Attorney but likely would have if she did.

The lines are equally blurred in everyone’s relationships with one another, constantly evolving. Alicia and Diane are on good terms or at least Alicia’s especially open to the benefits of Diane coming over (with seven other people including Taye Diggs’ Dean) despite Cary feeling the opposite. Diane’s quiet departure from Lockhart/Gardner, boarding the elevator with Diane only uttering a quiet “goodbye” makes for a triumphant moment, one that’s also very sad. Diane’s leaving the home she made for herself at Lockhart/Gardner, where she and Will used to fight and conspire and drink and dance together. Now she’s leaving it for another place, where it’s Alicia and Cary who go from conflict to hugging once Cary’s released on bail.

Stray Observations

  • This episode made me really like Cary Zepps.
  • Also Finn, who isn’t doing much so far, but is also clearly occupying the same space as Alicia on the Great Lawyer spectrum. The two of them sparring in the courtroom is fun without being overbearing. That is, Finn’s pursuit of his case has yet to really impact his and Alicia’s friendship (despite the growing personal nature of it), and it’s not really impacting my opinion of him either.

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