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'The Good Wife': Everyone is that person

May 12, 2010 |  7:28 am

GoodWifeWilderOh, the irony.

Not so long ago, a woman named Alicia Florrick was publicly humiliated by her philandering husband, Peter. With him in jail, she was forced to return to work as a lawyer to provide for her kids.  Slowly, she learned to love the job and her newfound sense of autonomy.  Then, they tried to take the job from her, and Alicia used her husband's connections to hang on to the job.  Her deal with the devil -- aka Eli Gold -- means she'll have to stand by Peter's side in his upcoming comeback campaign.  Is any job worth that level of humiliation?  I think not. 

Eli Gold continues to be delightfully, sublimely evil.  As far as TV villains go, he's right up there with Jill Zarin and Ari Gold (no relation, at least not that I know of). When Alicia opened up to him about the possibility of being let go, I too believed he might have a drop of empathy lurking in that dark little heart of his.  It must be said, Eli's "warm, understanding face" was fairly convincing. But when he showed up to save the day at Lockhart & Gardner, he switched back to the old Eli with chilling speed. "And we'll have to talk...about your husband's campaign," Eli tells Alicia after she warmly thanks him for his help.  He didn't have to say much, but the startled look on Alicia's face said it all. Clearly, she overestimated his altruistic side, and now she's in deep. Eli reminds me of the fox from Aesop's fables: As charming and seemingly earnest as he can seem, he's not to be trusted under any circumstances. Maybe Alicia should have smelled a rat when Eli assured her "everyone is that kind of person," but like her, I interpreted this is as an expression of sympathy and not a universal indictment of human nature.  My bad!  The point is, if Alan Cumming doesn't get nominated for an Emmy, I will eat my laptop.

Alicia has made quite a Faustian bargain for herself: She gets to keep the job she loves, but it may come at the expense of her dignity and public integrity. Over the last year, Alicia's grown more comfortable with the idea that the legal profession isn't always about the truth, but if anything, she's gotten more rigid and outspoken about her personal integrity.  Only last week, she sat down with Peter and the kids and urged them to come clean about everything.  Now, Alicia's going to have to put on a happy face and appear with Peter on the campaign trail.  It does make me wonder a little about Alicia's motives.  Does she need the job for financial reasons -- as the check montage in this episode would suggest -- or, as I suspect, is it more to do with her sense of self? Regardless, I doubt that Cary will go quietly into the dark night of unemployment.  As smug and as smarmy as he can be -- and Lord knows he was Tuesday night -- Cary was ultimately a nice guy, and I appreciate that the writers resisted the powerful urge to make him a total creep. But now I fear he might come back to haunt Alicia, and based on the preview for next week, it appears I am not just being paranoid. Hell hath no fury like a junior associate scorned.

Tuesday's episode also brought some (sort of) revelations about Kalinda.  While faithful viewers have been wondering about Kalinda's sexuality since just about Day One of "The Good Wife," the writers have put her storyline on the back burner these last few months. This week, we got plenty of face time with Kalinda -- including a great heart-to-heart with Alicia -- but as always, it's two steps forward and two steps back (like the Paula Abdul song).  She and Det. Anthony Burton had some kind of tryst, but any clear answer about Kalinda's orientation remains maddeningly elusive.  Kalinda, like Alicia, seems willing to do just about anything for the job; this time around, she slept with a cop who had the toxicology report she needed. Still, her motives in running off with Anthony were anything but clear.  She initially resisted Anthony's advances, telling him she was in a relationship, but it's impossible to tell if that was the truth or just one of those white lies every woman has told when some dude hits on her in a bar.  When Kalinda showed up at Max Wilder's mansion the next morning, she wore a pained expression on her face, but it was hard to tell why.  The ambiguity was infuriating and awesome all at once: Was she feeling guilty about cheating on her (possibly nonexistent) partner?  Did she just hook up with Anthony for pleasure, and now she regretted it?  Or did she just do it for the job, and that's what she felt icky about?  Maybe I am reading into it all a bit too much, and she was just hung over.

Once again, Alicia's case this week was implausibly newsworthy.  She was representing Caroline Wilder (played by Paige Turco of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" fame), the soon-to-be-ex-wife of aging rock star Max Wilder (Michael Laurence).  When Max winds up in a coma, what had been your run-of-the-mill celebrity divorce suddenly turned into a bioethical conundrum of Supreme Court-worthy proportions. Then, in a last-minute twist, it turns out that Max's loyal manager had actually poisoned him, and the estate dispute is settled. "The Good Wife" does a lot of things really well, but something about this pattern of last-minute twists always feels a little rushed and anticlimactic. The writers are phenomenally good at making Alicia's life more interesting than her clients' (even the more over-the-top ones). But as a result, it sometimes appears that even they can't find much interest in how her cases pan out.  This episode was called "Unplugged," a hilarious double entendre referring both to taking Max off of life support and to his final acoustic performance.  That's a delightful bit of of gallows humor if you ask me. 

We've only got two weeks left, my dear Show Trackers.  What kind of cliffhanger could possibly be in store?  Please speculate wildly in the comments.

Oh, and before I go, let me just say one thing: Vernon Jordan, WTF?

What we learned:  Kozko did kill himself.  Becca and Zach broke up -- thank God. Don't try to murder your boss with antifreeze.

New questions:  How is Eli going to call in the huge favor he did for Alicia? Is Kalinda really in a relationship, or was she fibbing?  And just where, exactly, did she go with Anthony?  What is Cary going to do to Alicia?

-- Meredith Blake


Complete Show Tracker coverage of 'The Good Wife'

'The Good Wife': Fuzzy vengeance

'The Good Wife': Peter crosses the line

'The Good Wife': Twelve Angry People

'The Good Wife': The moment we've all been waiting for

'The Good Wife': Alicia defends an (alleged) murderer

Photo: Based on the evidence, Caroline Wilder (Paige Turco) might just stuff those candies in her purse when Alicia Florrick (Juliana Margulies) isn't looking. Credit: David M. Russell/CBS