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'The Good Wife' recap: Kalinda comes out (sort of)

November 10, 2010 |  8:26 am

Lilitaylor

The suspense is over. After about 29 episodes, dozens of hints and countless sidelong glances, we finally have an answer about Kalinda's sexuality. Or do we?

In Tuesday night's episode, we finally met the mysterious Donna. The more fanatical "Good Wife" fans among us will recall that it was Donna who answered Kalinda's phone once last season, sending the "Is Kalinda a lesbian?" speculation into overdrive. After her brief appearance, Donna was never heard from again, and now we know why: Kalinda broke her heart.

Played by the wonderful Lili Taylor, Donna is a lawyer in the public defender's office who, we gather, has developed a slightly jaundiced view of her do-gooder vocation. She's smart, passionate, earnest and always seems to be just barely suppressing tears; in other words, she's a very "Lili Taylor" character. (Personally, any time I see Taylor onscreen, I instantly get "Joe lies when he cries" stuck in my head. If you don't know what I am talking about, rent "Say Anything" immediately.) Donna meets her client, a man accused of public masturbation, formulates his defense strategy (it was cold outside), and manages to get his sentence shortened to time served, all within the time it might take Kalinda to zip up her leather boots. It's an exaggeration, of course, but the all-too-expedient justice meted out in this plebeian courtroom is no more inspiring than the multimillion-dollar verdicts bought by Lockhart, Gardner & Bond. "The Good Wife" is cynical about all facets of the justice system, not just the white-shoe firms.

Donna and Kalinda are not, shall we say, on the best of terms. Donna has been wounded by Kalinda, and lets her know as much. Kalinda, in turn, is worried that her ex will tell Blake about their relationship, but Donna promises not to squeal. "I won’t tell him how heartless you can be, how insensitive, how self-preservation is your No. 1 concern," she says. Ouch. We don't know what, exactly, Kalinda did to Donna, but it doesn't sound like she was too nice. 

I do have to wonder just why Kalinda is so concerned about her "secret" being exposed. I am still going to resist labeling her a lesbian; this is Kalinda, after all. What we do know with certainty is that she's dated at least one woman and that, from the looks of it, there was genuine attraction involved. If anything, you'd think being gay would be an advantage in a place like Lockhart, Gardner & Bond, where the semblance of diversity is so important. She's got at least two legs up on Blake, a (presumably) straight white dude, should the firm have to downsize. So why the paranoia?

MJFoxMaybe Kalinda is just fanatical about keeping her private life private, but I doubt that's the whole story. My guess is that Donna, like Blake, knows a few things about "Leela." There's also the possibility that Kalinda's interest in Donna had more to do with professional ambition than romantic inclinations. It's not that far-fetched. Kalinda has been known to wield her sexuality to get the job done; remember her dalliance with that cop last season? And who could forget her crotch-grabbing escapade a few weeks ago? (Not Blake, that's who.) Perhaps Kalinda doesn't want everyone at the firm to know that her secret weapon is, more often than not, sex? I haven't the slightest. Bottom line is that we may know more, quantitatively, about Kalinda than ever before, but we're not much closer to any definitive answers.  

Sex -- at least talk of it -- was all over this episode. Diane and Alicia are trying a class-action lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company whose drug may have led multiple patients to suicide. What starts as a tedious case based on boring things like "science" becomes a sordid probe into the sex life of a dead woman. Did jealousy drive her to suicide, or a lousy pill? Who knows. Sadly, the truth is beside the point. The episode's other notable guest star was Michael J. Fox, playing a lawyer named Louis Canning. (Replace one vowel in the last name and you have a pretty apt description of this character.) Louis, like the actor who plays him, has a neurological disorder that causes tremors. His condition makes him sympathetic to the jury, and, at first, to Alicia too. Bleeding heart that she is, Alicia falls for his helpless "Can you help me find my bus pass?" ploy, but quickly learns her lesson. Just because Louis is handicapped doesn't mean he's nice. It's an obvious point, perhaps, but it's oddly refreshing that "The Good Wife" is willing to make a character with a disability so venal.  

Manipulative litigators have become a trope on "The Good Wife." We've seen Nancy "Aw Shucks" Crozier (Mamie Gummer) twice now, but Louis takes Machiavellian to a whole new level, playing up his tics anytime the jury's attention begins to wander. An expert witness drones on about serotonin levels? Cue the shakes. Like Nancy's feigned naivete, Louis' gambit works like a charm, and he manages to make his giant pharmaceutical company the underdog. Diane's and Alicia's case is doomed, that is until they uncover videotape footage of rats, doped up on the drug in question, tearing each other apart. The symbolism was hard to miss.    

Was this the most cynical episode of "The Good Wife" to date?

What we learned: Kalinda dated Donna. Blake used to work for "Baltimore's biggest meth gang." Wendy Scott Carr can sing like an angel and is a breast cancer survivor. 

Further questions: Just what did Kalinda do to Donna? What else does Donna know about Kalinda? How did Derrick Bond get the charges against Blake dismissed?  

Real-life inspiration: Grace's misplaced political allegiance is reminiscent of Caroline Giuliani (daughter of Rudy), who joined Barack Obama's Facebook group back in 2007.  

-- Meredith Blake
twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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Upper photo: Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) gets upset when Donna (Lili Taylor) shows up unexpectedly at the firm's victory party. Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / CBS

Lower photo: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) clashes with defense counsel Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox). Credit: David M. Russell / CBS

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