The action on “The Good Wife” can be divided into three roughly equal parts: There’s Alicia’s personal life, there’s the endless maneuvering and power plays at the firm, and there are the cases-of-the-week.
So far, Season 3 has felt decidedly case-heavy, with far less time devoted to Alicia’s personal life or the inner workings of Lockhart-Gardner. This season also lacks an overarching narrative to tie the episodes together, the way that Peter’s comeback campaign did last year. This is fine, for now, but at some point “The Good Wife” will have to remember that it’s so much more than a legal procedural.
This week’s episode, “Get a Room,” actually centered on two cases. After some tainted cheese causes a nasty listeria outbreak at a Chicago elementary school, Eli is hired to manage the ensuing PR crisis. Mostly, the storyline is there to provide comic relief. The footage of children projectile vomiting half-digested, fluorescent orange cheese-food was hilarious, albeit revolting, and it’s always fun to see Eli when he’s fully “on.” The crisis also serves the narrative purpose of creating tension between Diane and Eli. The cheese manufacturer has to hire Lockhart-Gardner as temporary counsel, otherwise the information they disclose to Eli will not be subject to attorney-client privilege.
The problem is that effective spin is not the same thing as effective legal representation. Eli urges his client to be contrite and claim responsibility; Diane advises them to express sympathy, but to stop short of admitting guilt. My hunch is that this won't be the last time Eli and Diane will clash, especially given the intense media scrutiny he's brought to the firm.
In the second case, Will and Alicia are negotiating a settlement on behalf of a client whose malfunctioning spinal-cord implant led to chronic pain. It just so happens that the attorney representing the other side is Celeste (Lisa Edelstein, formerly of “House”), one of Will’s many, many exes. Because of their romantic past, Will and Celeste are experts at reading each other.
Alicia isn’t too bothered by Celeste, but she pretends that she is in order to elicit the sympathy of Ira, the court-appointed mediator (played by Isaiah Whitlock of “The Wire”). Somehow Ira figures out that it was all a ruse, and he scolds Alicia for acting in such a blatantly manipulative way. “Don’t worry about it. If I needed a lawyer, I’d probably hire you, too,” he says. (In case you were wondering, this was meant as an insult.)
Between the labored poker metaphors, the annoying reporter, the leak from the state’s attorney’s office, and Will and Celeste’s romantic history, this storyline was unusually muddled. For the moment, Alicia isn’t too worried about Celeste, but I’m guessing that will change when/if Celeste joins Lockhart-Gardner.