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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Good Wife: "Wrongful Termination"

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After last week's hiccup, where everything just seemed a teensy bit off quality-wise, Good Wife was back in its usual mode this week with a nice headlining case, some superlative shouting from Eli Gold, and Childs' voice emanating from a stuffed lion. One wacky recurring character got killed off, another appeared to be prepping for future appearances in season three (assuming we get a pickup… come on, CBS…), and there was the usual heaping of moral ambiguity. Satisfying times all around.

I'll start with Titus Welliver serving as the voice of a stuffed lion this week, which, even with all the fantastic stuff bouncing around on television, has to be the TV moment of the week. God knows how many people jumped to their computers and Googled "plush talking animal phone thing" once the episode was over. I still haven't been able to find out exactly what that thing is, but I'm sort of amused that someone came up with it to make kids more into the phone, since I literally do not know a person who wasn't completely fascinated with phones when they were young. Everyone knows kids love phones! Buttons, lights, noises, you hold it against your head… what's not to love? (Apparently, the phone is this. - ed.)

OK, on to more serious matters. The case of the week was extremely compelling in that it gave us another showdown with Michael J. Fox as the cunning Mr. Canning, Denis O'Hare's best guest turn yet as Judge Abernathy, and a class action suit that had the appropriate amount of twists and turns. There was one problem, though: The company they were suing (that had made all these people hate their job so much, that three killed themselves) was just SO EVIL. There were several scenes where it was supposed to look like Canning was holding his own against Will and Alicia, and I just never bought it at all. At best, it looked like he was mocking the poor employees. I appreciated the callback to the anti-depressant that made people kill themselves last year and his about-face on that issue, which was a clever bit of writing, but the whole thing just never seemed in doubt. In fact, they were so evil you kind of wanted to see them get hammered even more than they did.

At the same time, Will and Diane practiced a bit of moral turpitude by going to the Shiva of their former partner Stern (who makes one last memorable one-scene appearance with Alicia before he croaks) to poach his clients (turns out Canning already got 'em). There's lots of other questionable stuff revolving around a videotape of a suicide. Alicia has to make the wife of the guy watch the tape, and the whole time, they're trying to push it into evidence, which at least on the face of it seemed like shock tactics to inflame the jury and not something we should particularly support. I liked that this stuff was presented almost without comment, but Julianna Margulies had her usual poker face on in most of these scenes, so it's almost hard to know how she feels about all this now. I liked Canning telling her to keep the bad stuff at work and just enjoy herself at home, but that almost seemed like a nudge to the audience in case we hadn't gotten it.

The morality of her job has often been played as an argument against Will as a romantic partner for Alicia, which is not the most interesting part of The Good Wife. So I was very glad this week to see a scene between Alicia and Tammy and another between Alicia and Will that sent the signal that this was mostly being dropped for now. Running the love triangle (or quadrilateral) out more this season would really stink of ratings-grubbing, considering just how busy and frazzled everyone is in the office right now. Will and Tammy continue to make sense as a couple and have good chemistry. Writing her out by having her go on some trip to London wouldn't have been an especially surprising move, but here's to the writers doing something different and exploring their dramatic options. Will's consideration of his lonely lawyer life in the wake of Stern's death felt a little Jerry Maguire, but I can roll with it; Josh Charles rocks a darkly pondersome look, after all.

On the Alicia front, I guess we're concentrating on the Alicia-Peter-Kalinda "triangle" (toss Cary in to make that one a quadrilateral) for the rest of the season. Talking Childs-lion aside, this week, the plot mostly just got rehashed, except Cary got brought in on the secret, and the investigator guy Andrew Wiley popped up again. I'm sure the wheels are turning, and it's all going to come to a head very excitingly, but this was the least interesting part of the episode in that the plot really didn't move forward. Sure, Cary finds out about Kalinda's past, but I had almost forgotten that he didn't know that stuff already. Almost as if the writers were aware that the Kalinda stuff has been a bit much of late, she was barely in the episode, but I'm sure that's going to change as sweeps rev up next month.


Hmm, I feel like I'm forgetting something. Oh yeah. Eli's magnificent series of outbursts and the goddamn Emmy his hair should win for best supporting prop, bouncing around as he berates the idiot DCC guy for filing suit against Wendy Scott Carr over residency (topical! Bet they just had to squeeze that in somehow). Alan Cumming is great when he's sarcastic, he's great when he's cool and collected, and he's great when he shows a hint of sentiment. But when is he the greatest? When he's ranting and insulting people and calling them amateurs. And also when he's strangling big burly bald guys for fucking his candidate over. Honestly, I'm hoping this election stuff gets resolved soon before I completely grow tired of all the plots they keep ripping from newspapers, but I was fixated by the ranting this week. That's how you keep me interested.

Stray observations:

  • "You've changed. What happened to that cute little housewife I used to know?" "When did I get so tall?"
  • Ah, Eli. "I don't have many enemies in life, I get along with Republicans, Protestants, Catholics, even a few reporters. But the one thing I hate is AMATEURS."
  • "We all end up in the same place; all that's left is our Wikipedia entry." "Well, you're a bundle of joy."
  • Will laying the egg salad on the gigantic pile of egg salads at the Shiva was a wonderful little gag. Having been to many a Shiva, I appreciated it.
  • Denis O'Hare had some great Abernathy moments this week, especially when he took everyone in chambers and told them to take a breath. Other stuff seemed almost improvised, like his forgetting his gavel (which served no plot purpose).