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'The Good Wife': Alicia defends an (alleged) murderer

February 3, 2010 |  7:16 am

THE-GOOD-WIFE-Bad-4 Once upon a time, an attractive young professional woman with dark hair and a buttoned-up demeanor was forced to spend long hours interrogating a man accused of a gruesome murder.  He’s a bit of a dandy and appreciates the finer things in life — art, fine dining — but also harbors some darker fetishes.  Though she’s initially wary of the killer, the young woman eventually finds herself charmed by him. ...

No, I’m not talking about Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter, but last night’s episode of “The Good Wife” was more than a little reminiscent of a certain Oscar-winning movie (let’s just ignore the two follow-ups, shall we?). 

This week, Alicia was tasked with defending Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker), a wealthy man who has been found innocent of murdering his wife, Mariel Armitage (Marla Sucharetza), but now facing a civil trial for her death.  His effete manner, S&M habits and unapologetic attitude mean that almost no one — especially not Alicia — believes in his innocence.  Did I mention that he was also really into anime, proof positive of his murderous tendencies?  (Have “The Good Wife” writers been watching too much "30 Rock” lately? Since when did being into anime become shorthand for “really, really crazy”?)

Alicia had her work cut out for her, and she didn't seem too excited about it; for once, she wore her dissatisfaction on her sleeve.  It was nice to see Alicia getting a little petulant.  By the end of the episode, Alicia may not have had the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that she helped an innocent man go free, but she did have a giant fetish painting to hang in her office. Score!

All in all, the word that came to mind while watching this episode was, well,  “creepy.”  Here’s a more scientific explanation:

Just a Little Creepy: This week, Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer made a memorable guest turn as a young lawyer who uses her “aw shucks” act to manipulate the proceedings.  Gummer’s performance was convincing and entertaining, but her resemblance to her über-famous mom — right down to her voice — was what really spooked me out.

Moderately Creepy: Last night, Diane was freaked about the impending release of a former client, and in a moment of ideological amnesia, decided that surely the best way to protect herself was to illegally obtain a handgun, learn how to use it and keep it with her at all times.  Kalinda, who was increasingly becoming Chicago’s answer to Lara Croft, urged Diane to pack some heat.  I love Kalinda, but the speech about how Diane needs a gun struck me as totally histrionic, not to mention just bad advice.   Kalinda’s tough, we know, and we love her for it. No need to turn her into a cartoon character.

Very Creepy: I gasped aloud at the “Mrs. Bates” moment at the crime lab — when Kalinda and the mortician were examining Mariel Armitage’s partially decomposed skull (there was even a clump of hair still attached — ew!!).  It wasn’t scary, exactly, but the gore just seemed totally out of place on "The Good Wife." 

Exceptionally Creepy:  Possible wife-killer Colin Sweeney’s wardrobe was icky without being over the top.  In my book, it doesn’t get much more disturbing than a grown man with a closet full of colorful turtleneck sweaters.  Don't believe me? See for yourself:

THE-GOOD-WIFE-Bad

With the exception of the inspired costume design, I felt like there was something a little off — dare I say silly — about this episode.  The writers, it seemed, were having a good time turning up the cheese factor, but I’m hoping they reign it in and keep things a little more grounded next week.  “The Good Wife” is more successful when it hews a little closer to reality.  What did you think?  Did you even care what was going on with Peter’s trial, or were you too disturbed by the skull? (Because I certainly was.)

-- Meredith Blake (Follow me on Twitter @MeredithBlake)

Photos: Top, Alicia (Juliana Margulies) and Will (Josh Charles) are freaked out by their client's taste in art. Bottom, Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) may not have killed his wife, but that sweater is a crime. Credit: John Paul Filo / CBS

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