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'The Good Wife' recap: No one left to trust?

THE-GOOD-WIFE-Ham-Sandwich-3 Fans of "The Good Wife" are a patient lot. The show, approaching the end of its second season, has displayed a remarkable ability to stretch out a single unresolved storyline for what seems like an eternity without alienating viewers. There's the never-ending tension between Will and Alicia which, at the current rate, will not be consummated until sometime in 2015. And arguably the biggest question mark of all is Kalinda, about whom we know virtually nothing -- her background, sexuality and motivations remain oblique nearly two years in to "The Good Wife."  So Tuesday night's episode, which came after several weeks of reruns and was stocked with juicy revelations about Will and Kalinda, ought to have been more riveting than it was.

First, let's rehash what we learned. Easily the biggest discovery of the episode was that Kalinda once slept with Peter in exchange for his help covering up her past as "Leela." Way back in season one, we learned that Kalinda left her job at the state attorney's office, though the reasons were never mentioned, and that something clearly went down between Peter and Kalinda. Since then, we've gotten almost no further indication of what this "something" might have been, exactly. (Among the many things I love about this show: The writers like to circle back to little clues they doled out many episodes ago, and reward the obsessive and detail-oriented viewers who are able to remember them.)

The possibility of a dalliance between Peter and Kalinda is intriguing, indeed. Kalinda and Alicia's halting friendship has grown in recent months, and though they're hardly besties, they've formed a pretty tight bond. There's an implicit trust between the two of them that no doubt would be shaken should Alicia find out about the affair (or whatever you want to call it). I also wonder whether Kalinda's allegiance to Alicia might stem from some sort of guilt about having slept with her husband, as if her loyalty is a form of penance -- though maybe I'm reading into things a bit too much.

When and if Alicia finds out about Peter and Kalinda, it will certainly throw the already shaky Florrick marriage into disarray. No, Kalinda wasn't friends with Alicia when she slept with Peter (not that we know of, anyway), but it's easy to see how such a revelation would shake Alicia to the core. Kalinda is a core member of Alicia's ever-shrinking circle of confidantes (in this episode, she woefully tells Kalinda "I used to have so many friends"). Plus Alicia's tentative reconciliation with Peter relies on the assumption that he's confessed to all his transgression. And let's not forget, if brought to light, the sex-for-favors scam would not exactly boost his career chances. The number of possible outcomes here is somewhat mind-boggling. My fantasy scenario? Alicia leaves Peter, and, feeling betrayed by Kalinda, leaves the firm to defend the indigent at Legal Aid. Not that I've given this much thought or anything. Who else has predictions? Please share in the comments.

The other big revelation this week involved Will, whose boyish charm has always been tempered by a disconcertingly Machiavellian streak. He's cute, sure, but for a while now, we've been forced to wonder if he isn't a wolf in sheep's clothing, a money-hungry shark willing to hand over Chinese dissidents to their totalitarian government if it means a fast buck. (Not a good look on anyone, if you ask me.) All season long, we've gotten hints that Blake and Will's relationship predates the arrival of Derrick Bond, and now we've got the proof. Will confronts Blake about the Grand Jury investigation, but Blake quickly steers the conversation to another topic: the past. "I was told to cover up your theft," he tells Will. "I paid my debt," Will responds. It's all very cryptic, naturally, but the clear takeaway is that Will has some ugly skeletons buried deep in his closet, and that Blake may just bring them to light.

Despite all these developments, there was something strangely inert about this episode. I can't quite place my finger on it, but somehow it didn't feel quite as dynamic or as dense as usual, though perhaps this was just me. The subplot with Grace, though well-intentioned, was didactic rather than satirical. It's fun to see how much her youthful idealism irritates Eli and derails his plans to keep Peter's campaign lily-white, and Grace's wide-eyed earnestness is certainly not uncommon for someone her age. But still, her conversation with Pastor Isaiah in this episode (she asks him, a propos of nothing, whether he thinks Jesus was black) struck me as extremely unrealistic, even for an impassioned teenager.

Some commenters on this blog have brought my attention to a (gasp!) weakness on the show: the Florrick kids. In the past, I've found the subplots with the kids, especially Grace, to be pretty amusing; I especially like how Alicia, the supposed goody-goody, is so obviously rankled by her daughter's idealism. But now that the seed has been planted, I'm starting to have my doubts about this facet of "The Good Wife." Grace's guilelessness seems more appropriate for a 4-year-old than a young teenager, though I'm keeping an open mind.

