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The Good Wife Recap: VIP Treatment


After two weeks of mostly larger-picture story telling, The Good Wife returns to a more procedural-esque format this week, while keeping its many sub-plots at a nice simmer on the back burner.  It was a good episode, and if it didn’t reach the heights of last week’s epic, I think that the ability of the show to keep some plots at a slow boil and fill up an episode with case-of-the-week will give it much more longevity than your standard TV serial; consider how fast serials burn through plots, forcing writers to come up with new conflicts and characters.  The Good Wife can come up with a satisfying stand-alone episode at any time, which gives it’s serial elements the benefit of unfolding in a natural way without appearing that the writers are dragging their feet on the details.

The case this week involved a massage therapist, Lara (played excellently by Natalie Knepp) who accused a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Joe Kent, of sexually assaulting her.  In an interesting twist, the entire conflict never reached a court room; instead it spun around Lara and the lawyers of Alicia’s firm warily circling each other and trying to decide whether or not to (figuratively) get into bed together.  Will looked at the case as a potential money-maker, while Diane was firmly against it on the grounds that the accused was a great man whose work for women in Africa meant he couldn’t possibly have actually assaulted Lara.

As I’ve come to expect from the old pro’s on Wife‘s writing staff, the story was filled with twists and turns (including that Cary had actually recommended she go to Alicia, a very nice new color that I’ll get into more down below), and despite it looking very bad for her in the beginning it eventually comes out that she is indeed telling the truth.  However, even as Will and Diane finally agree to take the case, Alicia sees Lara leaving in the elevator.  As she runs after her, she realizes that Lara is dropping the suit, and for once even Alicia’s special touch with clients doesn’t work;  her presence and history has actually made Lara realize what she’s signing up for if she goes forward.  She has a past, and she doesn’t want it out in public; Lara walks away.

While the Lara story-line took up much of the hour, it did serve to advance a few characters, none more so than Cary.  Cary wasn’t strongly featured in the episode; I think Matt Czuchry only had one short scene.  However, the fact that he referred Lara to Alicia and his old firm speaks volumes if you believe that he did it in good faith, which Alicia doesn’t but I think I do.  Alicia clearly states that she still thinks he wants to hurt them; however, I’m starting to think that The Good Wife is finding its most morally unambiguous character in Cary.  Cary wants to work in the State Attorney’s office because he states that he enjoys not having to live in the gray area.  When a client approaches him and he believes her but can’t help her, he sends her to someone who can.  And not just anyone, but someone who helped her to see what exactly she would be getting into.  Kalinda, whose people reading skills are unequaled, states flat out that she misses having Cary around.  Cary appears to really be trying to do good in the world, which is a huge shift from where his character sat last season, as Alicia’s frenemy at work.  I’m not trying to say that Cary is no longer out for revenge; I just think that he’s not being blinded by it, and the audience is being shown that he’s a good man.

Still happily living in the moral gray area is Peter, who discovered the voice-mail from Will on Alicia’s phone which she had saved for 86 days.  After attempting to listen to it once and being interrupted, he ultimately chooses not to listen to the complete message.  He does, however, have an extremely interesting conversation with Tammy, Will’s new girlfriend, who claims that Will is in love, but not with her.  Tammy is clearly being set-up as an anti-Alicia; while Alicia demanded a plan from Will, Tammy insists on just having fun together.  It’s nice to see a little movement on the love-triangle front, after almost no mention of it since the season premiere.

Other than that, most other plots were in low-gear for this hour.  Kalinda and Blake still hate each other, but didn’t cross paths except for a small moment when Derek told Blake he didn’t need his services as Kalinda beat him to the punch.  Wendy Scott-Carr has a short meeting with Peter, where she flatly turns down his offer to run with her, claiming that she wants to clean up the corruption.  Eli runs around and is completely unapologetic about his moral ambiguity.  A good hour of TV, and one that whets my appetite for more.

And some final thoughts:

-This episode was written and shot long before Clarence Thomas’ wife called Anita Hill and asked for an apology, but that phone call at the end from Mrs. Kent (bringing a whole new level to the term “good wife” when she stated that it didn’t matter to her if the accusation was true) asking Diane to drop the case couldn’t help but appear extra-topical because of it.  And while we’re on the subject of Diane, the episode offered a really nice showcase for Christine Baranski, who has been under-used thus far this season.

-Natalie Knepp bears a strong resemblance to Amy Acker, who cannot be on TV enough.  And I’ll state again that I thought Knepp did a superb job with an extremely obtuse character, and managed to display real emotion when clearly being asked to be stoic.  She was like a little Alicia, a parallel drawn clearly in the final scene.

-I really liked the new colors brought to Cary in this episode.  It occurs, however, that if he’s going to be viewed as a major threat to Alicia and company, he’s going to have to eventually beat them in court.

-One note that rang incredibly false: I sincerely doubt that Steppenwolf, one of the premiere theater companies in the US, would agree to present a few scenes of their current production at a gala for lawyers.  Also, I sincerely doubt that they would put on a production so patently ridiculous as the one presented.  It was actually vaguely insulting.

-Lea Michele’s Dove commercial was, sadly, more entertaining than the extremely ill-conceived episode of Glee that aired earlier.  I happen to love Glee, but it just didn’t work.

-Anyone else notice that Alicia’s phone messages all said “Will” and “Grace.”  Ah, I miss that show.

-Line of the episode: “Because they think they know him and they don’t know you.”  The voice of experience.

-No new episode next week.  Must have something to do with some sports event that neither the Yankees or the Phillies will be participating in.  That warms this disgruntled Met fan’s heart.