The Good Wife
Save for a knockout kiss in its final seconds, last night’s episode of The Good Wife was surprisingly unhurried, considering it was set during the last 72 hours of Alicia’s campaign. Sure, there was a last-second flurry of activity around Alicia’s run (and around Louis Canning’s non-deathbed), but the majority of the episode focused on, of all things, 3-D printing, the first and second amendments, and guns.
Diane — along with Finn Polmar — is representing a man who was paralyzed in an accidental shooting at a gun range. Rather than suing the shooter, the plaintiff is suing the designer, Chris Fife, who posted an open-source design for the gun online, to be used with 3-D printers. Fife argues that he has a first amendment right to share his designs however he wants, and that by doing so, he’s democratizing access to weapons. He talks a lot about things like getting firearms into the hands of rebels in third-world countries, but doesn’t bother to mention how those rebels would get their hands on 3-D printers — and the expensive materials they use to print — in the first place. Denis O’Hare, guest-starring again as Judge Abernathy, speaks for us all by frequently popping up and talking about how horrifying all of this is, especially the idea that someone could print a gun in four hours flat.
Diane asks her husband, Kurt McVeigh, to testify as a weapons expert, and it’s clear his presence in the courtroom is a turn-on for her — after he testifies for the first time, he (ahem) pulls her trigger while they’re parked in the parking garage. When Kurt finds that the printer designer might be culpable, not the weapon design, Diane adds the printer to the suit but doesn’t drop Chris Fife from the suit. It’s not a matter of her thinking Fife is at fault in this particular case; she just wants him stopped. Kurt says he “won’t testify for a crusade,” Diane throws a subpoena at him, but then, ultimately, it’s all moot — an anonymous party comes forward with a $5 million settlement offer, as long as the plaintiff signs an NDA. We’re led to believe the settlement came from the NRA, although I wondered whether Kurt himself had anything to do with it. Then again, he’s rich, but probably not “Oh well, I guess I have a spare $5 million lying around?” rich.
Toward the end of the episode, just before they plan a joint, conciliatory deer-hunting trip together, Diane apologizes to Kurt for letting her “political passion” drive a wedge between the two of them. But Diane’s response to this case didn’t read as unduly political to me. She never says so explicitly, but her actions seemed like the actions of a woman who lost a friend and colleague to gun violence less than a year ago. It brings a nice emotional energy to a complex, cerebral story line, and I’m continually impressed with The Good Wife’s ability to both teach me something and tell me a story at the same time.
Maybe it’s just the extent to which David Hyde Pierce is nailing this role, but I really, really want Frank Prady to win the election — not just because I want him to continue appearing on The Good Wife, but also because he’s so much BETTER than Alicia. Even after she lies to get the editorial board endorsement, and even though there are only a couple of days left in the campaign, he still won’t go negative. His campaign manager convinces him to at least attack Peter, and he does, insinuating that when Peter was state’s attorney, his office used racist hiring practices.
Elfman initially advises that Alicia go after Peter, too, then recants when Eli tells him he’ll withdraw the reference he gave Elfman for a new job in Sacramento. Learning of this, Marissa immediately loses all respect for Elfman, storming away after saying, “God, handsome men are SO weak.” Elfman ultimately decides that the campaign and Alicia are more important than whatever’s waiting in Sacramento — or at least more important than doing whatever Eli tells him — so Alicia finds herself backstage at an event for African-American businesspeople, sharing a green room with Prady. (Honestly, when someone who’d seen the episode before me mentioned the “surprise kiss,” I thought it was going to happen here, between the two of them.)
The frank little chats these two have been having all season are oddly endearing — they’re part of what make Prady so appealing as a character and candidate — especially this one, in which Prady explains, once and for all, that he isn’t gay. He’s a Jesuit, and according to his religious beliefs, if he’d married again after his divorce, he would have constantly been committing adultery. Somebody just stole St. Alicia’s halo. Alicia goes on, gives her speech, and calls out Peter; when she gets back to her apartment, Elfman’s awkwardly bumbling around outside her door, and they kiss! Again. Still, it’s all very exciting.
Meanwhile, Louis Canning has just barely survived a kidney transplant, and he calls Alicia in because he wants to give all his money to the family of the woman who donated his kidney, and David Lee (Canning’s estate lawyer) isn’t picking up the phone. Alicia agrees to help him — something she later chalks up to her fondness for bad boys, which is a massive yet accurate understatement — but David then tells her he contacted the girl’s family already, and they want the money to go to a pro-Palestinian charity. David contacted the State Department, and the charity is too new for them to know whether or not there are ties to Hamas. Understandably, David doesn’t want to wind up in federal prison for accidentally abetting terrorists. But later, after Eli calls Alicia to ask whether she’s sending money to Palestinians because “word is getting around,” she starts to wonder whether she’s being punk’d. She goes back to see Canning one more time, and he denies pranking her — or ever asking for her help in the first place. “I was in a fugue state!” he protests. Uh-huh. Sure.
Unless the story line gets stretched even further somehow (which would be both annoying and impressive), it seems like we’ll learn the result of the state’s attorney’s race next week. Back when Alicia announced her run, I was hoping she’d win, but now I’d rather she didn’t. The show has really struggled to give a fair shake to all of its characters with Alicia so invested in a story line away from the day-to-day work of the law firm. And the case of the gun and the 3-D printers made me miss the days when The Good Wife focused on a new, smart, engaging case every week. This show has always been the story of Alicia — after Josh Charles left the show, the showrunners published an open letter referring to the show as “the education of Alicia Florrick” — but I wonder what the show still hopes to teach her, and whether her learning those lessons will come at the expense of the rest of the show. We’re about to find out.