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Friday, November 1, 2013

THE GOOD WIFE Is "Hitting the Fan" This Week

Article first published as THE GOOD WIFE Is "Hitting the Fan" This Week on TheTVKing.

Ever since fans of CBS's The Good Wife learned that Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) were splitting off to form their own firm, there's been a tension as we wait to see it happen. We knew it wouldn't be easy and it wouldn't be pretty, but it's hard to imagine most pictured it getting as rough as it does in this week's installment, "Hitting the Fan."

First of all, the associates are not able to deliver the news on their own terms. Days before Alicia and the others can offer their resignations, Diane (Christine Baranski) finds out and tells the other partners. This is why it was a bad move to wait weeks after making the plan. Secrets don't stay secret, and Alicia and Cary should know better. They wanted to leave themselves in a great position to kick off the new firm, but they sacrifice trust and relationships in being sneaky and holding out.

And, as Anthony (Bhavesh Patel) obsesses over all along, they still don't get their bonuses. Greed hurts them.

What happens after Diane tells Will (Josh Charles) and David Lee (Zach Grenier) is exciting and dramatic. Will rails on Alicia, then fires her. Cary, Carey (Ben Rappaport), Robyn (Jess Weixler), and the others scramble to get client files, knowing Lockhart Gardner will delay handing them over, while Will and David Lee rush to figure out who else is leaving and get rid of them. With a sweeping score and excellent character moments in conflict, this is one of the most brilliant sequences The Good Wife has done yet.

This series excels at the big things. Shunning the case-of-the-week format, for the most part, on CBS, of all places, it focuses on larger arcs that move people along, never afraid of shifting the status quo. "Hitting the Fan" is the messiest example of that so far, and everything the producers, editors, writers, etc. have learned in previous years have prepared them well for this. For nearly fifteen solid minutes before the title card, viewers are on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next line or the next development.

It's why I love The Good Wife, while shunning its peers. It does something different, and it's the best at doing so. Here, we see a variety of viewpoints, Alicia wants to build something of her own, Will feels betrayed, Diane understands but wants to protect the firm she's built, Cary is bitter over what was done to him, some of the associates just want all they can milk from their employer, and all are balanced without demonizing anyone. Yes, I want Alicia and Cary to succeed, but I don't want Will's business to collapse in the process.

Not to mention, the show rocks the humor. The scene where Grace (Makenzie Vega) leads her bible study through the chaos of Florrick Agos is hilarious, and so is the repeat restraining order delivery just as a meeting is about to happen. So much of the magic is in the details, and they are strongly delivered.

What follows the initial mass exodus is a supreme battle of wits in the new firm versus the old. Lockhart Gardner slaps a restraining order against Florrick Agos so they can't talk to Chum Hum's Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey), the biggest client in play, and Florrick Agos fights back hard. If this is any indication of what the rivalry will be for the rest of the season or beyond, it's going to be great.

Of course, the older firm is more experienced and gains the upper hand. But the new one is run by the governor elect's wife, and Peter (Chris Noth) can't resist getting involved, stacking the deck to push Chum Hum into Alicia's hands.

It's not fair, and it does leave Peter open to charges of improper use of office and violating the public's trust. Eli (Alan Cumming) somehow doesn't see it coming, but it'll be his job to clean up the mess. Peter is a stubborn man and he is protective of Alicia, but I can see how Eli would think Peter wouldn't cross such a major line until he does. This has trouble written all over it, and there will surely be negative repercussions for Peter's actions.

In the meantime, Peter is continuing to screw up, considering going back on his word to Diane about a judgeship. This is really vindictive and immoral, and Diane simply doesn't deserve it. Although those outside her firm are not privy to all of Diane's actions, Diana is the one that is reluctant to fire Alicia and brokers a deal to drop the restraining orders. Unlike Will, who feels personally betrayed, she does see the associates' side of things, and isn't angry. The fact that the whole brouhaha could cost her her dream career is heartbreaking. It's a good thing she hasn't officially quit her old job yet.

The backstabbing that may be most surprising in "Hitting the Fan" is that of Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) towards Cary. In service to Will, Kalinda pretends to change her mind about leaving for the new office to pump Cary for information, then turns around and blabs it all. There is definitely a line in the sand drawn and Kalinda has chosen sides. However, after staying above the fray for so long, it's unfortunate Kalinda has to wade into it now, especially against Cary, whom she obviously cares about.

And Cary is naive to believe her. It's not his only screw up of the hour, slipping in a charged conversation with Diane earlier. I didn't expect Cary to be the weak point, but it's nice that his honesty and good-naturedness are his downfall. At least he gets to keep our respect and affection, and it's more his kind soul than his stupidity than does him in.

Basically, "Hitting the Fan" is a masterpiece of an episode, which serves all of the main players effectively, and changes the makeup of the show forever. A lot happens, and it's a really rocky roller coaster, with uncertainty hanging in the air until the very end. Best of all, this is not over yet, with more to be worked out in the coming weeks.

The Good Wife airs at approximately 9 p.m. ET (depending on the network's ridiculous ineptitude in scheduling stupid football accurately) on CBS.

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