“Gloves Come Off” S3 / E19
- B+ Community Grade
One major upside of Will’s suspension arc is that The Good Wife has been having a lot of fun with Diane in recent episodes. We got to see several sides of the lovely Ms. Lockhart today, as she worked at keeping Will out of trouble while relying on his counsel; tried to keep the increasingly snarly David, Eli, and Julius from ripping out each other’s throats; headed off Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), who tried to poach Alicia from the firm; and successfully juggled two romantic interests (Gary Cole and Bryan Brown).
“Gloves Come Off” was slightly hampered by the lack of a really compelling case to center it—the firm’s fight with a snowmobile operator and the (never-named) NHL was designed as a tricky maze of legal maneuvering that ends with a whimper. It’s a wrongful-death suit that turns into an indictment of the NHL’s tacit approval of fighting in hockey, that all turns out to be a shell game for Canning to try and take down a bigger class-action suit headed up by Fred Dalton Thompson. Thompson is the latest political figure to appear on the show, but he wasn’t playing himself, just a thinly-veiled version: a lawyer turned actor (in real life, he’s a lawyer turned actor turned politician… turned actor). He was just there to drawl a few lines, but that’s what Thompson’s good at, so he did fine.
Canning’s presence this week was not so much to try and befuddle Alicia with every trick in the book like he usually does. He’s there to offer her a job, with a pay raise that would help her buy her old house (or one like it) and a bonus for the down payment. Alicia’s wise enough to know that poached lawyers are often not trusted at her next firm, but given everything on her plate (school fees, two kids who will go to college soon), she wants the money, and she ends up compelling Diane to beat the offer over the protests of David Lee.
Diane was, in general, a badass this week, but her tensest moment came when she browbeat Alicia for being approached by another firm, which wasn’t entirely fair of her. Diane can talk of loyalty all she wants, but it’s certainly within Alicia’s rights to try and find more money if the firm can only offer a small raise. The implication at the end of the episode is subtle, but I think Diane realizes her error, even if she doesn’t apologize to Alicia for her brusqueness. She tells Will that she invoked partner power to pass Alicia’s raise simply because the firm is short-staffed, but I don’t think so. There’s sympathy for Alicia’s tough position, and respect for her legal skills, at the heart of that move.
There’s a parallel drawn with the thawing of Alicia and Kalinda’s relationship, too. An initial peace offering by Kalinda is brutally rejected by Alicia (who is freaking out about real estate), but Alicia relents and asks Kalinda for a new slate, demanding only total honesty from everyone’s favorite taciturn investigator. Alicia’s sympathy is drawn by a browbeating from the returning Tammy (Elizabeth Reaser), who lectures her on hooking up with Will before the dust had settled between them. Man, there was a lot of browbeating in this episode! Also, returning guest stars!
I don’t know that Tammy has the right to be so furious, considering that she went to London and essentially ended things with Will. From what I remember, he made an initial attempt to keep things going, but that was forgotten when he started things up with Alicia in the season two finale. So yeah, maybe Tammy and Will could have pulled off long-distance, but it’s not like Alicia got in the middle of a marriage. I was happy for the return of Reaser, whom I always enjoy, but I was a little disappointed that she was reduced to a plot note for Alicia and Kalinda. Better than nothing, I suppose.
The real highlight of “Gloves Come Off” was the glimpse into Diane’s private life and the return of Cole as red state ballistics expert Kurt McVeigh. No offense to Brown’s tough-as-nails Australian process server Jack, but I feel like Kurt was Diane’s original Mr. Brawny, and we never got closure on that relationship. There are hints with both men that they’re perhaps entangled with younger women (especially unclear in Jack’s case, but there’s something up with him), but Diane’s a grownup, and she’s just out for some meaningful companionship.
I was really pleased by the “booty call” twist the show put on Diane getting stood up by Jack. The shot of her in a restaurant with a glass of wine could have been the capper to that storyline, but Diane’s not going to take that lying down—she’ll just scroll through the ol’ iPhone for other possibilities. It’s a boldness we should expect, so it’s silly that it was a pleasant surprise at all, but I was still overjoyed to watch her show up at Kurt’s house, outlast his boring right-wing ballistics student in a conversation about campaign finance, then get her man. Plus, later, schedule Jack for a Friday date and Kurt for Saturday. Perhaps the increasingly-listless Will could learn a couple tips from her.
Aside from the Diane show and the confirmation that Alicia won’t be quitting the firm (surprise, surprise), “Gloves Come Off” wasn’t an essential episode, especially since we’re in the home stretch and it feels like things should be getting tense. But there’s still five episodes left on the year, so plenty of time for major story arcs to get fired up.
- Jack isn’t the best at asking Diane out. “There’s an art show or something over here.”
- Will bends the rules quite a few times this week. At one point, he assures Diane (in a darkened room) that he’s not doing anything wrong. “Yet we seem to be here whispering.” “Consulting.”
- David is not thrilled with Diane invoking equity partner privileges. “We must have missed the memo. Apparently, we’re now Stalin and associates.”
- Among the guest stars this week: the lovely David Costabile, best known as Gale Boetticher in Breaking Bad. But let’s not forget, he’s also a Wire alum (he was the Baltimore Sun managing editor in season five).