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

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
twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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

 
Comments () | Archives (14)

I was so shocked at the dialogue given to Juliana and amazed that she actually projected an emotion I barely followed the story line.Diane not leaving is definately good news,but making the black lawyer the bad guy is very risky for broadcast television....

Great recap snd references to storylines. Glad to see The Good Wife I know and love is back after the lackluster season opening. They really need to stay away from casting celebrities, I much prefer spending time with the cast they have...excpt wouldn't mind seeing Blake and Derrick go.

I love the show but the commercials are killing me. There are more commercials then story time. My husband gave up in utter frustration last night and left the room. Is it the economy that forces us to endure what feels like 10 times the commercial breaks to enjoy one good program?
Sheesh.

Cary and Derrick should hook up. They'd be perfect together.

Great point about Diane being more likely to confront Will than just leave. I could have sworn that Kalinda specifically told Alicia she took the folder from Blake's car. I wondered why she sat on that info for so long considering her friendship with Alicia. Kalinda sulking and being passive-aggressive felt out of character. A lot of weird behavior from the characters last night.

making the black lawyer the bad guy is very risky for broadcast television....

Posted by: erica stephens | January 19, 2011 at 08:52 AM

Seriously? In post racial America, we're concerned about what race the bad guy is? Who cares what his race or gender is. What nonsense.

Was anybody else excited to Crazy Little Huey on their TV?

I'm glad Diane won't be leaving BUT what is going on with her and Cary? What's the mistake Will and Diane made in letting him go? That he's really a good lawyer who would have been an asset to the firm OR that he's really good at screwing people so would have been an asset to the firm? Or was Diane just lying to him to try to get him before Will can when she thinks the firm is splitting up?

I think I'm going to have to watch this whole episode again and try to nail down some of these intriguing questions!

Thanks for your great blog! It makes the good wife twice as fun! Unfortunately the last two weeks have been such duds :( borrrrrrring. Cases completely uncompelling. Especially after 9 hours which has been my absolute favorite episode to date. In fact this week I thought the most interesting bit centered on Jackie Peter and Eli. Pls get rid of Blake and Derrick and back to Kalinda Diane Will and Alicia!

Ps I hate the droughts between episodes. I am an addict in need of a more steady supply please!

Why is it a victory that Kalinda intentionally disappointed Alicia?

Theories to the questions posed:
1. I assume Derrick is looking for dirt on them to use as blackmail/leverage.
2. Kalinda is gorgeous and independent. I still need to go back and watch the first season, by my sister told me that Cary has always been fixated on her. If I was working there, I'd be fixated on her too.
3. Yes. Their characters are too important, and Derrick is expendable.
4. Absolutely. I couldn't be less impressed with Alicia (or the "acting" of Julianna Margulies), quite frankly. I think the show's other characters are much more interesting. And Cary is a great lawyer. If it was based purely on merit, he would have beaten Alicia in the first place.
5. I agree that it will probably be something controversial. Who knows, but considering that Derrick brought Lou Dobbs with him, I'm guessing it's going to something right-of-center.

The folder from which the addresss came was found in Blake's rental car--Kalinda divulged this information when she confronted Alicia with the fact that Blake was snooping around and had interviewed her old neighbor.

A couple things I found interesting this week (and last, for that matter)--the cases both this week and last were definitely very uncompelling, and I think that was purposefully done to downplay that aspect of the show so that the various ongoing storylines could be brought front and center. (I think that the show has progressed quite a bit in that respect in the last two weeks.) Also, the past two weeks could be considered "losses" for Lockhart + Gardner. Since we don't see the firm incur many losses, I think the writers were trying to keep the viewers emotionally distanced from the cases so that it wasn't upsetting to see the firm take a loss.

Also, on the vein of Cary--interesting that Dianne would say, multiple time, they had made a mistake in letting him go after his performance and under-handedness in last week's episode--he outsmarted the firm in the way that he pitted the girlfriend and boyfriend against each other.

what is with blake?'
how many times has he tried to either
find something on kalinda, or snoop through files
about alicia and kalinda?

derrick should just leave. people would be on
will like white on rice, if diane left.

cary seems to be the worse of all; still miffed that alicia stayed with the
firm and he had to leave. had this been the other way around...

just put kalinda back with lana, she would set blake straight.


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