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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Good Wife: “Live From Damascus”

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One of The Good Wife’s biggest pluses is that when it tackles a ripped-from-the-headlines issue, it usually doesn’t come across as too preachy. Sure, there’s other problems that might develop, like the muddled nature of the Social Network episode last year, but mostly the show manages to find interesting angles on whatever contemporary event it’s referencing.

I’m not saying this episode was too preachy—but there was a more sensitive tone here, perhaps unsurprisingly given the grisly nature of the Syrian government’s backlash to the uprising. Since our heroes tend to have a rather cynical outlook on things most of the time, it was a little jarring to see Kalinda forming a bond with a Syrian protestor over webcam chats, or Will standing up to his moneybags tech client Patrick Edelstein (remember him?) in the name of freedom.

But the episode effectively tied that tone to Will’s crisis of conscience as he reels from his latest bad news—he’s being investigated by the bar committee and could face disbarment over that 15-year-old Baltimore loan. Edward Herrmann is nice enough to return to the show and let him know what’s up; Diane tells him to fight, but Will decides he’s had enough and shouldn’t dispute something he’s guilty of. The Will we know probably wouldn’t feel that way, and would explain how silly the charges are in context, so, obviously, this is a different Will.

What does that mean? Well, it probably has some bearing on his relationship with Alicia, and whatever future romantic configurations we’ll enjoy on the show, but I don’t care so much about that. In general, though, his gradual attitude adjustment has been hinted at all season, with the rejected temptation of Celeste (we haven’t heard from her in a while, thank God) and his relatively grown-up reaction to his breakup with Alicia. It feels like a lifetime since we saw the Will of season two fighting with Diane for control of the board. Whether that’s going to be interesting to watch is another question. I’m sure there’s another twist or two coming from this storyline—Josh Charles isn’t going to leave the show for the rest of the season. I know that last time I said it sounded like everything was wrapped up. I should have taken Wendy’s throwaway comment about referring her charges to the bar association more seriously. But I’m glad we weren’t subjected to another investigation and legal battle, because I’m as wearied by that story as Will at this point.

Will’s angst aside, I found the Syria case a little dull, with Jonathan Groff just crying and looking sad in his guest spot, and the return of Edelstein and his rival Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey at his least sympathetic) largely uninteresting. I really had to rack my brain to remember that backstory. Rita Wilson is fine as Gross’ equally sharp-tongued attorney Viola Walsh, but there are better recurring stars in this show’s arsenal.

Also, while the episode was eerily topical given how Syria has been in the news over the last week, the Occupy Wall Street references seemed a little more forced, although they came from the right source, Judge Abernathy (Denis O’Hare, one of my favorites). Maybe just because Occupy hasn’t been clashing quite so frequently with police in recent months, but you can’t really blame The Good Wife’s writers for failing to predict the news two months ahead of time.


So what else happened in this episode? Eli did his shouting routine with both Amy Sedaris and Parker Posey this week, in a plotline that is beginning to feel a little drawn-out. I like Sedaris, but her character is stuck in a rut—everything she does is half to undercut Eli, half because she has the hots for him, so every week it’s more of the same. The development of Eli running his wife’s campaign is fine by me, since Alan Cumming has good chemistry with Posey, but I don’t think I have any interest in a love triangle between the three of them. Eli should be mixing it up more with the main players—as funny as his plots can sometimes be, he’s a little marginalized.

We also got some more hints about whatever’s troubling Kalinda, some “tax matter” that Will was working on. I don’t think this is supposed to be related to whatever probe on investigators Glenn Childs was running; it felt like something new, but we’ll have to see. That her case has been handed off to Alicia is without a doubt good news, since those two need a lot more screentime together. As well as some sort of drunken reconciliation where the iciest two characters get just a little less icy and we all cheer.


Finally, over at the state’s attorney office, Cary’s reshuffling (at Peter’s behest) and Dana gets the ax, shuffled over to child welfare or something, obviously because they felt she was corrupted by Wendy’s influence. I won’t miss Dana at all, but we may not be done with her, since her exit seemed to constitute some sort of threat against Cary and/or Peter. I don’t know if she has enough to claim harassment or discrimination, but there was definitely something going on between her and Cary.

Dana’s brief interaction with Geneva Pine (Renee Elise Goldsberry) also seemed to hint at the return of that character, who was in a lot of season two but has been absent ever since Dana took the fore as Cary’s sidekick. I always felt Geneva was a stronger character, so it’s nice to have her back.


This felt like a transitional episode after “Another Ham Sandwich” wrapped up so many of the season’s major arcs. The ball isn’t rolling on anything new yet, just hints at the future—hopefully there’s something for us to look forward to as we get to the home stretch of season three.

Stray observations:

  • Stacy likes wearing Santa socks, and claiming they belong to Eli.
  • Another topical reference I saw coming from a mile away: the lesbian Syrian blogger turning out to be a dude from Kansas.
  • Will’s plans for his six months off? Maybe he’ll write a rock opera. “There hasn’t been a decent one since The Wall.”