“The Death Zone” S3 / E2
- B Community Grade
Oh, jolly old England! The Good Wife has had fun venturing into strange realms like military court and Federal court before, but now we're in the strange world of British court for a largely interesting case-of-the-week episode that featured a mostly unfortunate turn by Eddie Izzard that was too hammy by far. It didn't appear to be his fault, more the writers/producers' desire to make him as English as bloody possible. I do love it when this show focuses on a Wikipedia rabbit hole I went down a few months earlier, and I was happy to know that my reading of the entries "death zone" and "Green Boots" (truly, fascinating stuff) paid off for this Everest-centered episode.
The Everest case took two interesting things and smushed them together: the strange ethical quagmire of the "death zone" in mountaineering, where stopping to help a stricken climber could likely lead to your own death, and the unusual nature of English libel laws where the burden of proof is on the libeler (England lacks the same strict free speech protections as America, which I think is the reason behind the difference). Rich mountaineer Oliver Cardiff (latest Wire alum John Doman, possibly doing an English accent but not trying very hard) fails to sue for libel in America so he takes the case to British shores, much as Roman Polanski did versus Vanity Fair (look it up!) a few years ago. Cardiff is being accused by a dead climber's brother of taking a dying man's oxygen tank near the top of Mount Everest.
The case itself was fascinating, and putting it through the English system was a cute idea, with Alicia and Will getting tripped up by "super-injunctions" and the difference between a barrister and a solicitor. But, as this show has before, sometimes the episode was a little too amused with itself, with the stern English judge a little tiresome and Eddie Izzard's lecture on how he's not a tea-drinking English stereotype sounding somewhat hypocritical, especially since he followed that speech up by saying he was another English stereotype: the football hooligan, Jack the Ripper type, slipping into a Cockney accent by the end of it. Will correctly laughed him off, but the scene was still played far too seriously, and since Izzard didn't do much else in the episode, his appearance felt wasted.
The way the firm found to win the case was clever (guess what: Twitter was involved), but at a certain point characters were just explaining things to the audience, and as interesting as some might find it, the show's usually better at integrating its legalese dramatically. Doman's confession in his cross-examination felt more out of Law & Order, which always needed to wrap up fast in those last minutes; The Good Wife usually plays those out more as a cat-and-mouse game by the attorneys, and there wasn't enough of that this time around (poor Izzard).
This was largely a pretty light episode. Even the Everest plot was joke-heavy despite the subject matter. Eli and Kalinda finally joined forces for the first time in a silly bit of japery that only worked at all because Cumming and Panjabi are fun to play off each other. He's all bluster, and she's not at all. The wink to the audience at the end of the episode where the potential Republican presidential candidate is not revealed was maybe a little too clever, almost a way around the fact that the show is shot weeks in advance. Still, it's impressive how well it lined up with all the Chris Christie hoopla of the last few days.
Will and Diane's face-off with Peter and Cary (who didn't get much to do this week, boo) was more serious but had no impact because it all felt like a big tease for whatever long arc the writers have planned this season. Peter baits Diane by offering her firm the chance to win $20 million to represent the city in certain civil cases, but in return, Lockhart/Gardner has to submit to an audit, which it certainly isn't interested in doing. Diane eventually guesses that Alicia has split from Peter and thinks it's all some power play; Will plays dumb, but she has him commit to firing Alicia if it turns out she's "working against" the firm. That scene (the last in the episode) was played super-dramatically as if this is actually a possibility. I don't like that. I especially don't like the concept of Diane going up against Alicia because of the separation/because she's sleeping with Will. The Diane/Will rivalry last year was fun up to a point, but I like them much more as a team, and the Florrick love triangle seems like a lame way to bring up new conflict between them.
On the other hand, I have to admire the fun the show is having with Will/Alicia as a clandestine couple, not being super-dramatic about it at all but playing up their chemistry and their predilections for secret office sex. I'm sure the other shoe will drop soon enough, but I'm very happy to have one innuendo-filled conversation a week from them. So far, it's playing out much better than I thought it would, considering how intense the matter was in seasons one and two.
- "I just don't want to be blindsided," Diane says. "Have you noticed you're turning into me? More sports metaphors," Will notes.
- That's Michael Kelly, recently of The Adjustment Bureau and the Criminal Minds spin-off, as Mickey the strategist.
- The guy playing the Irish lawyer was cute, especially his anagrams for people. Will is Warden Grill; Izzard's character James Thrush is "Jams Her Tush."
- The English judge insists everyone say "Good morning" because it's morning where he is. Which means the Chicago side of things is happening at around 3 a.m.
- "Let's not expose ourselves on a subway platform unless we have to." "What a colorful and pointless metaphor."
- The kids don't do much this week, but Zack infers from Peter that he cheated on his mother with ladies other than prostitutes, and later helps Alicia clean (getting a hug in return) in a very sweet scene.
- I believe this episode also true inspiration from the controversy over Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, although that is mostly a guess on my part.