The Good Wife Recap: Integrity Check

Parallel Construction, BitchesIs there anything more fun than seeing the fire ignite behind Alicia Florrick’s eyes when she’s being underestimated by an opponent?

The midseason premiere of The Good Wife gives us one such “she is woman, hear her almost imperceptably growl” moment plus SO. MUCH. CRAZY. ACTION. (No, I’m not just talking about Kalinda and Cary dancing in the sheets, although yes, there is that.)

There’s no way I can even begin to recap every twist, turn, countermove and subtext contained in “Parallel Construction, Bitches,” but here are just a few of the highlights:

SOMETIMES, THE CASE OF THE WEEK IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG | We kick off the episode with Alicia getting a visit at home from Charles Lester (Wallace Shawn), the outwardly bumbling but ultimately scary personal attorney for Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter), Chicago drug kingpin and one of Florrick-Agos’ top clients. Bishop’s facing jail time thanks to a realtor who spotted him making a special “delivery.” But upon closer examination — and with an assist from outwardly and inwardly bumbling Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler) of Lockhart-Gardner (which reps Bishop’s legit businesses) — the witness’s timeline crumbles.

IS THERE A MOLE AT FLORRICK-AGOS? | Alicia, Lester and Bishop all wonder if the DEA is using a confidential informant’s testimony and funneling it through the realtor. But Alicia’s the only one who totally discounts that someone from her firm — more specifically, herself, Cary, Robin or Clarke Hayden — played a role in the leak. In a comically frightful scene, Lester stands in the firm’s open elevator and tries scoring last names and personal info off his list of suspects, while Alicia scrambles to thwart him. And thus, Bishop and Lester perform a test: Slipping false info about a drug drop but giving four different times to Alicia, Cary, Clarke and Robin. Alicia’s the one who fails, though, and suddenly everyone realizes the firm and/or Bishop are under wiretap surveillance. Burner phones for everyone! Oh, if only the situation was so simple…

OHHH, SO THAT’S WHAT THE EPISODE TITLE REFERS TO… |  Jack Davenport (aka the Best Thing About Smash Except for Megan Hilty and a half-dozen incredible songs) winds up resigning from his post as an assistant US attorney in the midst of arguing the Bishop case, leading the Florrick-Agos folks to realize their probe of the wiretap is striking a nerve. As viewers, we know it’s the NSA who’s in charge of the bugs — the seeds having been sown many episodes ago — but it’s Cary who figures it out for Florrick-Agos. With the NSA’s wiretapping powers expanded, he explains, they sometimes share intel with other agencies (like the DEA) ; alas, though, since said intel is inadmissable, the other agencies must create “parallel construction” (i.e. finding a realtor who can say she saw Bishop delivering drugs, as opposed to the U.S. attorney admitting the info was gleaned from an unrelated tap.)  And thus, because the DEA accidentally tipped off Alicia to the fact that her firm’s phones are being surveiled, our merry band of information gatherers at the NSA cut ’em off. No more intel on Bishop! And no more case against him. But that doesn’t mean their work is over. (And here’s where, once again, you realize The Good Wife’s writers’ room has a carefully laid-out plan for every move it makes.) In fact…

…OVER AT THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE | Eli and Marilyn’s ongoing iciness continues. Which makes her an easy target when, walking down the boulevard, she’s ambushed by Nelson Dubeck (Eric Bogosian) from the Office of Public Integrity — who lures her into his spacious van, pumps her for info on rumors of election fraud, and reminds her that as one of the few players on the chess board without attorney-client privilege, she’s most likely to do a stint in the state pen. Plus, “It’s the right thing to do,” the scary dude adds, making the play that more than any other appeals to Marilyn’s black-and-white ethical outlook. Later, when Eli insists that Marilyn issue a report supporting the governor — even though she still has no freakin’ clue what exactly his role was in those stuffed ballot boxes from election night — she stands her ground. “You have a great talent for turning friends into enemies,” she says, ominously, and Eli underestimates the threat from within. Marilyn heads to a meeting with Dubeck — and hands him a memory stick with video of the ballot-stuffing baddies.

