By Kate Linnea Welsh
On this week’s episode of The Good Wife, deals with the devil are everywhere and people are wagering things they may not actually have. In a nice note of continuity, the plane crash mentioned by Eli and Diane last week is back as the case of the week this week, and it brings Celeste back into things: She’s representing the families of the crew members who died in the crash, while Diane is representing the families of the passengers. (I do wish the show had an explanation for why Lockhart/Gardner folks are suddenly running into Celeste all the time, other than that they now have Lisa Edelstein under contract.) Diane and Celeste’s case is based on the testimony of a whistle-blower who says that the manufacturer knew a piece of the plane was faulty, but the whistle-blower kills himself before he can testify. Celeste continues her wicked witch routine by pointing out that this could actually be a good thing – it means they can use his taped deposition and not have to worry about cross-examination. That evidence ends up not being enough, though, so they have to find another person who was at the meeting at which the manufacturer discussed the faulty equipment…
And that person is, coincidentally enough, Lockhart/Gardner’s old client Colin Sweeney, the creepy wife-killer who is now in jail for involuntary manslaughter. I get that they wanted to bring Sweeney back – he’s a compelling character – but this connection was so coincidental that it really just seemed random, and made the case of the week itself even more incidental to the show than it usually is. (But then the fact that all the characters are connected in unexpected ways is one of the underlying premises of the show, so maybe it’s not so odd after all.) Sweeney wants a get-out-of-jail-free card in exchange for his testimony, and this brings us right back to Peter, Cary, Imani, and the new ethical standards at the State’s Attorney’s office. But it’s still hard to separate actual ethics from appearances: a substantial amount of Peter’s concern about the issue stems from the way it will make him look if he releases Sweeney. They compromise: Sweeney testifies and wears a wire to get evidence against a white supremacist he knows in prison, and they let him out. None of the specifics of the cases really matter this week; instead, the show is back to one of its favorite themes: Where’s the happy medium between naive idealism and cynical pragmatism? How much collateral damage is allowed? How many deals with the devil can you make before you have to stop claiming to be on the side of the angels?
Back at Lockhart/Gardner, Alicia discovers that she’s the prize in a deal with the devil she never even imagined. The hiring committee, which consists of Will, David Lee, and some other unnamed people, asks her to select and mentor a new first-year associate. Alicia is pleased at this recognition of her hard work and abilities until Lee confronts her with the truth: he picked her because she was unimportant and “could take a hint,” and actually just wants her to hire his niece Caitlin. But, as anyone around her should really know, Alicia’s experiences with Peter have made her hate being used as a pawn in the corruption of others, and she tries to stick with her first choice, Martha. The committee votes for Caitlin without even notifying Alicia, which seems unnecessarily unprofessional, and she feels betrayed, especially when Will admits he voted with Lee. “I feel used, Will. I feel like I was given a job and it was taken away from me.” And that’s the heart of things, really: long ago, Alicia put her trust in a powerful man, embraced the role he gave her, and was betrayed; as a result of that betrayal, she had to build herself a new life, and now she fears that the same thing is happening with Will. If it had only happened once, she could safely blame her betrayer, but if a version of what happened with Peter happens again with Will, she’ll have to start wondering if it’s her, if she’s somehow bringing these things upon herself.
But she gets a reprieve, for now: Will voted with Lee not because he wanted to, but because he owed him. He tries to avoid telling Alicia why, but it turns out that when Alicia was hired, there was a “Martha” – better on paper and the committee’s first choice. But Alicia was Will’s “Caitlin” and so he asked Lee to vote with him. On this show, that’s practically a grand romantic gesture: You don’t put yourself in a situation in which you owe favors to guys like David Lee unless you really feel strongly about it. Will and Peter both involve Alicia in political machinations without her knowledge, but at least in Will’s case, she’s the object of his maneuvering, rather than the victim or collateral damage. And Will seems to anticipate that Alicia’s next move will be to question her own worth as an associate, as he ends by telling her that “Caitlins often surprise you.”
On the home front, Peter and Alicia are both concerned about Grace’s involvement in her tutor Jennifer’s videos, and after a hilarious exchange in which Alicia basically tries to figure out YouTube (“These dance videos…what are they for?” “The Internet.” “Uh-huh. You make money off of them?” “No.” “You just do them?” “Yes.” “I don’t understand.”), Alicia tells Jennifer to stick with tutoring and stop acting like Grace’s friend. Grace is upset, of course, and tells her mother that she has no other friends – a sentiment Alicia later echoes when talking to Celeste. Alicia may not hear the echo, as she insists to Grace that a tutor befriending a student is unprofessional – but what about a lawyer sleeping with her boss?
We finally get some progress on the divorce front as David Lee warns Alicia that if she’s not careful, Peter may seek spousal support: He had no income in prison, after all, and the State’s Attorney’s salary is less than she makes at Lockhart/Gardner. Alicia, though, is confident that Peter won’t do anything to make the divorce messy, since what he really wants is the governorship. Eli is hard at work on that as they speak, trying to get Peter the keynote at the next Democratic National Convention. The party operative he’s dealing with already has a businessman picked out, and insists that Peter doesn’t need the keynote anyway – his marriage is his secret weapon. Eli sends Kalinda out for dirt on the preferred speaker, and she finds that the speaker’s wife donated to a group in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, and then tried to hide it. (Since Clinton supported DOMA, the “scandal” of a Democrat’s wife also supporting it would have been more convincing had they specified that she did so within the past few years.) Eli pretends that he’s doing this research selflessly, to make sure the Democrats don’t embarrass themselves, and Kalinda totally has his number but plays along – until she realizes that the work is on Peter’s behalf. She immediately refuses to do more, and neither she nor Peter will tell Eli why. I’m just surprised Eli hasn’t figured out her reasons already.
What Kalinda found, though, was enough to get Eli a meeting with Donna Brazile (playing herself!). Brazile likes Peter but is concerned about his marriage; she knows that he and Alicia are living separately and believes that the Republicans know it too, and are just waiting for the most damaging time to attack him with it. Eli seems unconcerned: “What if I promised they’d be together?” “Is that a promise you can keep?” “Yes, it is.” “Then we’ll consider him for keynote.” I can’t decide whether Eli is in denial, bluffing, or five steps ahead of everyone. Remember how last season he started talking about running Alicia for office? At this point, is that his fallback or his actual endgame? Because if he could engineer an even bigger second fall for Peter, that could make Alicia’s rise all the more extraordinary, and “Betrayed wife launches new career and finds love with law school sweetheart” isn’t the worst option for candidate back story, really. On the other hand, we got even more hints about Will’s sketchy background from Celeste this week, which could mean both that he wouldn’t survive vetting as a candidate’s partner and that Eli might well be planning to blackmail him into breaking up with Alicia.
Lingering questions: Are we finally done with the tutor drama? And/or the Celeste drama? Does Eli actually have a plan for keeping Peter and Alicia together? Now that she knows she was a “Caitlin,” how will Alicia approach mentoring the actual Caitlin? And how much longer can Alicia and Will possibly keep their relationship a secret?
Kate Linnea Welsh is a New Hampshire-based writer and taxonomist. (No, that doesn’t involve dead animals.) She’s a senior editor at TheTelevixen.com, on staff at Vampire-Diaries.net, and writes about other TV shows, books, and more at her blog (http://katelinnea.blogspot.com). She’d love to talk to you on Twitter: @katelinnea