The list of things I love about The Good Wife is long, but very near the top of that list is the way it so carefully establishes its characters—protagonists and antagonists alike—to have clear, relatable motives. It so expertly mines the nuances of both personal and professional conflict between smart, ambitious people, but it takes care to seldom cast anyone as a clear hero or clear villain.
That’s important to keep in mind, because antagonisms have sprouted up everywhere since last year’s closing arc. Season three opens with some new battle lines drawn and old ones heavily filled out in thick black ink. (The title “A New Day” reflects more than just the show’s move from Tuesdays to Sundays.) Like the beginning of season two, the state’s attorney’s office has added a new player with both personal knowledge of Alicia and a nagging grudge against her.
As he notes, Peter Florrick is even more familiar with how she thinks than Cary is, and he wastes no time taking advantage. His gambit to preemptively counter Alicia’s defense of a University of Chicago student sparks the case of the week (and yes, skirts the edge of prosecutorial misconduct), but more importantly it signals a promising season ahead for Chris Noth, as peerless a smarmy son of a bitch as any in the business.
The case itself, centering on a University of Chicago student accused of murder in the midst of flaring tensions between Jews and Muslims on campus, zips from one development to the next without much time to breath. But that’s fine, because it’s mostly designed to establish the new working arrangements around Lockhart Gardner.
Eli has set up his lobbying shop in house, which makes as much narrative sense as any reason to keep him around would, but leaves me wondering if he’ll get as much juicy material without a high-profile political campaign. Alicia and Kalinda remain cold as ice towards one another. And as for Alicia and Will...
For starters, introducing them each in turn stepping off an elevator, with a particular spring in their step, is a sly callback to the last time we saw the two of them step into an elevator. Tossing in the strains of “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” is a bit too on-the-nose, but hell, the characters and the show alike have earned a moment of blatant strutting. Not to mention their even more blatant onscreen climax, which fit perfectly with CBS’s utterly shameless marketing campaign for the season but still felt very, very right for these two at this point.
- Kalinda and Will don’t get too much time together, but their scene at the end was a great reminder of how well they complement one another. If Alicia and Kalinda form the poles of Lockhart Gardner’s cynicism scale, Will is fairly well situated in the midpoint, both tilting towards and pulling against whichever of them he’s paired with.
- “What’s the crisis?” “Where’s the management?”
- “Do you watch the evening news, Eli?” “Religiously.”
- “I don’t like being used.” “Really, since when?”
- “I don’t know what’s going on with you two, but make it better. Whatever you have to do. Make it better.”
- “Do you want the address?” “Where’s the fun in that?”
- “What about Home Ec? Maybe that’s where the knife came from.”
- “You’re being a bit rude.” “Yes. And I’m just getting started.”
- “What’s the range of fire?”
- “Diane thinks I’m going too hard on you. Am I? Going too hard?”
- “Sort of like Irish Spring. But with Arabs.”
- “You’re really a sonofabitch.” “I am. But now I’m you’re sonofabitch.”
- “If it helps our cause, I could find out if he’s a top.”
- “Maybe you need a dog. Kalinda and Pooch. Out investigating.”