High drama took a breather in last night’s episode, with a whole series of potentially difficult developments ending defused. It was strangely atypical for this complex drama series.
Jordan (T.R. Knight), Peter’s co-campaign manager, has been sticking in Eli’s (Alan Cumming) craw for a while now. Discovering a photo of Alicia and Peter’s son Zach with his girlfriend Nisa’s (Rachel Hilson) Muslim family, and learning that Nisa’s father made a contribution to a terror-associated group, Eli mutely manipulates Jordan into doing the dirty work of greasy interference in private family matters, informing Zach he must drop the offending relationship, which Zach does, but the meddling infuriates Alicia and an offstage Peter, who demotes Jordan, much to Eli’s relief.
Sad ending for Zach? No, it turns out he’d been planning to dump Nisa anyway, so all’s well that ends well (except for Nisa), and it looks like Peter is about to win his primary to boot. (Does that mean we’ve seen the last of Maddie Hayward, the shamelessly ambitious magnate played by the superb Maura Tierney? Have we lost not one but two recurring female characters this night?)
Alicia and Will sew up the “case of the week” with help from Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), who, true to this week’s theme of things working out, seems to be accepting the presence of her new co-investigator Robyn (a likable Jess Weixler) with better grace. The case concerns whether a fatal car crash was caused by distracted driving, allowing an insurance company to deny payment of a death benefit. But was it actually suicide? Or – murder??? Jessalyn Gilsig, who was so memorable as Will Schuester’s wife in the early stages of Glee, plays the grieving wife, and Rene Auberjonois, best known to TV watchers as Odo on the late lamented (and tragically un-syndicated) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is the ticklish and bemused coroner to whom the attorneys must make their cases at an inquest – another fish-out-of-water scenario for our heroes, much like the sports doping hearing a few episodes back.
The most blatantly obvious (and indeed dramatically unsatisfying) “happy ending” is also the one with the biggest caveat, as the firm wins, then loses, then suddenly wins again a big chunk of business through Cary’s unctuous estranged father (a returning John Shea). Though Lockhart Gardner appears to have secured its big new client in the end, the relationship between Cary and his father remains at least as fraught as ever, and further complicated.
With that partial exception, while the episode title “Invitation to an Inquest” might suggest a serious dip into Agatha Christie murder-mystery territory, the real upshot is that sometimes everything just magically works out fine in the end. Much like in real life. We may whine it’s not often enough, but it does happen. Even a TV show about a law firm is entitled to remind us of that.