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'The Good Wife' recap: Strange bedfellows

October 5, 2010 | 11:05 pm


The question that "The Good Wife" asks week after week is just how far can we bend our principles before they break.  Usually, it's Alicia who is the guinea pig for the show's experiments in moral relativity, but this week it was Diane's turn to bargain with the devil.  And by the devil, I mean Lou Dobbs.

In one of the more awkward guest appearances I've seen in a while -- or at least since Bristol Palin dropped in on "Secret Life of the American Teenager" -- the former CNN talk show host showed up on tonight's episode of "The Good Wife." He is there looking for his attorney, Derrick, but things get interesting when he bumps into Diane's client Joe Trippi in the hallway.  (In case you're not the type to DVR "Meet the Press" every Sunday morning, Trippi was Howard Dean's campaign manager in 2004, and is now advising Jerry Brown in California.  You're welcome.) Trippi is cast aside for cash-cow Dobbs, but Diane is livid about it: She says it's all about loyalty, but we know Diane doesn't want to represent Dobbs, whose politics she despises.  

Diane -- staunch liberal that she is -- can't say no to money, even if it comes from an anti-immigrant crusader with blazingly white teeth. As she tells Dobbs, "If I can represent murderers when I think they’re guilty, I can represent you," though she might have told him, "Heck, if I can sleep with gun-toting Sarah Palin fans, I'd be happy to take your money." The message was clear: Diane's personal politics will not get in the way of her professional ambition.  The whole Dobbs-Trippi guest spot felt a bit too "inside baseball" to me -- especially Trippi, who is hardly a household name.  It makes me wonder if he was the first Democratic operative on the list -- was James Carville booked or something?

There’s a curious Battle of the Sexes looming at the offices of Lockhart, Gardner & Bond.  After Diane has to dump Trippi, she tells Will their alliance is over: “You just lost your certain vote."   The relationship between Will and Diane has always been delicate; they respect but don't necessarily trust each other.  Diane asks Kalinda to investigate any ties between Derrick and Will, and Kalinda happily sets out to “disabusing” Diane of her suspicions.  It turns out Will and Derrick do have some kind of connection, though we'll have to wait to find out.  Are Will and  Derrick plotting Diane's ouster?

Technology has always been the unofficial enemy on “The Good Wife,” and that current is only intensifying this season.  In tonight’s episode, call girl Amber Madison returned to haunt the Florricks with a viral video that makes "Obama Girl" look like Maria Callas. Peter is the unwitting dupe of a webcam interview, and even poor Grace is anxiously waiting to see what the "trackers" will do with their footage. It's almost impossible to imagine a show like "The Good Wife" set in an analog era -- that's how closely intertwined politics, scandal and instant communication have become.  With technology giving his opponents so many ways to play dirty, I suspect it's just a matter of time before Peter goes negative, too.  

After all, Peter's son is already leading the way.  Zach reunites with Becca (formerly known by her Twitter handle, "Upriser7") and in an attempt to win him back, she devises a scheme to humiliate Glenn Childs Jr.  She puts together a fake Facebook page for Glenn, listing favorites such as “American Idol” and the Jonas Brothers.  I may be stretching here, but the implication is that Glenn is gay -- or at least that's the impression Zach and Becca want to create.  As far as Internet humiliation goes, Zack and Becca's scheming is relatively innocuous (it won't take a hacker to figure out that the page is a fake), but coming the same week as the suicide of Tyler Clementi, it's another "Good Wife" plot point that's eerily well-timed.  

New partner Derrick remains mysterious except on one front: He's fixated with Alicia.  First, there was the curiously threatening mentor conversation at the end of last week’s episode, and now Derrick’s investigator, Blake, is preempting Kalinda at every turn. Derrick wants his guy on Alicia's cases, not Kalinda.  So what, exactly, is driving the obsession? Maybe Derrick is just your run-of-the-mill high-powered attorney and wants to cozy up with Alicia's political connections.  In the slippery moral world of "The Good Wife," that would be totally acceptable.  But there's definitely something more sinister going on here.  If not, then why would Blake want to withhold evidence from Alicia? Is Derrick trying to "throw" cases?  And if so, why?  Could Derrick be connected to Childs?  I apologize if that last idea may be a bit far-fetched, but “The Good Wife” really speaks to the latent conspiracy theorist in me.  

One thing I like about “The Good Wife” is that it’s always willing to poke a little fun at its protagonists. Of course, we love Will, Alicia et al, but we can also laugh when they flail like fish out of water. Case in point: This week, Will and Alicia are thrust into military court, a task for which they’re grossly unprepared.  They’re both frustrated by the rapid pace of the proceedings and a rigid legal code that is heavily stacked against the defendant.  (Legal experts out there, is this true?)  Their slick corporate ways are no match for the JAG Corps -- at least not at first.  Will can spout all the platitudes he wants about respecting the military, but Judge Kuhn ain't impressed.  Her withering gaze says it all:  Yeah, whatever, pretty boy.  

Leave it to Alicia to make inroads with her new military peers. After Will orchestrates his removal from the case, it's up to Alicia to make nice with testy Judge Kuhn, and that she does -- mostly by boning up on court-martial procedure.  It's interesting how much emphasis "The Good Wife" places on the role of judges in the legal process, and my hunch is that it's probably an accurate portrayal.  Last week we had Judge Matchick, and last season there was the self-loathing liberal Judge Abernathy.  Another key to Alicia's success in the JAG courtroom was Lt. Hicks, Simmons' appointed JAG attorney.  Though he looks like a pencil pusher, Hicks is actually an asskicker, known for single-handedly fighting off bands of insurgents in Fallouja. Luckily for Alicia -- and especially her client -- Hicks commands a level of respect that she does not.  By the end of the episode, Alicia and Hicks have established a nice rapport.  She's got an iPad, he's got a legal pad, and they both have a good laugh. Sometimes strange bedfellows can be the best kind.

What we learned:  Will and Derrick are somehow connected.

Further questions:  Why is Derrick so obsessed with Alicia?  Just how far back do Derrick and Will go back?

-- Meredith Bake


Complete Show Tracker coverage of 'The Good Wife'

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'The Good Wife': Coming home and 'Going Rogue'

Photo: Diane (Christine Baranski) and Derrick (Michael Ealy) greet their clients, Lou Dobbs and Joe Trippi.  Credit: David M. Russell / CBS