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October 05, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT

The Good Wife managed to squeeze a murder mystery, a sexy viral video, a military-court trial better than any ever presented on JAG, and Lou Dobbs into the mix … and did it before the opening credits. Jonathan Franzen could learn something about economical yet vivid storytelling from the Good Wife writing staff.

The agitatin’ immigration critic Dobbs played himself in Tuesday night’s episode, an old client of new firm partner Derrick Bond’s. The idea was that his politics clashed with those of Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart and her client, Democratic strategist Joe Trippi — Dobbs and Trippi nearly bumped into each other in the hall, and pretty soon, the firm had to decide which client was more valuable. The Good Wife somehow managed to make this no-brainer (Dobbs versus the guy who’s currently advising Jerry Brown in California??) a neat test of office loyalty, and reassured me that the addition of Michael Ealy’s Bond is a good idea, as long as Bond continues his haughty ways.

The evening was a fine one for another supporting player, Alan Cumming. His Eli Gold had some rare frantic moments, trying to tamp down renewed bad publicity involving Chris Noth’s Peter Florrick. This involved a sort of sex-scandal version of those “Obama Girl” videos, and seeing the normally cool Eli pulling his hair in frantic frustration was fun.

The week’s legal case put Alicia and Will in the new setting of a military court, and they found the different rules of the Judge Advocate General Corps perplexing — which is just what Matt Czuchry’s Cary wanted. The show found a way to bring us an Alicia vs. Cary courtroom scene as the climax of the hour in a satisfying twist.

Believing he’s been spurned by Alicia (a grave cell phone misunderstanding from last week), Will is now bent on bedding women with the alacrity of Don Draper. Or at least it seemed that way as he succumbed so quickly, almost despairingly, to a wiggly interviewer profiling him for the Chicago Law Review.

Ultimately, however, The Good Wife brought us around to our beloved Kalinda. Early on in the episode, her place as Alicia’s trusty investigator was taken by Scott Porter’s Blake, but by the end of the hour, she was doing some spadework for Diane, who wanted any dirt that could be dug up on Bond — and if it involved Derrick and Will, so much the better. Kalinda got to utter the night’s cliff-hanger line: “So you don’t want to know what I found out?”

Oh, we do, we do, don’t we?

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Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth star in the legal/family drama.
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