The Good Wife: “Long Way Home”
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The Good Wife: “Long Way Home”

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The Good Wife

“Long Way Home”

Season 3, Episode 18

I’d like to start off by saying for the record that I’m relieved by the resolution of the Caitlin storyline, with an added (but good-natured) shake of the fist and the show’s writing staff for that episode last week that intimated something was seriously up with Caitlin and she was conspiring to bring down Alicia and so on. Nope! Turns out she’s pregnant and looking to get married to her unseen but probably strapping boyfriend and go about the business of being in love with him for the rest of her life and raising a zillion kids and generally just living a life that belongs in a goddamn oil painting.

Oh, it’s all so familiar for Alicia, who made the exact same move 15 years ago and, well, we all know where she ended up: looking over Caitlin as she announces her decision, wearing a tremendous scarlet jacket. Also, representing possible wife-murderer and general creepy person Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker, making his fourth, and probably not final, appearance), and generally seeming a little iffy on the kind of business the firm has been doing recently. Still, she tells Caitlin that she doesn’t have to choose between her job and her family, but Caitlin assures her that things are different for the younger generation. “I don’t have to prove anything. Or, if I have to, I don’t want to.”

It’s an intriguing end to the Caitlin storyline, which was pitched in an obvious fashion and then taken in a much more refreshing direction. She was a blonde, pretty nepotism hire, basically forced on Alicia to please her uncle David Lee, but she turned out to be perfectly competent, nice, and uninterested in cutting throats to get ahead quickly. There were hints that she had a crush on Will, but if she did, it was nothing more than a silly workplace thing that amounted to a couple glances. Then, in recent episodes (particularly the last), there were thudding clues that she was conspiring with David, possibly against Alicia, possibly to curry favor with Diane. None of it made any sense, and it turns out it was all some red herring, although someone should probably tell the red-faced David that (he wasn’t too pleased with Alicia when he found out Caitlin was quitting).

Caitlin’s departure and hope for happy married life was combined with Alicia running into her past, as she has to decide whether to buy her apartment or move somewhere cheaper and shittier, or perhaps to her OLD HOME in Highland Park, all pretty and leafy and suburban. I was a little annoyed with this plot at first, because Alicia’s a corporate lawyer making amazing money and I can’t imagine she’d have too much trouble buying her place. But it’s juuust plausible enough when you consider the debt that she’d probably taken on during Peter’s imprisonment and when she rented him an apartment (which I assume he pays for himself now) and her kids are in private school and have college around the corner.

Alicia’s kids are excited at the idea of moving back home, with Grace recalling how much she loved swinging on the swing, or something equally cloying. So Alicia, entertaining the idea, goes back to check out the open house and, in a remarkably well-done scene, loses it when she sees her, her kids’ and her husband’s heights marked on the wall. All that good family mojo has turned bad now; the very idea of her living there seems wrong not just because of the change of direction in her life, but also because she’d be trying to re-capture the same old magic (which probably was less than magical in the first place, given Peter’s dalliance). It was a classic “you can’t go home again” moment, classily done.

It worked especially well in such a sordid episode, too. Not only was there Caitlin’s shocking news that she had conceived a child out of wedlock (scandal!), but you had Colin trying to bat off accusations of sexual harassment from a former employee (played by the wonderful Morena Baccarin) whom he insists that he only had oral sex with. Except she has his baby. Except she probably conceived that baby by spitting his semen into a turkey baster after the act. They never quite said that sentence as I wrote it, but it hung over all the proceedings, much to everyone’s disgust (especially our judge of the week, played by Bebe Neuwirth).

Things resolved in typically horrifying fashion, as they always do when Colin’s around. In exchange for what we can assume is a hefty payoff, Isabel (Baccarin) drops the charges and decides to raise the kid with a man who probably killed his wife (although he was acquitted!) and definitely killed another woman (a stalker, but still) and his dog. Their chaste kiss to cap everything was witnessed with appropriate horror by Alicia, Diane, and everyone else. As Diane put it, so perfectly, “And so it devolves … from hopes, ideals, dreams, the glory of the law, to a turkey baster.”

David was more happy to get into it, arguing that Isabel had stolen Colin’s property when she artificially inseminated herself. Kate Burton, playing Isabel’s lawyer, argued that the property was abandoned (in her mouth) and, well, finders keepers. Or maybe it was given as a gift. Obviously this is a sensitive section of the law, and it was fun to see the show explore it while sticking within the bounds of network decency.

Finally, to cap all the luridness, Peter puts Cary in charge of some sort of sexual witch hunt to root out who’s been having sex on his office couch. Turns out it was a supervisor-subordinate situation, so Peter ends up firing a black gay man because the rules are the rules. When Geneva (who really isn’t too thrilled with Peter or Cary these days) points out that Cary had a fling with Dana, and that Peter has fired or demoted three African-Americans (including Wendy Scott Carr) whilst promoting young buck Cary over more-experienced black candidates, Cary’s conscience gets to him and he confesses to Peter. Peter’s response is that he knows Cary’s heart is in the right place.

The question is, is Peter acting unethically? Cary’s deal wasn’t quite as bad, since he didn’t date a superior, and he didn’t have sex on any office couches (and he came forward with the truth). Really, I think it’s much like Peter’s hiring decision last week—he fired the guy for political reasons (he needs to look tough on sex in the workplace), and it might end up biting him in the ass.

This was an alternately lurid and heartfelt hour, but everything gelled surprisingly smoothly, which, of course, is The Good Wife’s specialty. Even though this mostly felt like a standalone episode, I think everything Alicia’s conflicted about is going to come to a head by the season’s end. She seems to have a general discomfort with the way things are. It’s nothing specific, but I think she might start envying the relative calm Will has discovered during his suspension.

Stray observations:

  • “He’s weird with you,” Eli remarks to Alicia about Colin.
  • Colin wasn't a big fan of Isabel's oral sex. “I found her businesslike.”
  • One of the more shocking things that went on this week was Colin openly perjuring himself on the stand. I liked Alicia and Will exploring the weird avenues of the law on this topic (lawyers knowing when their clients are lying).

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