The Good Wife: "Feeding the Rat" - Semi-pro bono

That sure was an episode of The Good Wife. It wasn’t especially good, except in the ways that the show is consistently and comfortably good (appealing actors, engaging relationships, snappy dialogue), and it wasn’t especially bad, either. It just seemed to have no narrative momentum. For a case of the week designed to follow a defendant from crime to false arrest to defense, we didn’t spend much time connecting with the guy, the way past episodes have allowed. The case tottered along and then sort of ended.

It’s biggest importance seemed to be in setting up other dominoes: the introduction of an AUSA to monitor Florrick’s office (and I good and guarantee you, to create romantic entanglements for Cary), the reintroduction of Julius Cain (to remind us he exists, I guess), and the rekindling of Diane’s do-gooder impulses.

I found the third of these the most interesting, but a bit hurried. Her road to Damascus moment was well within character, but still felt a bit abrupt in light of the real economic struggles she addressed early in the episode. I have a lot of trust in these writers though, and I suspect (and hope) that Diane’s decision to bring on a costly legal aid unit will mesh with the power play being set up by the highly-profitable Eli, in a way that drives multi-episode conflicts. I may be in the minority, but The Good Wife’s deft handling of office-politics storylines is one of my favorite parts of the show.

Which brings us to Will’s story, negotiating with Celeste to bring portions of her soon-to-break-up firm into the Lockhart-Gardner fold. I like Lisa Edelstein, and I liked her character’s introduction in last week’s “Get a Room,” with palpable tension between the former lovers. But “Feeding the Rat” missed a chance to build more on that relationship, and for someone supposedly important to Will’s backstory, she didn’t get very many notes to play. Instead, their haggling gave way to the false drama of Will deciding whether to accept an offer to join Celeste’s new firm (which of course he can’t do, dangled carrot of running Major League Baseball* notwithstanding).

*Try and tell me Josh Charles didn't have some input in that choice of outlandish incentive.

Yet it still generated some strong work from Josh Charles, including flustering him enough to let slip an accidental (“automatic, mechanic”) “I love you” to Alicia on the phone. It was a fitting stumble, honest yet unsentimental, caring yet guarded. A perfect nugget of The Good Wife even in the midst of a wholly unremarkable episode.

 

Other notes: 

  • Is it so much to ask that the writers throw us Sports Night fans a bone with a joke about Will and Celeste originally hooking up in Spain?
  • “Have you noticed, no matter how high we go, we’re still dancing to someone’s tune?” “Welcome to leadership.”
  • “Apple-cheeked?”
  • “I feel like you’re cheating on me.” “Only for money.”
  • “As what, a jazz combo?”
  • “What about work? All of us can’t chase our dreams. Some of us have to work.”
  • “What a sad thought that is. Losing what I love now to chase something in the future.”
  • “How was whoring?” “Unproductive.”
  • “You should’ve broken up on the phone.”

Filed under: The Good Wife

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