The Good Wife recap: Whine and Cheese
This season of The Good Wife has felt like preparing a fondue: You have to take the time to slice the pieces you’re going to dip into the simmering pot and trust that when you’re ready to whip out the skewers and dine, it will be delicious and worth the wait. It’s fitting then that the episode that (fingers crossed) finally put all the players in place for this season to catch fire was one involving cheese.
Before we get into Eli’s dairy problem, let’s dig into how Will’s getting burned. Kalinda told him Peter was backing off the investigation because of his conflict of interest, and with the more reasonable Cary in charge of it, Will had dodged a bullet. Dana called Kalinda and told her she needed a meeting with Diane — even though the investigation was winding down — and promised she’d tell her when things started heating up again. That was now. Peter hadn’t recused himself to back off, he’d done it so he could bring on a special prosecutor, Wendy Scott-Carr, whose slow, deliberate, self-righteous way of speaking will annoy the crap out of Will (and Diane) if nothing else.
Wendy told Cary and Dana that Peter had given her full autonomy to set objectives, and that after looking at the evidence, she decided they were no longer going to use Will taking that $45,000 from a client’s account 15 years ago to settle a gambling debt to get to drug kingpin Lemond Bishop. They’re going after Will himself for his alleged role as the nexus of a judicial bribery scheme. Cary seemed less eager than Dana to change directives at first, but then he appeared fully on board. We all think of Kalinda as being the show’s most mysterious character, but Cary is giving her a run for her money these days. We’ve been waiting for him to turn pure evil since he went to the state’s attorney’s office, and he hasn’t. He’s playing a sharper game, but he hasn’t let revenge alone rule him. Just when you think he’s turning soft (like kissing Kalinda last week) or hard (going after Will), he does something to keep the doubt in your mind (like walking away from Kalinda or raising the question of mission creep with Wendy). It feels like Cary’s move to the state’s attorney’s office is finally paying off for the character and Matt Czuchry, who gets to play in that gray area.
Over shots, Dana give Kalinda the update that they’re going after Will for
banging bribing judges. Dana thinks she’s cultivating that relationship by getting drunk and telling Kalinda that she can’t seduce her. Kalinda said she doesn’t want to — Dana’s too easy. Ha. That little back-and-forth wasn’t as sexy as it should have been because it feels like Kalinda knows Dana is taking a page out of her own playbook. Dana said she doesn’t get sex without a penis — it’s like baseball without the bat. “When you get a woman excited, it’s not like a man,” Kalinda explained. “It’s not aggressive. It’s slow, suspenseful.” Dana stumbled trying to stand up, and Kalinda caught her. Again, not all that sexy, but it was enough to make you wonder, for a second, who Dana was doing the heavy breathing with in bed when we cut to her saying, “I said it would take more than just a few shots to get me into bed.” It was Cary, who wanted to know what had sealed the deal then. Dana said it was when she asked Kalinda what it was like to make love to a woman, and she said when a woman gets excited, you can feel it. “She wanted to touch you?” Cary asked. “Uh-huh. She wanted me like this,” Dana answered, initiating another round. Embellish much? Dana thinks both Cary and Kalinda are using her to hurt each other, but I think Dana is using Kalinda to turn Cary on (that conversation was the closest we’ll get to a three-way) and hoping to throw them each off their game enough to keep them from helping each other out. (Showing up in a leather jacket by Kalinda’s preferred label?) Dana can’t really just be into Cary, right? I don’t trust her. Though I do appreciate her sticking her gum under the chair Cary told her he was sitting in at Lockhart & Gardner when he was waiting to get fired.
NEXT: Wendy and Diane fire their first shots, Will and Alicia report to military court
When Wendy had her meeting with Diane, we learned that Will is being accused of using his Wednesday night pickup basketball game to introduce judges to bookies. When the judges get into bigger bets and lose, the bookies forgive their debts in exchange for lighter sentences for Will’s clients. I love that Diane was having none of Wendy. Wendy said she couldn’t be a defense lawyer because she doesn’t like guilty people — not that she’s saying Diane does. “Oh no, I do. I love them. That’s why I work here,” Diane cracked. Diane knows prosecutors tend to treat accusations as fact, but Wendy said not to worry, they know Diane’s hands are clean. “How do we know that?” Diane asked. It was like watching Drago get cut in Rocky IV, Wendy’s façade cracked. “You’re right. We don’t know your hands are clean. You can demonstrate your hands are clean by talking with us,” she said. This is going to be good.
