Just when I thought I was all Lockhart-Gardner-ed out, they pull me back in.
After one too many lackluster episodes that dealt more with cases than characters (spinal chord stimulator lady, we hardly knew ye!), The Good Wife‘s writers are finally trading their flyswatters for a bazooka, as Alicia might say. This week’s episode gets my vote for the best of the season so far, complete with all the elements that once made the show so compulsively watchable. The actor Dylan Baker gives another can’t-tear-your-eyes-away performance as the newly-tattooed Colin Sweeney. The always amusing and much missed David Lee returns with some good old-fashioned bluntness. And there’s cutthroat competition in nearly every subplot: Alicia vs. Celeste, Cary vs. Imani, and of course, Eli vs. the world. Plus, with Eli promising to get the Florricks back together, the sparring between Alicia and Eli—which was always entertaining last season—is bound to start up again.
In the meantime, there’s always room for more Happy Hour Confessions. In the wake of the Alicia-Kalinda Cold War, I’ve really missed those after-work liquor shots with the ladies. Any time Alicia gets some tequila in her, things are bound to get interesting. And Celeste’s clearly drinking to win.
But more on that later. First, can we talk a little more about Dylan Baker? He’s been so believable as a pedophile shrink (in Happiness) and a school principal who murders little boys (in Trick r Treat) that it should be hard for him to out-creep-ify his past performances, but he does a masterful job here again as wife-killer Colin Sweeney. Called to testify in Diane’s and Celeste’s case against an airline CEO whose plane crashed, Colin plays Hannibal Lecter to Alicia’s Clarice Starling, often succeeding in charming her—and, no doubt, every viewer who’s watching him.
In a show that favors straight-faced delivery, Colin gets the funniest deadpan lines by far. “Accidentally” showing Alicia his prison tattoo (“Oh, this old thing?”), he quips, “I wanted William Blake’s ‘The Ancient of Days’ but beggars really can’t be choosers here.” And he always brings out some welcome sarcasm in the otherwise-fairly-earnest Alicia. Colin: “Won’t the jury be likely to mistrust the word of a renowned wife killer? I hate irony. I heard America’s been irony-free these days.” Alicia (totally smirk-free): “Yes. It’s been outlawed.”
Of course, Colin wouldn’t be so horrifying if he wasn’t so charismatic. Even when he knows his life’s in danger—as he does when Cary convinces him to wear a wire around a fellow prisoner in exchange for his testimony and subsequent freedom from jail—he’s firing off Oscar Wilde-worthy double entendres. (Alicia: “Don’t get yourself killed, okay? Colin: “Words to live by!”) Colin’s even suave enough to lure a white supremacist drug dealer into a murder confession, which is lucky, because Alicia’s starting to care about the guy, and that’s starting to make her a far more interesting and complicated. More Colin Sweeney, please. Maybe the writers can fix him up with another dog murder or two?
NEXT: Women! If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em… in a united display of tipsiness.