The Good Wife: Unprepared

E: Let’s see if I can do any better with this pocket sized recap here. This week’s episode opens with Peter giving a television interview as he prepares for his appeal.  Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, the reporter says, meaning the admitted adultery. “Why did you do it?”  “I’m flawed.”  Man, that’s irritating.  That’s less than no answer.  But is there any answer that would make me happy?  That would explain away what he did?  There might be an answer, but there is no justification.  “I’ve looked in the mirror and what I’ve seen I don’t like.  That said, it’s time to look forward.”  Is that enough for you, Alicia?  Does he get to decide when life moves forward?  He strides into the court room like he owns the place, glad handing everyone in sight, including the judge.  He remembers personal details about everyone.  Everyone.  That judge is going to decide soon whether Peter gets to try to move forward – and in fact, the judge will not only hear his appeal, he’s willing to consider bail.  Bail, that would put him right back into Alicia’s apartment.  Which means she’d have to decide sooner rather than later if she could move forward.  Gulp.

Peter has a staff swirling around him, and we can see how much this invigorates him.  He’s got a reputation manager now, whatever that is (“she worked for the Madoff sons,” Peter’s lawyer tells Alicia, like that was a good thing).  Alicia has other things on her mind, though, mainly a British chemistry professor names Ellen Witten, who’s been accused of torching her own lab and is looking at 15 years in prison for arson.  We see a recording of her explaining her story in “witness preparation”, which seems to be like debate practice; they don’t tell you what to say so much as let you know what kind of questions to expect, and coach you on what sort of things make you sound less believable.  Or that’s the ideal, anyway; that’s definitely our little lesson on the legal system for this week.

So Ellen?  Is horrifically less than believable.  She’s scattered, she stammers, she’s twitchy, she’s a mess.  (Kudos to the actress for making us always believe in her innocence while demonstrating clearly why she would look guilty.)   Will wants to know who prepped her; the rest of the witnesses in the case should be treated to something more real world, more Darwinian.  Diane looks over at a bickering Cary and Alicia and smiles her smug little Christine Baranski smile: “You can’t get more Darwinian than that.” The defense has two witnesses (a fellow professor/friend, and the receptionist at the lab) for the dynamic duo to prep; Kalinda’s also going to try to find whoever did torch the lab.  Their best lead are the death threats directed at Witten for researching on animals.

Next we see Alicia in a perfectly appointed closet, returning the clothes Peter wore to court or getting out new ones.  Okay, first of all, I have to ask.  You move to a much smaller apartment while your husband is in jail for possibly the next 10 years, and you set up a closet for him?  It’s a super nice apartment, but how many closets can it have?  Did that not bother anyone else?  Also,  if we’re going to actually pay attention, I’m sure he has WAY more clothes than that.  You can just tell he’s the type of man who likes a nice suit.  More than one nice suit.  I can easily see Jackie setting up a closet for her son in full expectation of his coming home, but even if Alicia would go for that – which I don’t know if I can buy – there’s still the question of where she’d get the closet.  Clearly Alicia has a lot of clothes, too.

Just saying.  It does make a nice image, her standing amongst his things and considering what it would be like to have him home, using them.  Her kids are certainly thrown by that.  Grace finds out immediately; she has a google alert set up for news articles about her dad.  (Brave girl, considering, Grace.)  She doesn’t know what to make of it.  “This place is so small, where would he stay?” Zach joins in the conversation, contemptuous of the question: “he’s going to stay in Mom’s room, where do you think?”  Grace wheels on her mother. “You’re gonna let him stay in your room?”  Good question, Grace.  You’re not the only one who wants to know.

We return to Peter having a conference with his lawyer and consultant when an old subordinate walks in, pulls him aside, and suggests – what?  Bribing the judge?  Peter demurs (“I think we’re fine”) but no one hears the full conversation.  We do get to see Peter pat him down for a wire, however.  “The first casualty of prison is trust.”  Still, Peter seems hopeful; he buys that the guy was trying to do him a good turn and thinks the tide is shifting in his direction.  Oh, Peter.  Silly, silly Peter.  Don’t you know the show needs you in prison?

Kalinda finds out from an FBI pal that at least one of the outfits harassing Dr Witten is the real thing, and sure enough, a new letter from them arrives.  Meanwhile, Witness Prep is in full swing.  Alicia plays good cop to Cary’s bad.  Will asks Alicia how it’s going; “It’s always easier to rip apart than build up, so thanks for building up.”  And then he gets to his real question – how’s the appeal going?  You have to think he’s wondering about the likelihood of Alicia working if Peter gets out of prison while her kids are still young, and how he’s sticking his neck out to keep her employed.  The prosecutor, Landry (“I hired him,” says Peter) seems to think that Peter has the judge in his pocket.  Does he?  And in what sense?  Peter’s lawyer tells Alicia how important it is that she be seen to welcome her husband home.  Keep your answers short and to the point.  I’ve just done 6 hours of witness preparation, she responds.  Lawyers always make the worst witnesses, he counters.  “There’s ambivalence inherent in your position.”  I won’t lie to the judge, she answered, getting testy.  “The truth is the truth,” he replies, hands raised, “but it can often sound… truer.”

