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

March 30, 2011 |  8:18 am


This week, "The Good Wife" was all about the sins of the past returning to haunt their perpetrators. But, try as they might, no one -- Peter, Kalinda, Jarvis Bowes or Luis Flores -- can quite shake their past. Like a bad song stuck in your head, these trangressions keep coming back to torment us. (And, yes, I have been singing "Drive on Out" to myself all morning.)

Let's start with the big doozy revealed last week: Back when she worked at the state's attorney's office, Kalinda slept with Peter. This week picks up right where last week's episode left off, with Kalinda and Blake squaring off in the parking garage (their favorite forum, for some reason). As soon as Blake leaves,  Kalinda calls Alicia. It's an odd decision, and it seems that even Kalinda isn't sure why she did it. Was she driven blindly by some guilt-ridden impulse? Or perhaps, for an instant, she thought it would be easier just to fess up? Who knows. Next on her call list is Cary, with whom she's slightly more forthcoming. She tells him she needs his help, and even reveals that Blake "has something" on her. Kalinda being Kalinda, she won't say what that something might be. Cary being Cary, he agrees to do some snooping.

Here's what Cary uncovers: Blake sat for one last interview with Matan Braday in Glenn Childs' office, and the interview notes are under lock and key. (Speaking of which, here's an interesting tidbit: In a live Twitter chat, the show's writing staff admitted that the Peter-Kalinda reveal had been planned from Day 1. It makes you wonder how they can sit on a secret for so long, doesn't it?)

Cary's devotion to Kalinda is obvious, though I wonder just how long he'll continue putting himself on the line for her without something in return -- I don't mean something romantic, necessarily; more like a few long-overdue straight answers. It's also touching to see Kalinda be as vulnerable as she is with Cary.

What's interesting is how their relationship has evolved, and how convincing the transformation has been. At some point last season, Kalinda sensed that Cary might have a little schoolboy crush on her, and she decided to exploit it to her own ends. But somewhere along the way, she grew to trust in, and maybe even care about, Cary. The danger is that Cary will find out about Peter, and Kalinda will lose not just a romantic interest, but her most important professional ally. Folks, this could get ugly.

Kalinda meets with Peter -- marking only the third time we've seen these two onscreen together -- and tells him Matan knows about them. Her theory is that, since Glenn is now a lame duck, Matan is sitting on the information to see who wins the election. If Peter triumphs, then Matan will use the dirt to blackmail himself into a job under Peter. Clever, isn't it?

At the end of the episode, we see Peter on the phone with Matan more or less promising him what he wants. "You be good to me and I'll be good to you,"  he says, which is politician-speak for "I'll give you whatever you want as long as you don't rat me out."

Now, there's some serious irony at play here. Peter tells Kalinda that he's fallen in love with Alicia all over again, and we can see he's desperate for them to stay together at almost any cost -- bribery and blackmail included. But it's precisely this kind of dirty politicking that got Peter in trouble in the first place. Alicia would be devastated to find out about Kalinda and Peter's night together, but she'd be even ballistic if she discovered the subsequent cover-up.

I'm not ready to make predictions just yet, but this episode seemed heavy with foreshadowing. While they scan photos from the Bowes crime scene, Kalinda asks Alicia, "Are you happy? ... With your life, your home?" Of course, we know why she's asking, but Alicia doesn't, and her candid response seems loaded with meaning. "I don't know. I guess so. It's like when a storm's over -- is it happiness, or is it relief?" Cut to Kalinda, looking terribly guilty.

Also adding to this sense of dread is the renewed focus on the political scandal surrounding Lana Timmerman, a disgraced congressman's wife who's just signed a $1.3-million deal to write her memoirs. Alicia might think the storm is behind her, but something tells me there's trouble a-brewin' on the horizon.

WIth five episodes until the end of the season -- say it ain't so! -- all the stars are aligning for a spectacular finale, and it seems to me the show is going to go in one of two very different directions. It all depends on the outcome of the primary: If Peter wins his secret is safe with Matan and the cover-up will continue indefinitely, as long as Blake is silenced; if Peter loses he's bound for a second helping of disgrace, possible criminal charges, and maybe even a divorce. Either way, things should get very interesting.

This episode also saw the return of Natalie Flores, the nanny-cum-day-trader who stole Eli Gold's tiny little heart. (For more on Natalie and Eli's unlikely chemistry, check out my Q&A with America Ferrera.) Eli, feeling guilty over having exposed Natalie's illegal status, asks Diane to take on her case pro bono. She's resistant, but Eli, ever the operator, dangles a carrot: He tells her she should think again about running for a judgeship.

Natalie's case quickly grows more urgent when her father, Luis, is picked up on burglary charges in what appears to be a barely-disguised general roundup of illegal immigrants. (The suspect in the burglary case is supposed to be between the ages of 18 and 25, which means the police have cast a conspicuously wide net in their search.)

With Diane's help, Natalie gets the charges against her father dismissed, but there are bigger problems in store: Once Luis is processed by the police, his name will be in the system and he'll be deported. So it's a race to the police station to try to free Luis in time.

All hope seems to be lost when Eli shows up at the last minute and, pretending that Luis is his gardener, convinces the officer on duty to let him go. There's some willful suspension of disbelief here -- Eli just happens to know the police officer in question -- but that doesn't make the larger point any less valid: There's tremendous inconsistency in our treatment of undocumented workers in this country, and you're not going to fare well unless you know some powerful white people.

In the end, Eli's chivalrous gesture appears to have earned him Natalie's forgiveness -- if not her heart. She thanks him for his help and nervously adds that her boyfriend has returned from Las Vegas. "It's no big deal, I'm just saying it," making it clear that it is, in fact, a big deal.

Ferrera is scheduled to return one last time on April 12, and I'm curious to see how this will pan out. Regardless, it's nice to see Eli humanized a bit, and his interactions with his daughter ("America doesn't suck. People suck.") are priceless.

What we learned: No, really -- Kalinda and Peter did sleep together. Matan knows about their tryst but is sitting on the information until the primary results are in.

Further questions: In this episode a member of the band asks Kalinda if she has an accent. Given the many questions surrounding Kalinda's identity, this hardly seemed like a throwaway remark. Is Kalinda hiding an accent, and if so, is it Canadian, or something more exotic? Also, will Diane run for office?

Real-life inspirations: Jarvis Bowes is not the first murderer whose songs have been covered by famous bands. Guns N' Roses and the Beach Boys have both recorded songs originally written by Charles Manson.

P.S. In their live chat Tuesday night, "The Good Wife" writers also revealed that Sarah Silverman will make a guest appearance on the second-to-last episode of the season. No news yet about her role but the mind reels at the possibilities.

-- Meredith Blake


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Photo: Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick and America Ferrera as Natalie Flores. Credit: J.P. Filo / CBS