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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Good Wife: "Foreign Affairs"

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The election's finally over, folks! It's been going on for what feels like a season-and-a-half, and because of Broadway's That Championship Season, the series didn't even get to feature Chris Noth for Peter's big victory. Yes, that's right. You heard me, folks. Peter's our new State's Attorney! I know that only months ago I was predicting that he would simply have to lose because it just wouldn't make dramatic sense for him to be in office on the show. But if they get smart and sign Noth to a deal that stops him from being in plays and screwing up the schedule (or maybe he wants it this way, I don't know), I can really see it working.

Mostly, that's because of the idea of Cary sticking around in the office, which he brought up with Kalinda this episode. I was worried about what Cary would do next year (this is all predicated on the idea that Good Wife, which gets OK ratings but sub-par ones for CBS, will get a pickup, which it probably will, but you never know), because the idea of him as the perpetual winking antagonist was great for a season but would be less great in the long-run for one of the show's best characters. But it'd be a nice dramatic development for him to partner up with Peter in cases against Gardner/Lockhart and no longer have the fierce antagonism of Childs to juggle as well. They seem like a fun pairing. Plus, it means the show can stop from restoring the status quo, and it's always nice to see network shows do that.


So, Peter's our winner, by what the TV pundits kept calling a "slight, but consistent lead." Sorry, guys, but a 60-40 victory is way more than slight; it's a blowout. We're led to believe that Alicia's interview is what sealed the deal, which is fairly believable; while the thing we see onscreen isn't that exciting, Will, Eli, and Kalinda's glowing faces as they watch it are, and Alicia's performance in private with Eli, where she chokes up about her kids, is a well-played moment by Margulies. Eli praises it as "emotional, but not too," and I don't know if we're supposed to think he thinks it was an act, but it's pretty clear to us at home that it wasn't. Margulies did a good job with her breakdown to end the episode, as she realizes the truth about Kalinda and Peter: more emotional, obviously, but still "not too."

Good episode, right, guys? Oh, wait. What's that I hear? Is it an outrageously bizarre case-of-the-week plot that blends a guest appearance by Fred Thompson as himself, a guest appearance by Hugo Chavez played in true George Steinbrenner-in-Seinfeld style from the neck down, ranting about Courtney Love, and an extremely complex plot about oil companies and nationalization that gets kinda whizzed by us because the network obviously feared the audience at home would not understand a word of it? Man, I thought the fake Aaron Sorkin was weird. I thought the guest appearance by Lou Dobbs was weird. This was network craziness on the level of my favorite berserk-shit American sitcom Unhappily Ever After.


It really did feel like, to distract us from what was a quite interesting, but quite complex, plot about a three-way lawsuit between two oil companies and the nation of Venezuela where everyone keeps switching sides, the show decided to throw in some truly wacky comedy. I'm not going to wade into a political discussion about the vaudevillian monologues given via satellite by Chavez, because it's hard to know how political the show was trying to be. After all, there was some more serious stuff about human rights abuses, laws being changed willy-nilly and families afraid of retribution in Venezuela mixed in there too. But when you throw that together with the wacky monologues (seriously, what was that thing about Courtney Love?), it's hard to take even the serious part seriously.

It also felt like yet another joke was being played on Mr. Thompson, one he had to have been in on, because the idea of him serving as an attorney on behalf of the Venezuelan government is also extremely absurd. Still, he's always been a fairly charismatic actor if nothing else, and he seemed game for the gag, and it was funny seeing him match wits with Ana Gasteyer, the "in your opinion" federal judge. But the whole thing was just SO WEIRD! Were we really supposed to believe that Chavez had hired Thompson simply because he was a huge Law & Order fan? Because he kept calling him "the DA" (and at one point asked him to call Sean Penn… why the fuck would Fred Thompson call Sean Penn?), as if he's so moronic as to not know the difference between TV and reality. The whole thing was funny, but just too weird to really understand.


Oh well. Back to the good stuff. I liked that Eli and Alicia's relationship was front-and-center in this episode. Eli and Peter's relationship is important, too, but it's also simpler; Eli and Alicia have more of an understanding, and Eli's grins at mentions of her political skill were an obvious indicator for that. I don't want The Good Wife turning into a show about Alicia running for office, but it was nice to see them acknowledge what every pundit in the show's universe would be acknowledging at that moment. As for the idea of Peter running for Senate, it's tougher to buy. I can just about believe that the citizens of Chicago would vote for a man who had been in jail a year ago for sleeping with prostitutes because he was the city's guy, and he had a compelling story, and blah blah blah. But he's surely too damaged to run at a statewide level for a national office. And obviously, I don't want the show repeating itself too much. Eli obviously must stick around, but I hope the writers find a better use for him than that.

And what about Kalinda's big secret? I'm glad it's out of the bag this early, because I was getting sick of her reaction shots every time Alicia approached her. I just hope it gets resolved well. Driving a wedge between Alicia and Peter is fine; tension is good for that relationship. If it drives her to Will, well, that'll probably be more problematic, but let's see how it goes. Tension between her and Kalinda will be tougher; I don't really want too much emotion from everyone's favorite investigator. And if Blake returns, obviously, I'll just have to go ahead and throw up. We'll see. The election is over, the secret is out, and there are three more Good Wife episodes left (all airing next month). Let's see what they do with them.


Stray observations:

  • Nice to see Natalie again, too bad she's getting written out (but America Ferrera could easily return next year). But what the hell was up with her weird boyfriend?
  • Chavez renamed the oil company "The Love, Drilling, and Oil Company."
  • "Where is her Academy Award? DONDE?"
  • Eli gets a final eye-roll in at that amateur from the DCC. AMATEUR!
  • "I think she's fantastic." "I think she just won him the election." "Probably." "You should tell her how fantastic she is." "She knows." "You should tell her. People like to be told."

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