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'The Good Wife': Kalinda plays for both teams

January 13, 2010 |  8:28 am

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"The Good Wife" is not a good show for those of you who like to just have the TV on for mindless background noise.  You know who you are: You like to open mail and catch up on e-mails while watching reruns of “America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 4” for the umpteenth time.

No, "The Good Wife" is a rapid-fire show that both demands and rewards undivided attention from its viewers.  I should know: Since I’m usually watching with my laptop open, typing notes as I watch, I almost never make it through an episode without having to rewind to catch a line or a sidelong glance I missed.  And this week -- with all that medical jargon, Kalinda’s double-agent duties and Cary’s romantic interrogations -- let me tell you, it was all about the rewind.  

First, there was Alicia’s client, a doctor accused of over-prescribing painkillers to a local high school football star who died of an overdose.  After a number of twists and turns, it turned out that the kid had been stealing his mom’s pills, which were a much higher dosage than those prescribed by his doctor.  But did anyone else wonder why this huge dosage wouldn’t hurt her as well?  The kid was a strapping football player, not a jockey; his mother couldn’t have been much bigger than he was.  I’ll chalk that one up to the vagaries of pharmacology and throw in a little suspension of disbelief while I’m at it.

No matter, because the football player plot line was really just there to give Alicia a case of maternal anxiety. Watching a mother grieve the loss of her teenage son, Alicia’s thoughts naturally turned to her own kids.  With work demands continually increasing, she’s away from the house more and more and worried about their well-being — especially Zach, who’s caught the eye of an older high school trollop, Becca (played by an actress with the too-good-to-be-true name of Dreama Walker). I know kids these days are all sexed up and whatnot (thanks, Monica), but Becca still strikes me as being a pretty precocious (a.k.a. “kinky”) 16-year-old.  In the middle of her groping session with Zach, she quotes from a sex tape featuring Zach’s dad.  Now that’s pervy.  Alicia hires a nanny who initially seems like a perfect fit — she even looks like Alicia — but turns out to be an overzealous Freudian and gets the boot.  Was I the only one who also thought she might be a spy sent by Glenn Childs?

Speaking of spying, the real meat of this episode was the plot among Kalinda, Peter and Daniel Golden (Joe Morton) to get their hands on the secret wiretapped recordings from Peter’s phone.  Kalinda, who apparently once worked for Peter, is going to pull some Mata Hari-style double-agent action and work for Glenn, all the while reporting the dirt back to Peter.  Their meeting was rather over the top, with lots of musical cues to indicate that the conversation was meant to be extremely mysterious, which it was even without the obvious audio.  Who knows what’s on the tapes or how Kalinda will even get them (does Glenn just have them on a shelf somewhere?), but one thing is for certain: This means more airtime for Kalinda, which is never a bad thing.  She continues to be the most interesting thing about this show, and now even Alicia is taking notice, claiming, “I am amazed at how little I know about you.”  The more we discover about Kalinda, the more there is to learn.  Last night, we discovered that she used to work for Peter, but that just meant more questions, like why did she leave?

Of course, Kalinda’s professional background is only one-half of the mystery.  There’s also the matter of her sexual orientation, and this week it was up to poor, deluded Cary to try to get to the bottom of it.  In a deliciously embarrassing scene, he pressed Kalinda on her personal life, demanding to know if she had a boyfriend.  For the record, she claimed she didn’t, but to make the scene even more cringe-y, it took place at a gym, one of the worst imaginable settings for a romantic heart-to-heart.  Either Cary has absolutely no game and is hitting on Kalinda in the clumsiest way possible, or he’s suspicious of her and trying to get some dirt. I’m betting on the former, but in either case, it’s clear that the writers of "The Good Wife" are a canny bunch.  They know just what piques our interest and that having to press the rewind button repeatedly can be a very satisfying feeling.

What did you think?  What's going to be on the tapes? Is Peter going to be vindicated? Why did Kalinda get fired from Peter's office?  And is Glenn going to discover that she's a double agent?

-- Meredith Blake

Photo: Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) reunites with old pals Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) and Daniel Golden (Joe Morton)

Credit: Jeffrey Neira / CBS

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