'The Good Wife' recap: Baseball bats and ball gowns
On Tuesday night, "The Good Wife" revived one of its favorite themes: The ways in which being a woman can be a benefit, as well as a hindrance, in the workplace.
Mamie Gummer returned as Nancy Crozier, the cunning, wide-eyed young lawyer we first met last season. Just to state the obvious, Alicia and Nancy are opposites. We've yet to see Alicia use her considerable physical beauty to her advantage in the courtroom. She does frequently use what we might call her "feminine intuition" to break a case open -- as in the show's pilot, in which she offered up a can of Diet Coke to a key witness, then buttered her up even more by asking her about her kids. One of the major lessons of the show's first season was how Alicia's 15 years as a wife and mother are an asset, and not a detriment, to her new job. Sure, she understands the law, but she also possesses an emotional acuity that no amount of courtroom experience can guarantee.
Young Nancy, on the other hand, knows how to use her femininity, too -- only hers is an aw shucks version that has a particular appeal to middle-age male judges. She is the Jessica Simpson of the courtroom, only instead of asking about the origins of canned tuna, she's asking about the basics of this new-fangled raving business. (Apparently, she never saw this episode of of "Beverly Hills, 90210" from 1991). Alicia bristles at having to wear skirts in court (can a judge even do that?), but Nancy is happy to exploit her youth and X chromosomes for all they're worth. After Alicia's and Nancy's brief truce, it was a pleasure to see the younger lawyer get her comeuppance. A season ago, there's no way Alicia would have duped a barely conscious man into signing away his client's defense. And maybe if Nancy hadn't been so manipulative, Alicia wouldn't have done it. But she did, and she won. Check out the devilish smile she gave Nancy once they wheeled in her star witness. Alicia may roll her eyes at Nancy's feigned naivete, but she wasn't the only Machiavellian in the courtroom in this episode.
Kalinda's brief but highly memorable appearance in this episode was yet another moment of a woman ruthlessly exploiting her femininity -- or rather, her sexuality. Everything about the scene, from the choice of music ("Luv Song" by Jane Jensen) to the window-smashing to the lipstick traces on the rearview mirror, read like the revenge fantasy of a woman scorned. And it probably looked that way to the poor sap who happened upon Kalinda, mid-swing -- hell hath no fury, and what not. Kalinda doesn't stop with vandalizing Blake's car, she goes the extra mile (pardon the pun) and gropes the guy in the middle of the parking garage. It was all quite entertaining, but even for our Kalinda, it was, to borrow Blake's words, pretty "ham-fisted." The beauty of Kalinda is how she's eluded our understanding for so long. I know the writers are trying to heighten the suspense about Kalinda's past -- and to have some fun along the way -- but there's only so long they can do so before Kalinda will devolve into shtick. She's already destroyed Blake's car and sexually assaulted him (that counts, right?), all for calling her Leela. I am a little scared about what she might pull come sweeps.
For me, the highlight of this episode was Alicia's deposition (relive it all in the clip above). It was one of those irony-soaked scenes that "The Good Wife" does so well -- even Cary couldn't resist remarking on it. "This is funny all the connections, isn’t it?" he says. If anything, that was an understatement. Here was Will, in love with Alicia, helping her protect her husband, after specifically asking her not to cover for him. I have no idea what Will knows about Glenn, or if he knows anything at all; the whole gambit could have been an elaborate bluff. In any case, it was the kind of legal deus ex machina that qualifies as chivalry on "The Good Wife." Credit to Josh Charles, who does the insistent "No, no, really, it's cool" thing so well. When Alicia asks him if maybe she and Peter shouldn't come, Will tries admirably -- but unconvincingly -- to play it cool. "No, it’ll be fun. Go!" he says. Me thinks the gentleman doth protest too much. And "me knows it" the second Alicia walks into the gala wearing her dazzling red mermaid gown. Will can't quite keep it together, and introduces his date, Tammy, as Tamra. Was he so flustered at the site of Alicia that he couldn't get it straight, or was he opting for the more sophisticated name in a bid to make her jealous? Who knows. Regardless, I'm looking forward to next week, when the partners return to the office for an all-nighter in their black-tie finery. Maybe all the" grown-up clothes" will encourage a little bit of grown-up conversation between these two.
What we learned: Kalinda's story about being the child of immigrants from Menlo Park is not true. Blake keeps bullets for a very large gun in the backseat of his rental car (so maybe he's the Northbrook sniper after all?). Will knows something about Glenn -- either that or he's got a really good poker face. Derrick does not have a lady friend. Glenn and Peter have a new opponent in the race, and it's not Judge Adler.
New questions: Seriously, what is going on with Kalinda? What does Will know about Glenn? Where does Will meet all these dates, anyway? Was Judge Adler ever planning on running, or was Wendy Carr always going to be the nominee?
What do you think?
-- Meredith Blake