"‘The Good Wife’ Open Thread: Booze Cruise"
The Good Wife takes on issues of diplomatic immunity as two college-age sons of diplomats – one Dutch, one Taiwanese – are accused of raping and murdering a young woman at a stoplight party on a booze cruise. (Quick term definition for those as old and out-of-touch as I am: on the booze cruise, passengers paid $50 for unlimited beer, and the “stoplight party” means that passengers choose cup colors based on their relationship status: red means “in a relationship,” yellow means “choosy,” and green means “open.”) Diplomatic immunity is often portrayed as something all-encompassing and very cut-and-dry, but Cary, in his zeal to prosecute, manages to find a variety of loopholes. He surprises everyone by taking the young men into custody, arguing that he’s allowed to investigate the crime, just not to prosecute them. Presumably the technicality here is that if they were cleared, Cary would know to look for other suspects, but he never seriously looks at anyone else. Once he’s forced to let the Dutch suspect go, he points out that he can prosecute the other suspect because Taiwan is the one country that doesn’t enjoy diplomatic immunity, because of the One-China policy. As happens so often on this show, what first appears to be a philosophical question ends up being decided based on who has more influence and connections: Eli first uses his ex-wife’s connections at the State Department to have them push for dismissal, but then one of Cary’s colleagues uses her own family connections to have this position reversed. And Cary finally discovers that the Dutch suspect is no longer a full-time student, so he doesn’t actually have immunity through his father in the first place.
The cases of the week are becoming still less central on the show, though, and this week, we don’t even see the final courtroom showdown – Cary just mentions in a throwaway line that he won. Instead, the cases are designed to illuminate things about the characters and their relationships, and one of the focuses this week was on jockeying for position, especially among the newer attorneys at both the State’s Attorney’s office and at Lockhart/Gardner. Cary thinks his supervisor is out to get him – but at the end of the episode he instead gets a promotion from Peter. Meanwhile, Alicia is dealing with Caitlin, the new associate she was forced to hire last week. Caitlin is pretty naive, and doesn’t know what she’s doing, but Alicia seems to like her more than expected. Caitlin also seems to be flirting with Will – or maybe she’s acting as a spy for her uncle? Either way, Alicia is a bit territorial, but she shouldn’t worry, because Will’s not biting. And when Caitlin blithely comments that everyone at Lockhart/Gardner is just so nice, Will deadpans: “Yeah. Lawyers. Nicest people in the world.”
One way this show has always impressed me is with its dedication to showing how often and to what ends people actually use technology, especially cell phones. Shots are often framed by people staring at their phones as they walk or wait for elevators. This episode, they got things exactly right with the ubiquity of cell phone pictures of events popping up on social networking sites, but they missed slightly with the “Rape App.” The witness’s friend said they “had the app installed” on their phones, but obviously it would have been something they just downloaded themselves. And I’m a little suspicious that the app would have been approved with that title, though the concept – friends can track each other via their phones’ GPS and send distress calls if necessary – seems realistic enough. The ongoing technology issue of “What’s going on with the computers?” had some progress this week – I guess – as Zach showed Alicia how to transfer files to her work laptop, which promptly bluescreened. An IT consultant yells at her for trying to do unauthorized things herself, but Zach says the IT guy himself is corrupt – charging the firm extra for their own data storage, somehow – and causing the problem. And then Eli’s computer bluescreens, so…again, I keep suspecting that someone, maybe Grace’s tutor, installed some sort of spy software that’s now spreading between the computers, in an effort to bring Peter down, but maybe I’m reading too much into it. But if that is what’s going on, then this plotline is redefining “slow-burning.”
Over on the spinoff-within-a-show, as James Poniewozik calls it, Eli’s ex-wife Vanessa tells him that she’s considering running for state Senate and asks him to check out a campaign manager who approached her. The guy is obviously a complete buffoon, full of jargon and buzzwords, and as soon as he says he’ll rely on “micropockets of committed citizen online journalist bloggers,” I realize what Vanessa’s actually doing: She’s not serious about the campaign manager, and is just using him to manipulate Eli into helping with her campaign himself. Eli has Kalinda vet Vanessa, and discovers that while she was married to Eli, Vanessa had an affair with one of Osama Bin Laden’s cousins. Eli is furious but insists he doesn’t even know why he cares, and he’s not so furious that he stops peppering his political dialogue with references to Rod Blagojevich and Rahm Emanuel, thank goodness. He finally confesses to Vanessa that he’d “just thought [he'd] done two years of [his] life well.” Poor Eli. He’s like Kalinda and Will: Behind all his bluster about not caring, he actually cares about everything too much.
Will runs into that issue himself as he meets Alicia’s son Zach and has a realistically awkward conversation with him. Will obviously cares deeply that he made a bad first impression, and offers to formally meet the kids, but Alicia keeps telling him it’s not necessary. Will pretends that he’s happy he doesn’t have to do it, but once Alicia leaves, the audience can clearly see that he’s disappointed. By this point, I think Will is pretty aware of his own feelings, but does Alicia really know what she wants? If she honestly just wants a temporary rebound relationship, using someone who has loved her for years just seems cruel. But if she’s saying she wants to keep things casual because she thinks that’s what she should want or what Will wants, then there’s an even better chance of all of this exploding in someone’s face – probably Peter’s, once the next campaign gets going, and Alicia’s own, if she’s actually considering that political career Eli suggested. It’s not coincidence that an affair is ultimately what’s disqualifying Vanessa from running for office, after all.
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