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Wednesday, 16 of October of 2019

The Good Wife – “Ham Sandwich”

Can you ask me that question again?

What do you do with a problem like Kalinda?

I’ve never been crazy about Kalinda. She of the Awesome Boots and Tight Mini-Skirts has never really done it for me. Instead Kalinda has been unnecessarily mysterious and opaquely sketched as a character, suddenly having knowledge or skills that makes her useful in each episode. And while she may be smarter than federal bomb experts, her talents (for me) have always left outside the norms of the show (as I point out in the link), making her a crutch for the show to rely on to get out of tight narrative spots with a sultry wink and a smile.

And now, after digging itself into a very deep, dark, and unnecessary hole all season with the Blake absurdness, the show needed a way to pay off all that time spent on a story that essentially went nowhere and failed to reveal anything particularly earth-shattering about Kalinda. So in an episode hyped up to reveal some serious character meat (and what better way to do that than a grand jury investigation?), The Good Wife instead turns Kalinda into another wedge in the larger story of Alicia and Peter’s marriage.

That Kalinda (more likely than not) slept with Peter doesn’t surprise me at all. I feel like the show has been dancing around that idea since season 1 when Childs earlier targeted Kalinda for investigation, and I recall friendly scenes between Kalinda and Peter during the early stages of season 1 when Peter was in jail. So the reveal of a relationship between the two didn’t really shock me in any real way because, well, in the back in my head, I had always kind of suspected it anyway. Honestly, I would’ve rather a relationship between the two never have been confirmed (or denied), and instead remained a nice character tension for Noth and Panjabi to play with as subtext.

So with the reveal now lingering and likely to play out over the rest of the season, the actual impact of Kalinda’s affair with Peter is where any interesting developments may arise. Certainly it could have some impact on the election, but at this point I feel like tossing one more mistress in Peter’s apparent harem of whores isn’t going to have that much of an impact on the election (especially since Wendy Scott Carr may or may not make hay out of it), and I’m sure Eli can somehow worm out a victory anyway.

The larger and more interesting fallout is between Alicia and Kalinda, one of the better relationships between two women currently on television. Sure, they’re often talking about Peter and the marriage, but it’s realistically done. And as I’ve pointed out before, Kalinda is really the only other person in the show aside from Owen that Alicia can talk to about her life. How the show plays this out will become, I think, the show’s real test of strength: Do you have the two characters to rebuild their relationship, or does Alicia just it fall asunder and their relationship become coolly professional? I frankly think that the former is easy way out but that the latter would be difficult to execute without basically writing Panjabi off the show.

And perhaps that’s the real problem. While Kalinda has always functioned on the fringes of the narrative, doing what’s needed and doing it well, she’s never been a cog in the series’s larger narratives, but now she is one. She is now an obstacle, another conflict between Peter and Alicia in rebuilding their marriage. This may’ve worked better had Alicia found out on her own (if she finds out at all) as opposed to Blake spreading it around Chicago (while on the run from Bishop), but instead it becomes just another secret, just another tawdry notch in Peter’s belt of adultery. I may not particularly like Kalinda as a character, but on a show that so deftly sketches everyone else, Kalinda deserves better.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Other things happened, including Bishop’s divorce from his wife. A nice bit in the on-going tension between L-G and Bishop, made only better by David Lee once again being awesome.
  • Those meddling Florrick kids continue to hamper Eli (“The Florrick children just love black people!” “YOU KIDS ARE EVIL!”) and his attempts to get Peter a paying job. You’d think his kids would want him to have a job.
  • Grace’s wide-eyed questions about Jesus (“Do you think Jesus was black?”) while amusing, kind of feel odd. I know that Grace is supposed to be younger but Makenzie Vega is 17 and it’s really starting to show, which makes Grace seem more like she’s been living under a very big rock as opposed to just being shielded from things.
  • Favorite moment of the episode: Alicia and Cary’s very civil, almost heart-felt, phone conversation near the end. I dug it.

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