The Good Wife: “Affairs Of State”
B+

The Good Wife: “Affairs Of State”

B+

The Good Wife

“Affairs Of State”

Season 3, Episode 6

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There’s always a ton going on in any given Good Wife episode that no one, except maybe Alicia, really dominates it, but there are definitely weeks where there’s more of Diane and Will, or more of Kalinda, or the Cary show, which we got this week. Man, do I love the Cary show. We watched as he clashed with his colleague Brody (Chris Butler) over the romantic attentions of departing ASA Dana (Monica Raymund), all the while navigating a complex diplomatic immunity/murder case against Alicia, with eventual success on all counts. Matt Czuchry is so accomplished on this show that it doesn’t feel strange when we spend as much time with him as with Lockhart/Gardner.

What was a little strange was that moment where Cary interrogated the Dutch student about a murder he was involved in with a Taiwanese friend and basically laid out the whole case, and you realized that… he was right. It’s not like that’s never happened on this show before, and Alicia has certainly defended her fair share of guilty clients, but it still felt nice and unusual to have an episode where Cary is so absolutely in the right and Alicia is just scrambling to defend an increasingly obviously guilty man. Usually, Cary’s delightful smugness and attack-dog style evens out the moral kick he gets from his job, but here, he was just kicking ass and doing it for all the right reasons. It made his final reward of a majestic office with his name on it feel that much more satisfying (especially as we know that the order to move him came down from Peter).

It also signaled to the viewer that Cary is probably going to be an ASA (or, I guess, Deputy State’s Attorney?) for good. The show likes to hint that maybe he’ll come back to Lockhart/Gardner, or the current status quo will be redressed in some other manner, but I think it’s obvious how happy the writers are, from a dramatic standpoint, with Cary as Lockhart’s frequent opponent. It makes the cases seem less one-sided when there’s someone we identify with on the other side of the table; in season one, we had repeat characters like Brody, but we were never going to invest in them (plus, Glenn Childs was unambiguously nasty). Anyway, that’s a situation I’m very happy with, and the more Cary we can have, the better. It was a little jarring to see him embark on a romance with a character we’d never seen before and sort of amusing to have Brody (in a pique of jealousy) point out his proclivity for women of color (where was Amani this week?), but I’m sure we’ll see Dana again, one in a long line of sexily capable ladies this show specializes in.

Since the case was mostly about Cary kicking ass, Alicia was floundering a little, but she got some nice scenes with new hire Caitlin, who proved her youthful advantages (maybe a few too many apps and whatnot this week) and disadvantages (she’s rapidly developing a major crush on Will). Alicia’s other stuff was some awkward material where her kids have figured out that she’s probably in a relationship with Will, but don’t, or can’t, talk to her about it (instead, Zack asks for a car). It ended up being a retread of what we’ve seen before: Alicia is hesitant to do things like introduce Will to the kids because she’s not sure they have a future. But hey, Celeste wasn’t involved, so that’s cool.

In our now-requisite Eli story of the week, we got the lovely (and frequent Alan Cumming co-star) Parker Posey as Vanessa, his politico ex-wife who’s thinking of running for local office herself. “Rahm gets in, and everyone thinks they can!” Eli scoffs about his real-life inspiration. Everything played out a little predictably; in digging up dirt on his wife for her possible campaign, Eli discovers that she had an affair (with a Bin Laden cousin!) shortly before their divorce. But Posey, Cumming, and Panjabi were all great, so the big dramatic moments didn’t feel overwrought. I’m a little surprised Posey didn’t get saddled with a crazy-talking, high-energy character like that hilarious politico they meet for dinner in one scene, since that’s the stereotypical role for her. Instead, Vanessa felt more wry and funny and real, to the extent that I want future appearances from her. We’ll see.

Overall, a good solid chunk of Good Wife fun, here. I was a bit worried in the early weeks that the show was struggling to define its third season and was trying too hard to lay down all those crazy arcs, like the Alicia/Will romance and Celeste joining the firm. Those problems may well still exist. (I’m waiting for Romany Malco to show up again!) But the case-of-the-week episodes are still as good as they’ve ever been.

Stray observations:

  • An all-too-brief appearance by Peter Riegert this week as Judge Winter; first time we’ve seen him since he released Peter in season one!
  • Eli is very involved in the firm’s case. “A poor innocent kid's been accused of… something-or-other…”
  • Another season one guest, Joe Morton, as Peter’s old campaign manager Daniel, made an appearance as well, now working for the State Department.
  • Eli easily had the line of the week here. “The thought that my semen could have mixed with Bin Laden’s!” 
Filed Under: TV, The Good Wife

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