More convincing were the divorce proceedings between drug kingpin Lemond Bishop and his soon-to-be-ex, Katrina. In the kind of counter-intuitive move that's become a "Good Wife" hallmark, Lemond is portrayed, at least initially, as the "good guy" in the relationship. Sure, he cheated on his wife, but she's an adulterer too -- and, even worse, she's more than willing to use her adorable son as a pawn to extract more money from her ex. The scenes in which Lemond, Katrina, their lawyers and a mediator frankly discuss Bishop's, ahem, "street level holdings" were fascinating. Unfortunately, the resolution to this plot -- Katrina overdoses on drugs --  felt like it had been plucked from the air, though I suppose it served its purpose, making us wary of Lemond, and the Lockart-Gardner's connection to him, all over again. 

What did you think?

-- Meredith Blake
Twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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Photo: Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) confronts Blake (Scott Porter). Credit: Jeffrey Neira / CBS

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

@Joy Definitely noticing "The Wire" alums on The Good Wife! My count is at 6! Kima Greggs/Sonja Sohn as a guest star (some wife who killed her husband with a laptop???), Chris Paltrow/Gbenga Akinnabe as Pastor Isaiah, Com. Ervin Burrell/Frankie Faison as Pastor Isaiah's dad, Preston "Bodie" Broadus/J.D. Williams as Dexter (Bishop's man), Dennis "Cutty" Wise/Chad Coleman guest star as the man on death row, Nick Sobotka/Pablo Schreiber as Bishop's wife's lawyer. Now I must go back to wondering what's going to happen next week on TGW and rewatching "The Wire". Can we get a The Good Wife/The Wire crossover? Senator Clay Davis as himself? Sheeeeeet.

@ Chrissie I'm cracking up at the Clay Davis reference--he would be great! I was also going to post, but then didn't, how the Bishop story line seems "Wiresque" to me. Granted a lot more "PG" (obviously). Thanks for remembering Sonja Sohn, I'd forgotten that she was on. Also, Method Man/"Cheese" the guy that served prison time with Peter. So actually that's seven?!

Too bad we can't have Omar on TGW, indeed.

The kids have been the worst characters on the show since Episode 1 (except for Becca, just because she brings out the best -- that is, the worst -- in Eli). They can't go off to college quickly enough.

Cary has grown from an unlikable 2-D stiff into the most dynamic male character on the show. He's still not as much fun to watch as Eli, but I don't know of anyone else on TV who is...

Considering the Emmy win, it's surprising how much Kalinda has been a background character this season, so it's not a surprise that that's finally changing.

Overall, I think the show's strongest asset -- its deep and gifted ensemble cast -- is also its weakest link, in that 45 minutes each week doesn't everyone enough screen time. For the most part, these are fascinating characters, but you're rarely able to do more than scratch their surface. Even Kalinda, we've now learned we don't truly know, but instead of wanting to learn more, that revelation left this viewer cold.

I can't believe they have stretched out some of these plots, yet it keeps me coming back each week ( eg Will and Alicia). I love the dialogue and connections to prior episodes. But I do think teenagers such as Grace can be as innocent as she seems--- let's not give all teenagers a bad name.

kalinda is such an enigma. the leela aspect continues to layer onto the depth of her character. the careful doling out of her backstory keeps me interested in what her deal truly is.

blake is starting to grow on me even though he's been a thorn in side of all.

peter, all i can say is that he is positioned as a "guest star" on the programs' marquee so at some point i expect that his character will vanish from the show. horrors! but i'm not convinced will is alicia's destiny.

i agree that carey is fascinating this year. love eli like crazy. love owen! love jackie for her waspishness!! there's a tv movie in just that woman.

the kids have led a sheltered privileged life so their naivete seems natural to me. love that becca too, she's got the devil in her but she seems to be wrestling with her demons and comes off as trying to be a better person.

great show, great writing! just maybe more episodes and not so many reruns please! this is the only program on tv worth watching for its intelligent story telling.

Blake definitely hit a nerve. And I think over time, Alicia has become someone that Kalinda truly loves (not necessarily romantically) and someone that Kalinda does not want to lose. I think she could care less about Peter. Though Kalinda is the strong silent type, I think she's a champion of women who have been wronged, and feels tremendous guilt for wronging another.

 
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