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The Good Wife - The Line - Review - "This Side is For The Scum"

After what is likely the most eventful season of the entire series, many (myself included) wondered whether or not season 6 of The Good Wife would start off with a relatively cooler entry this season. After the events that took place over the course of the previous year, our protagonists were left in very different places in such a short amount of time. There was still so much going on in the wake of Alicia and Cary's new endeavors, and the murder of Will Gardner. Apparently, cooling things down was never in the plan for Florrick, Agos, & Associates.

*You may skip past the recap of season 5 if you're up to speed!
*Warning, spoilers ahead!

Previously on The Good Wife:

Alicia and Cary had successfully (if incredibly awkwardly) established Florrick, Agos & Associates with the 4th year lawyer defectors and Robin, the recently-hired Lockhart/Gardner investigator. In the fallout of that split with their former firm tensions erupted into skirmishes in the courtroom over clients, and over the course of the midseason it seemed as though any previous friendship or relationship between the two entities was likely done for. Eventually, as both sides of the conflict realized their blood feud would only hurt them both in the long run, a sort of amicable agreement was made between Will and Alicia that they would leave out the personal problems and focus on being newfound competitors.

To irritate tensions further, however, the Department of Integrity intervened with the tape of 28,000+ fraudulent votes being cast for Peter Florrick, the same tape that Will Gardner had found at the end of Peter's election campaign. Of course, given that this was taking place amidst a hectic splitting of firms, Will Gardner and Peter Florrick were set against each other. It became clear after Nelson Dubeck harassed and pursued multiple characters that he was close to getting the Governor on election fraud, even if he was using dubious means.

 A timely, and interesting plot point made itself known early in season 5 that ever since taking on the client Danny Marwat in season 3, the NSA have actively been spying on Alicia, and anyone 2-3 "hops" from her cell phone. Therefore, by this time, when the analysts were introduced to the audience, they were about as caught up on who these characters were as the viewers of the show.

This fed into other problems the new firm faced as the Department of Justice, and later Nelson Dubeck leeched off of the NSA's wiretap to obtain information that could condemn Peter Florrick. It was flatly stated through intercepted recordings that Will Gardner was the one person who could prove the Governor's alleged corruption.

Then, embroiled in the middle of a very unfortunate (practically unlawful, in my opinion) case that was spun up by A.S.A. Geneva Pine, Lockhart/Gardner client Jeffrey Grant, after months of likely wrongful accusations and abuse in the general detention facility of Cook County grabbed hold of a
gun from an inattentive officer during court proceedings and shot both a witness on the stand and then Will Gardner when he felt as if he was backed into a corner, and would never escape prison. After a nervous gunfight blew up in the courthouse, Jeffrey was left with no bullets to end his own life, and was arrested. Will died in the arms of his opposition, the newly-minted from NY prosecutor Finn Polmar on the floor of the courtroom.

Will's death was the catalyst for the rest of the season's troubles. Alicia fell into a strong fit of grief, and refused to recognize what she was dealing with. It led to her making seemingly arbitrary decisions that left her and Cary, her firm's name partner on the outs. Diane, who had already lost her judgeship due to the tensions between the Governor Peter Florrick and Lockhart/Gardner, lost her name partner and her best friend. She spiraled for a few episodes after other partners (namely David Lee) made increasingly aggressive moves against her seat, and brought in Louis Canning to replace Will as name partner. In the end she found herself knocking at Florrick/Agos' door.

After Will's death, Alicia became very open to merging back with Lockhart/Gardner, to stop the struggling startup from so much upheaval that had been going on. But Cary was openly against it, and with good reason. Alicia wasn't thinking clearly, and a merger with that sinking ship LG was not going to solve their problems. At the end of the season, intra-firm tensions blew up once more when Cary sabotaged any chance of a merger with LG. It honestly looked as though these two were not ready to deal with the problems that came with running a high-powered law firm. In reality, Alicia should have taken that time to grieve and not make any big decisions, but she wouldn't be reasoned with.

 Outside of the firm, she found her resolve again by clearing Finn Polmar's name of any wrong-doing in the Jeffrey Grant case, laying the blame squarely on Castro, the current State's Attorney.

Personal relations were wrecked as well, when Cary was made aware that it was a known historical thing to have Kalinda actively pry information out of him at Diane's behest through emotional and sexual manipulation. It was a humiliation in front of his other partners at their new firm. This realization led to an uncomfortable sexual scene where Cary almost crossed a line. He cooled off and left Kalinda bewildered. Alicia and Peter, on the other hand, finally recognized that their marriage, as it stood, was a shill, and that they should be free to use it for professional advancement but the relationship no longer extended beyond those means. Meanwhile, Eli looks to find his next campaign candidate for State's Attorney, as Castro is a no-go, and was responsible for the Jeffrey Grant debacle. After a false start with Finn Polmar as a possible candidate, Eli tries to catch Diane and have her bring some integrity to the State's Attorney's office.

