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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

THE GOOD WIFE Turns "Ugly"

Article originally written for Seat42F.

CBS’s THE GOOD WIFE frequently drops surprises, but I’d be hard-pressed to name one recently that rocks the show as much as the voter fraud scandal surrounding Alicia’s (Julianna Margulies) election as State’s Attorney. This week’s episode, “Winning Ugly,” begins that battle as a legendary political figure, Spencer Randolph (Ron Rifkin, Alias), takes on her case in the name of the democratic process. But Spencer may really be supporting the Democrats’ process, as he turns on Alicia when she refuses to play ball with the party.

Alicia has long struggled with getting into politics, but the events of “Winning Ugly” are likely to turn her off of them entirely, whether she ends up in the State’s Attorney’s office or not. Alicia did not cheat, but that won’t stop the party from ruining her reputation if she goes against their interests, both sides in the city being famously corrupt. These movers and shakers have built a system that works for them, and they are not about to let some idealistic woman screw it up.

Alicia’s natural ally should be Prady, but he is no longer accessible to her, and may not believe she’s innocent, anyway. Instead, she is sent lawyer Martin Parillo (Remy Aubjeronis), who battles it out with Spencer in front of Ken Boxer (Lawrence Gilliard Jr., The Walking Dead, The Wire) and the panel. Until Spencer turns on Alicia, Martin is taking a beating. But now that Martin seems to have the upper hand, there is no way he will allow Alicia to broker a deal with Prady.

So it looks like Alicia may need to try to return to the law firm, assuming she loses, but there are some complications there. First, we’d have to see if the firm would take her back. Alicia still has her office, but considering that we’ve seen the settlement talks, she may have already cashed out and hurt feelings might block her from buying back in. Second, will there even be a firm left to come back to?

The second major plot in “Winning Ugly” finds Diane (Christine Baranski) learning about Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) forgery. To Diane’s credit, the first thing she does is not protect herself so much as clear Detective Prima’s (John Ventimiglia) name. Prima is a jerk, but he doesn’t deserve to lose his job over something he didn’t to. After that, though, Diane discusses strategy with Finn (Matthew Goode), David Lee (Zach Grenier), and Cary (Matt Czuchry), and it doesn’t look good.

I’m surprised Diane doesn’t immediately fire Kalinda. I don’t care that Kalinda has done a lot for the firm; she crossed a line with faking evidence, even if she didn’t intend Diane to use it. Panjabi will be leaving THE GOOD WIFE at the end of the season anyway, but this is the hour in which she should have been terminated from her job.

I also hope this doesn’t blow back on Cary. There is other evidence to clear his name, but it will be much harder to convince people he is innocent after this fiasco.

The current State’s Attorney isn’t focused on destroying the law firm, though, so much as he wants to go after drug kingpin Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter). Geneva Pine (Renee Elise Goldsberry) says as much, offering to drop all charges against Diane if Diane will just testify against Bishop. The problem is, every viewer and main character knows that going up against Bishop is a death sentence, so Diane doesn’t want to risk it.

For a minute in “Winning Ugly,” it looks like Kalinda might step up. She is closest to Bishop and can get him jailed. This would also go a long way towards making up for her wrong doings. And who knows? She might survive. But it’s Cary that goes to Geneva and says that if Kalinda makes the offer to speak in court, he will do it in her place. Cary loves Kalinda, despite her flaws, and that’s truly a noble sacrifice he is willing to make.

Since Kalinda didn’t go to Geneva, though, where did she go? Did she flee and abandon those taking the fall for her mistakes? Or is she going to kill Bishop, hoping that will end the fight. I don’t know that I actually want to see Kalinda murder anyone, but there’s no way she can convince him to confess to wrong doings, no matter what she has on him. Whatever Kalinda is doing, she’s playing a dangerous game.

In both of these stories, I just don’t see how it can end well. There is no clear way out, and only a scant few hours left to tell the story this year. THE GOOD WIFE has not been renewed yet, either, and those at CBS would be awful, awful monsters if they didn’t let the tale conclude satisfactorily. We’ll see how it plays out.

THE GOOD WIFE airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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