The Good Wife recap: Execution By Christmas Lights
You probably shouldn’t use the title of a song from Flickerstick, winners of the brilliant 2001 VH1 reality show Bands on the Run, as a headline. But the phrase “Execution By Christmas Lights” does capture the strange juxtaposition Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King were after when they wrote an episode featuring both a guilty death row inmate with information that could help an innocent Lockhart/Gardner client accused of murder and a nice politician with a naughty old photo of himself with a Santa statue. We definitely needed the levity of the latter. Snooping Jackie not being able to find the power button on Alicia’s laptop isn’t comic relief enough on its own, people (though it was wonderful to see her!). Let’s dig in.
Ricky Packer — a man sentenced to death for kidnapping two 14-year-old girls from the mall, raping them for three days, and slitting their throats — told a documentary filmmaker interviewing him that he knew where a gangbanger’s body was buried but doubted the police would care because the killer was from a rival gang. The body was found, along with the nearby remains of a female who’d been missing for six months. A 14-year-old wannabe gangster confessed to the first killing, and the state’s attorney’s office arrested the woman’s boyfriend, Tom, for the second. As ASA Dana saw it, the couple had fought, she tried to leave, and Tom shot her. Tom told Lockhart/Gardner that they had fought, but he wasn’t the one to report her missing because she’d told him she was headed back to Canada. Kalinda went to see Cary to peek at crime scene photos, but with him not in his office, it was Dana who offered to share them. Kalinda suggested the two crimes were related: whoever killed the gangbanger had killed the woman, who’d stumbled upon them, with the gun Tom had given her to carry in her glove compartment the week before (after they’d been burglarized). I’m always amazed at how much of the state’s work defense lawyers’ investigators do. Dana was willing to consider that scenario if Kalinda brought her proof. If this was Bones or NCIS, wouldn’t the authorities have recognized that similar decomp on the bodies probably meant the murders were related and investigated on their own? I mean, what are the odds of two people burying bodies in the same place at the same time? But nevermind that: What’s important here is that Kalinda has access to the state’s attorney’s office again. But has she met her match in Dana?
Later, Kalinda phoned Dana to meet her at a bar and asked her for a favor: She needed access to a blue-light anti-gang camera so she could get a photo of the gangbanger who took over the dead guy’s corner the night after his death. He’s probably the real killer. Dana knew how Kalinda works — always wanting something for nothing — and she wasn’t going to play that game. Her back would have to be scratched, too. She asked Kalinda to find out the backstory of Will’s relationship with corrupt Judge Baxter for their investigation into Will. I’m all for Dana making Kalinda work for her tips (someone should) but that was a stupid thing to request. Dana ended up telling Kalinda more about Judge Baxter than Kalinda told her — it was the state’s attorney’s office that got Baxter off the bench, not Will — and Kalinda took a ferry from her island, Ikindawantyoutoleavemealone, to Will’s office to offer her services. Will told her he hadn’t paid off Baxter, but he thinks he knows why Peter’s office thinks he did. Then ask for her help, Kalinda said. “I feel like hugging you,” Will answered, relieved that he wasn’t in this alone. (How long does he think he can keep Alicia and Diane in the dark? Oh, maybe until next week!) “No,” Kalinda said. “Just ask for my help.” Maybe helping save Will will be the way Kalinda begins to repair her friendship with Alicia? Or will this situation end up being something else that Kalinda should have told Alicia about? Either way, in that moment, I wanted to hug Kalinda, too.
NEXT: Cary and Kalinda kiss
With Ricky Packer set to be executed in less than two days and no longer allowed lawyer visits, Diane and Alicia had to find a way to see him so that he could ID the new gangbanger on the corner in the surveillance photo. That meant they had to help Justin Coyne from legal aid with his appeal arguing that Packer’s defense lawyer never produced mitigation witnesses during the penalty phase of the trial to argue against the death sentence. Sadly, Diane and Coyne didn’t have time to flirt. He spent most of his screentime with Alicia visiting Packer’s mother and learning that all the things they were going to argue in court — he came from a bad neighborhood and had a childhood void of love and opportunity — were crap. Still, since they weren’t perjuring themselves to set him free, merely to keep him from being killed, Packer’s mother and Father Jim testified that he had it rough but was redeemable. While the court considered the appeal, the lawyers had a 24-hour extension during which they could see Packer. Since he responded well to women, Alicia was sent to talk to him. He appeared moved by the fact that his mother and brother had testified even though it was difficult for them. (Alicia lied about the brother, right?) At first, Ricky said he’d only give Alicia the ID if she got his mother and brother to the prison to see him. But then he must have told her the name because we (and Cary) saw Kalinda passing it on to Dana.
