Just a disclaimer: I’m a total sucker for Michael J. Fox. My favorite movie of all-time is Back To The Future and I’ve probably seen nearly all of MJF’s films and even watched a good amount of Spin City because I just love the guy. I say this because I was fully charmed by “Real Deal,” and I can’t fully tell if that has to do with Fox or the high-quality of the episode. I honestly think it is a bit of both, but I wanted to preface my statements with that acknowledgment of adoration.
Anyway, “Real Deal” is one of those Good Wife episodes that doesn’t actually include the trial proceedings of a case, which though I expressed some concern about a while back, I do love. Here, Alicia and the firm are working on pulling together a class action suit against a chemical company and just as Alicia thinks she has things in the bag, Fox’s Louis Canning shows up and claims to be working on a similar class action. This of course does not make sense due to the fact that the last time Alicia faced off with Canning, he was working as a well-paid, scheming defense attorney protecting big companies that he now presents to be attacking.
What is particularly satisfying about Canning’s second appearance — you know, aside from MJF’s general awesomeness — is how it impacts Alicia. As the primary protagonist, we sort of expect her to be idealistic and emotionally invested in every case, but here, she’s totally jaded, both by the job itself and her previous experience with Canning. He not only manipulated the court with his illness last time but also snaked Alicia and the firm out of a massive sum of money. And even for someone as patient and understanding as Alicia, losing still has to suck. Therefore, when Canning comes a-calling with his stories about a change of heart and a real interest in helping out the women who have lost the ability to conceive children (his wife apparently has as well), Alicia doesn’t buy it, not one bit. Hell, even Kalinda finds Canning to be honest and upfront about his change in career path and ideology, but Alicia doesn’t want to believe it. This is a great example of how the job has slowly affected her thought process and perhaps even her general outlook on life. I don’t like Alicia was this wet behind the ears kind of naive woman when she started at the firm, but there has been this sense this season that she’s most certainly not the same anymore.
Just with Canning’s first appearance, he ended up playing a bit of a shell game with Alicia and the firm. She, Will and Diane never totally bought into his sob story like Kalinda did — which is interesting in its own right — and there was this explicit assumption that he’d eventually reveal himself to be working for/with the opposition in hopes of lowering the overall number. You know, just as he did the last time. And so the episode worked with these two viewpoints throughout and Fox did a nice job of making the both sides seem reasonable. Though Canning outsmarted Alicia the first time around he wasn’t outwardly villainous and that’s even more so the case in this instance.
The performance plays right into the sharp writing of the actual reveal of Canning’s intentions: Both sides were kind of right. Sure, he was actually working with the opposition in hopes of lowering the settlement, but not because he’s going to get a big cut of it or because he doesn’t care about the women who cannot conceive. His story was completely true and he does feel sympathy for the women, he just believes that greedy law firms like LG&B are too concerned with cutting down businesses to turn a buck. It’s certainly a unique perspective and one that’s timely with the recent settlement of the 9/11 debris workers. Moreover, I liked the development because it presented us with motivations that aren’t fully black and white or really understandable for anyone else not named Canning. He believes what he believes and no one is going to convince him that he’s wrong or even right, it’s just what he believes and that’s why he acted in a certain way. Good stuff.
Meanwhile, the subterfuge between the three partners continues to be one of the most compelling threads on television. The season has been very good at both keeping Bond mysterious and still slowly filling in some of the blanks about where he gets his information. First we discovered that he’s been asking Blake to spy on everyone from Alicia to Cary and now it’s revealed that he has a key-stroke software on some of the firm’s important people’s computers. It’s clear that Bond isn’t screwing around and there’s no doubt that even if Diane and Will are planning to take him down, he doesn’t already have seven other plans in hopes of cutting that down. The two of them eventually decide to us the software against Bond so that he’ll fire some of his own people who could vote to keep him in power, but I have to imagine that Will and Diane’s success against Bond will be short-lived. He’s bringing in a big account in the coming months and I have to imagine that it ties directly to the campaign or something even more crazy, but I can’t wait to find out who/what it is.
Finally, Peter and Eli recognizing that he actually has the youth vote and so he starts subtlety supporting the medical marijuana initiatives? Awesome. I still don’t really want Peter to win the election just because of the chaos it could cause in the Florrick household, but it seems like things are headed in that direction.