Diane met Will at the office elevator, and I couldn’t help but think of that hotel elevator that started Will and Alicia’s affair. She took him outside — Lockhart & Gardner needs a secure conference room before winter hits Chicago, people. She told him about the investigation, which he assumed was the one to get to Bishop that was supposed to go away. No, Diane said, Wendy was just in her office trying to turn her against him, and they think they have him on judicial bribery. Will said it isn’t true, and Diane said of course it isn’t. But it doesn’t matter. She won’t let the firm go down because of a fishing expedition. Will needs to make it go away. He needs to stop sleeping with Alicia, because that’s why Peter is coming after him and it’s wrong. Will is her boss, and Peter is the state’s attorney — even if it’s not wrong, it’s not smart. “Stop sleeping with his wife. Do you understand me?” Needless to say, Will took a punch at the building as Diane walked away.
Right now, my main concern is that Will hasn’t told Alicia what’s going on with Peter. He may think he’s protecting her from the stress, or that he can get out of it somehow before it becomes news, but Alicia does not need to hear about this from someone else. Granted, Will and Alicia did have their hands full this episode, helping Capt. Terrence Hicks (recurring guest star Patrick Breen) in military court again. This time, they represented a female drone operator (Pepper Binkley) facing murder charges for disobeying a last-minute order to abort a strike. She fired missiles at a target in Afghanistan and killed 12 unarmed citizens — including six children, who burned to death.
Aside from the judge (recurring guest star Linda Emond) busting Will for talking to Alicia and him choosing to repeat aloud what he was saying to her both times when the judge asked him to — “Are there any other judges in the military?” and “You take it, she hates me” — the mood on that case was appropriately somber. A lot of questions were raised: If there are enough civilian casualties that they may or may not be nicknamed “squirters,” why then is this woman, who’s considered a soldier in battle even if she’s outside Vegas, the only drone operator to be accused of murder when there have been other accidents? Is it because the pilot working with her doesn’t believe women can take orders (something he’d stated in an online petition), so she must have ignored the orders to stand down? Is it because she was on a stimulant that made her jump the gun? Or was there a delay in the transmission that said the kill chain algorithm had determined the target did not outweigh the number of potential civilian deaths, as the accused argued? Even if there wasn’t a delay, if military personnel are widely known to take a prescription stimulant to combat the exhaustion of shift work — and no one cares enough to do anything about the people in the unit passing out pills or taking them without a prescription — isn’t that saying everyone is okay with the risk and consequences of soldiers being overstimulated? (Will’s proud smile when Alicia nailed the accused’s roommate, who’d supplied her with the pills, made me think that cross-examination might have turned him on enough for us to get a sex scene, but alas, we didn’t.)
In the end, the accused was found guilty on all counts. Alicia waited for the judge and told her the woman had been made a scapegoat for an inaccurate drone program because she was a woman. The judge said women in the armed forces don’t ever want that sexism defense, and in this case, it wasn’t true: The woman went to work incapacitated by drugs, and 12 people were killed, including those six children that Alicia hadn’t asked one word about. This woman may just be pushing the buttons, but those children are dead and they did nothing wrong. The soldier will serve time for that. The problem with the charge of scapegoating, the judge said, is that it doesn’t acknowledge that at a certain point you have to hold people accountable for their actions. That’s what happened.
Alicia walked out slowly, and you knew what she was thinking: Even if Peter’s infidelity meant he was okay with the collateral damage it could do to his innocent kids, and Alicia should have the same “it was a mistake” out that he had, she won’t because she’s a woman. But that doesn’t matter, because the fact is, she should be held accountable for the children she hurts when she undoes those buttons (as should Will, since he received a direct order from Diane to stop it). In the wake of her earlier run-in with Jackie, it will be interesting to see if Alicia wants to put the brakes on her and Will now or not…
NEXT: Alicia vs. Jackie, Eli vs. Amy Sedaris
Let’s talk about Jackie: Alicia was using her work laptop and saw Jackie snooping around on her home laptop via webcam. She immediately changed the locks on the door and had Zach check her computer to see if files were opened (I guess Jackie couldn’t figure out how). She told the kids she and Peter were being good to each other as of late and she didn’t want Jackie screwing that up, so she was creating stronger boundaries. Zach put two-and-two together, and Alicia admitted she thinks Jackie wants sole custody of them to go to Peter. Was there anything on the computer, Grace asked. Alicia said no, but then acted strange. Maybe she was thinking of emails from Will, maybe she was just wondering why Jackie might think there could be emails on there from any man. Grace told Zach they have to watch Grandma. “She’s such a bitch,” she said. That’s the most I’ve liked Grace IN AGES!
