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The Good Wife Recap: All That Glitters

"Death of a Client"--Alicia (Julianna Margulies) runs into Mike Kresteva (Matthew Perry), Peter's political rival, on THE GOOD WIFE, Sunday March 24 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

This week’s TGW had the highly unusual structure and tone of a Twin Peaks–Gosford Park mash-up with a dose of Hitchcock thrown in. (Flashbacks! Drunken crooners in kilts! Fisticuffs at a white-tie party!) Whether or not you went for it I would imagine depends upon your appreciation for that sort of thing I’m somewhat on the fencebut regardless, there were plenty of great moments dotted liberally throughout, plus the return of a cartoonish Matthew Perry as Mike Kresteva and everyone’s favorite sex-obsessed grandmother Stockard Channing rolling through to take her underage grandkids to a bar and blow their minds with buried family secrets and inappropriate asides. (Sample gem: “Young men are such great kissers. So anxious, it’s like food to them.”)

Before we get to what happened, the big news:

  • Poor Will! This episode saw him suffering through two quasi-breakups, one with Alicia at the police station for the already-over-relationship-that-keeps-on-giving, and one with Diane, who may end up taking a Supreme Court justice position if Peter wins the election. The deep affection between them when Diane tells Will that accepting would mean “stepping away from our partnership” was palpable and flawlessly acted by them both. If we ever needed an illustration of how blurry the lines between work, life, and identity are for the L&G crew, it was this moment. Brava to Christine Baranski yet again for embodying the emotional challenge Diane is weighing with this professional and personal decision, which, argh, was left as a cliffhanger until (hopefully) next week.
  • Carma/Carlinda acknowledgement, in public no less! When Kalinda drops by the Shamrock Ball to ask Cary about that Eddie Lomax drug dealer business to help Alicia back at the station, he tells her to be careful in his best concerned/sexy tone and grabs her hand/ass as she turns to go. Easy there, kids — keep that kinda thing up and one glance from an eagle-eyed Eli will blow this wide open.
  • Peter can throw a punch while in a penguin suit, cover his tracks cleverly, and smirk about it on the way out. Well played.

But on to plot threads: The case of the week was a bit of a red herring, and more literally just a vehicle for Alicia’s flashbacks to the sweet days when she had bangs and afternoon delights with Will. (Sidebar: Those two clearly had a thing for taking work calls mid-canoodling. Who else is going to wonder now if the reason their lawyer sounds a wee bit distracted on the phone is because he’s having his ear nibbled?) The great Australian actor John Noble (Fringe) plays Matthew Ashbaugh, an eccentric and superrich tech mogul whose murder sets things off. Seems he was a longtime client of Alicia’s at L&G, and he’s kooky and litigious so he likes to sue everyone from annoying dog owners to the telephone company. He speaks with a spacey lilt and travels with his own wireless speakers so he can hear Bach wherever he goes. 

Detective Douglas (Will Chase, a.k.a. Michael Swift on Smash) wants Alicia’s help in identifying enemies Ashbaugh might have had, but it’s tricky to do since the man had eighteen cases pending, and he thought the Mossad was after him, and there’s the whole attorney/client privilege thing. He ferries her away to the police station, where — lest we forget — it is still St. Patrick’s Day so there is drunken mayhem galore going on while Alicia watches the video footage of her client being shot in the head at point-blank range. Yikes. Hellinger arrives to be flirty and cute and help Alicia muddle through what she should do. There’s chatter about police corruption and flashbacks to physical altercations, but really this is all a buildup to the big twist Douglas drops which is, drumroll, they found the killer’s car, and Alicia’s address was entered into the GPS. Whaaaat?!

Meh. This is kind of annoying to write about now after we know it was all a setup, especially because watching the episode multiple times with hindsight makes that moment where Douglas runs to catch Alicia as she’s leaving to tell her about the discovery seem totally lame. Seriously, faking this thing, TO A LAWYER no less, has to break a million laws. Also: We’re all for Kalinda cracking cases with her SexyBoots magic, but the payoff of her resolving things by knowing that the 2006 Zephyr doesn’t come with GPS is also pretty weak, cause, like, couldn’t the dude have used a portable GPS system?

But fine, it was a reasonably effective drama-creating device to get Alicia’s emotions heightened and to propel grandma to get the kids out of the house for a great, bawdy set piece at Kincade’s (thanks, @CAVandy!), where we learn that Zach and Becca did it; Grace and Prince Darklord are officially bf/gf; and young Alicia was adventurous, liked bad boys, and, oh yeah, her wedding was actually of the shotgun variety. More Stockard Channing please!

Meanwhile, Alicia being the political Good Wife that she is did not want to bother Peter with this whole our-family-could-be-the-target-of-a-murderer business while he’s trying to curry an endorsement from that avuncular old Cardinal at the Ball, so she calls the other man whom she knows will come running. (And Kalinda, too, who looked about to close the deal with a comely massage therapist at the bar. Bad timing!) If it took all of that to finally get these two in an open, non-office setting to straight talk with each other, I guess we’ll have to accept it.

“We’re keeping each other from moving on,” Alicia says, as Hellinger looks on from the next room. Bingo. Will’s expression: pained, knowing, the stuff of modern love. What’s next for him? A rebound with Hellinger? It’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy imagining he might soon lose Diane as well. But in the end, the murder plot was a ruse, Ashbaugh was killed by an angry dog owner, Alicia and Stockard Channing have a mother/daughter bonding moment, we’re left hanging on the Diane decision, and the Cardinal did not endorse either candidate. “It’s always the philanderers who go to Jesus,” said a rueful Veronica on the way to the bar with her agog grandkids — but not quite this time. 

Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS