The Good Wife
If there’s one thing we learned from “Restraint,” it’s this: Never get in Diane Lockhart’s way when it comes to the First Amendment.
Let’s start at the beginning. Diane is still working with the conservative think-tank headed by Reese Dipple (a tragically absent Oliver Platt) and Dipple’s henchman Ethan, played by Peter Gallagher. I like to pretend that Peter Gallagher is playing his character from Center Stage on The Good Wife, having become a conservative think-tank operative after the demanding life of ballet choreography became too stressful. It makes the subject matter of this episode far more manageable. Trust me.
Ethan approaches Diane with a surreptitious video of a doctor at an abortion clinic — it’s not Planned Parenthood, as the show takes pains to point out — who talks about harvesting and selling fetal tissue. Her explanations are frank and explicit, made all the more disconcerting by the fact that the doctor is eating a bowl of frozen yogurt as she explains how to manipulate a fetus during abortion to harvest particular organs. To be clear: I am on the doctor’s side. But, it’s a lot to take in — the episode earns every second of its explicit content warning — and I understand exactly what Diane means when she says, “The majority of Americans only support anything if they don’t have to face the fact of it.”
Diane is also the doctor’s side, but agrees to cross-examine Ethan’s hand-picked defendant, who’ll sue the doctor and the clinic. She’s not particularly compelling in court, but that doesn’t matter — someone filed an injunction to block the release of the video. This is where Diane really suits up. A fight about abortion is now (also) a fight about the First Amendment. This doesn’t make it easier for her to sit next to a simpering conservative in court, but she clearly believes she’s doing the right thing.
Diane stays unshakable in that belief, even under the scrutiny of her fellow liberal friends — including Kelly Bishop herself — and through the twists and turns of a very contentious courtroom battle, where she and Cary make arguments based on whistle-blowing policies, recording consent, and everything in between. She even bears up nicely when she has to take advice from that idiot summer associate who chauvinistically offered to “kill spiders for her” earlier in the episode.
The judge pulls Diane into chambers, then tells her that he knows she doesn’t agree with her pro-life clients. He wants to know if she’ll help make the video go away. This, she cannot abide. In a blaze of raised eyebrows and outdoor-voice glory, Diane calls him out in court. By the end of it, she tells Ethan to find new counsel and still stands up for her beliefs. See? This is what happens when you give Christine Baranski something to do. (It would’ve been nice if Cary didn’t just play sidekick, though. Aside from the Howard Lyman business, has he had any substantial story lines this season?)
Meanwhile, a second ripped-from-the-headlines story plays out at Peter’s campaign. Courtney, who agrees to support Peter, implements a base-level salary of $70,000 at her company — just like the Seattle-based company Gravity Payments did earlier this year. Eli doesn’t think this policy will mesh well with Peter’s campaign strategy. In Michelle and Robert King’s world, GOP strategy is nuanced and thoughtful. In our world, GOP strategy is basically, “Yes, I’d kill Baby Hitler.”
Eli asks Courtney to wait until after the election to carry out the new salaries, which doesn’t seem like something the chief of staff of a woman married to a dark-horse presidential candidate should be allowed to demand from a billionaire entrepreneur. Nevertheless, he sends Alicia to give her legal advice about the proposed raises; Alicia halfheartedly tries to talk her out of it. Courtney doesn’t budge, even when her (dreamboat) ex-husband threatens legal action about the company’s potential devaluation. Eli’s motives remain murky until he’s in Courtney’s office with her, late at night, with the door closed, and she asks why he’s still there. “I’m not good at this,” he says, and it’s utterly charming to see how bashful he sounds, since he’s been Eli Gold: Man on a Mission of Destruction all season. They kiss, and it’s awkwardly delightful.
Oh, and last week’s big cliff-hanger? Alicia asked Landau to order a study about which voting machines to use, and apparently, he’s furious. Eli suggests that they file all of that under “ongoing disasters,” which seems prudent.
Back at Florrick-Quinn, Grace asks Alicia how she can contribute more to the firm. In a voice that’s condescending even for Alicia, she encourages her daughter to cold-call businesses and ask if they need legal counsel. This, yet again, raises the question of whether Grace should be in school instead of answering phones for her mother, but she tackles the job with gusto — especially after Alicia halfheartedly agrees to give her a half-percent commission on any business she pulls in. After a few dead ends, Grace decides to do two things: She plays ambient office noise in the background while she makes her calls, and she repeatedly refers to the firm’s “Midwest offices.” Through that skill and a heap of good timing, she lands four huge clients — all of whom were fleeing Lockhart/Agos/Lee to protest Diane’s support of her anti-abortion clients. Alicia and Quinn are thrilled, especially since their attempts to poach Louis Canning’s clients failed so spectacularly.
Afterward, Grace matter-of-factly tells Alicia that her commission is $35,800. (“Cash or check is fine!”) Is it too late for Grace to run for president? Just wondering.