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TV Review: The Good Wife – “Get a Room”

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In last night’s episode of CBS’s The Good Wife, “Get a Room,” Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Will (Josh Charles) are forced to mediate with a former girlfriend of Will’s, Celeste (Lisa Edelstein, House, American Dad!). Celeste tries to use what she knows about Will to gain an advantage, while Alicia agrees to play dirty to help their side. The mediator does side with Alicia, but she feels bad when he calls her out on her sneaky tactics.

Alicia is a “good girl,” as well as a good wife, when the series begins. There has been a slow transition in her character to someone who can be a bit naughtier. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, she finds some moral grey area where there wasn’t any before. But it also makes her seem like a freer, happier, more well-rounded person. Whatever else her relationship with Peter (Chris Noth) is, it is a bit suffocating for her. Seeing Alicia being truly happy, even if that means stepping on a few toes, is worth the price.

One can credit Will with much of the change. Finding pleasure in his arms, she loosens up sexually. Alicia may seem a bit prudish and repressed to most, but she is not that way when flirting with Will, as evidenced by the fact that she offers to dress in costume for him; an American Revolution costume, no less. Will is allowing Alicia to find her sexiness, and they seem to enjoy each other’s company. It’s really a win-win situation for the couple.

That is, it’s a win-win unless Will is in love with her. Alicia’s brother, Owen (Dallas Roberts), keeps trying to get Alicia to talk about her new lover, but she refuses. This leads Owen to figure out that Alicia is just using Will as a fun release, not because of a deep emotional connection. Sure, Alicia and Will are old friends, but she isn’t fancying him for the role of husband number two. instead, he’s a secret that she keeps just for herself, and that makes it even more tantalizing, but not so important.

Might Alicia be, at least in part, trying to figure out what causes Peter to stray? Knowing all the things he did, maybe her affair with Will is her way of living out some of that fantasy life and better understanding her husband. Or, maybe she just wants to get even. They are separated for now, but the circumstances of Will and Alicia’s current arrangement open the door for a possible reconciliation later on. Both Alicia and Peter will have to find a way to forgive and move on, making the split two-sided instead of one.

The problem with that scenario is that Alicia may choose to work with Peter against the firm, intentionally or not, as she eventually tries to repair her marriage. Diane (Christine Baranski) is already worried about such a conflict, and has secured Will’s blessing to sack Alicia should that occur. This is a very real possibility with the path Alicia is currently walking.

The major B plot in “Get a Room” involves a bunch of school kids puking their guts up, possibly because of the cheese that they eat. The cheese people come to Eli (Alan Cumming) for assistance with their image, and he convinces them to retain Lockhart / Gardner as counsel. This leads to a major conflict, as what is in Eli’s clients’ best interests for public image does not necessarily gel with what is in their legal interest. Diane and Eli fight for control of the situation, even in front of the client.

It’s a very exciting battle of wits between Eli and Diane. Both are very strong characters who are not often challenged by equals. That’s because they have few equals. Yet, in this case, both are extremely intelligent and well matched; and both are completely correct in their respective approach, as per their business. This makes the struggle for power between the two of them not only entertaining, but complicated and intense. Pitting the two against each other is a stroke of genius for The Good Wife, and one that will hopefully crop up again.

Eli is involved in another struggle at Lockhart / Gardner, this one more of a longer arc. He discovered Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) skills last week, and continues to make good use of her in “Get a Room.” While it’s cool to see the two interact, and for the audience to experience yet another character impressed by Kalinda’s mad skills, this presents a problem. After all, the rest of the firm already relies pretty heavily on their sexy investigator. With Eli pulling her time and attention, she’s spread pretty thin — Will and Alicia have to wait for evidence for their mediation while Kalinda looks into the cheese situation. This balance cannot last long, and will soon erupt into another (probably juicy) showdown.

The Good Wife thrives in subtlety, as well as conflict. Kalinda and Cary (Matt Czuchry) make or may not have had a relationship, but he’d certainly like to. That’s obvious because of Czuchry’s wonderful acting, and the tension the two build in multiple scenes and a passionate kiss. In “Get a Room,” Cary actually calls out Kalinda on said tension in a mostly unsatisfying way. Was there once a relationship there? Might there be in the future? Did she break his heart, or lead him on? Surely Kalinda didn’t mean to hurt one of the few people she is close with, but apparently nothing serious ever blossoms between them. Shame, that.

