Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

The Good Wife Recap: The Wire

How obvious is it that November sweeps are over? After weeks of dalliances with recycled-from-the-headlines plots and stunt guest stars, it feels like our lover The Good Wife has returned. And she has returned with plot advancement by way of basketball games, wiretaps, closed-door meetings, and intense conversations with drug lords.

We start off with an excellent case: The government has been wiretapping a black Muslim alderman — who’s also a former Detroit Piston and Will’s basketball buddy — Matthew Wade (Mykelti Williamson, who played Bubba in Forrest Gump and the head of CTU in the New York season of 24; later we get to see another 24 regular, Reiko Aylesworth, as the government’s lawyer). Because the Feds couldn’t get the Blagojevich’s charges to stick, they’re now gunning to bring down any Chicago politician. The initial charge is corruption (or, rather, being corrupt while black), but the Feds have happened upon what they think is proof that Wade has taken money from Islamic terrorists, a charge that’s nearly unbeatable thanks to anti-Muslim bias and that could lead to a prison term of 30 years of life. The case particulars are intriguing enough, but the real fun comes from Alicia having to be stuck in a room for days on end listening to the wiretaps that also conveniently contain crucial bits of information regarding Eli Gold and Will’s Voice Mail of Love.

Who knew watching a single person sit in a tiny windowless room listing to CDs could be so amusing? First, there’s a very funny, very true construct called “2518 minimization,” a 30-second mandated break in the recording whenever the conversation turns personal, which leads to an array of exasperated reactions from Alicia when the recording stops just as she’s getting to the juicy stuff. We might start using it in conversation: “So, what exactly happened to your leg?” “2518 minimization.” Also hilarious is the Feds’ petty harassment of lawyers who have to come to their house to listen to the wiretaps. No pens, papers, or cells are allowed. The tapes aren’t marked and the calls aren’t labeled. Julius Cain (Michael Boatman, who’s been gone so long we forgot he was a member of the firm) warns his team that the Feds keep the rooms near freezing just for the hell of it. Alicia’s room appears to be boiling. She also doesn’t have working headphones, is using a CD player that predates mitosis, and has a chair that bucks her like a bronco; it’s missing a wheel. By the way, excellent pratfall, Ms. Margulies!

They’re looking for whatever makes the government’s terrorism case, most of which seems to be Wade joking about Islamic extremists with Royce Crombie, a guy who bundled campaign contributions and offed himself when the grand jury was assembled. But jokes aside, the government has an ace in the hole: After a $50,000 bundle from Crombie, Wade suspiciously decided to raze a squatter’s meth house and build a mosque in its stead, reversing his previous position and acting against the objections of his community and his campaign manager. As Kalinda finds out, the money didn’t come from Islamic extremists, but from Lemond Bishop, a drug lord and gang leader who needed that squatter’s house eliminated because it was the base of a rival gang whose territory he wanted. “What a defense,” says Diane. “Our client wasn’t working with terrorists because he was working for a drug lord.”

What made this episode so great was not just the zillions of revelations we got, but how those revelations came about from with each character’s little fiefdom. Will’s dealings always seem to take place on a basketball court, or with a basketball in hand. During a one-on-one game with Wade, we find out that the alderman is Will’s confidant when it comes to women; when Tammy walks in and Wade tells Will he’s glad he’s over his “schoolyard crush” on Alicia. Later, we get to watch the disintegration of that great friendship take place on the basketball court, when he confronts Wade about his collusion with drug lords. “Our only defense is that you’re just as corrupt as any other politician in this damn town!” screams Will, just before throwing a b-ball of Anger. (Also Will’s territory: spouting truisms about Chicago. Exhibit A: “In Chicago, you need your friends three times, at you wedding, your wake, and your first indictment.” Exhibit B: “It wouldn’t be Chicago if there weren’t a conflict of interest.” Exhibit C: See the earlier quote in this paragraph.)

Kalinda’s fiefdom includes poking around in other people’s business, wearing Sexy Boots of Justice (loved her dress in the Cary scene), and being the only person at the firm whom Cary seems to like. This little fiefdom, though, seems to be headed in a dangerous direction. Her confrontation with Bishop through her car window, which is pregnant with threats and requires the concealment of a pistol in her newspaper, makes one wonder if she’ll always walk away in one piece. And we now know through Cary that her fingerprints showed up on the scene of the brutal beating of Dr. Booth, the shrink from the pharma class action a few weeks who was hospitalized after a burglary at his home office. Blake had uncovered the witness who then discredited Booth, who couldn’t rebut because of his hospitalization, and Lockhart/Gardner won. Was that a look of competitive fire when she found out the witness was Blake’s, or a tinge of fear, knowing Blake has no compunction about beating a man to near-death for a case? Blake’s version of events seems to be that he burglarized the place but accidentally left the door open, and leaving the good doctor vulnerable to another assailant. Cary and Kalinda seem to believe that Blake stole Kalinda’s baseball bat, used it to beat the good doctor, and then planted her fingerprints at the scene. “This will not end well,” Kalinda hisses to Blake as Alicia seems to register that something very wrong is going on between the two of them. We’ll predict right now that we think there’s going to be a violent confrontation between the two of them by the end of the season, and that Blake is going to wind up shot. We do, however, like where this Kalinda-Cary friendship is going and think it’s going to prove significant in this violent confrontation.

