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Bat Girl: Kalinda Takes a Swing, Alicia Strikes Out on The Good Wife

Batter up...

I knew that last night's episode of The Good Wife ("Net Worth"), written by creators Robert and Michelle King, would have a doozy of a twist embedded in its episodic plot, because the episode was being kept under firm wraps by the folks at CBS... and even Archie Panjabi was coy about what was going to happen when I interviewed her a few weeks ago. (For that interview and more information about what's coming up between her and Blake, you can click here.)

But I also didn't quite expect the breathless hotel room showdown between Panjabi's Kalinda and Scott Porter's Blake that followed so closely on the heels of an encounter between Kalinda and Jill Flint's steely FBI agent Lana, an extended sequence that had both Blake and Lana seemingly aiming for Kalinda's, er, heart.

Despite Lana's job offer to Kalinda, she seemed more interested in her body in those moments than in her mind and the aura of conquest hovered over the entire sequence. But while these two danced around the question of sexual union, Kalinda seemed to relish seducing Blake, regaining the upper hand in their twisted relationship in order to strike home a fairly brutal blow. Yet it was Blake who managed to wipe the satisfaction right off of Kal's face in the end...

So what do we know about Kalinda Sharma thus far and how have these preconceptions been changed by this week's episode? Let's discuss:

* Her real name is Leela, rather than Kalinda.
* She may be a Canadian national who is living under an assumed identity.
* She may have faked her death in a house fire in order to escape... something.
* She's married! (This one came as quite a surprise to me.)
* Her husband is still alive and Blake claims to have been in contact with him, so he didn't die in the alleged house fire.

All of these elements come together to paint a rather different picture of Kalinda/Leela than the tough-as-nails badass that Kalinda presents herself as. There's a sense that Kal has been running from something, something dangerous and potentially life-threatening, and that she had faked her own death in order to escape. The obvious answer would be that mystery husband that Blake dangles over her like a Sword of Damocles in the final minutes of their scene together.

It seemingly comes as a surprise to Kalinda as well, whose entire modus operandi in the scene seems to be to string Blake along, get a hold of that baseball bat (now evidence in the beating of that trial witness and an object that the state's attorney's office wants to their hands on), and then deliver a coup de grace that leaves him struggling to breathe on the floor. Unexpected? Brutal? Cunning? All of the above.

But Kalinda is blindsided by the news that "fixer" Blake has been speaking to her husband (or, at least, he claims to be), leaving the victor of this particular round up in the air. Kalinda may have been able to wrap Blake around her little finger, getting him to strip down to next to nothing in an electrifying encounter, and then slugging him with her bat. But I can't help but wonder whether Blake truly wins no matter what Kalinda does, that the demons that she's been trying to outrun have finally and truly caught up with her.

I also loved the reveal that Blake's connection to Will dates back to his days in Baltimore as well and some illegal work that Blake did on Will's behalf. Just what this work was and whether it was professional or personal remains to be seen. Also of note: how Cary (Matt Czuchry) attempts to both protect Kalinda and distance himself from her, though his investigation into Blake and the search warrant he obtains links Blake to Bishop at MS 13... but it also proves to Blake that Kalinda has hacked his computer system and is attempting to set him up. (Consensus is still out whether Cary helped or hindered his new BFF this week.)

Fantastic skewering of Aaron Sorkin (and his TWoP debacle and struggles with drug abuse) and The Social Network in this week's case, which found the subject of a Social Network-esque film, Patric Edelstein suing the movie studio that released the film, claiming that it defamed him. Along the way, we got Rita Wilson as the insanely jealous Viola, F. Murray Abraham as Burl Preston, and a plot that, once it veered too closely into Social Network territory, even pulled out a mention of said film to ground the plotline further still. Questions of right of publicity, defamation of character, and emotional truth marked this intriguing and realistic depiction of the battle between art and commerce. (Well played, Gardner & Lockhart.)

Elsewhere, I loved the scenes between Julianna Margulies' Alicia and Dallas Roberts' Owen; they crackle with the authenticity of siblings and it was fantastic to see these two out of their elements (Alicia searching desperately for wifi, their hotel room banter, Owen smoking "medical marijuana" in the bathroom) as they spent some quality time together. I'm happy that the Kings have chosen to keep Owen in the picture, moving him from Portland to Chicago, where hopefully he'll be more of a (bad) influence in Alicia's life.

Still, I was happy to see that he was willing to ask her what she wanted and their "it's Alicia time!" conversation was insightful and adorable ("sultry-eyed Will") in equal measure. While Owen's line about needing a minute of Will's time was said half in jest, there was an emotional truth to it and to Alicia's need to clear the air and find out just what Will had said on that second voicemail message, to attempt to get the facts and make an informed decision about her future, even as she's finally allowed Peter (Chris Noth) back into the marital bed.

So why doesn't Will (Josh Charles) come clean? Is it that he's moved on and doesn't want the complication of getting involved romantically with Alicia? Are things already just too chaotic at work with Bond? Does he not want to be responsible for jeopardizing Alicia's marriage? Or is he testing her? Seeing whether she'll come after him even if he claims to have taken the moral high road on that voicemail, telling her that she should stay with Peter.

Or is it as simple as Will not wanting to be responsible for a "plan," for something that's not as easy as a casual relationship, to take that plunge and try to be with Alicia? Despite all the talk of everything being fine between them, I can't shake the feeling that the chasm between Will and Alicia has widened even more considerably.

What did you think of this week's episode? Will Will and Alicia ever get their ducks in order and take the plunge together? When will Alicia realize that it was Eli who made the decision for her and deleted Will's voicemail? And just how will things end between Kalinda and Blake? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Next week on The Good Wife ("Last Shot"), Diane represents ballistics expert Kurt McVeigh in a lawsuit; Eli takes an interest in Wendy Scott-Carr s illegal nanny.


Anonymous said…
Amazing episode. This show gets better and better each week.
greebs said…
The "ripped from the headlines" stuff was just TOO on the nose; too close to the Social Network stuff, I found it boring. And yes, I'm a huge Aaron Sorkin fan but I like to make fun of him too - it just felt like it was trying too hard. I do like the Kalinda mystery but they are teasing it way too much; it better be huge when it does reveal.

Also though the Will-Alicia bit is being handled quite well, and I do love the interaction between Alicia and her brother. It's a very good show, but it doesn't have to try quite so hard to be real-world relevant. It's a TV show.
Yuri said…
I actually agree with greebs...the show seems to be trying to hard ... i actually didn't so much enjoy the stuff with her brother and alicia because i thought that the gay brother character was unfair to gay men in a's our job as writers to evolve our characters and it was just too typical gay guy for me... i mean does it have to be announced in such a stereotypical way? i don't think that's what greebs is saying but i get that brother is gay...too much... it drowned out his advice... his care and relationship with sister and it felt false and ultimately outside of the kinds of writing the Good Wife has become loved for...i love the way the will and alicia thing was handled it was tight and concise and continues the intrigue:).

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