A couple of final random tidbits… Now that Zach (Graham Phillips) knows that it’s Peter’s fault that Alicia kicks him out, how might Zach’s relationship with his parents change? At minimum, he will no longer treat Alicia as the bad guy. Also, will Grace (Makenzie Vega) ever stop being so easily influenced by others? Might Jackie (Mary Beth Peil) begin to better tolerate Owen, and vice versa?  And, how will Celeste working at Lockhart / Gardner affect Will and Alicia’s relationship? Might Will be inclined to go back to someone else when he learns that Alicia isn’t ready for something meaningful with him? Celeste could at least be a good rebound/comfort for him.

Watch The Good Wife, as outstanding as ever, Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. If you DVR it, be sure to check and make sure it starts on time, as CBS’s NFL runover can push the show back, an inexcusable offense, in this reviewer’s opinion.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome is the creator and writer of It's All Been Done Radio Hour, a modern scripted live comedy show and podcast in the style of old-timey radio serials, and the founder of the Columbus-based entertainment network, IABDPresents. He is also the Chief Television Critic for Seat42F.com and a long-time contributor for Blogcritics. Plus, he works fiction into his space time. Visit http://iabdpresents.com for more of his work.
  • Flo

    Hello! Nice review jerome! (I’m wellwellwelles on twitter btw).
    I really liked this episode.

    I wouldn’t be so categoric on the Alicia/Will affair though. It’s interesting because the last scene, when Alicia is talking to Owen, I get the feeling that the whole point of the scene (and especially for the last shot on Alicia’a face) is to make us doubt Alicia’s assessment that her thing with Will is just a sexual relationhsip. Was she really open with Owen here? So far in this episode she wasn’t so…..
    What exactly have Will and Alicia? Does Alicia really know at this point? Not so sure.

    This is what I like about this show: it’s very subtle and there is often a shot that can make you doubt what you thought was for certain. I’m not sure Alicia is just using Will as a sort of rebound. Also on this episode and since the beginning of the season, there was no indications that Alicia wants or would in a future reconcile with her husband. I’m not saying it can’t happen later but I’m surprised you talk about it in this episode review.
    When Alicia learned that Zach knows about Peter and “another woman” I had the impression she was thinking about Zach’s feelings and reaction and not about her and her husband.
    That being said, you bring interesting thoughts about it and yes one day Alicia may want to look at all this with new perspective.

    The scenes between Diane and Eli were intense indeed. We’re seeing the flipside of the coin of mixing politics and law in this firm, in a way. However, it also shows that Eli and Diane are so good in their respective jobs that they might form a redoubtable (?) team.

    I also like the poker mataphor and way of dealing in the Celeste/Will confrontations and how it worked for the current case. The whole back and forth was well done IMO. I don’t know if Celeste will really work for Lockhart/Gardner (Edelstein is only there for 2 more epis) but I like the character. A gambler who is not afraid to stir the pot but at the same time not a totally unpleasant character.

    It was interesting to see Kalinda struggling again with another friendship. Cary is right when he said that she is using her sexiness and other people’s feelings to her advantage but that also doesn’t mean that she is not sincere. On the other hand, her way of dealing with people sure can be counter-productive when it involves people she really cares about. Poor Kalinda.

    So all in all it was a great episode even if, like you, Grace’s tutor is freaking me out. Seriously, what is wrong with that girl?

  • Thank you for the fantastic, well thought out comments!

    You are right. Alicia is frequently hard to read, and that’s if she even knows her own mind. Plus, people do change.

    While there is nothing between Alicia and Peter in this review, I chose to talk about it simply because if she doubts Will, and if she;s just playing with him, this opens up the possibility that what she is doing still has something to do with Peter. I very well could be wrong about that. Just some musings.

    Again, you’re right that she’s more concerned about Zach than herself. But she could dwell on other implications later. I sense that Alicia is the type that would lie awake at night thinking.

    Eli and Diane, if they can get on the same page, would be unstoppable!!! I’d love to see it!

    Edelstein could always extend her run. Or return.

    I don’t know, but I am tired to Grace falling for gimmick after gimmick. She needs to grow up!

  • Flo

    You’re right Alicia is taking a turn here but it’s still fresh and deep down she really could lie awake at night thinking as you said. We’ll see how this new side will turn out and if it will stand.
    In this episode we also see the influence she has on Will. That was really interesting to see his ex-girlfriend and see what kind of guy he is now.

    Grace was the typically “daddy’s daughter” who were so disappointed by the frather figure that she’s now totally lost. Plus she always been more of in the shadow of her brother, more shy and impressionable. She really needs to grow up indeed but she’s still quite young. We’ll see.

    Eli and Diane are just too good together. 🙂

  • Louise

    I find the entire program disgustisting. It is Hollywood’s way of shoving the homo scene down the throats of society whether we want it or not.

  • That’s right, Louise, Hollywood is using this one TV show to corrupt and pervert every heterosexual in America.