Diane, however declines, and then immediately approaches Florrick/Agos to take her on as a partner, and leave her old firm behind. Afterwards, when Alicia comes home to the remnants of Zach's graduation dinner, Eli asks after a few moments of deliberation if she would run for State's Attorney.

"What?" was all she said.

The Good Wife - 6.01 - In Which "The Line" is  Definitely Crossed


This moment is precisely where season 6 started. And given the attention the promos had for Diane's defection from LG, I believed that Alicia's primary focus would be both fending off Eli's pushing for her to run, as well as possibly combating Cary's opposition to having Diane join the firm. To the promos' credit, those issues were present at the beginning of the premiere, but the misinformation that was likely deliberate worked its charms and I was completely unsuspecting as to what was going to happen next.

"Because you could win."

As Eli followed Alicia into the kitchen, she continued to refuse running for State's Attorney. He continued to give her more reasons to think about it. Abruptly interrupting their awkward conversation, Cary calls Alicia to tell her that Diane wants to talk about them taking her on as a partner over breakfast. She almost immediately agrees, but he states that taking her on would demean what it was to be a start-up away from LG in the first place. He insisted that Diane's name would return to the top of the brand, and they'd be marginalized and co-opted out of their positions.

It is of note here that Alicia's indifference to Cary's qualms with Diane hits hard onto a long-standing
problem between them: when the going gets rough, Cary is the one to take all the punishment or the negative consequences. He'd had extensive dealings with Diane and Will both at their firm and through the State's Attorney's office, and he was obviously speaking from experience, while Alicia had a very different stance of "money is money" in this situation.

After their conversation, Kalinda and Cary speak over the phone as well. Cary apologizes for his behavior and asks to see her to straighten things out. She reluctantly agrees to meet him that night.
Almost immediately after their call, a voice from out of the blue calls Kalinda on her phone and asks if they could hook up that night -- none other than Sophia Russo, the investigator from season 3. She declines at first, given she has plans with Cary, but for some reason later on Cary doesn't show and Kalinda can't get him on the phone, so she decides to meet Sophia after all.

The next morning, much to Alicia's dismay, it seems Cary is actively denying their chance at speaking with Diane about partnership. He won't even answer his calls. They have the conversation anyway, in spite of his absence, perturbed at his lack of tact in approaching the situation.

Kalinda accompanies David Lee to a hearing for the son of one of LG's top clients. The apparent man-child is being held for his 3rd offense of mail fraud. Upon introducing himself, David Lee has to raise his voice over the sputtering client, only to realize that he has a message for Kalinda -- a lawyer, Craig--? Ca--...Cary Lands? Vargas? No-no, it's definitely not Cary Agos -- he insists, is in lockup, and needs to talk to someone soon.

Now, you may be thinking: How dare I completely ignore a huge scene that happened between the night before, and the morning after? The contrast of the normal day-to-day power struggle that is usual in The Good Wife was starkly wrapped around a series of quickly-occurring events that were simply unlike the typical fare we see. Upon returning to his very sharp-looking car, it seems as though suddenly Cary Agos was being mugged. Wait, no, are those badges? He's on the ground, no rights read, no reason given, arrested, and removed from the street.



"This side is for the scum."

What follows is hours of detainment in a police department that blatantly denied his right to his one call, that kept him chained to a seat next to a drunk, and still refused to tell him why he was even there. Suddenly, was being sent off to a facility, stripped of his clothes, and kept in a dark containment area with others. But even in the middle of this situation he found a face he recognized, a LG client that he could use to get a message from lockup.

When Kalinda finally got Cary's message and relayed it to Alicia, a feeling of relief swept over me. For context: Cary Agos, as I've mentioned before, is a bit of an unfortunate character in the scheme of things on this show. While Alicia has on multiple occasions found herself in the right situation, it's often been at Cary's expense, and other characters take his naive and generally honest demeanor and use that for their gain. He also doesn't ever really get past that because on some level, he's just a more genuine person in his own way than others on this show. For me to say that after this character's introduction in season 1 as the untrustworthy opponent of Saint Alicia, is quite a huge thing to me personally. But I stand by it. This show lives in between shades of right and wrong, and most of the time his naiveté and youth has kept him from wising up to how things can work against you if you're not trying to work the angles.

Upon hearing from Kalinda, Alicia calls Finn at the State's Attorney's office for help. He meets her there in time for Cary's hearing, and then immediately blindsides her with a felony charge against Cary, and a bail set in excess of $1 million.

Since this follows so closely to their budding relationship
after Will's death, it's such a brash change of face that she didn't see coming. His demeanor is so aggressive, and he adeptly keeps her demands out and argues against each point she makes. It's another moment of "what the hell is going on?" and that sense of relief I had when Kalinda picked up on Cary's message was gone. Cary says to Alicia that this must be somehow related to their work with Druglord Lemond Bishop. He pleads with her to seek him out to make sure that Bishop doesn't suspect that Cary would make any deal with the State's Attorney while arrested.

