‘The Good Wife’ 15-16 Recap: Venison and a Robocall

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Finn and Diane work together on The Good Wife. (photo: CBS)

Episode 15 – “Open Source” 

After the interesting experiment in form that was “Mind’s Eye,” things are more or less back to normal for The Good Wife. In the case of the week, Florrick Agos & Lockhart goes after the designer of a 3-D printed gun that misfires and seriously injures a guy at a gun range. Because it’s a gun case, Kurt McVeigh (Diane’s husband) is brought in to testify. Finn is playing for the home team (finally), and the defense is led by none other than Nancy Crozier. Billy Magnussen (always terrific) plays the gun designer who has no problem being all the way crazy on the witness stand. Because he’s so crazy, he records videos of himself talking about his plastic guns, and Kalinda makes an 11th-hour discovery that helps Diane win. The customary twists and turns of this case exist only to shine a light on Kurt and Diane’s marriage, which has always been a sort of “opposites attract” proposition. These two are a modern-day Katie and Hubbell, with a happier ending. Yes, Diane pisses Kurt off on the stand, but in the end, it’s all solved with a trip to Wyoming to hunt deer with rich people. Any story featuring Kurt is always welcome because of what Kurt awakens in Diane. She tells him he makes her feel like she’s 22, and Christine Baranski really sells that, especially when Kurt and Diane are hooking up in a car.

Meanwhile, Alicia’s campaign (or, at least, Jon) wants to take the offensive against Peter, booking her to speak to a group called the Black Business Leaders so she can effectively trash Peter’s hiring practices. Eli, who will always and forever be the Robin to Peter’s Batman, hates this idea, and he and Jon square off. Jon ultimately gets his way, and Alicia criticizes Peter in the speech, and all is well. The chemistry between Alicia and Jon is real, and Craig Turk’s script does a nice job of delaying our gratification until the end of the episode, when we get another kiss between the two (this time initiated by Jon). It’s just a shame that this relationship has absolutely nowhere to go. Like, nowhere.

The most interesting relationship in the episode, however, is the one between Alicia and her opponent in the race, Frank Prady. Frank’s been dogged by rumors that he’s secretly gay — remember that Alicia’s campaign had no problem exploiting these rumors (gay dinosaur ad, anyone?) — and when Alicia asks him why he doesn’t just address the rumors head-on, Frank admits that he’s a divorced Jesuit. To remarry would be to essentially commit adultery. That’s the line Frank won’t cross. This was a great scene, not only because of what we learned about Frank, but also because of the layered performances of David Hyde Pierce and Julianna Margulies. The look that flashes across Alicia’s face when she realizes her moral center isn’t nearly as defined as Frank’s is devastating. Over the past eight or so episodes, Frank and Alicia forged one of the strongest bonds of the season (for better or worse), a byproduct of their competition. Battling your opponent will, at a certain point, force you to bond with him, because you realize that you’re the only ones with the stones to get into the ring at all. Alicia’s really going to miss this race.

However, I can’t say that I feel similarly, mostly because the State’s Attorney’s race is this thing that just won’t end. The last moment of Season 5 was Eli’s light-bulb moment as he turned to Alicia and told her she should run. Then we got three episodes of Alicia swearing up and down that she wasn’t running, and then we got a few episodes of her half-heartedly starting to run, and then Frank arrived, and Alicia sort of decided she really wanted to win. As well-crafted as individual moments on the journey have been (like the dressing room scene this week), the storyline has plodded along so slowly over the course of 15 episodes that we start to forget what the point is. Imagine for a moment the Aaron Sorkin version of this campaign. We’d be treated to all kinds of stumping and several impassioned speeches per episode in which Alicia declared What She Believed In. Yes, those kinds of flourishes can be contrived, but we need them in order to get why Alicia’s running. She never fully seemed to buy into the campaign; it feels like something she did because some dudes told her to.

Speaking of people Alicia’s going to miss, there was a strange Louis Canning story in this episode involving Canning’s kidney transplant. Alicia goes to visit Canning in the hospital, and he feeds her a sob story about the 13-year-old girl whose kidney he received. Canning wants to do a mitzvah and give $18 million to the family of his donor. One problem: his estate lawyer is none other than David Lee, who’s dragging his feet because he wants the money to stay with the firm after Canning dies. So Alicia goes into beast mode and vows to get the money to the girl’s family, only to discover that the family may or may not have ties to Hamas. (Just because they’re pro-Palestine?) Eli smells a rat and thinks it’s a move by Canning and David Lee to sabotage Alicia’s campaign. Here’s the problem with all of that: who cares? This late in the game, it doesn’t make a ton of sense for Canning and Lee to cook up a scheme like this when they presumably have other, much bigger fish to fry.

