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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Good Wife: "Real Deal"

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Man, what an incredibly satisfying episode that was. With the return of Michael J. Fox as the canny Louis Canning and what felt like the final episode of Elizabeth Reaser's arc as Will's sexy ungirlfriend Tammy, I predicted two things. One, Canning would be revealed as three steps ahead like last time, when Alicia and co. exulted in beating him but he revealed he was a Trojan horse sent by big pharma to bring their win down, which he did. And two, Tammy would be given a graceful, classy exit, having served simply to stall time until sweeps so that Alicia wouldn't just jump Will's bones there and then.

I'm happy to be proven wrong on both points. Let's cover Tammy first. I really appreciate the work Reaser has done during the season with a very thin character. She really shows you what Will sees in her without reducing the role to a one-dimensional plaything. "I had this deposition; there was this continuance!" she whines in a high-pitched voice as Will gets a work call distracting him from sex—I love that she has some backbone in these scenes. But at this point, after five or so appearances, it was time to make the next move with the character, and I thought her graceful exit from Will's apartment, where she says she's gonna date a South African soccer player and assures Will everything is cool, would be the end of her, at least for a while. It seemed like a nice note to go out on, as aloof as ever but just with a tinge of bitterness and melancholy about the whole thing never taking off.

But no, Tammy appears to be around, at least for a little while longer, telling Will her soccer player was fictional. Their reunion at the end of the episodes was another example of the easy chemistry Reaser has with Josh Charles. "You smell like you! You smell like Will!" she exults, a line that could have been super-corny but Reaser delivered in an almost baffled tone, as if she can't believe she cares so much about such a thing. Her awkward lunch scene with Alicia laid it on a bit thicker, as if we didn't realize already that they might be RIVALS OF THE HEART, but I'll let it slide.

On the main storyline and Canning's potential shell game, I was relieved to see we didn't get a repeat of "Poisoned Pill," and instead, Canning's motives were revealed as a little more complex, a little harder to explain. He was competing with Lockhart/Gardner for clients in a class action suit against a pharmaceutical company that caused miscarriages and fertility problems for a small town; Alicia and co. figured he was a Trojan horse for big pharma again, looking to cut the smallest deal possible. Kalinda found he was backed by hedge funders and had a wife who had recently miscarried, making his claims of a change in character more believable.

But the answer came somewhere in the middle. Canning was definitely colluding with big pharma for less money, but not, he insisted, for some payday or out of cynicism, but out of disgust at the way law firms explode class-action suits out of proportion to get more cash and publicity for themselves. The recently-settled 9/11 first-responders class action suit was mentioned early on in the episode, and I feel that must be where this point of view was coming from, because even though it netted hundreds of millions for tens of thousands of workers made ill and killed by toxic substances working to clear Ground Zero debris, some people criticized the big cut the law firm got from the whole deal (a judge even ordered the settlement upped so the members of the suit would get more money). Either way, it was nice that Canning wasn't again walking out with a grin on his face having pulled some big swindle and instead got some crucial character shading should he be brought back in the future.

The most exciting part of the episode came in the political maneuvering, both in the Florrick campaign and in Lockhart/Gardner. The multiple revelations of a mole in the office and then of Derrick installing key-stroke software on some laptops, with Will and Diane using this to their advantage and bringing Alicia and Kalinda (and the deliciously slimy David Lee, played by Zach Grenier) in on the scheme, had all the cat-and-mouse trickery I love to see from them. Since we're in sweeps month, I figure Derrick's house of cards will come tumbling down soon enough, but knowing The Good Wife, a half-dozen more plot twists will be thrown in front of Will and Diane before they get out clean (or clean-ish).


The Florrick side of things was played largely for laughs, especially in the Christopher Sieber character, a music (or maybe drama) teacher who just loves Peter and makes a campy YouTube video for him involving singing and dancing and so on. Eli, thrilled at the news from one of Wendy's pollsters that Peter is popular with kids because of the prison thing and the swearing thing, is annoyed that such a flamboyant fool might make Peter look ridiculous. So he goes to see him, and I had my eyes all ready to roll at another scene of Eli dealing with a wacko.

But like a lot of this episode, the scene took a wonderful turn when Sieber said just what had him so pumped for Florrick: He had spoken against bullying in his school and actually changed the mood by doing so. Sieber, although you wouldn’t know it from his film/TV resume, is an incredibly gifted actor, one of the many Broadway stalwarts The Good Wife can take advantage of by filming in New York. And he brought a terrific, understated power to what looked like a one-joke, Glee-loving character, and Cumming did an equally good job having one of those moments of clarity where his job isn't entirely about backroom dealing for an episode. Just another great example of how surprising this show can be, and what a welcome sight that is on a legal drama on CBS that airs after two hours of NCIS.


Stray observations:

  • One thing I didn't notice resolution on (I may have missed a pivotal sentence): Was Derrick revealed to be dropping hints to Canning? Maybe the show will have cause to bring Fox back for another guest spot this year.
  • The Good Wife's version of YouTube is called VidTrope; I love all their fake websites.
  • Method Man marks the two billionth Wire alum to crop up on this show. Hopefully, he will return to throw that fundraising concert for Peter.
  • Lee says his family law allies are "ready to lynch" Derrick at the board meeting, allowing that that was "a poor choice of words."
  • Wendy Scott Carr is apparently "Donna Reed black." Which isn't very black at all!
  • Also welcome was the return of Denis O'Hare, taking some time off from being the vampire king of Mississippi, as bleeding-heart Judge Abernathy.