"...Who?"

Cue Cary's time spent in the slammer, while Alicia & co. race around to try to keep his neck off the line. Alicia hauls ass directly to Bishop to relay the events that had just transpired. Upon Alicia laying out the situation, Bishop merely replies "who?" My stomach dropped as he said this, as it was so apparent how important Cary was to Bishop's bottom line. Alicia attempts to quell any question as to Cary's loyalty, but underlining the conversation is a dire implication: "Please don't kill my name partner, he won't rat you out." In that moment, I was reminded of how Cary said in season 5 that F/A should not be involved with someone like Lemond Bishop...It was a mistake when LG took him on as a client, and it would be just as wrong for them to take him then...but Bishop had so much money, that mentality was vetoed... and look where we are now!

After more denigrating scenes from prison, we return to Cary getting a visitor in the middle of a search. It's Kalinda, thank God... You could see the tears welling up in Cary's eyes as he looked at her. They half-heartedly bantered for a moment before she got to business, which was getting names of the people he met with on May 25th of that year. One of Bishop's people had claimed Cary had given them advice to elude arrest. Sophia Russo later confronted Kalinda stating that they had audio evidence (which was such a tease as we didn't get to listen in on it yet). So Kalinda made her way through talking with Bishop's boys one-by-one until the man himself stopped her and took her aside. He made it evident that she was not to continue that line of questioning. If she was going to get Cary off, it would have to be well away from anything that could implicate Bishop or any of his men.

As if tensions weren't high enough, this was the point at which Cary was to be 'tested' by one of Bishop's men in lockup. Apparently Bishop asked his inside man to cut one of Cary's fingers off, to test his loyalty after a sudden violent attack or loss, but given that Cary was a good guy who helped this criminal in an earlier scene, he was just going to slit Cary's hand completely open and see if Cary could follow commands. As difficult as it was to see things getting worse for Cary, he took it like a champ and knew his move was to work with whatever Bishop had planned.

"It's Just Money...Right?"

Outside the fishbowl of Cary's anguish, Alicia flirted with the idea of taking out another mortgage,
Robin zealously offered up her own life's savings (as well as a sizable amount from her parents), and the other partners pulled their resources in an attempt to meet Cary's bail amount. Of course, in a subsequent hearing, Finn cut Alicia off at the knees invalidating her as Cary's lawyer, sending them scrambling for new representation. Diane came aboard, and also said she'd dip into her own funds to help.

This was all moot after meeting with Cary again, who was bandaged up and obviously suffering, but refused to hint to any wrong-doing. Upon returning to the firm, Alicia found Bishop standing in the middle of the office, and his lackey had a wad of cash at her desk. Another sigh of relief, as it seemed Bishop was coming through for Cary after he proved himself by handling the test.

In seemingly unrelated circumstances, Eli worked his magic to get Peter to be on board with the idea of Alicia running for State's Attorney. It was relatively light fare compared to the Cary storyline, but then of course, a complication arose from the situation when Eli orchestrated an argument between the Governor and the current State's Attorney. The blowback from that maneuver was Castro getting personally involved in Cary's case. So when Diane brought forward the check for Cary's bail, Castro had Finn Polmar refuse the money, and demand an investigation into the source of the check itself.

Cary still relegated to being locked away... It was a loss, and the credits rolled entirely too soon. I don't remember saying "WTF" so many times in recent months...and that includes that unbelievable toilet scene from earlier this season on FX's The Strain (DID HE JUST FLUSH THAT?).

SO, what did you think? Did you hate the direction of this episode? Did it stun you? Are you worried for Cary? 

Sound off in the comments below!


Sidenotes:

-The intern sans underwear is a bit on the dumb side of things. I still laughed when Marissa (yay she's back from Israel!) blatantly asked about her underwear and the intern brazenly flashed the entire office in response.

-Anyone else hope that now Cary will develop as a true main character? He's had main character status in credits, but it's no secret that he's always been a bit off to the side and has had to grow in the shadow of Alicia's progress. If they keep giving him more content to work with than Finn, I'll appreciate it.

-The Other Car(e)y...Carey Zepps didn't seem all that jazzed about paying money to help out a partner... (Judging you so hard right now, Zepps.)

-Obligatory comment about Eli's awkwardly shiny black hair

-Next week I hope to keep the review to a more reasonable length! I just had a lot to say!



About the Author - Wilson Crawford
Wilson is an avid fan of television, music, and the occasional video game. He enjoys well-written, thought-provoking characters and series that get better with age. Current favorites include The Good Wife and Mad Men. Past favorites include Damages, Fringe, Breaking Bad, 30 Rock, and Veronica Mars.

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