Monday, February 20, 2012

The Televangelist: 'The Good Wife," Season 3 Ep 15

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Honestly, there really HASNT been a decent rock opera since The Wall
  • Honestly, there really HASN'T been a decent rock opera since "The Wall"

CBS didn't exactly pull a "previously on," but they did start off "Live from Damascus" with some scenes from the last episode of "The Good Wife," which aired in January, to remind us of what had been happening. To wit, Will had been cleared of of his grand jury charges, and Wendy Scott Carr had her parking validated. Just before she did, though, she slipped an anonymous tip to the Illinois State Bar Association about Will's $45,000 mistake, which translates to grounds for disbarment. Did anyone think, even for a moment, that Will would actually get disbarred? Did even Will believe it? A 6-month suspension will be strange enough, but an impressively bold step for the show to take. Might it lead to Will and Alicia rekindling their romance as Will is no longer her boss?

In a continually uneven season, "Live from Damascus" proved to be one of the weaker episodes. When the show relies too heavily on a "ripped from the headlines" Case of the Week, it can get too wrapped up with quirky judges and snooze-worthy court scenes to really advance the emotional lives of the characters. Alicia had about as much to do this week as a Lockhart Gardner office chair; though to be fair, the episode's theme of "the cost of freedom" doesn't exactly apply to her in any way we haven't already explored. Will's freedom from jail and Wendy Scott Carr comes at the price of his law partnership. Across the world, the freedom of a white, American female comes at the expense of a young Syrian male who helps shepherd her to safety. The dissolution of Eli's marriage left him lonely and seeking, once again, the comfort of his ex-wife (and occasionally confusingly, Stacy). All freedom comes at a cost.

Eli's story seems set up for a spin-off show - his appearances at Lockhart Gardner are cursory, he rarely has anything to do with the main storyline, and his check-ins with the office and the staff are either entirely selfish or perfunctory. The writers know Eli is a great character, and bringing him into the firm was a way to keep him around even when he wasn't running Peter's campaign. As far as creating cohesive episodes, though, it's not been a smooth ride. Though I'm 100% in favor of having Eli in the wings (and he is my favorite character), the show still doesn't seem to quite know what to do with him and the fantastic guest stars they surround him with (like Parker Posey and Amy Sedaris).

In that same vein, Broadway star and "Glee" alum Jonathan Groff seemed largely wasted in the role of the grieving brother (who, it turns out, didn't really need to grieve). Groff is a talented actor who had little more to do than the work of an extra - "look sad here, look confused here, look relieved here!" "The Good Wife" has an excellent casting department - not only are their principle characters all pitch-perfect, but they have a wonderful tendency to poach former "Wire" alums for bit roles. The problem is, again, it seems that the writers don't always know what to do with such great finds.

One last note on the casting front, I have been lamenting the loss of Geneva, Cary's former partner in crime (sidenote: how morose and boring has Cary been lately? He used to be a fun little scheming villain - now he just looks put upon and tired). Geneva was replaced at the start of this season with Dana, who audiences have seemingly never warmed up to. Dana was smug and arrogant, and carried on an affair with Cary while trying to simultaneously faux-seduce Kalinda (you can't kid a kidder, honey). She paid the price for her liaison with Kalinda last week, and was clearly surprised when the Fail Hammer fell squarely on her from Cary, despite their sexual entanglement. Cary seems to think he can demote her and still sleep with her, but good luck, bubs. It was the end to an episode that Dana jut could not win. In a strange but joyous moment, Geneva reappeared at the start of the episode to make clear that Dana's faults are her own. Dana snarling and calling her a bitch was glorious. Ride that wave of righteousness, Geneva! Boot that bitch out into the cold!

Perhaps one of the most uneven threads in the show this week was Will's moral compass. Will has never, in the past, hesitated to kowtow to powerful clients no matter what their shady past. They have cash, he doesn't need details. When the episode began with Lockhart Gardner being on the side of the little people - the protestors who were arrested and jailed because a software company sold the Syrian government a product that would reveal who they were - my spidey senses tingled. This didn't seem right! Usually Lockhart Gardner defends the powerful. Sure enough, Alicia comes to find (as she often does) that Lockhart Gardner is really protecting the interests of their Mark Zuckerberg-esque client Patrick Edelstein, a rival of the software creator in question. But wait ...! In a rare show of ethics, Will tells Patrick that his interests are at odds with those of the class action, and so his (Patrick's) preferences will be ignored. Does Will feel bold because he knows his time as an attorney, at least at that point, is limited? Does he, as Diane speculates, want his last hit to be a home run? After all, Will does admit some guilt over Diane giving him credit about the pro bono department (a truly underused department for the show's writers to explore), the addition of which he fought tooth and nail to keep out. Is his conscious creeping up on him? Will's later objective in the trial is to focus on the missing girl and her whereabouts ... but what about all of those others involved in the Class Action? Do they not get considered? What are Will's true motivations? An interview with the show's creators let us know that Will will still remain on the show in some capacity every week, and we may get to know him a little better, which will hopefully shed some light on his shifting alliances.

Next Week: CBS PUTS THE SHOW OFF FOR YET ANOTHER HIATUS. This time for only one week, though. It will return March 4th with an episode about office politics (yay! My favorite).

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Loved the comment about Barbara Walters "she has more hair than I thought she would."

— In the end, the world all revolves around tech support.

— Amy Sedaris' character needs to be used in extreme moderation. While her liaison with Eli was funny for its awkwardness, it should definitely end there. Now Eli and Vanessa on the other hand ...

— I love the bin Laden jokes, because they are always unexpected.

— I'm getting tired of ~quirky judges.

— There really hasn't been a decent rock opera since "The Wall."

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