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'The Good Wife': Peter wins an appeal

February 10, 2010 |  9:15 am

What is there to say about this episode other than “wow”? 

After getting a little campy and a whole lot creepy last week, “The Good Wife” was back on track with an installment that answered almost as many questions as it presented.  After weeks of scratching my head and rewinding furiously to try to piece together this show's many mysteries, I felt an enormous sense of relief -- and maybe a little disbelief -- that we finally got some resolution.  It was a little like the episode of "Twin Peaks" where Laura Palmer's killer was finally revealed, only Chris Noth didn't transform into a maniac named "Bob" -- not yet, anyway. 

Anyway, there was a lot of action last night, so let's get to it.

To start with, there was the matter of Peter’s appeal.  Peter declined Glenn’s plea bargain offer, which would have kept him out of jail — as well as the legal profession — and instead opted to fight the corruption charges against him.  Whether this was a gutsy move or an arrogant one remains to be seen.  Personally, I still don’t trust Peter, so I’m inclined to think the decision had more to do with his ego — and delusions about salvaging his political career — than with taking the moral high ground.

The pivotal moment came when Kalinda — bless her leather-clad heart — took to the stand.  We had been prepared to expect the worst: Glenn was confident that whatever dirt Kalinda had on Peter would surely sink his appeal.  Kalinda seemed resigned to the same conclusion, even warning Alicia not to come to court. But leave it to Kalinda, a verbal Houdini, to get out of a seemingly inescapable situation. In virtuosic if extremely implausible testimony, Kalinda managed to scare Judge Winter (Peter Riegert) into dismissing Glenn’s line of questioning.  Why?  Because Kalinda made it clear that she had dirt on Winter, not just Peter, and it turned out the good judge had what you might call an antebellum fetish.  Or, according to Kalinda’s more academic assessment, “He was deemed to be interested in African American prostitutes and the imagery of Southern plantation life.” (Readers: Does such a thing exist? Has "Real Sex" done an episode on this yet? Someone who is braver than me, please Google and report back.) Kalinda's feigned naivete (“I’m here under subpoena, Mr. Childs.  If I’m asked to name the names of the client, I must, right?”) was a wonder. 

So, Kalinda scored an appeal for Peter, but like most of the victories on “The Good Wife,” it was a morally ambiguous triumph.  There’s something about this show that keeps you from leaping out of your couch and screaming, “Yes!”  even when the characters win. Usually, we're left feeling a little icky about it.  Last night, for instance,  Alicia removed damning evidence from a client’s apartment before police could arrive.  It was shady, Alicia knew it was, and yet she didn’t hesitate. She's learned the ropes pretty fast. As Will put it, “Truth is above our pay grade.”

But this episode wasn’t all about moral hand-wringing.  We got some comic relief from Cary, who decided to go on an poorly timed mushroom trip.  It was a superfluous plot point in a well-stuffed episode, but seeing Cary mesmerized by his tie was worth it.   More importantly, it lead to a nice exchange between the two junior associates. Alicia didn’t rat out Cary for his 'shrooming, and he thanked her for it, acknowledging the awkward competition between the two of them, “I don’t want you to lose. I kinda like you.”  She responded, “I’m surprised but I kinda like you too.”  Unlike on most television shows, Alicia’s relationships with her co-workers are nuanced and layered:  Cary isn’t just her nemesis, Diane isn’t simply her mean boss, Will isn't just her office crush. For anyone who's ever worked a job in their lives, this complexity rings true.

Undoubtedly the biggest development last night was that Peter came home, if not for good at least for a while as his appeal goes to trial. I'm curious to see where the writers will go with the show in the coming weeks. Although it doesn't take a psychic to predict that Peter and Alicia's estranged relationship is going to take center stage, I wonder how much of an effort he's going to make to win her back. For now, it seems like Alicia has her guard up, which seems wise.  Let's hope Will follows up on that dinner offer, pronto. 

What we learned:  Peter slept with Amber 18 times (yikes), and Judge Winter has some interesting sexual predilections (double yikes).

New questions:  What’s the deal with Kalinda and the cop who was investigating the babysitter’s murder?  Did Peter really, truly bring Amber Madison back to the marital bed?  And did Peter decline to prosecute in order to focus his priorities on the Lashkar-e-Taiba case, or was he really in cahoots with the shady developers?

What did you think?

-- Meredith Blake

(Follow me on Twitter @MeredithBlake)

Photo: Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) takes the stand. Credit: Jeffrey Neira / CBS


Complete coverage of 'The Good Wife' on ShowTracker

'The Good Wife': Alicia defends an alleged murderer

'The Good Wife': Swimming with the sharks'

'The Good Wife':  Meow?  Alicia comes face to face with Amber