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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Televangelist: 'The Good Wife,' Season 3, Ep. 12

Oh crap, I forgot to file that brief. Two years ago.
  • CBS
  • Oh crap, I forgot to file that brief. Two years ago.

Though it's been a month since the last "Good Wife" episode (and without any information about when it would return after the big deal made about it's winter hiatus, I was surprised it came back so soon), there was no alienation of affection caused by the intervening holiday season (see what I did there?) There was, however, a strange amnesia the show had toward its own plots from before the break. Last we heard, Wendy Scott-Carr was not actually investigating Will or Lockhart Gardner at all - she had gone completely rogue and turned her sites on Peter in what I personally considered a terribly redundant idea. The writers may have belatedly agreed, since this week Wendy is back on Will's track, specifically, and now that his lawyer Elsbeth Tassioni brought the heat to Wendy, Wendy plans to bring it right back.

A month ago we saw Alicia acting bored and trying to find friends, whereas this week she seemed to be ok being back at work and stressing over papers she may or may not have filed two years ago. Her relationship with Kalinda remains icy but is no longer actively filled with disdain, which is an improvement. And somehow Cary, without provocation, takes Alicia's side during the deposition. That's about as right as a day at Lockhart Gardner can go!

Of course, everything else went wrong. The bickering and in-fighting among the equity partners was delightful, particularly every snide look and curled lipped filled sparring match between Eli and David Lee. David Lee and Julius was just a warm-up for the real knock out fight for those two, and even though Diane was forced to step in like (everyone pause, it's a "Game of Thrones" series reference!) Catelyn Stark in A Storm of Swords and tell both of the bickering men (in that case, brothers fighting for a crown) to just sit down and shut up. Unlike the characters in George R. R. Martin's book, Eli and David Lee listen to reason, and the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children are saved. Wait ... maybe I have that confused. In any case, Lockhart Gardner's problems are averted by the underhanded dealings of David Lee - an encore performance, as regarded this case - by having Alicia sign new paperwork standing in for the old paperwork that she lost two years prior. In the end, the spurious nature of David Lee's methods are covered up in the short term by evidence uncovered by Diane's flirtation with an Australian process server, and in the long term by the fact that divorces are profitable for the firm. Charming.

"You have such lofty goals when you start a law firm, fighting injustice, and so forth ..." Diane waxes on nostalgically during a meeting to figure out which partner behaved in the most underhanded way to cost the firm $44 million. "The Good Wife" does not shy away from making Lockhart Gardner morally ambiguous in its dealings, and even though there are a few, like Alicia, who go so far to be upstanding as to actually poke holes in their own case, it's a stark portrayal of "justice." Whose side are we on? Or even should be on? The moral of "Alienation of Attraction" seemed to be that morals are not the important thing, just the financial bottom line. And we see how well that's worked out for our country so far!

After so many sprawling, disjointed episodes this season, it was a relief to stay within the walls (more or less) of Lockhart Gardner, and not have to focus on Dana and Cary: CSI or Grace's religious fervor and weird friends, or other sideshow acts that don't yield much narrative satisfaction. It also played up the strengths of some of the best characters - Diane, David Lee, Eli - and allowed Alicia to remain an integral part of the story but not the focus of it. Further, we saw the return of attorneys Elsbeth Tassioni and Berle Preston, because "The Good Wife" loves recalling moments from episodes past (like Alicia's first divorce case) and bringing back some of the best guest stars as well. It's not only a reward for long-time viewers, but also a treat for those who may have missed their appearances the first time around.

There were a few nice twists (the miracle of Alicia's missing paper may have actually been a plant) and a few odd ones (Cary's testimony), but overall last night's episode was a great way for the show to get back to its roots and create some good opportunities for the future (such as Wendy versus Will).

Next Week: A light-hearted episode with Jason Biggs as a guest-star and doing something with Bitcoin.

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Everything, and I do mean everything, about David Lee in this episode was fantastic. When he introduced himself in costume as "Captain" I lost it.

— I always find it strange when people put someone unknowingly on speakerphone where several people can hear, and then get annoyed when they say something that should only be heard by the one person. Phone etiquette - let people know if they are being broadcast!

— I completely agree with Berle Preston, "this affection for seasons, it's monstrous!"

— Nice Goldilocks-esque subplot with Will "auditioning" lawyers for his case.

— So Eli's plans to be part of the governor's race is still on ... with Peter?

— CBS says there will be 4 new episodes in a row … then what? I hate breaks.

— I also just finally saw the promo for those 4 episodes, and Kalinda kisses Cary? Do not want.

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