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'The Good Wife' recap: 'No harm, no foul'

January 19, 2011 |  7:32 am

Gw On Tuesday night's episode of "The Good Wife," the real locus of drama was not the courtroom or the bedroom; it was the office. Between Diane's defection, Kalinda's disgruntlement and Derrick's scheming, the vibe at Lockhart, Gardner & Bond was anything but collegial.

When last we saw the gang, Will was in a fighting mood, threatening to bring armed guards into the office. Apparently, he calmed down, because this week Diane was back at the office. Derrick confronted Will about the Diane situation, then shared some big news. For weeks now, Derrick has been wooing a client in Washington, one that will turn the firm into a "legal behemoth." It turns out this new client is an unnamed "super-PAC" that can bring the power of "$100 million of unlimited corporate spending" to the firm. Derrick divulged little else about the PAC, but I'm guessing the group will be a controversial one. I'm guessing this plot development will be a clever way for "The Good Wife," a show that's always right on top of the news, to dramatize the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. Any guesses as to the nature of the PAC -- conservative? liberal? libertarian? With that kind of money on the line, Derrick said, they need to keep Diane "on the reservation" for a few more months, so as not to make their new client nervous. Will agreed, and made nice with Diane over breakfast.

Just when one fire is put out, another is ignited. Blake told Kalinda he's just been made her superior. Kalinda -- shocker -- was irate over the news. She told Alicia that Blake has been snooping around her old neighborhood, news that in turn enraged Alicia. "Don't you ever look into my background again!" she screamed at him. OK, so it wasn't the most forceful language ever, but Alicia was hoppin' mad. Blake pulled an Oliver North and said he was only following orders, so Alicia confronted Will, who in turn confronted Derrick. To the surprise of absolutely no one, it turned out that the firm's newest partner had ordered the background checks. 

The revelation clearly left Will rattled. "Groundhog Day"-style, he sat down for another (delicious-looking) breakfast with Diane, but this time he really came clean and the two hatched their own counter-plot against Derrick. I, for one, am thrilled that Diane won't be leaving the firm and that we'll be assured of Christine Baranski's leonine presence for the foreseeable future. Still, the resolution felt somewhat unsatisfying. Diane's defection struck me as premature -- she's a straight-shooter who could have just confronted Will about her suspicions -- and Derrick always seemed like a creep. Also, the key to this entire chain of events was a folder that Kalinda found -- but we don't know where, why or how she found it. (Was this what she found in Blake's rental car? Any theories? Please share.) 

Alicia's showdown with Will re: Blake also unexpectedly offered her a kind of verbal escape route. Will misread Alicia, thinking that this was the conversation Alicia had requested once things were quieter. "This is something else," Alicia corrected him. Will confessed that he knows what "the conversation" was supposed to be about. "Diane asked you to join her at her new firm," he said. Alicia paused for a second before responding, and you could see her weighing the options in her head: Should I tell him about what I heard on the wiretaps, or shouldn't I? "Yes," she replied, not that convincingly. It was a monumentally frustrating, though ingenious, turn of events. Just like that, Alicia managed to win back Will's good graces and to forestall a conversation about the lost voice-mail message. The writers of "The Good Wife" are truly a pack of evil geniuses. 

This was a dense and intricate installment of "The Good Wife" that had lots to say about the different ways of "playing defense" in the workplace. The "jury whisperer" may have been an overpaid snake-oil salesman, but this episode was, in the end, all about reading micro-expressions (of a sort). The victors this week -- Kalinda and Eli -- triumphed not with huge offensive strikes but with more subtle machinations: Eli by ingratiating himself to Jackie, and Kalinda by intentionally disappointing Alicia.

This episode left me both frustrated by its lack of resolution (nothing new here) and exhilarated by the possibilities afoot; its abrupt, inscrutable ending only heightened this ambivalence. Alicia confronted the jury foreman about the hasty guilty verdict. Why, even if they thought the judge was biased, did they find her client guilty. "He did it. I hope that helps," he replies matter-of-factly. A moment of moral clarity on "The Good Wife"? No wonder Alicia looked so shocked.

What we learned: Derrick is wooing a big PAC, and he's been investigating the firm's employees.

Further questions: What's the point of Derrick's snooping? Why is Cary so fixated with Kalinda? Will Diane's and Will's counter-plot against Derrick work? Is Cary really worth twice as much as Alicia? And just what kind of PAC has Derrick wooed, anyway? Who's got theories?

Real-life inspirations: Alicia and Will worry when they discover their client, an e-mail spammer accused of a crime only slightly more heinous than his day job (murder), also participates in World War II reenactments dressed as a Nazi. It's a case that's reminiscent of Rich Iott, an Ohio "tea party" candidate whose own fondness for donning an SS uniform on the weekends was revealed in October, shortly before the midterm election. (For the record, Iott claimed his interest in the Nazis was only "historical.")

Last but not least, if you haven't checked out this slideshow, you must.

What did you think? Any predictions? 

-- Meredith Blake


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Photo: Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick Credit: Justin Stephens / CBS