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'The Good Wife' recap: An uncivil action

MethodMan Honesty -- or the lack thereof -- is a favorite recurring theme on "The Good Wife." Tuesday night’s episode examined a slightly different, though related, premise: authenticity. 

At the behest of his new pollster Matt (Jeremy Strong), Peter decides to support a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. The idea is that the "youth vote" will come out for Peter if he's pro-pot. The plan backfires when a high school glee club instructor makes a hokey -- and 100% earnest -- video in support of the Florrick campaign. Matt, watching the video, declares, "You know the worst thing to happen to any candidate: to be unhip. Ask Hillary in '08."  This is a tad hyperbolic -- the only thing worse than an unhip politician is one straining to be hip -- but in this day and age, there's nothing quite as toxic as sincerity.  Eli tracks down the zealous instructor and offers him a phony job as a "liaison" to the campaign if he'll agree not to make any more videos. The instructor tells Eli he felt inspired by Peter's recent visit to the school, in which he spoke out against bullying. For a minute there, you could see Eli's cynicism recede ever so slightly. It's a sad state of affairs when campaign managers dampen -- rather than incite-- enthusiasm for their candidate.

The Florrick campaign might be terrified of sincerity, but it's desperate for a little "street cred," so Peter suggests they enlist his prison buddy, a rapper named Young Boxer (Method Man). They sit down for a powwow, and Peter tells, uh, Mr. Boxer that he "need(s) the youth vote." Young Boxer promptly erupts into laughter, but then offers to do a fundraiser for the campaign. (I loved that Eli barged in at this news.)  The scene was brief, but Chris Noth and Method Man shared some nice chemistry; you could almost believe they did time together, and that Young Boxer might genuinely feel obliged to help Peter out. I'm looking forward to seeing where the show goes with this subplot.

Of course, the question of authenticity was forefront in Alicia's mind as well, because her arch-nemesis, Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) was back. The last time we saw Louis, he was representing Big Pharma in a class-action lawsuit. Though I loved that "The Good Wife" played on expectations and made Louis a villain rather than a saintly victim, the episode itself was subpar at best. So I was a little worried that Louis' return would mean another lousy episode. Thankfully, my concerns proved to be unfounded.  This time around, Louis is vying with Alicia et al in another class-action case -- a suburban "infertility cluster" caused by fertilizers dumped in the area. Only this time, he wants to represent the alleged victims, and he's competing with Alicia to win over the hearts and minds of the afflicted neighborhood. The question is, who will the alleged victims believe has their best interests at heart? The scrappy, independent lawyer with the twitch, or the slick law firm?

Louis, whose wife recently miscarried, claims to be a changed man, but Alicia isn't buying it. She suspects that Louis is actually in cahoots with the chemical company and that his goal is to get the victims to low-ball their claim. Even Kalinda is surprised by Alicia's cynicism, pointing out the fact that planning a miscarriage is "kind of an elaborate trick." "I think he's getting in your head," she says.  Alicia can't quite believe that Louis has good intentions, and she is practically giddy to discover that he has been negotiating behind the scenes with J&L. I wasn't sure what to make of his final monologue. For a show with what we can fairly call a liberal cant, Louis’ speechifying had distinctly conservative overtones. "I think companies ought to pay for their mistakes. But I think companies are paying too much for their mistakes. And I think lawyers are helping people distort the amount of harm," he tells Alicia as inspirational music swelled on the soundtrack. Was "The Good Wife" taking up the mantle of tort reform? Or were we meant to roll our eyes at Louis’ hollow proclamations?


This week's case, a class-action lawsuit against a chemical company, was pretty much boilerplate -- derivative of legal thrillers such as "A Civil Action" and "Michael Clayton." It's the machinations surrounding the case that made it interesting. Once again, it's the legal back story that's way more interesting than the case itself. I had no idea that lawyers actually have to "win" the right to represent a class, or that there are hedge funds out there devoted solely to funding these types of cases. Any legal experts out there care to enlighten me about all this? Did this episode accurately portray the intricacies of class-action lawsuits, or did it fudge?

With the $55-million class-action suit in their pocket, Will and Diane now have significant ammo to use against Derrick. In a meeting of the firm's equity partners, Derrick finally shares his big news. The super-PAC he's recruited is a group called "Americans for Growth." He says it's bipartisan, but I’m guessing it will be conservative (the name "Americans for Growth" appears to be a fusion of "Club for Growth" and "Americans for Prosperity," two well-known fiscally conservative PACs) and that this will cause further trouble with Diane. Not that they were bound to be allies at this point anyway. It turns out that Derrick has not only been investigating the firm's employees, he's spying on them as well. Kalinda figures out that he's installed key-reading software on computers around the office, and now Will, Diane and Julius are going to use this discovery against him -- though I still don't totally understand how. I am enjoying Will's and Diane's revived partnership, but I'm also hoping that the writers put the Derrick plot line out of its misery pretty soon. As several commenters pointed out last week, Derrick's one-dimensional villainy is getting a little silly, and it's a shame Michael Ealy hasn't been given more to do than slither in and out of people's offices and stare them down while saying menacingly cryptic things like, "Trust me. My information is sound."