The next time Jackie showed up to use her key, it didn’t work and Alicia was there to open the door. Alicia can’t control if Peter sends her to pick up the kids, but she can control her home. She told Jackie she doesn’t want her in it snooping around her belongings or on her computer. Jackie didn’t deny it. “You’re hurting your children,” Jackie said. Alicia said she might be, but it’s between her and them, and she’ll never take Jackie’s word for it. “They’re not safe with you,” Jackie said. Why, Jackie? Because Zach is dating Eli Gold’s daughter and they’ve been in Alicia’s bedroom, and Grace goes into her room with her tutor and puts a chair against the door because it doesn’t have a lock? Weak. “Look at me, Jackie. Look at my face,” Alicia said, flashing a Stepford smile. “You no longer have the power to wound.” “They’re your children. You need to be their mother,” Jackie said. After Alicia shut the door in her face, she told Zach to put on his coat — they’re buying him a car. (That might have been a rash decision, Alicia, but okay…)
Finally, we get to the cheese. Between last week’s Santa Claus photo scandal and this week’s battle of the food pyramid, it’s clear Eli’s storylines are the show’s comic relief. But I’m ready to see him figure seriously into office politics again. Maybe that was the purpose of him losing the all-important Cheese client (if it’s worth $4 to $5 million a year, it feels like it should be capitalized) and wallowing with Diane. Eli would be a good ally for Diane in the war against Will and Alicia’s relationship, which affects both the firm that Eli has trusted with his reputation (clients looking for an image boost don’t want to be associated with a firm under investigation) and whatever campaign he wants to run for Peter.
Together, Diane and Eli tried to convince the USDA to ask Congress to return to the food pyramid that doesn’t represent dairy in a glass (excuse me, a smaller circle). I found it difficult to believe that neither Eli nor Diane wouldn’t have had someone vet the 5th grade school teacher from Nebraska, who looked like Gisele Bündchen even in the glasses Eli stole off Diane’s face, for this big client. But I suppose supermodel isn’t the first thing you think of when you hear that occupation. Kalinda realized Eli had been played by Stacie Hall (guest star Amy Sedaris), who’d assured him the pyramid recommendation was a go, but took a job lobbying for the fruit council, which opposes it and naturally sends a nice fruit basket.
One of the things The Good Wife does so well is cast rivals that the audience could easily underestimate. We’re used to the regulars winning their cases on legal shows. But here’s Stacie Hall, with Sedaris’ pre-recorded yet cartoon-like voice and laugh that carries, proving a match for Eli. He met her at a restaurant — where he ordered both fruit and cheese plates — and tried to convince her that the fruit association should team up with the dairy guild against their mutual enemy [comedic pause], vegetables. He knew from her quick response — make a new diagram and show it to her — that she wasn’t really interested. He had to go to bread. He met with the American Corn Alliance (in a boardroom with a tasteful cob art installation in the center of the table) and argued that, “You, gentlemen, are a grain, you are not a vegetable.” If corn joined the dairy guild’s lobbying effort, corn would be at the heart of the new gingerbread man-style diagram. Stacie Hall was there, waiting in the wings. “When you’re done, Eli, you know what the polite thing is to do: get a shovel,” she said.
Showing us Eli’s insecurities and vulnerability is something else his storylines do this season, as we learned with his ex-wife. Cheese decided to leave Eli and go with Stacie Hall, even though she represents fruit and makes no sense. From Eli’s reaction, Diane had to wonder if men have so much success that the first setback makes them weepy. He wasn’t weepy, he was tired, Eli said. He doesn’t sleep. He stares at the clock. He doesn’t like losing because he’s always looking for when things start to turn south — and what if it’s now? Okay, so maybe Diane won’t bring up Will and Alicia’s relationship and the investigation right now. That was my favorite scene of the episode: When Diane told him he’s brilliant but not god’s gift and poured them each a tumbler of scotch. She said they’d wallow for a few hours (which we knew she needed, too), she’d put him in a cab, he wouldn’t feel well in the morning, he’d come in late, and they’d sit and talk and hatch a plan to make Stacie Hall rue the day she took on Eli Gold. “But, for the moment,” she said, they’ll just drink. Man, that scene made me miss the two colleagues I used to wallow with after work at a place that was usually so empty we called it “the affair bar.”
Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Will Alicia and Will press pause now? Is Wendy Scott-Carr going to be a bigger threat to Will than Peter? Who’s playing who in the Dana-Cary-Kalinda love triangle? How soon do you need for this fondue to be ready? And how do you think Grace getting kidnapped in two weeks (?!) will affect the taste? (I’m looking forward to seeing both an intense Peter again and how the Kings handle that kind of storyline, which tends to play melodramatic on other shows.)
RATE THIS EPISODE:
Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth star in the legal/family drama.