First, I want to extend my thanks to fellow TGW lover and awesomeface Noel Murray for his great work last week. He had a really great episode on his hands there — Alicia's confrontation with Peter was powerful stuff, more powerful than I had expected it to be. But the real action, I was sure, would come when she talked to Kalinda, which was the main event this week. For the most part, that didn't disappoint either, although maybe Kalinda had one freakout too many (We get it! Her mask is slipping!). But it was in an unfocused episode with a somewhat baffling legal plot that just got out of hand — although Sarah Silverman's perfectly fine guest performance had nothing to do with it.
The idea was clever enough — that Silverman's character Stephanie ran an Ashley Madison-style site for people looking to cheat on their spouses. A perfectly topical subject seeing as those sites' notoriety is pretty recent, and it slid in well with everything that's roiling Alicia's mind. But the story never really linked up too well — the one conversation Alicia had about fidelity with Stephanie was forced, and the slightly mocking conclusion where Stephanie was turned on by her husband being so jealous that he murdered someone she had slept with was tone-deaf. Really, making the whole thing a murder case was a problem. I know that's what these guys deal with, but the casual way in which Stephanie suddenly turned into a murder suspect, and Nancy's (Mamie Gummer returns!) general ditz-act just didn't gel for me.
But Alicia's dressing-down of Kalinda worked fine. Margulies, who was more calm and focused in her anger when she confronted Peter, was right to play her interaction with Kalinda more emotionally — the anger's still there, but the sense of betrayal is much more surprising, and affects her much more deeply. I was a little less excited about Kalinda's whole "I'm going to leave the firm!" reaction, but I understand why they did it. It always feels like a cheap writer's ploy when a show plays around like this, because we know Kalinda isn't going anywhere. She's not like Cary — she only works as a character when she's in the firm.
But her deciding to leave is the most rational thing to do, and running is certainly something Kalinda is used to. So to show us a compelling-ish reason why she'd decide to stay (both that her other job offer just lands her with Peter, and that she gets a rush out of doing her job for Lockhart/Gardner) makes sense. But it was a little tiresome to watch. How did Archie Panjabi do? She did good, but we didn't need to see Kalinda sobbing in the elevator AND sweeping shit off her desk and yelling. She's losing her cool, we get it. The crying is earned, but since we already know Kalinda's feelings are genuine, there's not much impact for the audience. The anger is a side we see even less of and honestly, was somewhat welcome. Because Peter's behavior in sleeping with her, still mostly unexplored, is so creepy that it needs more attention. Hopefully when the dust settles we'll get some.
Alicia's showdown with Jackie was more fun, and showed an even blunter side of Alicia that was very welcome, especially in the face of Jackie's genteel act. Alicia was all over the place this week — starting out sort of mousey and meek when talking to David Lee, tough but fair with Stephanie, nasty and almost petulant with Kalinda and Jackie. I'm fine seeing her play hardball but I don't see her having a nervous breakdown over this. Her relationship with every character is too interesting, and to use this revelation of Peter's one-night-stand to just detonate every single one (she's mad at Kalinda, she sleeps with Will, etc.) would be a little cheap. Margulies is doing a good job with this material, which is bigger than she usually plays Alicia, but I'd like to see a return to the cooler, calmer Alicia before the season is out.
Unfortunately, I don't know if we'll get to have that seeing as the season finale is around the corner and I'm sure Alicia's relationship with Will is going to be a big part of it. Ever since Peter's election finished, we've had no political subplot to balance the case of the week and the more personal arcs. Last week's episode was so rapidly-paced (and featured Chris Noth and Alan Cumming) so you didn't even notice it, but in an episode like this one, you keep wanting them to cut to Eli yelling or Childs scheming or what have you. Obviously there's some material with Cary at the SA's office, and that's usually good, but it's now obvious that this show went from good to great when it really started focusing on the political stuff as well. We'll see what the Kings have up their sleeves for future seasons (assuming, as I am, that they get them) to keep things interesting. My guess is they have some ideas.
So, season finale next week! Even though there have been a couple of speed bumps in the last month or two, The Good Wife is still the best network drama on TV by my money and it's improved by leaps and bounds this season after a strong season one. Still, let's see how I feel next week.
John Pankow of Mad About You and Episodes was the guest judge this week. He had little to do but cast sideways glances at sexy pictures, which he did fine.
"The severed member was found in the ice bucket…probably a joke to be made about shrinkage, but I won't go there." "I think you just did."
Always nice to see David Lee, striking the right balance of sympathetic and businesslike with Alicia, down to him billing her for an hour's work. "I round up."
"Men masturbate to the thought of you, it's almost an honor when you think of it."
One problem with the big twist this week was I barely remembered what the husband's face looked like, so I didn't immediately get that that was him on the Fresno newspaper website. What an odd case.
The revelation that Nancy had talked to Cary via the hearts she drew on his legal pad was brilliant.
"It's time for me to go." "What are you, a Dylan song?"
Jackie's reference to what happened in Alicia's house is about her thinking Grace is a lesbian, right?
Nancy's face when she loses, as Will notes, is just priceless.