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'The Good Wife' recap: Will says goodbye ... for now

February 20, 2012 |  9:17 am

Sunday night marked the dawn of a new era on "The Good Wife," as Will, Alicia's boss and former make-out partner, voluntarily accepted a six-month suspension from the law
Goodbye, Lockhart & Gardner; hello, Lockhart & Associates.

Sunday night marked the dawn of a new, Will-free era on "The Good Wife," as Alicia's boss and former make-out partner voluntarily accepted a six-month suspension from the law. It's a somewhat surprising end to Will's season-long character arc, which has seen him evolve from morally slippery power lawyer to contrite idealist. What lies ahead for our hero -- especially in regard to his relationship with Alicia -- is anyone's guess.

As the episode begins, everyone is celebrating Will's grand jury triumph over Wendy Scott Carr, but the jubilation is short-lived. Will scarcely has time to gloat before mustachioed Lionel Goldstein shows up at the office with some bad news: He's pursuing Will's disbarment. At the hearing, Will sits at the end of the world's longest wooden table and learns that he can either refute the charges or accept a six-month probation. Diane urges him to fight -- "Six months away from the law will kill you," she says -- but Will smartly opts to take the time off instead. As he tells Alicia, the only reason he's even being offered probation is because of the firm's pro bono work -- something that he fought "tooth and nail." Will is a great lawyer, so he knows a good deal when he sees it.  

So, what will the hiatus mean for Will? If his behavior in this episode is any indication, it looks like he is ready to do some serious soul-searching. Facing the prospect of six months away from the law, he throws himself into the case of the week, a class-action suit against our old friends at Chum Hum for selling decryption software to the Syrian government. Patrick Edelstein, founder of Chum Hum competitor Sleuth.com, politely asks Will and Alicia to settle the case out of court because he'd "rather not have Congress look into our foreign sales of software." To Alicia's obvious delight, Will politely tells Edelstein that the case is none of his business. "He may leave, that's the breaks," Will says, like it's no big deal to lose a billionaire client. As faithful viewers will recall, Will hasn't always been so sympathetic to the plight of political dissidents overseas; last season, when the firm was in virtually the same scenario, he scolded Alicia about for her naivete. 

The change of heart suggests that when he returns to the firm in six months -- just in time for the fall season, by the way -- Will is going to be a very different kind of lawyer. Naturally, I'm excited about this mostly because it gives me hope for a Will-Alicia romantic reconciliation; let's not forget, Alicia had plenty of reservations about Will that had nothing to do with her children. I do worry, though, that Will's soul-searching might lead him into the arms of some starry-eyed idealist he meets while picking up volunteer shifts at a local soup kitchen -- or, even worse, Caitlin. Either way, I hope that Will's absence from the firm doesn't translate into a Josh Charles-less "Good Wife." That's a price I'm not willing to pay.

For Alicia, the next six months ought to be very interesting. Because their long-simmering romance took precedence, it's easy to forget that Will also functioned as a kind of mentor to his old friend from Georgetown. After all, he's the one who offered Alicia a job when she needed one, and he's repeatedly vouched for her when her position at the firm seemed uncertain. As Will heads to the elevator, Alicia struggles to find the right words; it's clear she's not entirely sure what to say, given the tenuous status of their friendship. In this way, Will's parting words -- "Follow Diane’s lead, Alicia, you’ll do fine"  -- are oddly poignant, an acknowledgment of how much Will's friendship means to Alicia, with or without the sex.

It seems clear that the next step on Alicia's emotional journey will be a reconciliation with former bestie Kalinda. If the tax case is somehow related to Kalinda's former life as "Leela" -- as I suspect it is -- she'll have no choice but to open up to Alicia like never before. The question is, will further revelations about Kalinda's past make her more -- or less -- sympathetic to Alicia? It could go either way.

Now, about that case of the week. We all know "The Good Wife" can't resist a topical story line, and once again we've got an episode that's eerily timely, airing just days after the sad death of New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid in Syria. It also includes a fleeting subplot about a male blogger in Kansas posing as a lesbian from Damascus, an obvious riff on a recent news story. Even though the writers conjured up with a fairly convincing way into the Syria stuff, I do think Alicia is in danger of becoming the Zelig of network TV. At this point, she has represented an Al Gore-like politician accused of groping a masseuse and a Mark Zuckerberg-like Internet tycoon, among many, many other high-profile clients. And let's not forget that time she negotiated with Hugo Chavez via Skype, or the fact that Alicia is, herself, a semi-public figure. Again, credit to the writing team for making these seem like plausible cases for a desk-bound third-year associate. But I still think "The Good Wife" is best when it's zeitgeist-y without being quite so obviously ripped from the headlines.

Other thoughts:

--This show just loves a good elevator scene, doesn't it?

--I'm not sure why Eli wants so badly to work on Vanessa's campaign, especially because he'll have to report to Stacy. What a mess that's going to be.

--Is there an “All About Eve” situation in the works with Caitlin? I still don't trust her. 

--I can't tell you how excited I am that Dana has been reassigned, but I do worry about what this means for Cary. You know the old saying: Hell hath no fury like a woman with a side pony.

--This week's comic relief comes courtesy of Judge Abernathy, who could barely contain his enthusiasm over Occupy Wall Street and arrived at court in tears as a result of pepper spray (or so he claims).

RELATED: 

Complete "The Good Wife" coverage

"The Good Wife" recap: Fishing expedition

"The Good Wife" recap: Alicia versus the Internet

-- Meredith Blake
twitter.com/MeredithBlake

Photo: Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski and Josh Charles in "The Good Wife." Credit: Jeffrey Neira / CBS

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