The Good Wife: "Cleaning House"
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The Good Wife: "Cleaning House"

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The Good Wife

"Cleaning House"

Season 2, Episode 4

The political storyline is usually the less interesting, more hackneyed part of The Good Wife's episodes but that was not the case with "Cleaning House," although I guess that's what happens when you have Corbin Bleu playing the client of the week. Not to be mean to poor Corbin (of the High School Musical series) but this is a show that gets some big names for its guest stars, whereas his brief appearance felt more like the kind of stunt-casting you'd see on a CW show. Okay, I'll lay off.

The entrance of a third candidate into the State's Attorney race was the political plot of the week and the whole time they had us fooled that it would be Justice Adler, played by Kate Burton, who showed up to offer Diane a judgeship and then snatch it away, in one of Diane's more intriguing first season stories. A third candidate makes total sense for this race, considering it features a guy who was released from jail after it was proven he slept with a prostitute, but he didn't pay her (Peter) and the sociopath who knifed him in the back and seems mostly obsessed with knifing him in the front this time (Childs). Eli is fretting that a female candidate will split the vote, but the prospect of any new candidate would look good to me if I lived in The Good Wife's Chicago.

The carpet gets pulled out in the episode's climax. Adler is persuaded not to run by Diane (at Eli's behest), because she has a history of corruption. Diane tells her it'll just hurt the possibility of a female candidate getting in office in the near future, and Adler instead announces Wendy Scott Carr (Anika Noni Rose, the chilly State's Attorney from last episode) as the historic candidate. "Who is Wendy Scott Carr!" Eli barks into the phone to close the episode. Rather than the gaffe prankery of the last few episodes, this felt a little more substantial and was great fun to watch. Eli's badgering of a Sun-Times reporter, and subsequent hanging out in the offices to follow a skateboarder carrying the leaked deposition from last week, was a little too slapstick and quite unrealistic, but I'll let it slide.

The interesting spin on this week's legal case, which was over the death of five attendees at an overcrowded rave, was that Alicia had to do battle with Nancy Crozier (Mamie Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep), a faux-ditz/secret genius that she managed to outsmart in a season one episode. Except they were on the same team, Nancy representing the club and Alicia representing the DJ. The Good Wife just keeps finding new ways to make the sleepy courtroom format fresh. Alicia thus had to fend off both the opposing attorney (the always-able Edward Herrmann, sadly underused) and Nancy's attempts to make her clients look less culpable than Alicia's.

Early on in the episode, I wrote in my notes that it looked like Alicia's nasty judge (who orders her to wear a skirt rather than a pantsuit) was part of a format the show often follows: the judge is prejudiced against Alicia for some reason or other (usually connected to Peter's notoriety) but she eventually wins him over through her canny legal strategy. She'll start out losing most trial motions, but by the end her objections will get a grudging "sustained" from the bench. I was glad to see that that wasn't what happened here, and that the focus shifted to Nancy instead.

I'm also glad to see that the show is continuing to find great things for Matt Czuchry to do as Cary now that he's an ASA, and that it isn't just him being on the other side of the courtroom in every episode, which would get a little repetitive. His arch questioning of Alicia on the leak of his boss' deposition was both funny ("Yeah, sure, the law, that's what you want to review") and tense, as he out-maneuvered Alicia on the issue of Peter helping her out in her first case. I'm still half-hopeful that Cary will return to the fold of Lockhart & Gardner one day but it would be appropriately ballsy of this show to keep him as an adversary full-time.

The one plot that didn't totally work for me this week was Kalinda and Blake facing off in the parking lot. Kalinda's cool destruction of his car with a baseball bat was terrific but their "sexy" face-off a few scenes later was anything but, probably because Scott Porter is just no good at playing dangerous. His repeatedly calling her "Kiki" makes more sense now, as he's alleging that her past is invented, but I feel like he was miscast, because he's neither sexy enough nor bad enough to really work as a convincing adversary for the awesome Terminatrix that is Kalinda.

Stray observations:

Nicholas Wyman, a great New York character actor (who, full disclosure, I've known all my life) made a sadly-brief appearance as the attorney Nancy replaced, although I did like the comedy of Alicia getting him to agree to her last witness while he's recovering from nose surgery.

I wonder if the pointed question of whether Derrick had a plus-one was a suggestion that his character is gay. I guess that'll come up again soon.

I was heartened to see the wonderful Elizabeth Reaser as Will's date to the big dinner at the end of the episode, and she already seemed to have a relaxed chemistry with Josh Charles. It's too bad her role as a new part of the Will/Alicia/? triangle probably dooms her to a plot arc and nothing more, but she's one of TV's best actresses so it's nice to see her again.