Zach and Grace have a fantastic little fight in the elevator; Grace is irritated at his posing and attempting “the cool thing”.  Hee hee!  All thoughts of their dispute disappear when they find another package at the door, this time a grainy video of a man in a suit talking to some fat men in a hotel suite.  We only see the man’s back, and can’t tell if it’s Peter (my bet is no, because the suit doesn’t fit well enough), or what he might be saying to the others if it is.  Zach sets up his ipod in a potted plant outside their door to catch video of whoever is depositing these little treasures.

Things are looking dark for Dr. Ellen Witten.  The receptionist/security desk witness is decimated on the stand.  She’s nervous, and though she knows that Ellen left the building at 7, she can’t absolutely swear that she never too a bathroom break which would have given Dr Witten time to sneak back in.  (How probable is that?  Wouldn’t she have to be hiding somewhere outside the building waiting for the desk to be empty, and wouldn’t someone on a busy college campus have seen that?  Or is he implying that it was a happy accident that Dr Witten picked the exact moment that the guard was gone to enter the building?  Couldn’t they have pointed this out on cross? Bah.) “You’re never handed the perfect witness,” Diane snaps, “you make the perfect witness.”  Cary and Alicia focus harder on Walt, the professor chum who saw Ellen running while he stepped out of a concert to call his mom.  Stop volunteering irrelevant details, they say, and stop embroidering the truth, because you are our only hope.

Kalinda runs into a similar dead-end – the letters from the Christian Coalition for Bioethics are a fake (impressive, Kalinda, to trace the quotes to a Catholic Bible instead of a Protestant one), and were printed with ink used only in the science labs at this university.  Ouch.

Zach, meanwhile, is still doing his Harry Potter imitation and hiding the evidence from his mom.  On the other hand, it’s starting to sink in that dad is, you know, on trial, and could use extra evidence, and so Zach goes to court to give it to him. (Which, huh?)  He arrives in time to see Alicia testify, and some super invasive questioning from Landry.  If your apartment only has three bedrooms, Mrs Florrick, where ever will your husband stay?  Do your kids share a room?  The judge protects her as best he can.   Did you visit a divorce attorney?  Yes, a few days after her world fell apart.  Landry presses.  Will you share a bed?  Are you ready to do that?  My son is in the room, she lashes back, and decimates him for invading her privacy.  Awesome.  Zach thinks she kicked ass, and tells her so.  “Thank you.  You’re still in trouble.” He still won’t admit why he came.  I love that the kids are protecting their mom, it’s so sweet, but the thing is, if they shared their info and their insights, they could actually HELP.  But maybe the show isn’t ready for them to actually solve anything yet.  Must be waiting for the quidditch final or something.

Cary and Alicia head over to the university to retrace Walt’s steps and recognize a few big holes in his story.  They Perry Mason it out with maps and cell phone records and determine that it was Walt, trying to prevent Ellen from getting a fellowship back in England, who torched the lab and forged the letters.  They decide to surprise him on the stand – Perry Mason again! – and make him incriminate himself.  Too risky, you say?  “No pain, no gain,” intones Will.  “Did you really just say that?” Diane can’t believe it.  “Did.  Meant it too.”

The risky strategy pays off and Diane mops the floor with Walt.  Awesome.  Less awesome – a last-minute move by Landry over at the appeal, claiming that Peter had approached that ASA to help bribe the judge.  There’s no way that he can refute the claim, since the other people in the room weren’t within earshot for the full conversation. Foiled!  Foiled again!  Ah, Peter.  You’re so naive and trusting.  Except we’re meant to think that he’s been set up by a lying former colleague, but really, does the show want us to trust Peter and be sure he’s innocent (of the corruption charges)?  Not without reservation.  It’s all nicely ambiguous.  So much for a good sign. There’s a beautifully composed shot of Alicia sitting on a backless bench outside the court absorbing events; Will sits on the other side.  All is melancholy.

Well, except at home, where Grace and Zach check the recording in the potted plant and find that someone has been taking photos of their front door.  Which, what the? Whatever for?

And, no.  Pocket-sized is clearly not my forte.

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2 comments on “The Good Wife: Unprepared

  1. music says:

    Thanks for the link E ! I had a good laugh at the Harry Potter/Zach link. Except that Harry Potter was out to save the world, and Zach is more intent in showing the world, much like his dad, how smart he is.
    About Alicia’s closet, look closely, it is clearly hers only, with women clothing. There are shades of pink, orange, and purple and I don’t think these are Peter’s colors(: She pushes her things aside to make room for him, becoming the good wife again. It does look funny how there is only one suit only that belongs to him, a good symbolism of how much she wants him in her bedroom.

    • E says:

      Mmm, that’s a good thought, that Zach is intent on being recognized for his cleverness. I was kind of feeling like he was a good boy misled by skanky Becca, but she tapped into undercurrents of discontent and narcissism in him. Interesting.

      And yeah, Alicia doesn’t want her space invaded at all. I love the way Margulies uses her body to convey this – and also the subtle ways the show uses physical space to augment the acting.

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