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'The Good Wife' recap: Hell hath no fury like a lawyer scorned

This week’s episode of “The Good Wife” begins with a warning — or maybe it’s a promise — from Nancy Krozier, the faux-naïve lawyer played by Mamie Gummer. “This will mostly be about sex,” she says, looking directly into the camera.

It was a slightly meta way to introduce an episode that was, in fact, mostly about sex. “The Good Wife” has always been a very, shall we say, “10 p.m."  kind of show, but this week’s installment — titled “Getting Off,” in case you missed the point — was perhaps the most carnal yet. There was that picture of the murder victim, bare-chested, bound, gagged and lying in a pool of his blood; there was the revelation that the murderer had severed the victim’s penis and left it on ice in a champagne bucket (paging Dr. Freud!); and there was a monologue so racy, it inspired Alicia to pull that rumpled old copy of Chicago magazine out of her sock drawer.  Some day in the not-too-distant future, some grad students in gender studies are going to have a field day with this episode.

Even more so than usual, the case of the week had a thematic resonance with Alicia's personal drama. She's representing Stephanie Engler (Sarah Silverman) the owner of a website called SideEncounters.com, targeted at philandering spouses. Stephanie and her husband have an open marriage -- though, as it turns out, the arrangement is not without its complications. The case was interesting -- it was about sex, after all -- but really, Stephanie's here as a foil for Alicia. She explains her romantic philosophy to Alicia, sounding a little bit like Sting when she asks, "If you love someone, don't you set them free?" For Alicia, the answer is "no." Or, as Stephanie puts it, "You like to tie them down." It's a kinky double-entendre, but on a metaphorical level, it's also true: When it comes to fidelity, Alicia's a traditional gal.

After last week, we were all anxiously awaiting a showdown between Alicia and Kalinda. And boy, did we get it -- or, more precisely, did she get it. Alicia, usually pretty good at the poker face, is totally unable to keep her cool when Kalinda stops by her office. She doesn’t even bother to tell Kalinda that she knows about the tryst, nor does she have to; the look on her face says it all. As with Peter, Alicia is unwilling to listen to any kind of explanation. “You slept with my husband. You do not say anything after that. It is selfish to say anything after that.” The essential difference is that with Kalinda, Alicia’s emotions are much more raw and unfiltered. Not that Alicia exactly held back with Peter, but his betrayal was less surprising. Her response to Kalinda is much more visceral and difficult to control. “I swear I will scream at the top of my lungs if you don’t get out of my office now,” she says, and we believe her. Heck, even her nose gets all red! Kalinda is rattled by the encounter, and she too breaks down — behind closed elevator doors, of course.

But the fighting ain’t over yet. Later, Kalinda tries to prep Alicia in the SideEncounters.com murder case, but Alicia ignores her then suggests “someone who hasn’t slept with my husband” might be more appropriate for the job. Kalinda stays cool, and appeals to Alicia’s rational side. “I slept with him once,” she says. “I didn’t know you. I’d never even seen a picture of you. To me you were just the housewife. Then I met you and I liked you.” Unfortunately, Alicia’s “rational side” is nowhere to be found.  It’s clear that what really bothers her is not that Kalinda slept with Peter — it’s the possibility that their friendship was founded on a lie, born out of pity, rather than mutual trust and admiration. The question is whether this damage can possibly be repaired. I still think there’s hope, and that much of it will hinge on the reason why Kalinda slept with Peter — because with Kalinda, sex is almost always a means to an end.  She’s callous about it, but never casual.

For a hot minute, it appears that Kalinda might leave the firm. She pays a visit to Sophia, a friend who, like Kalinda, is apparently a member of the Secret Society of Sexy Female Investigators. Sophia offers her a plum corporate job and, even though it means she’ll have to ditch the leather jackets and stiletto boots, Kalinda accepts without hesitation.  But once she discovers the private firm will be working with the state’s attorney’s office, she decides to stay put.  Was anyone really surprised by this? Kalinda, as we all know, is indispensable to this show, and it’s hard to imagine how the writers could work her into the narrative week after week unless she stayed at Lockhart-Gardner.

But, Kalinda’s near-departure serves a larger purpose. Before she leaves, she wants to try to, somehow, make things right and in a conspicuously out-of-character moment, she asks Will, “What do you want from life?” He’s baffled by the touchy-feely talk, but Kalinda helpfully cuts to the chase. “You want the same things as Alicia?” she asks, then tells Will that Peter and Alicia are separated. We’ve seen Kalinda do this before — try to rekindle the Will and Alicia flames as a form of penance for her wrongdoing. It’s terribly unsubtle, which is why I also think it’s sweet.

Despite the enmity between them, Kalinda wants Alicia to be happy, and she also knows that this means being with Will.  The question going into the season finale will be, are there “too many issues” for this to work? She’s still married, with two teenagers at home; he’s got a girlfriend. The attraction, at least, is still very evident. He certainly seemed to perk up as soon as Kalinda mentioned the separation, and Alicia certainly isn’t holding back — the look she gave him from across the office was more than just “come hither,” it was “ravage me now.”  Prompted by Kalinda, Will does one of his patented “check-ins” with Alicia, promising her that if she “ever needs to talk,” he’s there. The coded “I’m here for you” stuff has been going on forever between these two, and it looks like next week, things might — finally! — move beyond talking.