Dana took the tip to Cary, and they argued about whose girlfriend it had come from. Dana told Cary she wasn’t a lesbian. “I know a lot of people who weren’t anything until they met Kalinda,” he said. So Kalinda’s the reason Cary likes ethnic women — he’s still pining for his lesbian, Dana theorized. Play nicely, children! Cary told Dana that Kalinda was trying to get to him through her, and Dana said it had worked. She told Cary to figure out what he wants and then they’ll talk. (Are we to assume those cracks Dana made at the start of the episode about Cary showing up later than her and having missed a button on his shirt meant she’d been sleeping with him and they took separate cars?) Cary said he didn’t want Kalinda, which was almost believable when he later stopped himself from christening his office with her…
Before we can get to that scene, we have to talk about how much we love Cary for pulling Kalinda down and shielding her body when they went to question the gangbanger Ricky ID’d and shots rang out. I actually rewound them hitting the ground and him covering her. The suspect was killed, but he was carrying Tom’s gun, so the boyfriend was cleared. Cary and Kalinda continued their conversation about how he doesn’t trust her back at his office. He still had blood on his ear from his first shootout. He wanted to know what she wanted from him. She asked why everyone always thinks she wants something. Say it with Cary, everyone! “‘Cause you do.” He told her Dana isn’t attracted to women. (I do believe that Dana, who knows how Kalinda works, might have been trying to play Kalinda’s game and make her think she could be interested with that jacket question at the bar.) Kalinda insisted she wasn’t that calculating. She’d come to see Cary, but Dana was there so she asked her about the case instead. “I don’t like you being in my head,” Cary said, and repeated it. “Then get me out,” Kalinda said. Cary put his hand on her face and pulled her in for a kiss. Then she kissed him. “What are we doing?” he asked. “I have no idea,” she answered. They looked at each other, and instead of kissing her again, he walked away.
That scene could have gone much farther. I saw a take where Kalinda sat Cary on his desk, and, in another moment of classic just-out-of-frame-so-suck-it-CBS-censors Good Wife foreplay, unzipped his pants and stuck her hand down them. In that take as well, Cary stopped things and left. But Kalinda didn’t look at all as vulnerable as she did in the take they used. With the one that aired, you leave open the possibility that Kalinda could care for Cary. With the other more aggressive take, I was actually thinking thoughts like maybe she wants to scare him off so she can snoop around his office for his file on Will, or maybe she wants to seduce Cary so she can blackmail him into stopping the investigation on Will so she won’t reveal that the new deputy state’s attorney had sex with a law firm’s investigator in his office the night he released one of its clients. Both of those scenarios would make us hate Kalinda and make Cary look like a fool. This way, it’s Cary who’s the match for Kalinda. He’s able to resist her fairly easily, which makes him dangerous. Translation: Even though I’d like more heat in an episode than emergency sitter Jackie doing laundry and finding Alicia’s lingerie, I think they made the right call in dialing that scene back. (Correction: The sexiest moment of this hour was Will’s voice when he asked Alicia if she was saying she wanted to pause their relationship now that Diane is eyeing them like they’re a lawsuit waiting to happen. Honestly, I thought they might so she could avoid questions about Will from her kids and he could avoid having to tell Alicia what Peter’s office may have on him. “I’m afraid even if we say we will [pause], we won’t,” Alicia said, with that smile we only see her use around Will. “That sounds right,” he said.)
NEXT: Here comes Santa!
As for the resolution of Ricky Packer’s case, the Kings made Alicia and the rest of us question our stance on the death penalty multiple times. It doesn’t take having a daughter the age of Packer’s victims to think how horrible it must be for those parents to imagine their girls’ final breaths. Alicia held it together, and even though they lost the appeal, we thought we were seeing somewhat of a happy ending when the mother, brother, and Father Jim came to the prison. Ricky helping Alicia’s client renewed Father Jim’s hope that there was good in everyone. But the chilling reality is that’s not true: When the mother asked Ricky what she and his brother could do for him, he responded, “You can burn in hell. Both of you. I want you to suffer every day of your life thinking of me. [Laughs] Bye, ma. Love you. It was fun.” Father Jim had been right: Some people just like to be cruel because it’s fun for them. That’s why Ricky had wanted them there — so he could hurt two more people before he died.
