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Review #3380: The Good Wife 3.18: “Gloves Come Off”

Posted on the 22 March 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Story by Matthew Montoya
Teleplay by Leonard Dick
Directed by Michael Zinberg

I enjoyed this episode for its steady, well-paced flow between a myriad of scenes. “The Good Wife” tends to do this on a regular basis, but here, there seemed to be a confidence emanating from the material that was particularly standout. The overall story may not draw much interest, as Lockhart and Associates argue first over a wrongful death lawsuit, then brain trauma from sports injuries, but there is enough on the fringes to compensate for that. There’s so much happening in the space of an hour that it’s hard to keep track.

Review #3380: The Good Wife 3.18: “Gloves Come Off”

The firm debates on whether Will is doing things ethically during his suspension; Alicia still frets over the decision to buy a house; A former flame re-enters Will’s life and asks some uncomfortable questions about the affair he had with Alicia earlier this season; Diane furthers her love life. Even Kalinda takes this time to try and thaw tensions between her and Alicia. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was engrossed in all of it.

The Case of The Week (well, cases, since they do take on two of them) seemed at first to be pretty cut-and-dry. Julius and Alicia seemed headed to a hefty settlement for their client. Until opposing counsel brought up the possibility of impaired cognitive function from the client’s career as a hockey player into play as cause for the death of the man’s wife. Many different layers then start informing on the case. There’s a class action lawsuit that is being brought to the pro hockey league. So then comes the delightful surprise that Louis Canning clashes with Alicia and Julius in this case.

The show does a lot of things well, and this includes the use of major guest stars. Canning has this way of disarming people while working different angles to achieve his ultimate objective. It’s all in the name of winning for his client. He’s doing that, and he comes at Alicia to sweeten the job offer he proffered to her earlier this season. She isn’t making much headway with Diane when it comes to salary so she has to use Canning’s offer as leverage to keep her moored to the firm. This plays out quietly and filled with tension throughout the episode. My favorite scene of the whole episode was where Alicia threatens Diane with departure for Canning’s firm, only to have Diane coldly and curtly tell her to give her more time on the decision or leave immediately. It plays so succinctly and with maximum impact that even I was in shock as the show cut to black.

In the end, of course Alicia stays with Lockhart and Associates because Diane can ill-afford to lose any more bodies now that Will has been suspended. It had to be done, but I briefly thought Alicia and Canning as a team might would’ve been an interesting direction for the show to take. Adding to all that financial drama was the fact that Alicia won the case over Canning and it was a pretty good day at the office for her. Of course, Canning had the last laugh by exposing the real reason why he went in on the case, but that’s something for another day.

With all of the chaos going on in the firm, there is still room for developments in the personal lives of various characters. Diane has one suitor going after her (Jack, the process server) and when that doesn’t work out, she goes to another old flame (Kurt McVeigh). It’s great to see Diane — ever the embodiment of the professional woman holding a power position — have this looser, more casual side to her personality. She takes her work seriously (the dictatorial power move to keep Alicia demonstrates as much), but can enjoy other things in her life outside of work. Will’s life is complicated by the return of Tammy, the girl before Alicia.

The show wrings a lot of tension out of Tammy’s presence, as she presses both Will and Alicia about their relationship while she was out of the picture. It looked like Tammy was very bemused by the whole thing, while it only brought up painful thoughts for both Will and Alicia, simply because they are no longer romantically involved. It’s an issue that the show hasn’t brought up in what feels like a long time. As was the whole tension and awkwardness with Kalinda and Alicia.

The way their conflict plays out feels very close to what happens in real life. Alicia isn’t outwardly angry at Kalinda like she was in the past, but she still can’t look at Kalinda for very long or be chummy. The affair from long ago still damages both of them. There’s this wedge that still remains between them, and exploring that was a smart choice on the part of the writers. Look for it to continue when Alicia handles Kalinda’s tax case that lingers in the background of the show.

Things are quiet for now on this show (aside from the petty squabbling at the partners meetings), though I think it’s not going to stay that way for very long. Alicia got the raise she was looking for so that probably means she’s buying the house she wants, and that might spell the end of that plotline. Will’s suspension is proving not to be as much of a stumbling block as I thought it might become. The writers are still smartly finding ways to keep him involved in everything, and they seem to have fun in making him toe that line between ethical and unethical. The series smoothly moves from one plot to the next without so much as a break better than most others on television. It’s a real pleasure to watch.

Grade: 9/10


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