The Good Wife has never been afraid to take chances. That’s one of the reasons the show continues to feel fresh and exciting even as it kicks off its sixth season. Creators Robert and Michelle King and their writing staff have never allowed the show to settle into any kind of rut, and last season they made the mother of all shake-ups when they killed off Josh Charles’ Will Gardner. When season 5 concluded it seemed that we were on the brink of a huge battle being waged on multiple fronts. Cary and Alicia were at odds about how to handle Diane’s proposal to come over to Florrick/Agos. Diane was working to leave Lockhart, Gardner, and Canning and take as many clients with her as she could without alerting David Lee and Louis Canning and while they plot to destroy Florrick Agos. After this premiere it’s clear that a fight is coming, although it might not be the one we were all expecting.
As soon as Cary is arrested it’s clear that something bigger is going on. The level of “inefficiency” present in the handling of his arrest indicates that Cary is being targeted. Even so, I expected Alicia to quickly take care of business and get Cary out of lock-up, especially once she enlisted the help of ASA Finn Polmar. Then came the patented Good Wife surprise. Cary’s charge resulted in a bail amount of 1.3 million dollars for conspiracy to transport heroin. When the full charge is read everything snaps into focus. This isn’t about Cary. This is about Lemond Bishop. One of the great successes of The Good Wife is the expansive world it has built over its five season run and how well populated that world is. Bishop has been a steady presence in the show, popping up here and there to cause some moral dilemmas for our favorite characters. The Good Wife has a solid stable of recurring characters and here it reaches out and pulls one to the center of the proceedings in a way that is both organic and exciting. Bishop is extremely valuable as a client, but there’s no denying that he makes a majority of his money operating outside the law. There’s also the unsettling trend that whenever he appears in an episode there’s likely to be a dead body somewhere. He’s a great reminder of the gray area that lawyers like Alicia and Cary often operate in. Though we may think of Alicia and Cary as “the good guys,” it’s important to remember that one of their top clients is a drug kingpin whose money helps pay for Cary’s fancy car, expensive watch, and sharp suit.
Poor Cary. He didn’t have much to do in the back half of season five and now that he’s in the spotlight it’s in a situation that goes from annoying to horrifying very quickly. Cary starts off looking to fight for the independence of Florrick/Agos, still resistant to the idea of Diane joining the firm. All of that changes quickly once he’s arrested. Cary’s arrest and the subsequent reveal of the connection to Lemond Bishop quickly shuffles everyone back onto the same side. Alicia, Kalinda, and Diane all come together to help Cary, and he definitely needs them. Cary’s time in prison plays like a darker and decidedly less humorous version of Orange is the New Black. Matt Czuchry has done good work on the show and he does great work as the emotional center of the episode. Czuchry does a fantastic job playing the range of emotions that Cary goes through, from confusion and frustration to genuine fear. It will be interesting to see Cary experience the law from the other side. He’s facing danger not just from ASA Polmar but also much more immediate danger inside the prison. The prison scenes contrast wonderfully with the rest of the show just from a filmmaking standpoint and the way they’re shot. Everything outside the prison is warm and colorful while the prison is cooler with a more bluish tint and muted colors like the drab brown/khaki color of the uniforms. Cary is completely out of his element and quite frankly out of his depth in prison. Cary has spent years dealing with criminals and has probably visited prisons multiple times. The difference this time is which side of the titular line he’s standing on. Kalinda walks right by Cary in the last moments of the show and doesn’t even notice he’s there. That’s what happens when you’re on the wrong side of the line.
It also wouldn’t be The Good Wife without at least a couple of other storylines running concurrently. The other major story is Eli’s idea that Alicia run for State’s Attorney. Alicia immediately says no, and yet I get the feeling that Eli may eventually convince her to run. Initially even Peter is opposed to the idea until Eli proves how good at his job he is and Peter changes his mind. Eli always brings the laughs, and this episode he’s assisted by the wonderful Sarah Steele who returns as Eli’s daughter Marissa. Marissa gives Eli a sounding board and just adds to the fun at the governor’s offices. I couldn’t stop laughing at the way she said “panties.” If they decide to keep her around as Eli’s protege, I would be one hundred percent on board. Eli’s machinations aren’t without their consequences, however. There’s no doubt that Castro’s presence in bond court isn’t related to his embarrassment at the Governor’s office. As always, The Good Wife manages to have multiple stories intersect in interesting ways. “The Line” feels a little like a reboot of where the show was headed at the end of last season, but the new direction is as compelling as anything the show has ever done and feels fresh and exciting. Last season was an incredible season of television and it’s clear the show has no plans of slowing down in its sixth season.