Zach, meanwhile, is operating his private muckraking operation with Becca via the fake Glenn Childs Jr. Facebook page they made. After they post a video depicting Glenn Jr. and his dad watching a double rainbow in the same sleeping bag together, Glenn Jr. (who actually exists; we hadn’t been so sure) confronts Becca and fights with Zach. Eventually, Glenn Sr.’s campaign manager gets even by posting a video of Grace screaming at a tracker about how her dad only slept with one hooker. “One hooker!” Now that this Grace thing has dropped, we suspect that Zach’s new Somolian-born, ear-piercing-advocate girlfriend, Nisa, will be gone as quickly as she came. Zach is going to want to get back at the guys who did that to Grace, and Becca is his only friend with enough scheming experience to pull that off. Plus she showed twice this episode that she’s not afraid to play on other people’s racism, first by suggesting they make fake Glenn Jr. say something racist about Wendy Scott-Carr on his Facebook page, and second by pointing out to Grandma Florrick that Zach’s new girlfriend is black. The look on Gramm’s face said it all.

As if we didn’t suspect it already, Diane is starting a new firm with David Lee, the Derrick-hating head of family law from last episode. Why she’d chosen to scheme about this secret move in her glass-walled office for everyone to see, we’ll never know, but the deal is set to move in a couple of weeks, prompted, it seems, by Kalinda having discovered that Will and Derrick were planning on pushing her out. We like that Diane had to take the lead on the Wade case, because it helped prove what a formidable force she is. Going up against the very funny Ana Gasteyer, reprising her role as the “in my opinion judge,” she catches on to the need to keep repeating “in my opinion” much faster than her opponent. As she says with a smirk to the government lawyer, “I’m sorry. Was that in your opinion?”

Behind the scenes, too, she’s proving a bigger schemer than we suspected. When Alicia tells her that she believes Eli is being wiretapped, Diane tells her not to tell anyone, including Eli and Josh. Then she calls Eli into her office to ask her to come to her new firm. When he, predictably, refuses to move unless he knows where Mrs. Florrick is going, Diane breaks out the news: “You’re being wiretapped. You’re going to need a good lawyer.” Our guess is that Alicia stays with Will and Diane takes Eli, who is convinced somehow that Alicia betrayed him by not telling him about the wiretap earlier, creating division not only between Alicia and Eli, but Eli and Peter.

From Eli’s wiretap, we learn that he has a daughter who is trying to live on a kibbutz in Israel, that he trust Alicia’s opinion because she’s smart, and that he may or may not be up to something shady that he doesn’t know if he can tell Alicia about. “She’s burdened with a … what do you call that thing? A conscience,” he tells Wade. That conscience leads Alicia to subtly suggest that she and Eli only talk in person, adding yet another entry to the Alan Cumming Reacts to Things Hall of Fame. Alicia: “Eli, how are you?” Eli: “Good. [Panicked pause.] Why? What’s wrong?”

And from Alicia’s fiefdom, within that little wiretap room, we have two major revelations. The first is the voice of Ruthie Yamaguchi, a Chicago girl turned Obama aide, on the tapes. Diane shrewdly requests that Ms. Yamaguchi be subpoenaed: “We understand that Ms. Yamaguchi works for President Obama and that there may be some reluctance to hear President Barack Obama’s name mentioned in the same sentence as Muslim and terrorist, but, in my opinion, that should have no impact on the path to justice.” Within five minutes, the government miraculously drops the case.

The second, of course, is Alicia’s sudden realization about Will’s Voice Mail of Love. While talking to Wade on the tapes, Will tells him he “choked” when he was first talking to Alicia at her husband’s press conference, but that he called her twice and she never even called him back. That handy 2518 minimization prevents Alicia from hearing what Will said on his voice mail, but the recording comes back in time for her to hear Wade chastising Will: “Spill your heart in person. You don’t do it in a voice mail!” She run-walks out of the FBI building, pausing to catch her breath and listen to Will’s “Let’s drop it” VM that preceded the lost VM of Love. But we’ve also seen Will falling deeper and deeper for his ladyfriend Tammy. She’s the kind of girl who will sit in the bleachers drinking beer out of a paper bag while he plays basketball, and surprise him with 50-yard-line tickets to the Bears, along with black lingerie under a trench coat and a twenty-minute romp that Will is so eager to partake in he trips face-first over his coffee table. (By the way, nice pratfall, Mr. Charles!) Tammy also has this catchphrase, “If you fall in love with me, I’m out of here,” which almost certainly indicates her endgame is to get Will to fall in love with her. And when Alicia goes to Will’s office to ask if perhaps he left her another message that she never got, Tammy is there. But, honestly, what did Alicia expect? She’s married and he’s her boss, and he still doesn’t have the plan she requested. If our other predictions come true, though, perhaps the splitting of the firm, the subsequent Alicia-Will alliance against Diane, the implosion of Peter’s campaign owing to Eli’s wiretapping, and the violent turn of the Kalinda-Blake situation, will finally throw these two together. They might even get an actual Night of Love to replace that stupid voice mail.

Photo: CBS