After last week’s Lockhart Gardner-geddon, “The Next Day” dawns on a brave, new but somewhat uncomfortable Good Wife world.
Diane wakes up on pillows of pale, mint-green, nervous about arguing her last case till it turns out, firstly, not to be her case and secondly, not to be her last one.
Will wakes up amid sheets of joyful, sunny yellow – which surprised me a little, not that I’ve imagined Will’s sheets or anything (*blushes*) but, er, anyway, yes, the yellow surprised me – with his usual go-to accessory when he wants to stop wanting Alicia: a lithe younger woman who can’t get enough of him.
And Alicia wakes up in a bed of battle-grey, tired out, but ready for the war to continue. So continue it does, with another fight over another client; much smaller fry than Chumhum, obviously, but that doesn’t stop both sides swiping at each other with every sneaky weapon they’ve got. Even Nancy Crozier is more incidental than enemy, for once, since Will and Alicia care far more about beating each other than opposing counsel in the client’s lawsuit.
It’s all as beautifully-plotted and intelligent as we’ve come to expect from TGW, with Alicia and Cary making brilliant use of Edward Herrman’s Lionel and the ADCB (“and welcome back to Will!”) and Will and Diane making equally brilliant use of contingency agreements and black marker pens, while the bemused client and the equally bemused Kalinda essentially wait out the winner. As does the always wonderful judge Richard Kind, whose repeated exhortations for everyone to “squash it” are the highlight of the episode.
Not that the show rests there, either: all this is going on against a background of Diane losing her shot at the judgeship, “Mitch” alternating between snooping around and being sick in Alicia’s toilet (not a euphemism) and Grace having a worryingly (if you’re Alicia, anyway) good time chatting to/up all the eligible young lawyers working out of her mum’s apartment. Who might be stuck there till Florrick Agos goes bust, if Will has anything to do with it.
So there’s no shortage of things going on, no shortage of great lines and it’s all as smart and fast as usual, but, Grace and Diane aside, it’s also just a bit annoying. Last week’s all-out scorching of the earth was wildly exciting – with that kind of thing, you have to go big or go home and TGW went BIG – but this more petty little sniping at each other isn’t really a good look for anybody, especially since there’s no real villain here, only a bunch of characters we like fighting amongst themselves. Sure, it was funny at first, but as the episode went on, everybody’s behaviour became just a tad irritating and I found myself wanting them all to either make up or get over it and start behaving like adults instead of children with law degrees again. Which is neither fair nor realistic, I know; it’s only been an episode and the wounds from the big break-up are still fresh, so of course Will, Diane and Alicia will be lashing out at each other anyway they know how. For all it’s petty, it’s also entirely human. I might just need a little time to get used to it.
Another episode in which the detectives don’t do very much actual detecting. We start with the Friends of Christ, resettled from the burnt-out church which featured at the end of last week’s episode. Cohle’s scathing about the congregation both in flashback (“Nobody here’s gonna be splitting the atom”) and in the present-day (they’d “rather put a coin in a wishing-well than buy dinner”). Cohle and Hart do, however, get a lead: their victim, Dora, was seen by members of the church with a tall, scarred man. They’re also able to eliminate a sex offender with learning difficulties, who is attached to the church: as Cohle establishes, he couldn’t have raped Dora because he – ouch – isn’t quite equipped to do so.
Much of the rest of the episode is devoted to telling us more about the main characters, and it’s looking increasingly as if Hart is, in fact, the more disturbed of the partnership. He’s furious when he comes home to find Cohle, wearing a vest, in his kitchen chatting to his wife Maggie, having just cut Hart’s grass for him – for now literally but before long, one has to suspect, metaphorically as well. Then Hart and Maggie go on a double date with Cohle and a friend of Maggie’s, but Hart sees his mistress Lisa with another guy, which sends him into a violent rage: he bursts into Lisa’s apartment and assaults her date. And his daughter, on top of last week’s disturbing doll tableau, has been drawing sexually explicit pictures at school. Woody Harrelson is quite superb throughout, incidentally; Matthew McConaughey is as good as ever, but it’s Harrelson’s week.
We return to the crime, though, in the final few minutes, when Cohle’s dogged detective work reveals a crime which is similar to the one they’re investigating, fitting in with his theory that the murder of Dora is the work of a serial killer. This takes them to Reginald LeDoux, convicted sex offender and former cellmate of Dora’s boyfriend; LeDoux, on the basis of our sighting of him at the end of the episode, is completely demented, but presumably we’ll find out more next week.