Also, remember Cary? Is he just too exhausted from almost going to prison to have any more stories? And remember Kalinda? Remember the really illegal thing she did to save Cary? Anyone? Bueller?

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Oliver Platt guest stars on The Good Wife. (photo: CBS)

Episode 16 – “Red Meat” 

This is the second recap in a row that starts with me gushing over the Diane story. Yes, Alicia won the election (thank God that’s over), but I’m starting with Diane because her story was just… better. First and foremost, can we talk about that hunting suit and the full-on Marilyn Monroe pout Diane did in the mirror? Can we talk about it? This recapper is overjoyed at any opportunity The Good Wife gives Christine Baranski to flaunt her very real comedic chops.

Speaking of chops, Diane eats venison this week, and that’s actually a story point. Up in the mountains of Wyoming, on vacay with her man, Diane spots Gil Berridge, founder of Kracker (the best-named web browser ever) and a billionaire many many many times over. She sees a chance to replace the billables that Chumhum (the best-named search engine ever) provided, and sets her sights. She goes to work trying to pitch the firm to Gil’s “wife,” only to discover that she’s his, um, hired help for the weekend. Sure, say the rich guys, bring your escort, as long as she’s not a Democrat!! Har har har har.

But Diane, as we know, is a pretty rabid Democrat — that picture of her and Hillary Clinton in her office is very prominently displayed — so when she gets the chance to go out to where the menfolk are hunting deer, she can’t help but get into a debate about abortion with another rich guy, Reese Dipple (played by Oliver Platt). Ultimately, though, they have to put the debate aside, because they spot a deer that needs killing. Diane’s reluctant to pull the trigger, but she does, and the deer becomes her dinner very shortly thereafter. This story is quite effective as laid out in Nichelle Tramble Spellman’s script because something seems to have been awakened in Diane. This trip didn’t feel like something for the writers to do with Diane for an hour just to keep her busy; in an ideal world of story, we’ll be feeling the ripple effects in the new Diane when she gets back to Chicago. Several episodes ago, the show dipped its toe into something resembling resentment between Diane and Alicia over the State’s Attorney’s race and how it consumed all of Alicia’s brain space. Diane was left to pick up Alicia’s slack with the clients, and wasn’t happy about it. Now that Alicia has won the race, the balance of power at the firm is uncertain, but that tension between these two women is something the show hasn’t explored thoroughly enough for my tastes.

Alright, so I guess now I’ll talk about the State’s Attorney’s race. As a Chicagoan, I did enjoy seeing a lot of Rob Johnson (an actual Chicago newscaster) on Alicia’s television. I also enjoyed the Peter of it all, as he risked bringing down Alicia’s entire campaign just to remind her who wears the pants in their marriage. Peter deliberately (totally deliberately, and I won’t be convinced otherwise) depressed turnout in the election by getting on camera and saying Alicia was a shoo-in. To save the ship from sinking, Alicia’s campaign people arrange for a cast member from The West Wing to do a robocall. Peter swoops in and saves the day, though, by giving an impromptu speech that ties up all the Prady voters in traffic. Alicia’s pissed about all this, and her confrontation with Peter was appropriately heated, and of course Alicia brought up Ramona. (Remember her admonition to “stop banging the help” in episode 6×09? Yeah, she’s not over that.) Although, Alicia doesn’t really have much of a leg to stand on in that department, considering how her tongue was just last episode down the throat of her campaign manager. And don’t even get me started on Finn.

Okay, well, since I’ve started… Finn brings Alicia a shoot-em-up video game to distract her from Election Day. The parallel between this video game and the actual shooting Diane did in Wyoming was a bit heavy-handed (a gun on a gun), but I can’t really be that mad at any excuse for Alicia and Finn to bond. A knife went through my heart when Alicia asked Finn to dinner and he told her he was seeing someone. Then again, he totally offered to bail on that girl to go to dinner with Alicia, so it can’t be that serious.

Anyway, Alicia wins, but not before the graphics department at that local news station kept us all in utter suspense. Where was Grace, though? For her to be conspicuously absent from the apartment and the victory celebration was bizarre. And speaking of absent, it looks like Jonny Elfman is gonna take that job in L.A. after all. Better to put two thousand miles between him and Alicia, since he knows nothing can ever come of it. Oh, well. They got in a couple of good makeout sessions, so they’ll always have that. I really hope we went through 16 episodes of Alicia running for State’s Attorney so some juicy stories can come out of these last few hours of the season. Now that Alicia is the county’s chief prosecutor, will she have to go after one of her own? Will it be Kalinda? Archie Panjabi only has a few more episodes before her exit, so I’m dying to see whether the Kings & Co. will give her a fitting goodbye. Lord knows that Lemond Bishop runner this week didn’t do her any favors.