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The Good Wife Recap: Cleaning House


I’m going to pause your regularly scheduled recap for just a moment to rhapsodize like a fan boy about this episode of The Good Wife.  I thought last week’s episode was superlative, but “Cleaning House” is one of the best hours of  television I’ve seen this season; it was good enough to compare to Mad Men, and I can’t think of a higher compliment.  This episode hit the ground running, and didn’t let up the entire hour, and ended with a game-changing twist that I should have seen coming yet somehow didn’t.

Enough of that, let’s talk specifics.  When was the last time a leaked tape caused so much trouble?  Watergate?  We open with the audio of Alicia’s deposition of Glenn Childs playing as we watch a recording make it’s way into the hands of a reporter.  Before we know it, Alicia is getting scolded in court for her wardrobe by a hostile judge who believes that she leaked the tape.  This brings us to another tension-filled deposition for Alicia, only this time she’s the one answering, as Cary sits across the way peppering her with questions.  While Cary knows Alicia well enough to know that she didn’t leak the tape, he hopes to use their shared history together to get her to admit that she and Peter shared confidential information in a case, specifically a case from last season that the two worked on together.  Once Alicia admits Peter’s breach of confidence, Glenn Childs can use that to hurt his campaign for State Attorney.  I love when shows remember their history, and The Good Wife does an excellent job of referencing something that happened early last season that most of the audience probably forgot about.  It makes it more exciting to watch, as you never know what small detail that you think was a fleeting moment will suddenly reappear.

Will, acting as Alicia’s lawyer in the deposition, tells her in confidence that she has to answer Cary’s questions honestly, and can’t worry about the effect on Peter or his campaign if his aid in her case gets out.  However, right as Alicia is about to answer, Will stops Cary in his tracks with an oblique threat of using a trump card he has on Childs if the investigation continues.  Cary, Alicia and the audience are all in the dark as to what card Will is holding, but I’m fairly sure we can look forward to that coming out when we least expect it.  Will explains to Alicia that he only used it because he didn’t like Cary’s attitude, but after a few episodes with little affection between the two, small moments like that speak volumes.  It was also nice to see Cary and Alicia face off again; I loved the odd-couple vibe between the two of them last season, and hope eventually that they’ll be in the place to re-visit it, but for now this thinly veiled hostility is riveting.  Further, last week Cary said to Kalinda that he liked the lack of moral ambiguity in the State Attorney’s office, that he liked doing good work.  After the last two depositions, I’d imagine his black-and-white view of the matter is taking some hits.

While this is all going on, Alicia takes a moment to ask Kalinda why Blake keeps calling her “Leela.”  I’ll freely admit that I hadn’t thought much of this specific dig; I chalked it up to him simply being a jackass, and actually assumed that it was the alias she had given when they first met.  However, when Alicia point-blank asks her what he means, Kalinda deflects her question…and  smashes in the windows of Blake’s rental car with a baseball bat, ransacks it for anything she might find interesting, and leaves a kiss imprint on his rear-view mirror as a calling card.  I’ve been luke-warm on this story line thus far, but if this is the kind of reaction cold-as-ice Kalinda is having, I’m in; I don’t know where it’s going but I’ll go for the ride.  When Blake confronts her (referring to her as Kalinda, it’s worth noting), telling her that he knows her past is a fake, she fires back that she knows about his past with Will.  These two are playing a game of chicken, and while I still have absolutely no doubt that Kalinda will own him when the time comes, this week amped up the stakes enough to get me invested.

And finally, the question of the hour: who DID leak the deposition tape?  Eli and Peter quickly determine that it’s Judge Victoria Adler, who is setting herself up to enter the race for State Attorney and throw off the Florrick versus Childs cage match.  The two plot to take her down, and in a nice reminder that Peter Florrick is not a very nice man, we see him sic Eli on the judge and tell him to “take the gloves off.”  Then we see him meeting with Childs and bargain with him, telling him that while he has some dirt on Judge Adler, he’s betting that Childs has even more.  The implication here is quite clear: Peter doesn’t want to simply remove Adler from contention, he wants to destroy her.  Whether it be for daring to challenge him, or for putting Alicia in harm’s way, or the rather nasty implication that it’s simply because she’s a woman is anybody’s guess; I’m going with all three.

Eli enlists Diane’s help in scaring off Judge Adler from running, and when Diane tells her that her candidacy would set women back because of her corrupt past, Adler backs down immediately.  However, it’s not because she’s scared.  She’s simply not the third candidate.  Instead, it’s Wendy Scott-Caar, played by the wonderful Anika Noni Rose, who debuted last week as Glenn Childs’ lawyer during his deposition.  As she announces her candidacy at a bar association event, Alicia realizes that it was Wendy who leaked the tape.  And as we fade to black, we have Eli yelling into his phone the question that I’m sure will power a lot of this season: “Who is Wendy Scott-Carr?’

And some closing arguments:

– I didn’t have time to even bring up the case-of-the-week, which seemed even more of an afterthought this week than it did last.  It mostly just appeared to be a showcase for Mamie Gummer to reprise her role of Nancy Crozier, the falsely ditzy lawyer from last season.  The case was fairly run of the mill, but Alicia and Nancy’s open dislike of each other is something that could yield a lot of fun, so I hope they return to that well.  Oh, also, Corbin Bleu was there.

– “What are you waiting for?  Go report it.”

– Anyone else hear Archie Panjabi’s accent slip when she spoke about the “centah of the arena?”

Gilmore Girls reunion alert!  I don’t care if Matt Czuchry and Edward Hermann never exchanged a word, they were on the same show.  Oh, and Edward Hermann, I’m sorry, but you have to retire.  I don’t want you to be anyone but Richard Gilmore, ever.

-Grace and Zach were absent this week and are two of the few teen-age characters on a grown-up drama that are enjoyable; I usually don’t care where the kids are and what they’re doing, but I’m curious as to where the show will take these two when they re-enter the story.

– We meet Will’s new girlfriend Tammy at the very end of this episode, and since the role is being played by Elizabeth Reaser, she’s clearly going to have some impact on the story.  She’s a sports reporter…I wonder how that’s going to play into it.