Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Good Wife brings back its past in order to move forward

Illustration for article titled The Good Wife brings back its past in order to move forward
TV ReviewsAll of our TV reviews in one convenient place.

And just like that, the wiretap boys are back. When Lucca and Alicia take on a case that ends up leading back to the NSA, where three-hops are still going strong. “Lies” taps into the sprawling universe of The Good Wife and does so in a way that’s fluid and balanced. There are many moving parts to “Lies,” which manages to throw the voter fraud scandal, Louis Canning, the NSA, Jason’s past, and even a reference to Will Gardner all into the pot and yet never feels too busy. It’s a heavily serialized episode relying on a lot of the past, but it still moves the story forward and uncovers new truths as old lies continue to unspool.

Lucca and Alicia’s case this week, unfortunately, is one of the weaker spots of the episode, but it is successful as a catalyst for bringing the NSA back into the picture. Since season five, The Good Wife has gone after the NSA quite hard. The NSA is portrayed as a real, dangerous threat on the show, but it’s also given a human face, which makes it all the scarier even if those faces do belong to seemingly innocuous boys who treat the NSA headquarters as their playground. The NSA guys have strange layers to them. They’re part audience surrogates, as wrapped up in the drama of Alicia Florrick’s life as if they’re watching a primetime soap on CBS. They’re also part comedic relief with their obsession with goat videos and general geekiness. The NSA storylines on this show have always had humor to them, but it’s humor that turns dark pretty quickly every time as it becomes more and more clear just how easy it is for the NSA to operate outside of the law. But the NSA also fits perfectly within one of the show’s ongoing themes: paranoia.

“Lies” certainly relies significantly on the past and the show’s serialized narratives, and it’s all wrapped around this feeling of paranoia, which the episode hits particularly hard in all of its beats. Alicia and Lucca are so paranoid about Jason that they’re literally investigating their investigator. Eli and Ruth continue to circle each other like hawks. And they all have good fucking reasons not to trust each other, because, as the title of this episode reflects, lies abound on The Good Wife. The characters lie to themselves and each other constantly. Some of these lies have immediate consequences, and some launch a more spread out chain of events, as is the case for the voter fraud scandal.

Now, I was never really a fan of the scandal that ended Alicia’s State’s Attorney career. It seemed, at the time, like a convenient way to just kill a storyline that wasn’t totally working. It does technically fit in with the show’s overall cynical tone about politics, but it just wasn’t executed well. But “Lies” reveals that it was Peter who rigged the election, a move he supposedly did in order to help Alicia, but then, as Eli points out, he hung her out to dry. I don’t think The Good Wife necessarily had to bring the voter fraud storyline back to this season, but at the same time, this could lead to some very strong payoff in the form of character drama, one of The Good Wife’s greatest strengths. The rigged election suddenly has an even more personal element to it. And the revelation comes in the same episode where Alicia also starts connecting with Peter again in a real way that isn’t just for the cameras. It’s gutting.

And in an interesting turn of events, Lockhart, Agos, & Lee actually has the best storyline of the episode, one that serves as a culmination of some of the problems the firm has been struggling with this season. Cary has made it quite clear since the season premiere that the firm is out of touch with reality, refusing to move forward and embrace new ideas. In this episode, he becomes part of the problem. All four members of the hiring committee—Diane Lockart, Cary, David Lee, and Howard Lyman—take turns interviewing Monica Timmons, and the interview round robin quickly becomes a round robin of racial microaggressions.

The coded language spans from subtle (Diane) to explicit (Howard), but the writing acknowledges that it doesn’t matter how overt or covert their comments are. It’s all racist language, and it all contributes to Lockhart, Agos, & Lee’s work culture, which significantly favors people who look like Cary Agos, something Diane herself acknowledges even though she, too, is part of the problem. The characters are so blinded by their own privilege, so certain that they’re on the side of justice in all matters in and out of the courtroom that they can’t see that they’re reinforcing the very problem they claim to want to fix.


Diane, crucially, doesn’t come off as some hero in this episode because she wants to hire Monica. The scene between her and Monica when she tells her she didn’t get the job makes sure of that. The scene succeeds because it’s rooted in Monica’s point of view, allows her to talk and express exactly how she feels instead of letting Diane speak. The episode is well written overall, but all of Monica’s scene have particular power to them, the dialogue so realistic that it makes for a very compelling arc within the episode and one that hopefully will grow into something bigger as the season progresses because, let’s be real, it has a lot more bite to it than Peter’s sham of a presidential campaign.

Stray observations

  • I’m not really sure where all this Jason stuff is headed, but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is doing a great job of being charming and yet unsettling all at once.
  • It’s probably too soon to call season seven the Season Of Nora, but I am tempted to do so anyway. Mad props to Nora for mastering the art of lurking in Eli’s tiny office.
  • Eli’s slow but targeted takedown of Peter Florrick is simply the best. Like Nora says, he’s a mad scientist. I hope he finds the perfect ingredients to poison Peter once and for all.
  • Zach Woods doesn’t even have to say that much to be hilarious.
  • Diane wears a particularly stunning Diane Chain.