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'The Good Wife' recap: Wiretap dance

November 24, 2010 |  7:35 am

Good-wife-s2e8 Tuesday night’s episode was vintage “Good Wife,” the kind of twisting, turning, gasp-inducing drama that has made the show a success.  Jammed with enough story for about four regular episodes, it was also about as dense as a fruitcake but a whole lot more enjoyable. For that we can be thankful.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Diane is starting her own firm: As promised in last week’s preview, Diane and David will be starting their own firm. The twist? Diane wants to poach Eli, the client Alicia (reluctantly) brought to the firm in order to keep her job last season. We knew the Diane defection was in the works, but the Eli twist was quite a surprise.  I’m also a little shocked at the level of Diane’s scheming.  She advised Alicia not to tell Eli about the wiretap.  Alicia, being Alicia, obeys the orders, though it’s clear she’s conflicted about it.  So what does Diane do?  She breaks the wiretapping news to Eli in order to try to woo him to her new firm.  Not cool, Diane, not cool.  Eli isn’t ready to make a decision, but it’s mostly because he’s waiting to see what Alicia will decide.  I have a hunch that Diane is right and that Alicia will stay with Will, especially after Tuesday night’s other revelation (more on this later, of course).  The thought of losing Diane is a bummer; Christine Baranski is such a wonderful actress and the evolution of her relationship with Alicia has been a joy to watch.  I’m praying for a last-minute reconciliation, however unlikely that might be. 

2.  Kalinda may have assaulted Dr. Booth:  Either that, or she’s been framed by Blake.  Kalinda goes to see Cary, her new confidante, about Alderman Wade, but he’s got other news for her: Her fingerprints have been discovered at Dr. Booth’s office.  The weapon used? A baseball bat.  Not coincidentally, that’s also Kalinda’s favorite implement for smashing rental car windows.  Though it’s not entirely clear just yet, I’m sure that Kalinda is being framed by Blake.  Either that or she’s great at feigning both surprise and resentment.  When she found out that it was Blake who’d broken in to Dr. Booth’s office a few weeks ago and cracked the case as a result, she was seething.  I doubt she was faking it.   Still, it’s forcing us to look at Kalinda in a slightly altered light.  Is she really capable of such terrible violence?  Probably not, but then again, maybe she is.  Either way, Blake is clearly making her sweat, and that’s definitely something new.

3.  Alicia discovers that Will left her another voicemail:  Or does she?  Holed up in a windowless room, listening to hours and hours of tedious wiretapped conversations, Alicia makes two startling discoveries.  First, she finds out Eli is being  wiretapped by the Feds and, in what Diane calls “six degrees of wiretapping,” learns that it may be a part of their case against Peter.  Second, Alicia overhears a conversation about her between Will and Alderman Wade.  Specifically, Will dishes to Wade about his ill-fated "I love you" voicemail.  Never mind why Will is gushing about his love life to a client, let’s just be glad he did.  Will never comes out and tells Wade, "I left Alicia two voicemails," but Alicia certainly has the deductive reasoning to figure out that she never got the message, even though the "2518 minimization" means the good stuff has been deleted (I just loved the "2518 minimization" detail, which was both a wonderful dramatic conceit and an interesting factoid about the legal process). Just to be sure, Alicia listens to the other voicemail once again.  You can see it written on Alicia's face:  What am I missing here?  It's too bad that Tammy turns up in Will's office at the pivotal moment and that Will, in spite of her warnings, seems to be falling for his new lady friend just as Alicia is putting the pieces together.  So how much longer can "The Good Wife" forestall the Alicia-Will confrontation? We've got a good 15 episodes left in the season, so I'm guessing it'll be at least that long.

This leaves quite a few balls in the air. This was the finest episode of the season to date, in my opinion.  It was even better than the “case of the week” involving a basketball player-cum-Muslim-politician accused of taking money from Islamic extremists in order to approve a controversial mosque.  It turns out he wasn’t pals with terrorists, just drug lords.  The case was a substantive and interesting depiction of the unsavory underbelly of urban politics, and of the petty tactics of the federal government— unlabeled tapes, freezing-cold rooms.  

I’m continually amazed at the number of ways “The Good Wife” finds to connect Alicia’s work back to her personal predicament, and I’m especially excited when the writers manage to do so with a richly textured episode like this.  There were so many great, small moments in this episode, ones that were more or less superfluous to the central plot, but which added a realistic, colorful veneer to the story — Alicia’s wobbly chair, Jackie’s ears perking up at the word “Somalian,” Tammy complaining about Will’s towels.  It’s this "top layer of life" that the show does very well: Take last week, when Grace’s evangelical friend tried to convert wayward teen star, Sloan.  It didn’t do anything for the plot, but it was an entertaining digression from the procedural formula. “The Good Wife” is at its best when it balances the tortuous legal narratives with these tangential little flourishes.  

Further questions:  Is Kalinda going to get pinned for the assault of Dr. Booth?  Will Alicia get to have a chat with Will?  Why, exactly, is Eli being wiretapped?  Who’s side is she going to take in the firm's divorce?  And just how will Glenn Childs Sr. go after Zach and Grace?

Real-life inspirations:  The mosque in this episode was obviously inspired by the relentless debate over Park51, the Islamic cultural center proposed in downtown Manhattan, a few blocks away from ground zero.  Alderman Wade, a former player for the Detroit Pistons, is a nod to Dave Bing, Detroit's current mayor and a former Piston.  And who could forget the double-rainbow?

-- Meredith Blake


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Photo: Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick; credit: Craig Blankenhorn/CBS