Is Lockhart, Gardner and Bond about to lose its Lockhart?
That viewers are willing to even consider that question is a testament to how well the Good Wife writers have shaped their season-long, law-firm-in-crisis story — forcing us, against our better TV judgment, to entertain the notion that a main character might get booted from her crucial-to-the-series position.
That we care is a testament to Christine Baranski, who with each week has made Diane Lockhart a richer, sexier, more sympathetic example of a principled professional woman who refuses to be anyone’s pushover.
And if in all this internecine partner warfare we haven’t lost sight of the “good wife” herself, that’s a testament to Julianna Margulies, whose rock-solid performance and sheer star power allow the show to shoot off in multiple directions without diminishing its central character.
With tonight’s pivotal episode, which brings the partnership fight among Diane, Will (Josh Charles) and Derrick Bond (Michael Ealy) to a head, Good Wife completes its transformation from good show to one of TV’s best — a proudly adult, enjoyable, complex drama that can hold its own with any on TV at the moment.
And it has done so by giving viewers the best of both story-telling worlds, providing (on most weeks) a well-done, self-contained court case mystery while also successfully spinning out its various season-long stories.
That juggling attempt is not unusual for a TV series. What’s unusual is how many stories Good Wife has kept in the air — the scheming partners, Peter’s upcoming election, Kalinda’s battle with Blake, Alicia’s family problems, Alicia’s love triangle — and how compelling each has been. And in part that’s because, like the best series, Wife realizes it doesn’t have to advance each of them every week.
This week, the partnership fight shares space with an election story that gives more airtime to the show’s smartest post-premiere addition: Alan Cumming, who is ceaselessly entertaining as Peter’s campaign manager, Eli Gold.
As for the weekly case, it involves a jailed and tortured Chinese dissident (Lost’s Ken Leung), who’s suing the company that turned his IP address over to the Chinese government. It’s not one of Good’s better mysteries, but it does take a turn that exemplifies the show’s ability to use these cases to advance the characters’ relationships without getting too heavy-handed or self-referential.
There has never been a weekly series in which every episode, every moment and every story clicks, and Good is no exception. As wonderful as Archie Panjabi is as Kalinda, some of her character’s battles have bordered on the melodramatic.
And while Dreama Walker’s Becca has provided some fun moments, particularly in her clashes with Eli, a character who is supposed to be a too-old-for-her-years teen comes across as being simply too old to be a teen.
But those problems are unlikely to deter any Good fan from enjoying tonight’s outing, or from appreciating the way it keeps you guessing over the vote’s outcome until the final hand is raised.
When it comes to voting for Good, count my hand way up.
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