The episode concluded on a jarringly triumphant note. Will returns to his office to find Tammy waiting for him with her feet up on his desk (Because I am fluent in TV body language, allow me translate: that means she wants to get it on). She admits that her South African soccer player was fictional, and she tells Will she wants "not commitment, just preferential treatment." Intercut with this is a scene of Alicia and Peter in bed together -- it appears last week's ending was not as ambiguous as I had hoped --as they laughingly recount their days to each other. It's not sexy, exactly, but it was sort of sweet. Unless the previews for next week are wildly misleading, it looks like this romantic bliss might be short-lived. I hope so. I sure would hate to see Alicia wind up being Will's skinny drinking buddy.

--Meredith Blake
twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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Photo: Method Man stars as Young Boxer Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / CBS

 

 
Comments () | Archives (10)

Thanks for the TV body language translation! Very funny line -- got me to laugh at my desk.

I thought it was a pretty good episode.

Can someone explain to me what a super-PAC is? I don't think we have these in Canada.

When Denis O'Hare (ie the judge) was talking about blood, all I could think of was the epic TV speech of Russell Edgington!

KK,

A PAC is a Political Action Committee, a private group, regardless of size, organized to elect political candidates or to advance the outcome of a political issue or legislation. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, an organization becomes a "political committee" by receiving contributions or making expenditures in excess of $1,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election. The prefix "super" indicates that this one is very, very big and very, very well financed.

Meredith, Will and Diane's plan with respect to the keyloggers is to feed Bond with false information. They would make it seem like they are actively courting certain people in Bond's camp who are ready to jump ship. The plan is to get Bond to fire/relocate those people.

But I do think this episode was a bit too convoluted. I like that TGW is an intelligent show, but sometimes it overestimates the viewer's ability to catch and understand its characters' snappy, fragmentary dialogue. For example, I'm still not sure who was feeding Canning information - was it Bond or that blonde lady who was following Alicia around visiting houses? And who exactly was that blonde lady anyway?

@Derek I got that they were going to feed him fake info using the keylogger software, but what I didn't totally get was how the fake info would lead to him firing equity partners. What were Will and Diane going to say that would get these people fired fired? And yes, sometimes the show does put my rewind button to the test. As for the mole, the blond lady was leaking stuff about the case to Louis, but they weren't the ones responsible for the keylogging. Very complicated.

@ Merideth,

I took the Will/Diane plan as to send fictitious e-mails to make it seem as though Bond's people were defecting to Diane and, therefore, no longer loyal to Bond. Bond would get rid of the "traitors" himself and inadvertently strengthen Will/Diane's hand.

Anyway, I loved the "no, no, no, no" music that was playing at the end of the show when Will was with Tammy and Alicia was with Peter! Kudos to TPTB.

I think it was implied that the Blond, Alicia's "ambassador", was feeding information to Canning but it was not proven. The trap set for the one responsible for the key logging software led, completely unexpectedly, to Bond rather than Canning. Consequently, they still don't know for sure who Canning's mole was/is.

As for Canning's speech at the end, this is not the first time this left leaning show has presented an opposing viewpoint in a non villainous way. I think the point was that, though we all can easily get behind an "innocent David versus evil Goliath" kind of story, things are rarely so black and white. Canning was used to illustrate that there is always another side to the story and not every adversary is truly evil.

As a lawyer and watcher of the show I'll elaborate on a few points.

It was Derrick and not the blond feeding information to Canning:

Derrick realizes he is competing against Diane for control of the Firm. Diane needs the class action to help her going into the vote with the partners. Derrick realizes that if he helps Canning and Canning represent the class exclusively and Diane loses this would substantial undercut her with the partners. The blond was merely a red herring on who was feeding information to Canning.

The partner vote/getting rid of people:

When Derrick came into the firm he brought junior partners with him. These partners are affiliated with him and would presumably vote with him at any partner meeting. Will and Diane do not believe that even the weaker partners brought in by Derrick will flip and vote with Diane. However, they realize that if Derrick BELIEVES that the weak partners will vote with Diane then he will get rid of them himself to avoid additional support for Diane. The emails from Diane lead him to git rid of the weak partners. Since these partners were never going to vote with Diane he is basically just shooting himself in the foot. These partners are not really being fired as much as moved around by Derrick so they will not participate in the voting meeting for control of the Firm. There is a line about those weak partners being sent back to DC by Derrick (shipped out of the main Chicago office).

I thought the most interesting part was the privilege argument that undid Canning, but that may have been the most inside baseball legal issue in the episode.

I love this show but somtimes get a little confused and find the story line a little hard to follow. I find myself having to rewind or replay what was just being said.
I always read the show's recaps to get a clearer view of each episode.
I don't think the question to "who is the mole" or who was feeding information to Canning was ever answered.


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