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Review #3132: The Good Wife 3.8: “Death Row Tip”

Posted on the 15 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Story by Matthew Montoya
Teleplay by Robert and Michelle King
Directed by Joshua Marston

“The Good Wife” has done an episode about death row before, last season’s “Nine Hours,” which was an outstanding episode because of the ticking time clock element. That element isn’t in play here because Lockhart-Gardner isn’t in the business of letting a heinous child killer go free. Instead, the death row inmate in question provides crucial information that would solve a murder case that the State’s Attorney’s Office thought they had in the bag years ago. Also unlike last season’s episode, there is more than a singular focus on the case at hand. There are other plots in motion that the episode moves forward. Chief among this is an apparently brewing love triangle between Kalinda, Cary, and Dana. There is also a funny political scandal for Eli to handle, and Jackie looking into Alicia’s increasingly fractured home life.

Review #3132: The Good Wife 3.8: “Death Row Tip”

I will admit to the thought that the Case of the Week held my attention for a little while there. I think it tipped its hand too early with the admission that the SAO got things wrong when they first took on the case. This is a product of Lockhart-Gardner being right on most of the cases it takes on. The second victim — an affluent female — just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and caught a bullet for it. There’s no way to care about the case from the angle of the victim because we aren’t ask to care about the victim. The firm only acts on a tip from a death row inmate just hours away from being executed.

It’s also difficult to care about the death row inmate (unlike last season’s episode, where he was essentially a good man given a reprieve) because he’s presented as a bad seed who committed a terrible and gruesome series of crimes. There are arguments on both sides here, Alicia warranting a pro-death penalty stance while others are vehemently against it. I appreciated the fact that the show didn’t dwell too much on this argument, which would consume more time than the show is allotted. The guy does end up getting executed (there was a brief moment there where I thought he might get a stay), and seems to welcome death. It was really quite sadistic to see his mom and brother get dragged to the prison facility, only to have the guy laugh in their faces.

The case affects Cary’s relationship with both Kalinda and Dana. Kalinda is up to her usual self-serving motives in trying to get a crucial piece of information for the case (and it ends up helping them find the actual killer, even if he ended up dead trying to run from the police). But she does so with a price, as Dana tries to squeeze out more information from Kalinda for her office’s own investigation into Will’s shady dealings in Baltimore. Frankly, I thought the writers could have better uses for Kalinda than engaging in this juvenile three-way tease with Cary and Dana. It looks like Cary is committed to Dana, but still has an inkling for Kalinda, and it really feels played out even before it began. Even Cary knows that Kalinda has to have some ulterior motive for everything she does. That’s just how her character is built. It has been as such since the beginning. Kalinda uses people and discards them just as fast. This tells me nothing new. So unless someone commits to actually doing something, I’ll classify this as the writers/creators trying too hard to slyly wink at the audience and move on.

Eli gets the comedic storyline yet again. He deals with a Congressman that his friend Mickey was asking him earlier to vet. The Congressman is immediately embroiled in a scandal involving a lewd photograph from his college days. It does speak to what politicians now have to deal with in the age of “social media” and it predictably turns out to be an avalanche of bad press for the client. Eli is a smart guy and I thought he would’ve seen the further embarrassing revelations about the Congressman coming (absolutely no pun intended). The subplot is out to give some light to balance out an otherwise dark and serious episode, but I get the sense we aren’t done with this since Mickey told Eli that his candidate will likely run against Eli’s ex-wife for State Senate. So we’ll see how that develops in the future.

All of the office shenanigans obscure the aspects of Alicia’s home life that were briefly touched upon here. Alicia isn’t home much, consumed by her work, and Grace and Zach basically have free reign over the house. Jackie stops by under the guise of picking the kids up and/or watching them. She sees what has to be classified as oddities in her mind: Grace’s tutor with her face entirely painted in wild colors, Zach interacting with the daughter of Eli Gold, and sexy clothing in Alicia’s hamper. It looks like Jackie wants to find incriminating evidence confirming Alicia’s affair with Will, but the subplot just stops when Jackie can’t quite figure out how to turn on Alicia’s laptop.

I have to feel this is going to continue as the season progresses. This was a solid, workman-like episode of “The Good Wife”, something the show is accustomed to doing. Nothing really stood out here, and while that may be cause for alarm on other shows, it doesn’t really detract from this one’s overall quality.

Grade: 8/10

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