The Good Wife Season 4 Premiere: A Hyped Up Start that Falls Short of Expectations


The fourth season of CBS’s The Good Wife picks up where it left off in April: Kalinda sits cross-legged and stone-faced, a handgun tucked beneath her hip, and awaits the arrival of an unidentified, yet dangerous man.

The tension mounts when we realize this man, whose raspy, deep voice we’ve only heard via telephone, is a husky fellow named Bill. 

Bill comes a knockin’ on behalf of Kalinda’s ex-husband Nick (Marc Warren), a Brit with a "midnight sun" tattoo who seeks Kalinda’s return. In the darkness of her apartment, Kalinda utilizes her and his gun as a weapon for Bill’s head and smashes his hand to smithereens with the sledge hammer she had the foresight to buy earlier.

It’s a deeply melodramatic start that paves the way for an equally melodramatic first episode, rife with sensational — oftentimes in-eloquent — dialogue wrapped around a weakly carried out title, “I Fought the Law.”

Kalinda’s troubles are kept at bay as the focus turns not to Alicia, but Alicia's son Zach (Graham Phillips) and his run-in with Officer Robb (Matthew Del Negro) heading home from a visit to Washington University. Zach, riding his newly inherited, old-school Grand Cherokee with mom and sister in the back, is pulled over and slapped with a slew of silly accusations: stowing remnants of marijuana shake below the front seat and disobeying Article 14 by not-so-surreptitiously recording the bully cop. Really, Zach, put your iPhone on silent.

Alicia, who has thankfully grown out her awful side-sweeping bangs, has her panties in a bunch over the blemishes on her son's record. Before her state-attorney husband, whom she’s “mending fences” with, can blackmail Madison County officials, she throws Officer Robb’s far-fetched accusations back in his square face. In court, she proves — with the help of Zach's Google-ing skills — Robb and many others utilize that highway stretch as a “forfeiture corridor” to illegally impound cars and confiscate cash made from prior drug sales.

This slightly boring chain of events is where the audience’s attention peaks; although Alicia essentially makes a mountain out of a mole hill, she brings an interesting issue to light in the process. I, for one, had never heard of a forfeiture corridor before.

Throughout the episode, we’re briefly introduced to our two new shining stars. Kristin Chenoweth appears as Peggy Byrne and Nathan Lane, a dapper Clarke Hayden. 

Peggy is a reporter dressed in a gross mustard-yellow blazer, donning a distracting, tightly wound ponytail. She grills both Peter and Alicia on the state of their marriage, harping on questions we’ve already dissected to their core over the past three seasons. Yes, Alicia has stood by Peter’s side (to some extent), but no, it's not an affront to the entire female gender. As Peggy interviews Alicia, our leading lady remains incredibly calm. In fact, Alicia's relaxed demeanor and chilled-out vibe seems off-kilter with the other characters' mounting stress. Was that her marijuana shake Robb found?

Overall anxiety is brought on by the fact that Lockhart Gardner is $60 million in debt, due to the “loss of a major client, late receivables, and an exponential increase in our lease,” Diane (Christine Baranski) explains. Cue Clarke Hayden, the appointed trustee meant to mend the matter at hand by setting priorities and letting 30% of the staff go, what is sure to be a devastating blow to come. Clarke is a suited character we're excited to explore. In the premiere, he mostly scribbles in his notepad and stares into space, wearing inherently quizzical dark-rimmed glasses.

At the episode’s close, we’re left with questions concerning its vaguely fleshed out plot line. Like, who is Bob really? Why does Officer Robb need two B’s? What kind of white-kid folk-rap does Zach listen to? Did he just discover the internet? Do all 18-year-olds use Bluetooth? And does Kalinda have a past with everyone, including the drug-searching dog expert with the kinky hair?

It’s all so much to digest without the key details we're kept from. Hopefully the season will stray away from the tired themes of marital woes, Kalinda’s bi-curious sexcapades, and the Florrick kids’ rebellious tendencies. Perhaps the premiere was merely setting the stage for a season whose complexity will increase simultaneous to the impending campaign and the arrival of Kalinda’s ex, whom we'll call "Tow Truck Man" as a client to the firm.

Or, maybe it will take a rendezvous between Will (Josh Charles) and Alicia to save the season from flat-lining. If I had a choice, I'd opt for the latter.