TVLine's Performer of the Week: The Good Wife's Christine Baranski

Christine Baranski The Good WifeA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER Christine Baranski

THE SHOW | The Good Wife

THE EPISODE | “A Precious Commodity”

THE AIRDATE | Oct. 13, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE | It’s no accident that Christine Baranski is a 10-time Emmy nominee (and one-time winner), but last week’s installment of The Good Wife served as an excellent reminder why the actress is widely regarded as TV royalty.

VIDEO | The Good Wife‘s Christine Baranski Previews the ‘Alicia-gate’ Blow-Up

“A Precious Commodity” opened with a wordless scene in which Baranski’s Diane Lockhart processed the sudden flood of regret she felt after giving a damning interview to a law journal about her good friend and partner Will Gardner — a move she’d made to secure a nomination for a coveted Supreme Court judgeship. In Baranski’s deft hands, there was no need for expository dialogue to express the character’s realization that she’d compromised her principles and needed to come clean about it.

Of course, after Diane confessed her indiscretion, setting in motion a behind-closed-doors effort by Will and Lockhart-Gardner’s higher-ups to force the named partner from the firm, we saw the proud, steely side of a woman who, while she’d been disloyal in this one instance, had also guided the firm to financial stability in the wake of Will’s six-month suspension (and near disbarrment).

Baranski was devastating — and devastatingly subtle — in her scenes opposite Josh Charles’ Will: Diane practically trembled with anger as she refused to be driven out by “ghouls” like David Lee, daring her adversaries to have her escorted from the building by security. At the same time, though, we could see her processing how much her politically driven move had hurt Will, adding an undercurrent of sadness and regret to the proceedings. As Diane made the case that her package couldn’t be handled in the same way as other partners who’d exited the firm, reasoning how she’d given her whole life to its success, Will made the case that it was impossible to “negotiate appreciation.” And that’s when Baranski delivered a line as sharp and merciless as a steel blade: “That’s right: That’s why you’d better do it with money.” And with that, she exited her office, the gauntlet thrown down.

It was a reminder that Diane Lockhart, humane and lovely as she may be, is not a woman to be taken lightly. And in the same token, Christine Baranski is an actress whose brilliance cannot be ignored.

HONORABLE MENTION | For an instant, you may have thought that Scandal was setting the scene for some angry sex-on-a-table between Mellie and husband Fitz. But what followed was far more frothy. Bellamy Young never fails to entertain as the First Lady who will always place second (if not lower) in her husband’s heart. But her dandelion wine-infused testament to how her “happy ending” does not involve a certain dead Gladiator regaled us to no end. “Olivia Pope being blown to bits — that’s your dream, isn’t it?” Fitz posited. “Oh, no. That’s my nightmare,” Mellie countered, launching into a damnation of even the thought of martyred “St. Olivia Pope” and detailing how a living, breathing adversary empowers her to control the leader of the free world. “She’s the strings that, if need be, I will pull to make my puppet husband dance,” Mellie beamed. “So cheers, baby — I live to fight another day!” And then she teetered out of the room.

Which performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off in the comments!