With that in the script, you understand why the Kings had Eli call Mickey Gunn in with former congressman Robert Mulvey, who’s flipped parties to be a Democrat and is hoping to run for office again. Eli spotted a potential scandal — a ridiculous photo taken when Mulvey was in college. Let’s let Eli describe it: “You fellating Santa. I have to be blunt, sir, because that’s how TMZ is gonna report it, Fox is gonna repeat it, and Jon Stewart is gonna finish it. ‘Here. Comes. Santa.'” Oh, how I wish that could be used as the clip at next year’s Emmys when Alan Cumming gets another nomination. Mickey tried to be helpful: “Is it possible you were changing a light bulb?” “What, between his legs?” Mulvey said. It was just a joke. He didn’t understand the fuss. It’s a joke about him fellating Santa, Eli said. “And Santa’s expression does not help.” Cue the close-up! (He did look wide-eyed like he just got busted.) Eli approved of Alicia’s advice to Mulvey: He needs to release the photo so he can control when it happens and what it means and explain to his family beforehand. (For the record, if I were his wife, I’d probably have found that Santa statue again, recreated the pose myself, framed both photos, and put them on opposite ends of the mantle during the holiday season.) Eli, knowing funny college stunts tend to get repeated, asked if there were other photos like this out there. Mulvey shook his head no, but didn’t say it. We should have guessed what would happen…
Eli’s plan was to pitch Chris Matthews (who guested as himself) a story on Mickey and the problems of managing the new Facebook-era candidate, someone whose immaturity lives on in friends’ photos. That’s a good angle, though the story would have to include how they came to Matthews, and journalists know when they’re being handed something for a reason. They showed Matthews the photo and he laughed. What Eli said is true — it has nothing to do with his policy or his morals. “Really? Servicing Santa is not about his morals?” Matthews asked. “It ain’t the real Santa,” Mickey offered. “It’s a statue. And there is no real Santa, so he wouldn’t have a penis.” I love Mickey and how much Eli conveys when he shoots him a look equally. Matthews said he’d do a story — if Mulvey would talk. Eli was against it. Mickey was for it. Later, the two watched the interview on Eli’s laptop in his office. Their high-five when Mulvey said he thinks people should judge him on what he says and does now, not when he was 21, was bring-Mickey-in-every-week adorable. But Matthews played hardball: He had found other photos of Mulvey in a similar position at the National Gallery sculpture garden and in front of George Washington.
Mulvey, dubbed “Santa’s Little Helper,” eventually held a press conference announcing he’s an alcoholic who thought he had things under control but needs to go back to the program. Mickey congratulated Eli on changing the subject. (So a rehab stay is better in the long-term?) Turns out, Mickey is thinking Mulvey will run for state senate and be groomed for the 2016 presidential election. That’ll be fun for Eli! Against his recommendation, his wife is still planning to run for state senate.
That’s not the only family development giving Eli headaches: Eli’s daughter Marissa met Zach when he came to the office to fix Eli’s laptop, and they’re now hanging out. I think Eli should embrace that budding friendship because Marissa can report in on what she sees when she’s at Alicia’s place (Eli had already told Marissa that Alicia and Peter were living separately, but Zach told her for how long). Plus, Zach dating Eli Gold’s daughter would kill Jackie more than another sighting of Grace’s tutor.
Your turn. What did you think of the episode? What’s your theory on the real story behind the computer bugs at Lockhart/Gardner? What will Kalinda do to help Will, and is she playing Cary or is Cary playing her? What happens next week when Diane finds out that Will’s under investigation? Does he let her think it’s just about Alicia, or does he come clean about his old gambling problem? Why do you think he hasn’t told Alicia that he had words with Peter? The one thing you don’t do to a woman who’s been betrayed the way she has is lie. Is he more afraid that she’ll lose respect for him if she finds out about the $45,000, or that Peter’s suspicion of them sleeping together will be the complication that gives Alicia the strength to pause?
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Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth star in the legal/family drama.