'The Good Wife': Tattoo You
For political junkies, especially those with a liberal streak, there’s probably not a better show on TV than "The Good Wife." The series was back with a vengeance last night, introducing the loathsome Duke Roscoe (Craig Bierko), host of a charming TV show called “Gimme Truth” and a commentator who combines the relentless bullying of Bill O'Reilly with the paranoid histrionics of Glenn Beck. It’s truly an inimitable combination, folks! As ridiculous as Duke is -- and as cheesy as his flag-waving, dangling noose graphics are -- he’s only slightly less so than his real-life counterparts. Don’t believe me? Just watch this. Or this.
Duke is being sued for the wrongful death of Cheryl Willens (Marina Squerciati), a women driven to suicide by his enthusiastic smear campaign. (He accused Cheryl of killing her daughter, who later turns up alive). Leading the charge against Duke is, naturally, the law firm of Stern, Lockhart & Gardner. (Side note: When are they going to get rid of "Stern" in the name?)
This episode raised further questions about Will’s increasingly slippery character. He has what appears to be an ongoing flirtation with Emily Tartan (Kat Foster), the in-house counsel representing Duke. She’s a ruthless lawyer with the glasses, hair and ideological perspective of a young Sarah Palin -- though her use of the word “jeremiad” certainly helped distinguish her from the former Alaska governor. Despite her repellent politics, and an equally ugly back tattoo, Will can’t help having the hots for Emily, and they meet up for a round of late-night, wine-soaked negotiations that doubled as a bit of verbal foreplay. I know this interaction was supposed to make us question Will’s character -- is he a mercenary creep or just a hormonal playboy? -- and it most certainly did, but frankly, the sexy lawyer talk and promise of "hate sex" made my stomach churn a little bit. Especially the line about "my tattoo misses you." Ugh.Thankfully, their bipartisan tryst was interrupted before the hate sex came to fruition.
Not content with driving a woman to suicide, Duke decides to sic his team of "citizen journalists" on the team at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner. This subplot was a clever catalyst for several of the show’s simmering subplots; Basically, Duke got to accuse all the characters of the things we've been suspecting them of all along. For instance, he airs an incriminating surveillance photograph of Will and Alicia, taken when they were at a hotel investigating a case. The evidence is enough to embarrass Alicia, and to make everyone at the firm think that something might, in fact, be going on between the two. We know that nothing is going on, but it's sill unclear what Will and Alicia might feel for each other. For instance, Alicia can barely contain her disgust at Will's brazen flirtation with Emily, while Emily makes an intriguing comment about Will's apparently flagging libido: "Hannah says you've been on some kind of sexual sabbatical for the past six months." Of course, the mind reels: Who is Hannah? And why is she sharing this information with Emily? Are they involved in some kind of three-way sex timeshare? Anytime "The Good Wife" answers a question, it raises four more.
Much to her -- and our -- surprise, Roscoe also accuses Diane of being a closeted lesbian. We didn't get any obvious reactions shots from Kalinda at this point in the episode, so it's hard to know what to make of the ongoing question of Kalinda's sexuality. Has it all just been a red herring? Or, more likely, did Duke's citizen journalists not do proper due diligence? Either way, Diane didn’t seem too worried, quite literally laughing off the charges.
Lest we forget, Alicia was working overtime this week on another case that fell a bit closer to home. She was asked to represent Marie (Jessica Hecht), the wife of current state’s attorney (and Peter’s nemesis), Glenn Childs. Marie is shrewd and asks for Alicia precisely because she can be used as leverage against her abusive husband: Give me what I want, or I'll tell Alicia everything I know about Peter. The conceit worked to an extent, but it felt more than a little contrived to me. Plus, there was a serious conflict of interest: Alicia's goal as an attorney should be getting a fat settlement for her client, but the better the deal, the worse it is for Peter, who's now subject to Childs' vengeful whims. In retaliation, Glenn has already banished Peter to the prison’s general population, and the dirt that Marie does share before settling -- she mentions a development called Triton Fields, and says that Glenn wiretapped Alicia's phones -- hardly constitutes a smoking gun.
For some reason, I’m not as interested in the possibility of Peter’s innocence as I am the other developing subplots. I’d rather find out more about Will and Kalinda than Peter; even if he's technically innocent, he's proven himself to be a cad. What do you think? Is Will shady, or just a little desperate for a roll in the hay? And what about that "closeted lesbian" allegation? Does Duke simply have the wrong person, or the wrong facts altogether? And was Duke closer to Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck?
-- Meredith Blake
Photo: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) represents Maria Browning (Jessica Hecht), the soon-to-be ex-wife of Glenn Childs. Credit: David M. Russel / CBS News