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'The Good Wife' recap: Baby did a bad, bad thing

September 26, 2011 |  9:59 am


If there’s one thing that’s axiomatic about "The Good Wife," it’s that nothing positive ever comes without complications. After the giddy high of the season 2 finale, Sunday night's season premiere ended on an ambiguous, ominous note: Just what has Alicia gotten herself into?

When we last saw Will and Alicia back in May, they were heading to the Presidential Suite together to consummate their long-suppressed passion for each other, and, in what’s become a tradition on “The Good Wife,” the premiere picked up more or less right where we left off -- on the morning after Will and Alicia’s alcohol-soaked tryst. Alicia (who apparently had time to make it to the salon for a quick bang trim before work) exits the elevator at Lockhart-Gardner, virtually aglow with post-coital satisfaction. (What, no hangover?)

Time was that Alicia, her hair blown stick-straight, would have felt guilty about sleeping with her boss while still (technically) married. Now, her hair looser and wavy, Alicia seems to revel in being bad -- or, you know, sort of naughty. (Driving this point home, none too subtly, is Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing" on the soundtrack.)

Clearly, she’s still riding high on the fumes of her long-awaited encounter with Will, but the buzz is short-lived and soon enough, reality begins to set in. The writers are obviously playing with our expectations in this episode, forestalling the interaction between Will and Alicia for as long as possible. After showing up to work late, Will finally stops by Alicia’s office. “We need to talk,” he says gravely. “About last night?” she says, her eyebrow cocked flirtatiously. The scene cuts away and, the next time we see Alicia, she’s at her desk, looking confused and dejected. Naturally, we assume that Will has just delivered some kind of Last Night Was a Mistake/I’m Not Ready for a Relationship ® speech, a suspicion that only grows deeper when Will scolds Alicia in front of Diane. 

But no! It’s all part of their plan, you see. Next thing we know, Alicia and Will have slipped away for a passionate nooner at Will’s place -- and suddenly we understand just why Alicia was looking so pleased all morning. Orgasmic moans notwithstanding, there are red flags all over the place for Alicia. The most troubling moment of the episode has to be  Will’s conversation with Kalinda, in which he laments his inability to feel authentic emotions. “I just like acting like someone who feels something,” he says, cryptically, before scooting off for a date with Alicia at 8:45 sharp.  (Was it just me, or did anyone else worry that something might happen between these two down the line -- if it hasn’t already?) Judging by the look on Alicia’s face as she waits for Will to arrive, Alicia has some serious doubts as well. Sexual chemistry is one thing; trust is another, and Will hasn’t earned it yet.

Speaking of trust, Alicia’s relationship with Kalinda remains frosty but, at Diane's urging, they've reached a kind of detente. It's ironic that Alicia is so wary of Kalinda, when Kalinda is still probably the most trustworthy person in her life; it's an unfortunate, awkward coincidence that she also slept with Peter a few years back. If you ask me, the person Alicia really ought to be worried about is Eli, who’s now set up shop at Lockhart-Gardner.  Last season, Alicia and Eli’s once-combative relationship evolved into something close to a friendship. Now they’re colleagues, and I only expect Eli to meddle further into Alicia’s personal life. Eli is a complex and surprisingly sympathetic character, but he’s never without ulterior motives. He’s at Lockhart-Gardner for about five whole minutes before he begins to plot his next move: Peter’s gubernatorial campaign. Eli’s primary loyalty will always be his own ambition.  Don’t forget, Eli was the guy who deleted Will’s voicemail in the first place; if Peter’s political fortunes depend on his reconciliation with Alicia, then surely we can expect Eli to do much, much worse. In short: Alicia better watch her back.

On a somewhat brighter note, Alicia’s relationship with Grace (who appears to have acquired some nice, expensive-looking highlights over the summer) seems stronger than it has in the past. In a nice little scene on the couch, Grace notices that her mother seems happier without her father around. I’m not sure what this augurs, exactly, though I do suspect that Zach’s feelings toward his mother might not be so positive.  I’m also not so sure what to expect with respect to Grace and her oddball tutor, who has hair like a medieval serf and, inexplicably, likes to film herself dancing on subway cars filled with Indian soccer players. Uh ... kids these days, am I right? As Florrick kid-related subplots go, this was certainly one of the show’s more head-scratching moments.

Like the WikiLeaks-inspired storyline from last year’s season premiere, this episode’s “case of the week” was pointedly topical and unusually ambitious, even by the standards of "The Good Wife.” In a taut 44 minutes (or so), the case touched on hot-button topics including anti-Semitism, the Arab Spring, the influence of Jewish-American interest groups on foreign policy, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, campus radicalism (I loved the Chomsky-esque professor who doesn’t actually bother showing up to class), violent video games and gay crimes of passion. That’s an unlikely number of complications for any one case, something that Eli acknowledged when he said, “The Muslim was the killer but he was also gay and sleeping with our guy, so I would call that a classic mixed message.”

For our purposes, the most interesting aspect of the case was how it pitted Alicia against not only her longtime rival Cary, but also her estranged husband. Together, these two make a formidable team, willing to send an innocent Palestinian to jail for murder in order to appease Peter’s Jewish donors. That’s pretty cynical, even for "The Good Wife.” Meanwhile, Cary seems to have spackled over that soft spot he once had for Kalinda. He slips her an envelope with surveillance photos of Jamal’s car, but only so that Jamal will implicate himself in the murder.

So, what are your predictions for the season ahead? Who should Alicia be worried about the most: Cary, Will, Peter or Eli?

Stray thoughts:

-- I hope Fred Melamed makes another appearance soon as Judge Alan Karpman.

-- I appreciated Kalinda’s attempts to be “good” this episode, but it was also a little sad seeing her look so dispirited. I hope she gets her groove back soon.

-- Will and Alicia's sex scene was certainly "steamy," but the prurient side of me wishes we'd gotten to see what went down in the Presidential Suite. It must have been something.

-- “The Good Wife” has moved to 9 p.m., but it’s still decidedly 10 p.m. in spirit. There were a number of racy little asides in this episode, like when Sophia told Cary, “If I were you I’d slip it to her,” or Eli offered, “If it helps his cause I could find out if he’s a top.”

-- I think perhaps the writers are overplaying Sophia’s sexiness a bit; when Cary first lays eyes on her, she’s seated sideways, her legs hoisted up on the arms of her chair, like a college student studying in a dorm common room. Sort of inappropriate for a state’s attorney’s office, no?

-- I confess that I was initially confused by Will and Alicia’s "afternoon delight." Something about the sideways pan of the camera made me think it was a flashback to the night before, and I couldn’t understand what on earth they were doing at Will’s apartment.  


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