Like a prettier version of Gen. Sherman, Alicia marched through this episode, leaving scorched earth in her wake. The last enemy on her list is mother-in-law-for-now Jackie, who’s been trying to pry information out of Zach and Grace. Alicia ain’t having it, and shows up at Jackie’s polite ladies’ club to tell her as much. If Jackie wants to see her grandchildren, she needs to clear it with Alicia first; no more “surprise” visits. Jackie suggests that Alicia may lose custody to Peter, since he’s a state’s attorney. “Who banged a hooker 18 times,” Alicia clarifies. “Let’s see where that ends up.”  Meow!

There was something strangely exhilarating about hearing those words come out of Alicia’s mouth, and you get the sense that Alicia relished saying them too.  It’s an interesting about-face; Alicia used to shy away from talk of Peter’s dalliances.  Now she embraces it. It’s as if it has taken two years for the enormity of Peter’s transgressions to sink in. In that time, she’s also realized that they’re his mistakes — not hers. She’s got nothing to be ashamed of, but plenty of things to be angry about. Eighteen of them, to be precise. (Or, actually, more like 19.) The one question I have is, how are we to interpret Jackie’s threatening “I know what goes on in your house”? Does she think Alicia was having an affair? Or is she talking about the kids? Gaaaaah! So many possibilities!

Alicia makes one more stop on her scorched-earth campaign, getting legal advice from David Lee regarding her separation from Peter. Between all the Will and Kalinda drama, these scenes almost got lost in the shuffle, but they were really well-done. David was supportive, professional and totally mercenary all at once.  He advises Alicia to postpone filing divorce papers until next year — after Peter garnered his lucrative state’s attorney salary (which, naturally, David knew off the top of his head). This piece of advice is going to be essential going forward, as it leaves a slight opening for a Florrick reconciliation. It also, I suppose, leaves an opening for Peter to go after Alicia, especially if things with Will get serious. I’m also guessing custody will play a big part in Season 3.  What’s the one thing uglier — and more dramatic -- than politics? Divorce.

One last thing: be sure to check in tomorrow for my Q&A with Josh Charles.


Complete Show Tracker coverage of "The Good Wife"

'The Good Wife' recap: 'Go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now, you're not welcome anymore'

"The Good Wife" recap: Alicia and the no-good, horrible, terrible, very bad day

"The Good Wife" recap: "Once a bad person, always a bad person"

-- Meredith Blake

Photo: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) meet with their client, Stephane (Sarah Silverman).

Credit: Jeffrey Neira/CBS

Comments () | Archives (6)

I LOVED the scene where Kalinda laughs when she finds out she'd have to work with Peter on the new job and the next scene is her telling Will she wasn't leaving. Very well done!! What did she mean, however, when she told Will the one thing she's learned is that she never has to confide in anyone. Did she mean the truth always comes out anyway?

Wow, anti-climatic. Next week has potential.
This episode seemed kinda stupid - the case was stupid, Kalinda's explanation was stupid, Kalinda's 10-minute job change was stupid.

Liked your paragraph 2 comments last week - well said with few words. Hats off.

I felt like Kalinda's little divulging of info to Will was as much for his benefit as it was for Alicia. It came on the back of Will reminding her that she said she'd always 'have his back'. She didn't look like she was going to say anything before that.
I really like the Will/Kalinda friendship. It's something we haven't seen enough of.

So, how can they call the show "The Good Wife" if she leaves and divorces her husband? Maybe it should be called "The Once-Good Wife."

It was an excellent episode.
A few scenes were ruined by the way the show is trying to push their "Will/Alicia belong together" agenda. I didn't give a hoot about Peter and I'd love for him to be gone entirely but for Alicia to jump (literally) in bed with Will so fast is a mistake.
If people just want to see them having a hot moment, then fine. But if they want a romance, having Will as Rebound Guy #1 (with the kids and Tammy mess because hello, Alicia... hypocritical much) is not really laying the grounds for a healthy relationship. You can't have your cake and eat it too and if they do, it's going to be unrealistic and out of character and these two deserve better than this.
I for one totally bought that Kalinda was leaving the firm. It's her M.O. to run when feelings have to be confronted (um... Leela, anyone?) and I was somehow convinced she'd end up cozying it up to Cary at the SA's office just to give Cary something to do (as has been the case recently with the two of them) and to push that ridiculous notion that they can be in a "relationship".
I liked Giddish in the episode. It's a pity that they had to replace the Sexy FBI Agent with her for that storyline (due to Flint being busy on Royal Pains) because I would have liked the relationship between to evolve instead of another character being introduced.

I really do hope Alicia and Kalinda find their way back to friendship soon. Season 3 will most likely be the last with the way the ratings are going and it'd be a shame if they dragged the misery and angst for 20 episodes. Their unusual friendship was the best part of the show for me.

David Lee is the most insatiable character besides Eli Gold and Becca. Love them all but David Lee could be the main character of a completely stand-alone show about divorce. The character is brutal. He's rather interesting. Is he gay or just high-strong. The actor playing David Lee is a scene-stealer. Too bad he's not on more.


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