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The Good Wife Recap: Poisoned Pill


Holy Alex P. Keaton Alert!  Okay, sorry, just had to get that out.

Tonight was the much-hyped appearance of Michael J. Fox on The Good Wife, and since he was tied into the case-of-the-week, much of the time was spent there.  This was a classic “evil pharmaceutical company distributes unsafe drugs” set-up, but the show managed to give it a few unexpected twists and turns on the way, building to an extremely satisfying and dark conclusion.  When Diane and Alicia walk into the courtroom, they are expecting to walk out with an easy win and a huge settlement only to be blind-sided by Fox’s Louis Canning, an attorney who is not above using his neurological condition to sway the jury.  Both sides get down in the gutter and use any weapon at their disposal to win the case; after all the truth, as Will says, is boring.  Diane and Alicia finally get the better of it, and gain a settlement of $35 million and the satisfaction of having done something good for the world.  That is, until Canning enters their celebratory party and smugly informs Alicia that his employer was hoping for him to get the settlement down to only $50 million…after all, they were afraid of a total of $90 million.  Alicia’s triumphant grin drains off of her face, and the audience is abruptly reminded that nothing is pure on The Good Wife, whether it be characters or victories.

Elsewhere, Eli continues to deal with the force of nature that is Wendy Scott-Carr on the campaign trail.  One of his investigators finds out that Carr had a breast augmentation; knowing that Peter won’t allow him to use the information against his opponent (funny how Peter is the moral center in that pairing), Eli cleverly leaks the information to the Childs campaign.  Before you can say “” there’s an animated video making the rounds on the internet, with lyrics so ridiculous you know the writers were having an attack of the giggles while putting it together.

(to the tune of “Yankee Doodle-Dandy”)

Wendy Scott-Carr went to town,
Just to buy a boob job
Stuck some tissues in her bra
And called it “a personal matter…completely irrelevant to my job”
Wendy Scott-Carr’s double D
Wendy is fantastic
Wendy cares for all the poor
But Wendy now is plastic!
(an animated Wendy Scott-Carr inflates her breasts to such a size that they explode.)

As far as twists go this wasn’t The Good Wife’s best, simply because I saw it coming: Wendy had cosmetic surgery after under-going a double mastectomy to combat breast cancer.  Eli continues to pull his hair out at her seeming perfection, while Alicia’s daughter Grace seems to be enamored of the candidate and her promises to end corruption; again I say, this time to Grace, nothing is pure on The Good Wife.  The Florrick children have been on the sidelines for much of this season, but Grace has steadily been building towards open rebellion from her polished political roots.  I look forward to seeing where the writers take her.

However, the most character development for this episode has to go to Kalinda.  Rattled by Blake’s continued investigations into her past, she tries to find the leak and winds up at the office of Public Defender Donna Seabrook (played by the always welcome Lili Taylor).  Finally, we have a tiny window into Kalinda’s past: we don’t know if she’s gay or bisexual or pansexual or whatever, but we do know that she had a romantic relationship with Donna in the past, one that I would say neither woman is fully recovered from.  While Donna denies being the leak to Blake, she resents that Kalinda would call her up to “keep her in line.”  She first takes her down with the kind of icy speech that any dumped person has rehearsed in their head, and then later refuses Kalinda’s seduction because Kalinda refuses to commit to anything other than that moment in time.  Donna kisses Kalinda passionately…and then shows up at the firm’s victory party on Blake’s arm.

Kalinda, who has received information from Cary (loving their friendly relationship, by the way) that Blake was involved with a gang of meth dealers in DC, is clearly worried for her former flame.  It’s becoming clear that Blake is not in control the way that Kalinda is…it’s implied that he may have hospitalized a key prosecution witness while pretending to burglarize his office.  Couple that with the way he destroyed the apartment he investigated in the last episode, and Blake is clearly not someone concerned with a job cleanly finished.  Kalinda tries to take Donna home, but Donna rebuffs her, snarling “you’re not connected to me anymore, and I’m not connected to you.”

Just when you think the tapestry of this show can’t support another character, the writers give you someone like Donna.  Already I think the pairing of her with Kalinda shows more spark and energy than anything Blake has managed to conjure up.  The audience automatically cares about her, because it’s clear that Kalinda (who we haven’t known to care much about anyone except Alicia and possibly Cary) cares about her.  And Donna is placed unknowingly into danger, by using her connection to the unstable Blake to lash out at her ex.  Beautifully done.

And a few closing points:

– I love Entertainment Weekly, but in their magazine last week they had an entire article about how fantastic the pairing of Scott Porter and Archie Panjabi has been this season.  Frankly, I don’t get it; if I was to point out one weak point in this thus-far stellar season if would be Porter’s lackluster performance.  He simply doesn’t make me believe that Blake is a real threat to Kalinda, because he comes off as a pretty boy trying to be a bad-ass.  I’ve liked him in past performances, so I frankly think that this is just a case of serious miscasting .  Is anyone else feeling the heat that I’m missing?

– Cary claims that the SA’s office is “pure.”  Again I say, this time to Cary, nothing is pure on The Good Wife.

– “Of course she has perfect pitch.”

– There were some real red herrings in that case tonight: the step-father’s abuse of his step-daughter, the affair with the co-worker and the step-daughters strongly displayed Christianity all ended up…not really affecting the case at all.  They were just different weapons used to color the facts.

– There was a small seed planted about Wendy Scott-Carr: she has a white husband.  Eli quickly dismissed using the interracial relationship against her, but I wonder if it will come up again.

– “Are you masturbating right now?  Don’t do that.”

– “What are you doing tonight?”  “Anything you want, Mr. Gardner.”  There is absolutely no way the writers, Josh Charles and Scott Porter didn’t know how homoerotic that sounded.  Particularly given how much eye-liner Porter was sporting in the scene.

– I’m guessing that’s the first time the phrase “anal intercourse” was used on CBS?