Good Wife Recap: Fresh Off the Goat

Even during its most serious episodes, The Good Wife has delivered moments as funny (if not funnier) than the majority of network comedies. Yet while that’s a major selling point for CBS’ most deliciously twisty drama (I’d present Season 6’s “Oppo Research” as Exhibit A), I’m a little worried creators Robert and Michelle King have started to become a little too fond of sitcommy devices — including, but not just limited to Eli’s closet office — these last few weeks.

Peter Florrick is now a serious threat to Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and yet we’re supposed to believe his highly sought-after campaign manager would dress him and Alicia in Barack and Michelle Obama winter-weather drag — then dump them in a balmy school gymnasium — for his official “I’m running” speech? (To put it another way, you landed Margo Martindale for a recurring role — and this is the best material you can cook up for her?)

Diane Lockhart has long been one of the smartest, hardest-nosed and screamingly liberal attorneys in all of Chicago, but now suddenly she’s come down with a case of white-privileged-foot-in-mouth disease that’s left her a pair of boxer shorts and a mid-afternoon nap away from looking like Howard Lyman?

And while it’s always a delight to see Ugly Betty standout Michael Urie back on my TV screen, is there a Good Wife fan on the planet who wanted the Kings to reopen the NSA wire-tap subplot of Seasons 5/6?

Granted, there are plenty of intriguing balls in the air in Season 7: Lucca Quinn is an ambitious delight; Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Jason Crouse is a possibly dangerous enigma; and I’m still waiting to see whether/how Eli and/or Alicia might choose to detonate their bombs on Peter’s national ambitions. But I can’t lie and say “Lies” isn’t my least-favorite Good Wife installment since Season 6’s are-you-daring-me-to-change-the-channel “Mind’s Eye.”

Raise your right hand and tell the truth if you’re in agreement. But even if you’re not, grab an Alabama Slammer and stick with me for a recap of this week’s installment:

CASE OF THE WEEK/CAN OF WORMS | Alicia and Lucca tackle the case of a Silicon Valley exec who loses her job after she’s caught in a lie about her résumé during a company-mandated polygraph test. Turns out, though, the real reason for her firing is her involvement with a side project — an app designed to predict outcomes in TV series based on their pilots — that’s been purchased by the NSA to predict terrorist behavior via wire-tapped phone calls. It’s as complicated as Avril Lavigne’s first hit single, but it leads Alicia to reach out to former client Jeff Dellinger (The Office‘s Zach Woods) for help. Little does she know, she’s back on the NSA’s radar — thanks to the app’s applications — much to the delight of the techs who’d previously found themselves so entertained by her personal and professional dramas. Alicia and Lucca wind up scoring an unexpected settlement for their client, but when the name Edward Snowden is innocently dropped, it scores the NSA guys an extension on their 48-hour tap, and puts Alicia right back in the agency’s crosshairs. Those of you complaining about Good Wife story arcs repeating themselves, here’s more fuel for your fire… The episode ends with the NSA guys watching a video of bleating goats synced up with Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and just like that I have to question the seriousness of everything from the 57 minutes that preceded it.

RUN, FLORRICK, RUN! | Eli and Ruth meet for drinks — I do not believe for a second Eli would choke at the taste of an Alabama Slammer, or more accurately allow Ruth to see him choke on it — but the bottom line is she wants him in her corner now that it looks like Peter might be running for the presidency, not just for a spot as Hillary’s veep. Somehow, Ruth becomes obsessed with making Peter’s announcement look exactly like Obama’s — right down to wardrobe and setting! — and this makes absolutely no sense to me. DOESN’T THIS CAMPAIGN PRO REALIZE THIS TYPE OF “SINGLE WHITE FEMALE” OPTICS WOULD MAKE PETER AN IMMEDIATE LAUGHINGSTOCK??? (It’s not like Ruth is drawing parallels with a president of yore, but rather the man who’s currently in office!) Also, the lame subplot of an “interfaith breakdancing competition” stopping Peter from announcing in the same place as Obama feels as dubious as a tale from Ben Carson’s early years. I expect my Good Wife laughs to be prime-cut, not bargain basement.

Alicia, however, realizes Eli is scheming in some way — against Ruth, maybe against her hubby — but she’s more bothered by her chief of staff’s judgmental “huh” when she makes a margarita in front of him and uses her finger as a stirrer. She has a right to be suspicious, we learn, as Eli turns up the heat on compromised bond-court Judge Schakowsky, and gets him to secure the cooperation of the man who arranged the hack of the voting machines for which Alicia’s campaign took the fall. Eli’s strategy is to get DNC chief Landau to introduce Peter at his big speech, then leak Landau’s malfeasance to the media, but then Schakowsky drops a bomb: Peter is just as complicit as Landau, and wanted to rig the election to help his wife. And just like that, Eli’s uncertain if he wants Alicia destroyed as collateral damage in his quest for revenge. We’re left with the cliffhanger, though, of whether or not he’ll do the right thing. (Actually, what is the right thing in this case?)

RUN, ALICIA, RUN! | Alicia, worried about malpractice insurance for her budding firm with Lucca, begins looking into their freelance investigator’s checkered past. The judge that Jason punched back in New Jersey warns Alicia that Jason will “eat away at your life from the inside” and warns she should read The Sociopath Next Door for clues to how he’s wired, but Lucca’s digging into the case yields intel that Crouse and the judge both walked away from the alleged assault without a scrape. The story, as they say, is developing…

MEANWHILE, AT FLORRICK-AGOS-WHITEY-WHITENSTEIN | As Cary, Diane, David Lee and Howard interview prospective associates, a young African-American candidate named Monica Timmons gets hit with inappropriate question after inappropriate question, such as Howard’s “What are you, Nigerian or what?” — but also by Cary’s assumption she’s from a tough neighborhood and Diane’s assumption (upon hearing she’s a Maryland native) that she’s automatically from Baltimore. The line of questioning makes sense for clueless Lyman, but I don’t buy it for characters as sharp and sensitive as Cary and Diane. There are an infinite number of more interesting ways to explore the need for diversity in the workplace than such a clunky, out-of-left-field story arc, but apparently this is where we’re headed. Monica has been secretly taping her interviews, and cuts together a damning highlight reel she shows to Diane, along with the scathing indictment that she doesn’t want Ms. Lockart’s understanding or advice — she needs a job. And just like that, I kinda wish that The Good Wife had cut loose Christine Baranski and Matt Czuchry prior to Season 7 rather than shoehorning them into the story in such unfortunate ways. (Shout your disagreement in the comments if I’m way off the mark here, OK?)

What did you think of this week’s Good Wife? Are you troubled by the direction the show and some of its story arcs have taken the last couple weeks? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

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