The Good Wife: "The Death Zone" - Thin air

Well, they’re certainly not wasting any time putting the heat on Alicia and Will (so to speak), are they?

Nor is Peter Florrick, who for the second time in as many weeks busts out a stratagem designed to subtly cast Alicia as a liability to Lockhart Gardner. And frankly, I couldn’t be happier. To stretch out Alicia and Will’s secret dalliance all the way into, say, November sweeps, would insult the fundamental intelligence (not to mention cynicism) of the show and its core characters.

Now that Diane has caught wind of Alicia’s fractured marriage, I expect plenty of the juicy internal politics and calculated maneuvering that helped take season two of The Good Wife to new heights. Already we get a taste of it in the terrific final scene of Diane and Will circling each other guardedly. The dynamic between Christine Baranski and Josh Charles is one of my favorites in the series, the layers of trust and mistrust, of affection and antagonism, that speaks so well to many years of partnership in an inherently cynical profession.

Neither one is a robot though. Diane is as sincere in her tact and sympathy when she visits Alicia’s home as she is in her utilitarian rationale that an associate who impairs the firm—even unintentionally—must be dismissed. And Will, cornered, accedes…in principle, anyway. When it comes down to determining what constitutes hurting the firm in practice, I rather suspect things will get much more complex.

That willingness to cut loose an individual for the success of the whole informs the case of the week as well. While Diane can at least console herself that a talented lawyer like Alicia would land on her feet, there’s no such second chance for the man (perhaps men) who’ve been left to die on the side of a mountain by plaintiff-of-the-week Oliver Cardiff (John Doman, better known as Rawls from The Wire, because everyone who ever held a recurring role on The Wire will turn up The Good Wife before it’s all said and done).

This sojourn into the famously (notoriously?) plaintiff-friendly world of English libel law is mainly an excuse to bring on Eddie Izzard as a pugnacious solicitor, and Izzard does not disappoint. He’s marvelously unctuous in the trial proceedings, and even if Alicia parries his every thrust a bit too easily (berating him without much of a peep from the buttoned-down judge, amassing an overnight onslaught of tweets to introduce suppressed evidence into the record), it’s still awfully satisfying when she does.

Izzard’s even better trash-talking against Will after hours, both of them chomping scenery with palpable glee (“I’m the England of soccer hooligans. And the England of Jack the Ripper.” “Don’t use so many words. Intimidation isn’t a sonnet.”). The only shame is that he isn’t likely to join the ranks of recurring Lockhart-Gardner opponents any time soon, unless it turns out he’s conveniently passed the Illinois bar for some reason. And if they decided to shoe-horn that in, I actually would not complain.

 

Other notes:

  • I tweeted the observation that with English law, an Irish barrister on the Lockhart-Gardner side, and a plaintiff named Cardiff, this case was one Scot away from batting for the U.K. cycle. I was reminded that Alan Cumming, indeed, is that Scot. Hail Britannia!
  • Peter’s inching his way into straight-up villain territory, but since this show is too smart to fit anyone with a black hat, he’s not a complete creep. Give him credit for shouldering full blame for the separation in front of his kids, whether out of genuine remorse or a desire not to tarnish their mother in their eyes as well.
  • Eli’s B-story was, again, a bit light and disconnected, but the blossoming of an Eli-Kalinda tandem (both professionally and otherwise?) is too delicious for words. More please. Soon.
  • Also, I’m very amused that Eli straight up cannot stand anyone who’s come seeking his services so far.
  • “I’m stunned.” “Me too.”
  • “Have you noticed you’re turning into me? All those sports metaphors.” “A better version of you.”
  • “What happened with Weiner? Thought you’d be on that one.” “Oh, God. The day politicians discovered Twitter…”
  • “So is this some of that favorite stiff-upper-lip I’ve heard so much about?”
  • “And Benny Hill. Don’t forget Benny Hill.”
  • “Demure, huh?” “Change of plans”
  • “I think I’m having American Revolution fantasies.”
  • “What a colorful and pointless metaphor.”
  • “These are my associates. I don’t know their names, but they’re very expensive.”
  • “I could’ve, but that would’ve taken up less of your time.”

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