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The Good Wife: “Bitcoin For Dummies”


The Good Wife

“Bitcoin For Dummies”

Season 3 , Episode 13

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The internet, guys! Oh, that crazy internet with the dot-com and the computers and the gloyven and the floyven! Yes, The Good Wife is back with another look at a fun corner of the brave new world of the internet, but unlike that very shaky Facebook episode from last year, this bitcoin outing was a lot of fun. Much like last week, it gave us a relatively frothy case of the week with some fun twists and turns, while moving the background plot along much more forebodingly. Unlike last week, it also featured Zack cleverly using Jackie’s words to ensure Alicia back off in his growing relationship with Nisa.

But I would say inarguably the biggest twist here was the revelation of Wendy’s detailed case against Will and the extent of his wrongdoing, which is fairly minor but enough to possibly land him in trouble. Through one of Elsbeth’s drunken-master maneuvers, they get the names of the judges she’s after – including Winter and Parks, who we’ve seen many times on the show, played by Peter Reigert and David Fonteno respectively. Will also reveals that he was forgiven a debt of $8,000 by the bookie who worked with a lot of these judges, but insists he did nothing wrong and finds only one case where it might look like a judge went easy on them – “sometimes the ball bounces funny,” as he put it.

Hmm, so that seems rather open-and-shut, doesn’t it? Except not. Because Wendy also has that possibly forged document that Alicia signed last week and is happy to use that to bring her down unless Kalinda coughs up info on Will. It’s a great twist, a clever one, that’s not too dramatic and uses Alicia’s major psychodrama from last week really well – glad to know that wasn’t just some one-off moment of high stakes. It’s great when a show pays off moments like that throughout the year. Plus it also means that everything from here on is F. Murray Abraham’s fault, since he forwarded the document to Wendy. F. MURRAY. ABRAHAM!

By the end of the episode, things are looking bleak for poor Will, who shows real fear for the first time when he tells Kalinda he doesn’t want to go to jail. Diane is already signaling that she’ll need to know when Will is on the rocks so she can plan her next move. Will is allowing Kalinda to operate extra-legally to dispose of some possibly circumstantial evidence that wouldn’t make him look too good. Even Elsbeth’s off-kilter nervousness seemed a little less staged this week. So when Kalinda handed that folder over to Dana, I couldn’t help but gasp a little bit. But let’s remember that this is the 13th episode and there’s much more to come. Kalinda likes Alicia more than she likes Will, sure, but she definitely likes Will more than she likes Dana or Wendy (re: Cary, who made a brief appearance this week, I’m not too sure where she’d fall). So she may have a trick or two left up her sleeve.

The main plot, revolving around the mysterious creator of the very real online currency bitcoin, was a bit of a rigmarole with a few too many twists and turns and an ending that was very logical (it turns out pretty much all the suspects were somewhat responsible) but had more dramatic emphasis placed on it than it perhaps deserved. But, unlike the Facebook episode, it was a fun, inventive, unusual topic to base a network TV episode around and they did it in a pretty compelling legal manner.

Plus, we had the return of a great guest star from earlier this year, the squirrely Bob Balaban as U.S. Treasury lawyer Gordon Higgs, and a couple of fun new faces, particularly a (noticeably thinner!) Michael Lerner as a very exasperated, bored judge who obviously wishes every case he prosecuted was an exciting murder trial. Or maybe he just wants to go home and watch more CNBC. His boredom at the proceedings was always amusing, although perhaps a little too reflective of what the audience might be thinking by some of the details of the plot.

I say that because the three “inventors” of bitcoin weren’t exactly dynamic figures. You had a rather comely MIT lady played by Jennifer Ferrin (who some of you might remember from The Cape), plus a dorky, lovestruck Chinese econo-physicist (or something) who took a shine to Kalinda, plus the lovely Jason Biggs, who didn’t have a ton to do as a nerdy lawyer who insisted he was just bitcoin’s representative and rolled his eyes at having to give the firm a cashier’s check.

So, I wasn’t exactly at the edge of my seat to figure out who embedded whose code in what ghost and yadda yadda. When Gordon pointed out to Alicia that the firm was perhaps unwise to represent a person who might be trying to frame them for a Federal crime, I couldn’t help but agree. But watching them get out of it and make Gordon look a bit of a fool wasn’t too bad either. I love Balaban’s performance, but there is something irritatingly calm about Gordon’s manner (it was nice to see him get flustered in court a couple times here).

For The Good Wife, this was a pretty simple episode – no appearance by Eli, almost nothing from the State’s Attorney side of things. Really just Alicia and Kalinda, with Will worrying away on the sidelines. Plus, a welcome Zack storyline, nothing too major, but it’s always nice to know the kids still exist, and I think Grace usually ends up getting a little more to do than him. Alicia, in a well-meaning way, points out that he’s hanging out with his girlfriend Nisa (remember her?) a lot more recently. He notes that since he moved schools, that’s logically how they’re going to see each other.

I was a little confused as to why Alicia was acting so silly, but I did enjoy the punchline – Jackie echoes her words when Zack takes Nisa to his dad’s house, although Jackie is perhaps a bit less tactful (probably because she actually cares about her grandson dating someone from private school, whereas Alicia could care less). But Zack’s final gambit – turning Jackie’s words against Alicia to give Nisa an all-access pass? Well, I just wish I’d been that clever when I was a teenager.

Stray observations:

Michael Lerner doesn’t like Susan B. Anthony dollars. “What were they thinking? They feel like quarters!”

Our latest real-world pundit appearance came from Jim Cramer, who did he thing of reminding us that he’s smarter than his show makes him seem.

Lerner really had all the good lines this week. “This hotel room is taking on legendary status.”