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The Right Reasons: An Advance Review of Tonight's Episode of The Good Wife

Do we do things for the right or wrong reasons? When you cut beneath the surface, are all the "right" reasons really wrong?

I've been raving about CBS' gripping and intelligent series The Good Wife all season long, and hopefully the praise has rubbed off on those who wouldn't normally tune into a legal drama.

But The Good Wife is no mere episodic courtroom potboiler: it's a canny and critical arbiter of society and technology, a stirring and often emotional exploration of family and morals in the media age, a portrait of working women, and a romance- and intrigue-laden drama that manages to stir both your heart and your mind on a weekly basis.

Tonight's episode of The Good Wife ("Great Firewall"), written by creators Robert King and Michelle King (with a story by Leonard Dick) and directed by Nelson McCormick, ranks up there with some of the very best installments the series has produced to date, an exceptionally crafted installment that juxtaposes the political maneuverings of Peter Florrick's campaign with the backroom politics underway at Lockhart, Gardner, and Bond.

There's an innate elegance to the parallel structure of the stories unfolding here, games of manipulations and shadows enacted to entrap and foil various adversaries. As Alan Cumming's Machiavellian Eli Gold attempts to turn the three-way race for state's attorney into a two-man battle, Diane (Christine Baranski) and Will (Josh Charles) find themselves attempting to outwit Derrick Bond (Michael Ealy) through some underhanded means of their own.

But this is The Good Wife, after all, which means that the action concerns itself with both the bedroom and the courtroom. The case this week focuses on Shen Yuan (Lost's Ken Leung), a Chinese dissent who was tortured for five years in prison after his IP address was turned over to the Chinese government after he posted an anonymous blog about democracy coming to the Communist country. While no one sets foot into a courtroom this week (the action revolves around a series of depositions), the tension over the case and the ethical questions it raises give this week's episode a visceral punch. Should American companies operating oversees have to follow the letter of the law abroad? Is there a moral dimension to the cost of doing business?

In this case, it's the social networking site that's being sued after they turned over Shen's IP address to the Chinese authorities. Did they have a legal obligation to do so? Were there unforeseen consequences to their actions that they couldn't anticipate? That's the defense undertaken by the global site's counsel, Viola Walsh (Rita Wilson, reprising her role here), who returns to Chicago and is sitting on the other side of the table from her one-time friend Diane. Viola argues just that, bringing in a slew of experts and witnesses in an effort to derail Shen's case.

In addition to Leung and Wilson, the episode is overflowing with strong guest stars. Look for The Big C's John Benjamin Dickey to turn up as Neil Gross, the hoodie-wearing head of the social networking site who is raked over the coals by Will and Co. during the deposition. While I don't want to give too much away about the case (or the episode as a whole), I will say that there's an additional dimension to the case, one with ramifications for companies doing business overseas as well as personal ones for the firm itself. Opening the door to the light in China comes with a price, it seems.

Elsewhere, a tip from Zach (Graham Phillips) and Becca (Dreama Walker) might just help Eli eliminate one of the players from the state's attorney race, after the recent revelation that Wendy Scott-Carr (Anika Noni Rose) employed an illegal alien for five years. While Eli grappled with whether or not to out the illegal nanny (America Ferrera), he ultimately pulled the trigger after getting to know her on a personal level. (SPOILER: I'm told she'll return later this season in two episodes.)

We've seen all three players here engage in some dirty politicking as they hope to nab the position. Fingers of blame are pointed, wriggling attempted, and ultimately the conniving and manipulation, the games of politics, pay out in dividends. But, just as in China, there's a price to pay for such business. Politics and big business are both morally corrupt institutions and the hypocrisy of both worlds is all too clear here. Look for Julianna Margulies' Alicia to see first hand just what price is and how it changes the way she looks at someone at the firm. What is interesting is the way in which Zach and Becca jump into the race, all but giving Eli a smoking gun to use against Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver).

That smoking gun metaphor applies to the battle for the future of the firm as well, especially with the eleventh hour plotting by Diane, Will, Julius (Michael Boatman), and David Lee (Zach Grenier) against Bond, as they attempt to gain the upper-hand over the named partner by any means necessary. I'm erring on the side of caution here so as not to spoil, but there are some great scenes between Diane and "altacocker" Howard Lynn (Jerry Adler) and use of Roger Stern's "Gang of Three." I will say, however, that by the end of the episode, the ultimate fate of the firm will be revealed...

Those wondering why there's been little mention of Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), rest assured that our favorite investigator is being used here to good effect. A change of address card brings some unexpected consequences for Kalinda, who appears to be opening up. Look for a sweet and hysterical scene between Kalinda and Alicia (hint: it jokingly involves "Eat Pray Love") and an intriguing one between Kalinda and Matt Czuchry's Cary Agos. Could it be that the little card Kalinda sent out is her way of opening up to some people? Or is she attempting something else altogether? An attempt to protect herself? And how does this play into the repeated calls she was receiving last week, potentially from that mysterious husband of hers? Hmmm...

Ultimately, "Great Firewall" is one of those episodes of The Good Wife that lingers with you long after the closing credits have run, an installment that fuses together the breakneck pacing of an episodic legal plot with payoffs in the overarching story. There will be numerous consequences yet to unfold as a result of this pivotal and gripping episode. It's not to be missed.

The Good Wife airs tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on CBS.

Comments

Unknown said…
any news about will's voicemail? I read an ausiello spoiler about but I'don't know if it's in this episode when kalinda find out the voicemail
Chris Crouch said…
Why has Blake disappeared in the last 2 episodes? With Bond gone is this the end of Blake as well?

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