Two things stood out about this week’s episode of THE GOOD WIFE: the palpable tension as the clock counted down to an execution, and the way Alicia’s son, Zach, couldn’t take his eyes off Kalinda. (Hey, give the kid a break – who can take their eyes off her?)
We’ve all seen lawyer shows tackle the death penalty, and watched as myriad legal teams raced to save a wrongly condemned man. Frankly, the plot has been done to death! But I think what set this particular story apart was the sense of jeopardy. When it comes to lawyer shows, one can usually bank on the featured legal eagles saving the day. Occasionally, one sees a story in which the condemned man is actually guilty. But THE GOOD WIFE did two things right: It the lawyers did not pretend to know if Carter Wright (Chad L. Coleman) was innocent, and I really felt like there was a possibility that Carter would be executed in the end, no matter his guilt or innocence.
It’s a credit to TGW that I actually thought Carter might die. The premise of the story was also intriguing: An appeals judge wanted to delay the execution, and used his law clerk to send a coded message to Alicia (Julianna Margulies) alerting her that the appeal she filed needed to be fine-tuned. That implied the case could be overturned, and set the clock ticking to head off Carter’s date with a lethal injection. The sense of time ticking away was established right from the opening teaser, with the tipster repeatedly calling Alicia and trying to avoid overtly tampering with the case. Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) proved to be the heroine, tracking down the arson expert as he was about to board a flight to Orlando, Fla., and persuading him to recant key testimony.
No doubt Zach (Graham Williams) would have been mightily impressed to see Kalinda in action. He got to meet Kalinda for the first time this week, and she made a good first impression (to say the least) on him. Dressed in a leather jacket, tight skirt and knee-high stiletto boots, how could she not? Zach was immediately spellbound, and spent the rest of the episode staring at her from afar (favoring the rear view, although that may just have been a matter of convenience; credit the kid for some discretion). Kalinda appeared not to pay attention to the youth, but I prefer to think she was just playing it cool; no way an experienced investigator doesn’t notice she’s being observed (okay, ogled is more like it). But she didn’t embarrass the poor kid. And no, this little plot thread did not seem to be exploiting the Emmy winning supporting actress or her character. Zach’s fascination was totally innocent, and played that way. Alicia immediately picked up on Zach’s enchantment, but didn’t mention it to her son. At least for now. (Props to TGW for not fixating Zach on a stereotypical tall, willowy blonde.) And, as I noted, Kalinda’s skill and determination as an investigator led to the key breakthrough that won over the judge.
Kalinda had a nice scene with Alicia when they were drinking beers in Alicia’s bedroom. Kalinda revealed that at one point she didn’t like her life, so she changed it. She was too guarded to reveal exactly what she didn’t like – or how she changed her life – but I’m willing to bet she wasn’t always a private investigator. There was a hint in Kalinda’s eyes that she was in some kind of trouble, even though she denied it. I’m glad we viewers haven’t learned all her secrets yet. I like Kalinda as a mystery figure; it makes her seem even stronger and more exotic. I really enjoy Kalinda’s friendship with Alicia, and look forward to seeing it continue to evolve.