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Television

The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 2 - "Innocents"

Beware of men bearing bearded grins.

Exposure is at the heart of The Good Wife's seventh season second episode. Now, what will the ramifications be?


The Good Wife

Airtime: Sundays, 9 pm
Cast: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Chris Noth, Christine Baranski
Subtitle: Season 7, Episode 2 - "Innocents"
Network: CBS
Air Date: 2015-10-11
Amazon

“I’m being used. Who isn’t?”

Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) received the honors last week with his creed on being the apologizer. This week? Of course it’s going to be Alicia Florrick (Julianne Margulies) who’s bestowed the best line of the night, and it’s used fabulously. Seven seasons into a series that highlights the endless ways people can either use or be used, you have to admire Robert and Michelle King for sparing us from all the ins and outs of being betrayed. Yeah, we get it. Eli (Alan Cumming) is going to use Alicia. Alicia knows that. Peter (Chris Noth) knows that. Shoot, Grace (Makenzie Vega), with her newfound street smarts, probably even knows that.

Yet it makes all the sense in the world that such an idiom would be at the center of the seventh season’s second episode, “Innocents”. Why? Because at the focus was a very simple notion: exposure. It ranged from blatant (Eric [Dylan Bishop] having his naked photos become public in the name of art; Judge Dunaway [Kurt Fuller] becoming his cranky old self because he’s hungry) to nuanced (Trieste Kelly Dunn’s inevitably short-lived Amanda, who may or may not have been used as a shot at Archie Panjabi’s departure last season; Howard Lyman [Jerry Adler], perhaps, as an aloof serial killer).

Nobody likes to be exposed. The Good Wife was, don’t forget, founded on its effects.

But we’re more than 130 episodes in, and this series continues to evolve its presence. The show’s world is tangled in lies that are presented as truths and truths that sometimes wish they were lies. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- right down to a teenage daughter, is out for him- or herself. That might be standard practice for any type of law-obsessed CBS drama, but you’d be hard pressed to find a courtroom procedural in the history of television that’s been more tailor-made for the advent of the frenemy.

And that includes estranged family members. This week’s case, one of the more fascinating stories the show has seen in recent seasons, revolves around Eric, who Alicia meets during her bond court escapades. He jacked up the casing of a portrait at the Chicago Museum of Fine Arts that displayed a much younger (and much more naked) version of himself. His mom took the photos, called them art, and, even though the entire thing ultimately remedied itself with a creepy hand-holding moment, the guy claimed the images ruined his life.

It’s a classic case of The Good Wife ideals: Take the modern day and present it through a lens that isn’t used nearly enough in mainstream television. What role does a Brave New World of technology play in overexposure, or perhaps worse, exploitation? Are parents liable if they post photos of their children on the Internet and those children don’t want those photos posted? And how young is too young? At what point is the abuse of an overly connected society punishable?

Gaudy questions, of course, but not nearly as gaudy as the prospect of being the President of the United States. The dynamic between Eli, Ruth, Peter, and Alicia is at the pitch-perfect spot, which is great for now … but we’re only two episodes in. Such is to say that while everyone being aware of everything is essential to the inevitable chess match this season will provide between Alan Cumming and Margo Martindale’s respective characters, my worry is that it will eventually become too cute for its own good. And even though he may have won this battle, you can’t think that there will be a lot of Team Eli victories as this story unfolds … can you? That’s just not this series’ style.

Still, that plot line’s translucent, I-know-you-are-playing-me-but-I’m-playing-you-too nature will most likely make it the season’s most interesting thing to follow. With the actors involved, you just gotta know that it’s going to be a master class in acting. The only hope now is that it’s given the attention it deserves -- this week’s developments in that corner of The Good Wife’s universe seemed too standard for a show as complex as this one can be.

Speaking of complexities, we knew it was about time Alicia filled that investigator role, but did we ever expect it to be an over-compensating charmer who has his armed wrapped up for pseudo-mysterious reasons (rule no. 24 in The Good Wife lore: never trust anybody!). I can’t explain it, but there was something off-putting about the introduction of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Jason Crouse. I mean, come on. Does Alicia really need another workplace romance? And don’t act like those seeds weren’t planted this week. Dude turns down a billion dollars a year at Lockhart, Agos & Lee to show up on her doorstep, bearded smile in tow, to work for next to nothing?

Riiiiight.

Either way, Alicia might want to be careful. Her win/loss record on romance throughout this series hasn’t been the best, and if we’ve learned anything in seven seasons, we’ve learned to be weary of guys with deep voices and glowing smiles (what’s up, Peter?). Being used can be fun when you’re friends with the devil who’s sharing the details. That doesn’t always hold true when a foreign flame burns too hot.

That rings even more true when the precept of exposure is the pitchfork that a certain kind of Satan refuses to let go.

Approaching the Bench

So … what do you think about this Archie Panjabi stuff? Vanity Fair walked back its suggestion that the introduction -- and immediate firing of -- a very Kalinda-like Amanda had nothing to do with this weird, mysterious, now-legendary Archie vs. Julianna real life subplot … but do we believe that? I don’t think I do. There are a million ways to introduce an ill-fated investigator, but to do it with a character that’s so obviously a second-rate Kalinda? I think the Kings are the smartest writers in television today. Something like that doesn’t go unnoticed, despite the great response from Robert: “The next time we want to be meta, we’ll add a man-bun.”

Along those same lines, what the hell happened to Jess Wexler’s Robyn? She goes from being Kalinda’s understudy to not even an option for both law firms? Come on, now.

Again: You don’t believe Jason has his armed wrapped up because of some ice tray, do you?

This needs to be said: Watching Alicia and Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) operate together is just so great in so many ways. Think about it. It’s so refreshing to see two strong women lead the way -- instead of the requisite suit and ties that often cloud these types of series. I’m not trying to say mainstream television is overtly sexist (even though it often is); I’m merely pointing out that the show should be applauded for doing something that many other shows haven’t had the balls or hindsight to do. A black woman. A white woman. Both lawyers. Both taking on the world. I understand the complexities and shortcomings of reducing characters to mere race or gender (and don’t think for a minute that’s what I’m trying to do here), but honestly: Where else on TV do you see that? It needs to be seen more.

Which leads me to this: All right, already. When are those two going to finally join forces for real, for real?

I’m interested to see where this Frank Landau (Mike Pniewski) thing goes. Clearly, there’s no way this works out well for Alicia (or, well, it might eventually work out, but not after a few damning plot twists).

The relationship between Nora (Nicole Roderick) and Eli is quickly becoming one of my favorites on the entire show

OK. It’s finally time to ask: What’s the plan for Diane (Christine Baranski) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) here? I’ve never been a fan of Howard Lyman, so whatever that deal is between he and Cary needs to end, and end soon. Plus, in this episode, Christine Baranski is hardly even an afterthought. It’s moving toward Code Red on those characters. Someone needs to do something! Fast!

Does Alicia still have a son?

Finally, do we think Eli is sincerely out for blood with Peter, and his apology was nothing more than the next move on his chess board? Or do we think Eli was genuinely sorry for threatening him and he’s just a true believer in Team Florrick? I think both are in play.

Crazy Prediction of the Week: Alicia ends up dating Jason … only to find that he was related to Will Gardner, who fathered a secret child with Kalinda before Alicia arrived at Lockhart/Gardner.

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