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'The Good Wife' recap: A shot at love

February 23, 2011 |  8:47 am

THE-GOOD-WIFE-Last-Shot

Who needs Will and Alicia when you've got Diane and Kurt? It's been a long time--far too long, in my opinion--since Kurt McVeigh made an appearance on "The Good Wife." Tuesday night, the Palin-loving, gun-toting ballistics expert finally returned to the show, conveniently filling the romantic void left by last week's frustrating climax

Last seen being brutally deposed by Diane, Kurt stops by Lockhart, Gardner & Bond to ask for some legal assistance. His unexpected arrival at the office leaves Diane tongue-tied, and his request leaves her deeply conflicted: He's being sued by Jason Beltran, a man whose murder conviction was overturned with Lockhart-Gardner's assistance. Kurt testified in the original case, which means he is implicated in the wrongful conviction. Stubborn as always, Diane insists that Baltran was set up by the cops; stubborn as always, Kurt insists Beltran is guilty and that there was simply a mistake at the crime lab.

Within seconds of their reunion, Kurt and Diane are at each other's throats once again. Diane assures Kurt she'll think about taking the case, but acknowledges that it's complicated since her firm represented Baltran's appeal (This struck me as a huge conflict of interest; legal experts, please weigh in.) Diane maintains her trademark poise throughout the encounter, but she does, ever so tactfully, take Kurt to task for flaking out on her. "You should have called me when you got back from your case in Florida," she tells him. He agrees, but doesn't offer any excuses for his behavior.

Diane's indecision quickly comes to an end when lawyer Tommy Segrara (Dennis Boutsikaris) urges her not to take the case. "They want to put a pretty face on a racist defense, don’t you see that," he asks. Tommy's kneejerk objections force Diane's hand, and she decides to take Kurt's case. Before the ink is dry on Diane's retainer--and after it, too--this unlikely romance is very much back on. In the courtroom, Diane has to defend Kurt--and the "tea party" movement writ large--against allegations of racism.

Watching Diane passionately and articulately stand up for his political beliefs is a serious aphrodisiac for Kurt, and he asks Diane to run away with him to Costa Rica. In the end, Diane decides that she's not ready to move with her totally not-racist tea-partying lover, no matter how great the sex might be. She's put too much work into building the firm to bail on it now. The real question is whether Kurt will disappear once again from Diane's life. I'd like to see these two crazy kids try to make it, especially if a certain half-term governor does decide+ to run for office in 2012. Oh what fun that would be--at least in a fictional world.

It appears that Diane will have her work cut out for her next week, trying to shore up enough equity votes to maintain her partnership at the firm. Two weeks back, Derrick fired a partner he suspected of switching allegiance to Diane. (Special thanks to commenter "JB," who explained this rather confusing plot point. For an explanation of all this voting mumbo-jumbo, click here and scroll down to JB's comments; no, you shouldn't feel dense for not understanding this.) Now, Derrick tells Will he regrets the decision and wants to rehire this person. Will, playing it cool, assures him it's not a problem. But clearly, it is. With another pro-Derrick vote on board, Will and Diane are going to have trouble lining up enough votes to boot Derrick.  Almost as worrying is Derrick's sudden suspicion of Diane. Does he know about her counter-alliance with Will? Who knows. What matters is that Will thinks he does, and that Diane seemingly loses all business perspective the second that Kurt rolls into town. But is this enough for Will to turn his back on Diane?

Diane is not the only one with lovin' on her mind this week. Turns out that Eli, who up until now has operated like a monkish political operative, solely devoted to winning campaigns, actually has a private life--and a daughter to boot. Played by the excellent young actress Sarah Steele (from "Spanglish" and "Please Give"), Melissa Gold is just as feisty as you'd expect her to be, and is trying to convince her father to let her travel to Israel. As if that weren't enough to humanize Eli, this week he also shows signs of actual scruples. He goes to investigate Natalie Flores (America Ferrera), an illegal immigrant who worked for years as Wendy Scott Carr's nanny. When it turns out that she's beautiful, articulate, and handy with stocks, Eli suddenly has reservations about using her as a "silver bullet" against Wendy. He's also got a wicked crush. Unfortunately for him, Natalie has heard of Google. Just like that, Natalie is out of Eli's life, and on the 6 o'clock news. Yes, Eli's spontaneous crush on Natalie was a tad unconvincing, but I appreciate the effort to make him into a more well-rounded, human character, and I'd love to see more interactions with his daughter in the future.

This was an interesting episode in the sense that Alicia and Diane are forced to reconsider their liberal orthodoxies. Grace has been flirting with Jesus, so to speak, for some time now, and this week, Alicia gets a phone call from her daughter's school. She's taken to wearing a T-shirt with a Christian message, "I am the mustard seed." In her sitdown with the overwhelmed school administrator, Alicia vociferously defends Grace's First Amendment rights but in private, she's annoyed by Grace's new-fangled beliefs.  "I know you want a cause but this isn’t your cause," Alicia says. She's too deeply cynical to believe that Grace's religious beliefs are anything but an elaborate form of rebellion. Grace, on the other hand, is naively earnest in the way only a teenager can be.  "What if this were a different time and they weren’t letting kids wear Martin Luther King shirts?" Grace asks, to which Alicia scoffs, "What Martin Luther King T-shirts?"

The conversations between Alicia and Grace are the highlight of this episode. They're sharply written, caustically funny ("Just taking another hit off the crack pipe," Alicia says while swilling a glass of wine) and, in their own way, brave.  "Christians are in no danger of becoming a minority class," Alicia tells her daughter. How often do you hear someone on television, fictional or otherwise, say that? What's interesting is that while most TV families are pseudo-secular--as in, they celebrate Christmas but don't go to church--an atheist is a rare thing, indeed. While she doesn't describe herself with the "A word," I'd say that describing Jesus as "someone who lived 2,000 years ago and has very little to do with me" comes pretty close. So, Alicia's not going to be born again anytime soon, but that doesn't mean she ought to deny her daughter's right to believe in something--besides, as every parent knows, the more you discourage something, the more likely one's kids are to embrace it, right? Diane, meanwhile, is forced to question her belief in the pervasive racism in the legal justice system. Not every black man is wrongfully convicted, and human error can play a part as often as prejudice.

Sex, religion, politics: "The Good Wife" is 40 minutes of forbidden dinner-party conversation every week.

What we learned: Eli has a daughter!? Derrick is having second thoughts about dismissing one of his equity partners, and he rightly suspects that Diane is preparing for a fight. Kalinda has been getting mysterious phone calls from an unnamed male.

Further questions: Why is Derrick suddenly reconsidering his decision to dismiss one of his equity partners? Has he been spying on Will and Diane in some heretofore undiscovered way? Maybe he is reading their minds? And is Will getting cold feet about his alliance with Diane? Will he vote against her at the equity partner meeting next week? Who is calling Kalinda--her long-lost husband, Blake, or somebody else? Will Kurt move to Costa Rica on his own?

Real-life inspiration: Wendy Scott Carr's nanny problems are reminiscent of oh, I don't know, seemingly every female politician or political appointee ever.

-- Meredith Blake
twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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Photo: Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) consults with Diane (Christine Baranksi)

Credit: David M. Russell/CBS

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