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The Good Wife Recap: Waiting Game

"Boom De Yah Da"--Democratic  strategist Frank Landau (Mike Pniewski, center) forces Eli (Alan Cumming, right) to work with Jordan Karahalios (T.R. Knight, left) a savvy campaign manager, on THE GOOD WIFE, Sunday Jan. 6 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Let’s see, where were we? It seems like eons ago that we last checked in with the L&G crew, what with their office raids and financial precariousness and semi-revolting bathroom sex. Maddeningly (and typically for this show this season, unfortunately), many of the questions we were teased with last time went nowhere this week, namely:

  • Is Nick dead, or did he go to that purgatory in the writer’s room where the Kings send characters just long enough so we’ve almost forgotten about them before they’re suddenly sprung on us again twenty episodes later? See: Scott-Carr, Wendy. “No one disappears. They all come back like zombies,” says a none-too-pleased Eli when he and Diane see that it’s Peter’s placid former opponent (Anika Noni-Rose) who’ll be handling his DoJ inquiry. Noni-Rose is excellent at playing the shark here, and Eli’s understandably freaked.
  • What are “Peter’s indiscretions” really about? David LaGuardia offered Eli some kind of deal if he’d talk last time that never came through. (The office was raided first.) And there’s still that curious Venetian-blind pic …
  • Are Will and Hellinger going to take things to the next level, or are they just the new will-they-or-won’t-they couple who will tease each other (and us) interminably?
  • Finally, are Jackie and Cristian really luvahs?

A few of you in the comments are getting impatient with these meandering mini-plots. Is any of this going anywhere? It seems like the show has been priming us for some sort of dramatic reboot for months now, and I agree that it’s getting harder to hold out hope that it’s coming at all. Will Maddie ever claim her supervillain mantle? Is Alicia going to do something definitive about her relationship with Peter? At the midpoint last season we were just dealing with the end of Willicia. Where’s this season’s real arc (beyond the bankruptcy stuff, which, how many more times do we need to watch Diane tell Will that the settlement on the table will really really help them?)

Could the shake-up come from Canning as the firm’s new creditor? This is certainly an odd twist, but it barely seems meaty enough to create major change unless Canning and Hayden join forces in some unstoppable way. Or could it come from Jordan Karahalios (T.R. Knight) going head to head with Eli? We know since he’s wearing a hoodie, in the universe of this show, that he must be a tech mogul or a wunderkind (or maybe both), so perhaps there are some surprises from his corner. We sat through an excruciating run of psychosexual Nick and way too little Cary so far, there has to be some sort of payoff, right? Right? We’ll try to hold out hope a bit longer.

On to the few things that went right this episode. The case of the week was an interesting, timely one about foreclosed houses and West Nile virus, and got in a few digs at holier-than-thou bankers. The family of 15-year-old Kayley Spence is suing Atlantic Commerce bank, the group who foreclosed on a handful of properties in their area and allowed the swimming pools to go stagnant and attract West Nile mosquitoes, one of which bit and infected poor Kayley, who was a former ballerina and is now confined to a wheelchair.

Will and Cary are running the deposition back in Chicago, opposite a prickly Martha Reed (Grace Rex), of “Marthas and Caitlins,” whose testy questioning suggests she’s probably fitting in just fine at Canning’s firm. Alicia’s out of town to depose the bank president Wilkes Ingersoll (James Rebhorn) near his ranch in Minnesota, and all of the babbling brooks and woods so lovely, dark, and deep get Alicia nostalgic for the quiet she had as a pinot-swilling housewife. But before all that, she has to face Louis Canning, who’s as squirrelly as ever protecting his client’s interests. Seems Ingersoll is so busy and important that some urgent something or other keeps getting in the way of his appearing for the deposition. He says he’ll be back later, and Alicia’s not so sure, but Diane and Will tell her to wait it out.

Remote location, all of that empty time, no cell service — seems like the perfect setting for some sort of meaningful, fish-out-of-water set piece, and it just about looks like it’s going to happen when Kalinda arrives at night to bring Alicia clothes and booze. Alicia’s happy to see her, and this relationship does feel like the one that’s actually going somewhere from week to week, so there’s that, but I wish things had turned out a little weightier or at least more fun than they did, à la the last time we saw Alicia after-hours on a business trip.

Here it’s all forlorn, wistful admissions that stop a beat too soon. “You know what I miss about my old life?” says Alicia, staring straight ahead. “At home in the afternoons I would drink every day at three o’ clock, a glass of red wine. Waiting for the kids to come home. I miss the silence in the house at three.” Wait, what? Didn’t she ever have to carpool?

“I miss this,” says Kalinda, meaning Alicia, them, their bond. “I’m sorry.” For sleeping with her husband? Allowing her crazy ex to threaten Alicia? For being part of what broke Alicia out of that gauzy pinot bubble? Even though it’s the most direct and vulnerable Kalinda’s been, perhaps ever, I wish she could have gone just a little bit further. Alicia won’t meet her eye contact, and in another moment they’re on to deposition talk. Baby steps?

Things get wrapped up shortly after with the case when Kalinda figures out Canning and Ingersoll’s big secret: Ingersoll has cancer. He needs to reveal it to his shareholders, and that would likely botch the proposed merger that’s on the table with another bank, so L&G strong-arms him into a hefty settlement, promising to keep things off the record. “This is beneath you, Alicia,” tries Canning. “No, unfortunately, it’s not,” she replies. The Alicia/Canning dynamic has always been an intriguing one, what with their competitiveness and then the job offer and now his slithery guile that helps Alicia up her game. Here’s hoping there’s more where that came from.

Loose threads:

  • Canning’s wife really is lovely, isn’t she? As Alicia notes her disbelief that a bastard like Canning could bag her, he works the cad angle: “Women like bastards. Didn’t you notice that? It’s like a challenge. Beauty and the beast. It fits in with all the fairy tales you grew up consuming.”
  • Now with Tamara “the Empress” Tunie as the mediator for the L&G bankruptcy, this is the fifth actor with a serious song and dance background to appear on this show! (Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, Anika Noni-Rose, Kristin Chenoweth.). C’mon, Kings: Let them do their thing!
Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS