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TV Review: The Good Wife – “Death of a Client”

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Resuming suspense mode after last week’s relatively easygoing episode, The Good Wife fulfilled that installment’s promise of bringing us into the white-tie Shamrock Dinner, a St. Patrick’s Day gala to which Alicia (Julianna Margulies) gets to wear a stunning red dress that should have gotten its own notice in the “guest star” credits. Both Peter (Chris Noth) and his Republican opponent Kristeva (played by a returning Matthew Perry, effectively cast against type as a stop-at-nothing conniver) are invited.

There’s plenty of non-realism in this episode, beginning with the character of Kristeva himself. Beyond the fact that his wickedness is just plain over the top, he now engages in the kind of false-rumor spreading that real politicians have lackeys do for them (plausible deniability, don’t you know). In disseminating a false story about Peter and Alicia’s son Zach in a drug arrest, Kristeva goes over the line, whereupon Peter pays him back in kind and then some, in equally unrealistic (but highly entertaining) fashion.

Peter’s goal at the gala is to win the unofficial endorsement of an influential Cardinal, all the while supervised by an even more nervous than usual Eli (Alan Cumming). Alicia is there to play the truly “good wife” and help firm up Peter’s reputation as an upright family man. But almost before she can grab a drink she’s hauled away by a policeman bringing news that a litigious client (a creepy John Noble, seen in flashback) has been murdered – and Alicia’s home address was found on the perp’s vehicle’s GPS.

Just barely controlling her panic in the kind of scene Margulies is so shockingly good at, Alicia phones home and gets her kids and her detached, free-spirited mother Veronica (Stockard Channing, returning, one hopes, not for the last time) out of the apartment. Finding their cars parked in, this mismatched trio dashes into a bar where, in another piece of extreme non-realism, they actually get a table. On St. Patrick’s Day. In Chicago.

Well, it’s a TV show.

Plot points are left unresolved, presumably for future episodes. Who murdered the client? As the legitimacy of the GPS finding comes into question, we wonder why the police would fabricate such a thing. And what about that possibly corrupt cop and his relationship with a drug dealer – and with the murdered client? Yet, while the tension comes mainly from Alicia’s fears for the safety of her family, exploration of the characters’ evolving relationships hold more interest. When the prosecutor (played by Amanda Peet) solicits Alicia’s advice on whether Will might be interested in dating her, it brings to Alicia’s mind, in parallel with her flashbacks about the overly litigious client, memories of lovemaking with Will. This gets to one of the show’s many positive attributes: its recognition that women over 40 are sexual beings, with Alicia the shining avatar. Peet’s character is developing nicely too; I hope she sticks around.

When Will, hearing about the threats and fancying himself a knight in shining armor, dashes away from the party to join Alicia at the precinct, it’s again clear these two haven’t been able to completely move on, whatever Alicia says and however well her reconciliation with Peter seems to be going. Incidentally, why isn’t Will’s tie white?

There’s even room for family drama in this action-packed episode, as Veronica reveals to Alicia’s kids a few family secrets that prove especially disturbing to teenage Grace.

Diane (Christine Baranski) gets a moment of character-expanding vulnerability when Peter offers her – pending his election, of course – the Supreme Court seat that opened up in last week’s episode. It’s been a while since we saw any hint of a love interest for the presumably 60-ish Diane, but her little-girl squeal at Peter’s unexpected offer speaks volumes about the thoroughly emotional soul inside her icy-cool, career-focussed demeanor. The repercussions of this for the firm are touched upon only briefly, but we may look forward to an amusing squabble over who, if anyone, will become a new name partner if Diane does end up leaving the firm.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.