THAT DON’T IMPRESS ALICIA MUCH | Dubeck and his cronies sweep into Florrick-Agos with the video and play it for Alicia. “You look like you’ve seen this before, Mrs. Florrick,” Dubeck huffs, noting her non-reaction. “Really? What would I look like if I hadn’t seen it?” she purrs, so coolly you can practically see her breath in the air. And then, to add a twist of lemon in the verbal glass of vodka, she asks about the box-lifting heavies: “Which one’s my husband?” Dubeck is clealy taken aback by Alicia’s blasé attitude, but she breaks it down in terms he can understand. “I used to be like you,” she notes with condescension. “Certain, deferential to authority, thinking everyone being investigated is obviously guilty — it’s just a matter of time.” And then she tells him he ought to be investigated for something, that it might change him. For Dubeck, battle lines have been drawn, and he reminds her of her obligations to law firm and family before he goes back to his bunker to gather ammo for another attack. That magic bullet seems to appear when the NSA tips him off to a phone conversation in which Eli reveals to Alicia that Will Gardner is the one person who can truly hurt Peter.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A HEART THAT BEATS FOR ALICIA? | Dubeck pays a visit to Will’s office, offers him immunity for information that might expose the governor’s hand in a case of election fraud and coverup. (And no, attorney-client privilege doesn’t bind him in the case of “an ongoing conspiracy.”) But the big fish does not even sniff the bait. “If any of your questions touch upon Governor Florrick or the time I represented…” Will begins, before a flummoxed Dubeck cuts him off.  Has pleading the fifth, so to speak, ever seemed so ridiculously romantic and sexy? OK, maybe Will has other reasons for not being a witness for the prosecution, but my mushy inner core says it’s a deep, burning and yet-to-be-requited love for our titular heroine. Let’s see how your resolve holds up in front of a grand jury, Dubeck grumbles before stoming out. Maybe he shoulda rolled up next to Will on the street in his big, scary van, too.

KALINARY? | Sorry, nobody needs me making an attempt at a Kalninda-Cary couple name. (One may already exist somewhere in the world, but I try to avoid stamping my passport for that destination.) Anyhow, after a quiet and awkward round of cocktails in which Kalinda has the audacity to coo, “If you wanna get me to talk, just say ‘Talk.’ Don’t play games,” we finally see these hotties under the sheets together. (“Everybody on TV’s linens” > “Yours and my linens,” no?) Kalinda presses for info in the middle of the intimacy — of course! — and comes away thinking Cary was lying when he met with Diane and Will and warned them their phones might be tapped, too. Is love-lust messing with her street smarts? It’s not as steamy as the lonnnnnng wait Cary-Kalinda shippers have been waiting for, but I digress…

ALL THAT, PLUS A SUBTLE JAB AT EMMY’S PRIORITIZATION OF CABLE SHOWS OVER NETWORK FARE? | The episode begins with a jolt of “Am I on the right channel?” Yes, you are, but it’s just that The Good Wife is doing a spoof on cable’s vaunted place in the TV heirarchy, via a faux trailer for AMC’s Darkness at Noon. The dialogue here is hilariously awful.  “There are lines and then there are lines.” “You make your own lines.” “You can’t cross the line and act like you didn’t cross the line.” With Grace transfixed by what’s happening on screen, it’s no wonder Alicia needs a refill on her vino, no? 

TWO QUOTES I’VE GOT TO MENTION…
“I think Will and Diane end up getting it on.” –One of the NSA agents listening in on our principal players’ calls, making a massive miscalculation

“That was almost Will-like.”
“Thank you, Diane.”
Alicia and Cary, discussing a vicious bit of legal strategy he concocted

With that, I pass the mic to you. What did you think of The Good Wife‘s return? Grade the hour in our poll below, then expand on your thoughts in the comments!