The Good Wife Recap: French Twist

Photo: CBS
The Good Wife
Episode Title
Je Ne Sais What?
Editor’s Rating

Unfortunately, it’s looking as though the only way to enjoy The Good Wife these days is to accept that there isn’t going to be much continuity between individual episodes. Character development, consistent tone, plot threads that seem to be progressing somewheresure, those things would be nice to have, but they apparently have little place in season four. Does Alicia have an interior life? Is Cary only pretending to be a main character? Do we really have to keep caring about the firm’s financial health because it’s just about the only continuous arc around? I’d love answers to those questions,
 love answers to those questions, but after this week’s episode, I’m beginning to think that we’re never going to get them and we should just stop expecting them. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it’s okay. Just okay, though, and we fell in love with this show when it was much better than okay. Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked “Je Ne Sais Wha?” quite a lot. It was challenging, fast-paced, and witty as hell, but how did it relate to last week’s clunker? Or the one before that? (Hellinger, anyone?) And, with the exception of the Elsbeth twist in the final moments, what did it give us to look forward to? But on to what happened.

Here’s a fun opener: Alicia’s got sex on the brain and two boob-shaped pancakes on the griddle. (Sidebar: At least there’s continuity with sex and food this season.) Who is she fantasizing about? That smooth torso certainly didn’t look like Peter’s. (Also: pancakes and bacon on a school day before she has to get to work? Nice going, mom.) But before the family scene can get too comfortable, Zach finds a link to an internal memo on Maddie Hayward’s site and needs to call Eli right away. Seems that Maddie has plans to work the racial-bias angle against Peter in upcoming adds, citing Cary’s promotion over Matan and Geneva and Wendy Scott-Carr’s dismissal, among other points. But wait, it’s Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston) on the other line, yay! At least with the return of our favorite spacey genius lawyer, we know things are about to get amusing.

Elsbeth’s in jail, sharing a cell with an exhausted-looking woman named Judy who’s clearly seen better days. She’s been arrested and needs Alicia’s help covering an arbitration hearing for her athlete client Anna Boday (Elizabeth Alderfer). Seems the sneaker company Erobos is reneging on their $5 million endorsement deal with her, even though their commercial was shot and she’s not in breach of contract. Elsbeth tried to question the company’s CEO after a speech he gave, and he had her arrested for harassment! Alicia takes the reigns of getting Elsbeth released from jail while asking Will to cover the hearing. He’s all, “I’m too busy,” until he hears it’s for Elsbeth. (A recurring theme this episode regarding Elsbeth).

Over at the arbitration, we get the real story: Anna’s been banned from Monday’s race for doping, so Erobos now has just cause to void their contract. Anna claims she’s never doped, and the positive drug test they have must be a mistake. On to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) to appeal, bringing a handful of delightful scenes that are probably as close as The Good Wife will get to European Vacation.

I wouldn’t have guessed this next bit would be as funny as it was, but bonus points for the excellent casting on these three CAS judges, only one of whom, Judge Villapique (Ronald Guttman), had I seen before. There’s an Italian, a German, and a Frenchman, and of course they play to cultural stereotypes just enough and mock Will’s mediocre American education when he can’t keep up with the proceedings in French, which seem quite arbitrary. There’s no objecting, and Anna’s not a defendant, she’s an appellant, and oh, also, they have to vote on consensus to allow you to question a witness. Ha! Diane to the rescue. Not only does she speak French, but she can sexily recite Rimbaud and agrees to skip her massage to help the cause.

It’s always a pleasure when you get those scenes when one character is assumed not to know the language the others are mocking her in, and then she busts in with a perfect accent having understood all of it. When Diane does this at CAS, dressing down Judge Villapique, who’s chortling with the other judges about their bumbling defense, it’s no exception, and it may be one of my favorite moments so far this season. Of course Judge V gets a little turned on, because who wouldn’t?

Meanwhile, back in jail, Alicia’s facing red tape to get Elsbeth transferred downtown for her bond hearing, and a bored Judge Politi (Vincent Curatola, a.k.a. Johnny Sack from The Sopranos) would like to help but can’t once he hears the jail is ordering a psych evaluation. Things eventually get wrapped up here, but of course Elsbeth fails the eval (ha!) but not before having a burst of inspiration that Anna’s false-positive hormone surge on the drug test may have been caused by a pregnancy. This is the key L&G needs to defend her, but unfortunately Anna doesn’t want to use it, since she aborted the pregnancy in a fit of selfish shame because she wanted to medal. Yikes.

Of course, it all ends up well in the end, as Elsbeth gets out of jail in the nick of time to create an international incident among the judges after she gets banned cyclist Dedrick Klein to testify to a bias on the part of Judge Villapique. “At least my athletes are not Nazis!” he lobs in a French fit, en français, to the German judge at the very end, and then it’s only a matter of time before they’re all toasting their win back at L&G.

Among all of this, we’ve got Peter and the racial-bias charges, dissenting among the ranks between Eli and Jordan Karahalios, and some of the unsexiest bus sex between Alicia and Peter that we’ve seen yet (scored to Edith Piaf, no less!). “Do I need to ask how we’re doing?” says Peter, as a smiley Alicia pulls up her thigh highs. She says no, but we wish she’d said yes. And the answer, for the time being — for her, or perhaps for this show overall — is not well.

 Loose Threads:

  • Great line: “When the law is an ass, someone needs to kick it.” —Judge Johnny Sack Politi, breaking protocol to allow Elsbeth to attend her bond hearing down the hall.
  • Eli’s rapidly morphing facial expression when he sees Alicia exiting Peter’s bus after it was so recently rocking. “Just the wife,” she smirks. Ew.
  • The horndog Italian judge’s Berlusconi-style leering at Kalinda when she saunters up in her leather skirt to give Diane a document during the proceedings. The ladies knew what they were doing, and we like it that way.