The pace might not be for you; as I’ve said before, The Blacklist it ain’t. You could pick holes in Cohle’s portentous speeches (this week, in particular, the monologue about the victims of killers welcoming death strained my tolerance). And you could, today of all days, question the show’s attitude to women. On the evidence so far, though, True Detective is shaping up as one of the best dramas of the year, and this was a fantastic episode.
A brisk and exciting cold open, in which Catherine has a great big fight with someone in a bathroom as part of Operation Find Adam. It turns out that there are many ways in which bathroom fittings can be used as improvised weapons. Then she gets to flash a badge and call herself Five-0, because right at the start of the episode Steve deputised her. This deputising thing happens from time to time in American cop shows. I have no idea whether it’s legitimate or not.
The Case of the Week is the stabbing of a surfer dude who turns out to be a cop in very deep cover, so there’s the usual is-he-good-or-has-he-gone-rogue? plot which I guess any of us could storyboard by now. As a distraction, though, there’s the always-unwelcome return of Steve’s dumbo sister Mary. And – oh God – she’s been allowed to adopt. Steve’s almost as horrified by this as I am. It really doesn’t say much for Hawaii’s sifting of prospective adoptive parents. Anyway, Mary is quickly hospitalised with a nasty case of plot device, meaning that Steve, Danny, and Chin need to run through a Three Men and a Baby routine for the rest of the episode. It’s cute for five seconds – Steve and the sling! – and then it’s rubbish. Still, in defence of the Five-0, at least they didn’t just get Catherine to do it.
Other distractions. Fong’s back, which is good; Daryl Hannah – yes – contributes a cameo as a realtor, and is so bad that it’s weirdly unsettling; Xzibit plays a gangsta, and is actually OK; and Chi McBride returns as Grover, which means a second penis-size comparison with Steve. All of which failed to disguise the fact that the A-plot was nothing special, and the business with the baby was downright annoying. Still, by the end nepotism’s in charge, as Steve makes his girlfriend a permanent part of the Five-0. Which left me with one nagging question: if she’s qualified to do that, and on the face of it she is, why did we have all the nonsense with her working as a private detective for her ex? It’s looking more and more as if the plug was pulled early on that arc, for whatever reason.
“Oh, FFS!” Watch: I say again – Mary. Is being allowed. To adopt.
At the start of the episode – written by old hand Liz Flahive – Jackie and Kevin finalise their divorce, and they’re actually on good terms for the first time in a season or so: I’ve long since stopped giving a crap about their marriage, but it looks as if they’ve navigated a soft landing, and it’s kind of sweet. But as they’re driving away, in separate cars, Jackie rear-ends Kevin and lands herself in hospital. Her hospital, that is, where she has to suffer the indignity of being examined by Dr Roman, who continues to present as someone who has difficulty sitting on the toilet the right way round. On the plus side, the cop who’s compiling the accident report – who seems like a decent guy – flirts with Jackie, then gives her his number.
Other than Jackie, however, there isn’t much happening. And not in a “but there’s lots going on under the surface” sort of way, in a “not much happening” sort of way: Roman responds to Coop’s boob-grabbing in kind; Eddie’s sulking; Prentiss isn’t interested in the admin side of being ER head; Zoey has a new apartment. There’s a nice ending, though, as Jackie calls the cop back, they go for coffee, and they enjoy themselves. It’s a reminder that we really don’t get to see Jackie smile, still less laugh, very often, and it probably made me feel more kindly disposed towards this episode than it perhaps deserved.
Come back, Van Pelt, all is forgiven.
3 months since he went into the “detention suite” – or is it a “detention suit“, since the poor guy seems to be wearing exactly the same clothes he was locked up in? – Jane and the FBI are still at stalemate, so Agent Fischer has to recruit Lisbon to persuade him to help with a missing persons case. Agent Fischer could maybe have done a little simple police work instead – stuff like, y’know, talking to witnesses, searching the place the victim was last seen, that type of thing – and solved it herself but she’s too busy being obnoxious and trying to prove she can control Jane and/or doesn’t fancy Jane, whatever, I don’t care, to bother. I hate Agent Fischer.
Agent Abbot meanwhile is basically Bertram with less shouting, the FBI office in Austin might as well be a warehouse, and I really dislike this whole new set-up and all these new characters, especially – did I mention her, already? – Agent Fischer.
On the plus side, though, time apart seems to have brought Lisbon and Jane closer together – the mild telling-off on the plane was long overdue, but the conspiratorial, jokey vibe between them for the rest of the episode was adorable. Loved their scenes together. But oh, yeah, HATED Agent Fischer.
Rayna still can’t sing, and wants to spend time with The Girls, so pulls out of her co-headlining tour with Juliette. This is a problem for Juliette, who wants someone to provide the ticket-selling muscle while she pursues her new, tween-free direction. The solution to this made me smile, particularly because of Juliette’s reaction. Her character remains nuanced, though; she also provides support to Maddie, Older Girl herself, who runs away from a fundraising dinner organised by Lamar, and in consequence Rayna and Juliette share a terrific scene, once more providing evidence that their relationship is satisfactorily complex: Juliette might be annoyed at Rayna pulling the plug on the tour, but her envy, admiration, and pain at seeing how much her daughters matter to Rayna is clear to see. It all leads to The Girls singing, though, which is something that should never be encouraged.
A mixed week for Gunnlett: the music biz is trying to sex Scarlett up, failing to realise that she looks fine (and will have, ahem, plenty of admirers) just the way she is. Meantime, closeted hat dude has fallen out with Sulky Gunnar, this episode’s G-o-t-W, pissed because closeted hat dude is asking permission – asking permission, mind – to record his song, after giving him major props at the Edgehill showcase. It’s the most gentlemanly parking of tanks on a lawn I can recall. No, says Gunnar, I want to be a performer, and I’m going to do it. With, by the looks of things, Avery continuing his journey towards being a good guy, by providing musical support.
Teddy provides confirmation that he’s parted company with his senses by proposing to Peggy, whose eyes gyrate with excitement, even if she’s not anywhere near being pregnant yet. Although it hasn’t been made explicit, I assume that Teddy is sleeping with her, meaning that her plan is, presumably, quick conception and induced labour. Can’t see how that could go wrong. A quieter week for Deacon, although as predicted here a couple of weeks ago the hot attorney has indeed replaced the hot vet as the professional woman looking for a bit of Deacon-shaped rough. And there’s another attempt to give Lamar an interesting arc, although I really couldn’t care less whether he killed his wife fifty years ago or whenever it was. That aside, though, a very enjoyable episode.
Red’s trying to discover who sold him out, which means pursuing members of his inner circle, finding out what they’ve done, then quite possibly killing them. To a Johnny Cash soundtrack. This process also includes what he calls “a modicum of torture”. At one point, in fact, he threatens a former ally that he’s going to “drag you out, throw you in the trunk, fly you to Papua New Guinea, and have your head stuck on a pole”; all of which, you suspect, is within both his reach and his skillset. You could, I suppose, give Red the benefit of the doubt, and argue that he’s really only after other criminals; it’s a salutary reminder, though, that for all the empathy with Keen, and the dry humour, Red remains at best – at best – ruthless and amoral.
While that’s going on, and with the FBI conducting its own molehunt, Tom is off to Nebraska for a job interview – yeah, whatever, Tom, “Nebraska” for a “job interview” – leaving Keen to track down a serial killer known as The Good Samaritan: so-called, rather tenuously, because after repeatedly torturing his victims he leaves them clinging to life and phones the emergency services. I may need to re-read my Bible, but that doesn’t ring a bell. Anyway, Keen’s had previous dealings with the killer, and figures that will be enough to draw Red out – if the killer’s important to Keen, he’ll be important to Red. She’s right; Red pops up to provide a clue, then disappears again to continue his housecleaning.
There’s more to The Good Samaritan, though, than meets the eye. When we first see him he’s abducted an apparently ordinary suburban wife and mom, and is torturing her to death. Not cool, bro. What we subsequently find out, though, about killer and victims takes us into Dexter territory, perhaps with a dash of Psycho, and makes for a much more ambiguous and interesting story than might have been the case, particularly when we find out more about his next victim.
So: a startlingly impressive body count, inventive torture porn – I liked the cigar and the vodka, and I loved the scene in which Red turns up in the house of Henry, an old friend, and charmed his wife as a prelude to the mayhem – and plotting which at least raises one or two moral questions, even if it doesn’t make us work too hard at them. Great stuff. I think we can relax, folks – The Blacklist is back.