Closing Arguments

Having established Michael J. Fox’s lawyer Louis Canning in an earlier episode as a wily, cynical man, The Good Wife this week did what it does best: It added complexity, ambiguity, and new details to make a character richly surprising.

Oh, and Derrick Bond tried to confound, enrich, and screw over the Lockhart, Gardner firm, and emerged as a full-fledged villain… or is he? With The Good Wife, ya never know.

The Alicia vs. Fox/Canning case involved a pesticide company accused of negligence. It was nice to see Alicia in a different setting — going door to door in a housing development, trying to get people to sign on to a class-action suit involving women who’d been left barren as a result of exposure to the company’s chemicals. While we now know enough about the ways of The Good Wife to immediately suspect why Alicia needed the assistance of a woman we haven’t seen in getting those signatures (and indeed, she proved to be “the mole”), it in no way spoiled the pleasure of watching Alicia trying to work her charm. One of the character flaws that makes Alicia interesting is that she truly is a career woman as well as a wife and a mom, and when she’s on the clock she maintains a frosty reserve that in this case could have worked to her disadvantage in trying to sweet-talk the class-action suit.

And, of course, the contrast to Alicia was Canning, who completely charmed and guilted the not-so-desperate housewives he was counter-courting. As he did when he was first introduced on the show, Canning used his neurological disorder for both sympathy and laughs. This time out, the series added an extra layer to his character: We met his charming wife and children, and the novel notion that Canning might be using his wiles for good, not merely money, was introduced. Fox turned in another marvelous performance, turning his usually charming, expressive face into a mask of inscrutability. (And I add a shout-out to Denis O’Hare, returning as the fussily precise, unpredictable Judge Abernathy.)

Fox was not the week’s only guest star: Method Man turned up as a prison buddy of Peter’s. This was an example of the way Chris Noth’s Law & Order roots showed, to good effect — Peter’s a guy’s-guy, it was believable that he would have become friendly-with-legal-advice with Method Man’s ex-con. And using a jail connection as a campaign tool? Again, totally believable in The Good Wife universe, where Peter’s suddenly-broke campaign needs to use every trick it can.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the use of campaign enthusiast Neil Howard Sloan-Jacob — bonus points for giving a minor character such a long name — and his grassroots-gonzo, internet-viral ads for Peter, as well as the smooth was Eli co-opted the shrewd naif for the Florrick cause. (Anyone besides me wondering whether Sloan-Jacob will prove to be a “trojan horse” — to use the phrase employed to describe Canning this week — in a subsequent episode?)

As for Derrick Bond — I’m finding him an enigma wrapped in corruption shrouded in a riddle of obliviousness. Last week, he was bringing in a drug lord, this week a “super-PAC” worth $125 million for the firm? He’s a super-achiever with boundary issues, which were neatly exposed when the script so adroitly tied his deviousness to the Alicia/Canning case.

Oh, and about Will and his girlfriend Tammy: At first I was irritated by her “I’m going to date a soccer player”/”There was no soccer player” coyness, feeling that Elizabeth Reaser was coming close to being used as a ditzy pawn in The Good Wife chess game. But then I realized that this was precisely the kind of game a person like Tammy would play with her boyfriend. It’s just that Tammy is misjudging how much game-playing a gruff guy like Will is going to put up with. (That’s why he’s always drawn back to Alicia: No game-playing there, baby — it’s all-in for nothing when it comes to our gal.)

And finally: Alicia and Peter in bed! Giggling! That door Alicia left open last week was surely closed this week, lest the kids overhear them…

Twitter: @kentucker

Episode Recaps

Closing Arguments
The Good Wife

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

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