Well, they can’t all be winners.  Before I continue this, allow me to say that a mediocre episode of The Good Wife is still 95% better than most television shows out there.  However, since the show is so consistently excellent, whenever a single hour slips even slightly the strain is visible.

Such was the case with tonight’s episode, which had some interesting sub-plots going on but unfortunately saddled itself with Alicia having to defend a troubled pop-star at first from a DUI charge and then from an attempted murder rap.  Ripped-from-the-headlines cases are always tricky business: the audience wants to see justice served as if the fictitious character was the actual player in real life, and the writers have to throw in some juicy twists and turns that the viewers don’t see coming despite already having made their minds up about the outcome.  The Good Wife has had success with this kind of thing in the past by creating characters that the audience cares about outside of their association with a real-life counterpart; Lara, the assaulted LMT from a few weeks ago springs immediately to mind.  Unfortunately, this time the show fails to create a portrait outside of what is expected: Sloane is a pop-star.  Sloane’s parents are heartless and concerned about money in their divorce.  Sloane is actually a good girl who just needs to be loved.  Sloane is trying to get out from under her virginal Disney image.  Sloane tweets in court.  Sloane is every Britney-Lindsay-Paris cliche all rolled into one young misunderstood teenage millionaire with a heart of gold. And on top of all this, most of the dialogue given to the younger actors sounded like an adult writing the way that he or she thinks kids talk, which was surprising on a show which boasts some of the best repartee on the air right now.

However, onward.  While Alicia was dealing with her young charge, Peter’s campaign was hitting a major road bump: the Democratic Committee asked him to withdraw from the race.  They feel that a three person race means a Wendy Scott-Carr victory and are worried she’s a “loose cannon.”  In exchange for his bowing out, they offer him the lucrative position of Committee Chairman.  Peter consults Alicia on this, and she gives him permission to do what he pleases and pecks him on the cheek.  I only bring this up because I think it’s the first casual affection we’ve seen between the two; however, when Peter goes in for a more serious lip-lock, Alicia appeases him with another short peck on the lips.  Trouble is still brewing there, but it’s being subsumed by Alicia’s constant introversion (not that I’m complaining).

In desperation for his campaign, Peter turns to Eli for help.  Eli approaches Pastor Isaiah, Peter’s “spiritual guide” from last season to ask for his endorsement, knowing that an African-American religious leader could be what it takes for Peter to become a threat to Wendy Scott-Carr.  However, his rival is making moves of her own: after Eli’s talk with the pastor, we see Wendy approach first Eli to offer him a job on her campaign when Peter falls, and to Pastor Isaiah to ask for her own endorsement.  The Pastor does not respond well to her, feeling that she put politics before religion, and gives Peter his support; however, the board of his church does not agree with him and he is removed from his position in favor of his own father.

The political maneuvering on this show is usually one of my favorite parts, and while this was entertaining I didn’t feel like it was the best I’ve seen from The Good Wife.  Most of it felt a little out-of-left-field, and I wasn’t ever convinced that Eli would ever actually leave Peter.  However, the final shot of Wendy climbing into her car when Eli turns down her job offer and tells her Pastor Isaiah endorsed Peter was a wonderful moment.  For the first time, the character seems vulnerable, and you can see the gears turning in her head.  Could she have been responsible for the removal of the pastor from his post?

Finally, we have the ongoing squabble between Diane, Will and Derek.  It all spins out from the welcome return of David Lee (played by the fantastic Zach Grenier), the irreverent head of the law firm’s divorce department.  Derek wants to impose a system of peer reviews throughout Lockhart, Gardner & Bond, a practice that David greets with (in my opinion appropriate) scorn.  When Derek turns to Will for help, Will tells him that David’s team makes money and he should be kept happy.  However, when the two turn to Diane for the deciding vote she sides with Derek, tacitly reminding Will that there are consequences for his betrayal a few weeks back.  David flatly refuses to allow his team to participate and threatens Derek’s job if he doesn’t comply; it’s a testimony to just how much money the divorce department is making that he can do this without instant retaliation.

While this seems at first to be a small workplace spat, we leave the story-line with Diane taking meetings with David behind closed doors as Will and Derek suspiciously look on.  In the other office, Derek brings up the idea of buying Diane out, and tells Will that he has something big coming from Washington and he wants to partner with Will, and only Will, on it.  This was the smallest story-line of the night but the one the held my interest the most.  I think the David Lee character is hilarious, and I love that he’s being set-up to have a larger role in the conflict between the partners.  Also, this will give Diane and Will a little more to do, as both have seem to have been more involved in the court cases than the personal drama this season.  As I said, this wasn’t my favorite episode of The Good Wife, but if it ultimately results in more screen time for Christine Baranski, I’ll forgive it it’s sins.

And some final points:

– I was prepared to roll my eyes at Miranda Cosgrove’s stunt-casting, but I actually think she did well for what she was given.  I still question why The Good Wife feels the need for stunt-casting, as it’s doing wonderfully in the ratings and I kind of doubt that Cosgrove’s fan base are allowed to stay up until 11 pm, let alone care about this show anyway.

– Far be it from me to criticize the great Kalinda but…Archie Panjabi’s accent was really off in that first scene.  The British was definitely showing through.

– Grace is only 14?  They might have to do a time jump on this show to keep those kids looking believable.

– The writers apparently feel, and I agree, that Wendy Scott-Carr is a character who should always be referred to by her full name.

Culture The Good Wife Recap: Bad Girls