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Television

The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 3 - "Cooked"

Colin McGuire

The finer nuances of perception and deception lie at the heart of this season's third episode. Who's lying? Who cares?


The Good Wife

Airtime: Sundays, 9 pm
Cast: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski
Subtitle: Season 7, Episode 3 - "Cooked"
Network: CBS
Air Date: 2015-10-18
Amazon

“Diane, this is not what it seems.”

“Actually, sometimes it is.”

The first line comes from Julianna Margulies’s exhaustedly surprised Alicia Florrick. It’s intended, obviously, for her former boss, Christine Baranski’s indignant Diane Lockhart. The whole sequence formulates because Jerry Adler’s Howard Lyman, feeling pushed out by Matt Czuchry’s Cary Agos, wants to call ageism on his firm. He goes to Alicia for lawyerly advice. Diane finds out, and thinks Alicia is intentionally going after her business.

It’s off-putting, the way this all went down. It’s just like … really? After all the stuff both of these leading women have been through, both as individuals and together, Diane is going to fly off the handle without even hearing Alicia out? And this, on account of Howard Lyman, who repeatedly displays an abundance of inadequacies, if not as a lawyer, then as a complete perv? At this point, with so much history behind Alicia and Diane, this particular development was the result of lazy writing, a generic way to turn the plot down a road that’s already been traveled too many times.

But I digress. Back to that aforementioned exchange. Deception and perception are at the heart of this seventh season’s third episode, “Cooked”. Alicia teams with Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) to defend a pair of supposed criminals, who at one point attempted to concoct some good, old-fashioned GHB. The problem? These guys aren’t out to vaguely parody Breaking Bad. Instead, they’re out to take down one of season seven’s more entertaining arrivals, Judge Don Schakowsky (Christopher McDonald), on behalf of the FBI.

Naturally, this results in a weird trust game between Lucca and Alicia (and one, it should be noted, that was still never really resolved by the time the credits rolled, despite Alicia giving her new friend a handful of cases). Was Lucca in on the sting? Nothing is known for sure one way or the other, but regardless, something is certain: That fluffy bond (no pun intended) between our two heroines has now officially experienced its first crack. Maybe we should slow down on all those Florrick/Jumbo theories for now, eh?

All of this serves as the meat in a sandwich that wouldn’t taste nearly as good without the garnish of the tug-of-war between Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) and Ruth Eastman (Margot Martindale). Ruth wants Alicia to go on a cooking show (hilariously titled Mama’s Homespun Cooking). Eli knows better, but complies, especially after he’s assigned his brand new office … er … closet space. Of course, this blows up in everyone’s faces, and of course, Eli smirks as he watches the dysfunctional mother/daughter tandem be precisely the dysfunctional mother/daughter tandem we’ve all grown to love.

But then, wait … twist!

You see, all’s not lost for Eli’s use in this week’s episode. In fact, he’s the piece that saves “Cooked” from being a complete failure. After Schakowsky avoids his own entrapment, it’s revealed that Mr. Gold, having learned about the FBI’s plan through Alicia, tips off the judge, and, right before the screen goes black, wants to cash in his chips by way of getting back at Mike Pniewski’s Frank Landau. Will this be the political maneuvering Eli needs to display in order to get his job back? Or will this backfire and be the beginning of the end for the man’s tenure on the Florrick campaign trail?

Me? I’m torn. Sure, I don’t know much about all this lawyer mumbo-jumbo, but … didn’t Alicia violate attorney/client privilege when she told Eli that Schakowsky was being set up? I know Roland was ultimately exposed as an informant, but that doesn’t mean Alicia still wasn’t working as his attorney, does it? So, then, if that’s the means by which Eli tries to take down Landau … well, wouldn’t that slip of Alicia’s tongue inevitably be exposed, and, worse yet, perhaps endanger Alicia’s career as a lawyer?

I’m probably wrong on all this, but either way, the prospect of Eli indulging in a make-or-break move this early in the season sets things up nicely for a relatively imperative dose of intrigue (finally, the wheels begin turning!). You can’t blame him, especially considering how Peter placed Eli’s back squarely against the wall to kick off this season, but in this series, there’s a fine line between recklessness and savvy. Such a boundary is crossed too much in The Good Wife universe to truly ensure anyone the prospect of a happy ending.

Which, of course, leads us back to the beginning: The difference between things being what they seem, and what they aren’t. That’s a vague notion, and it’s been at the center of this series for as long as its existence. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What is truth? What is lie? What is pure? What is manipulated? This group of characters lost track of those answers years ago, and in turn, an environment where perception is key was not only created, but expanded.

Thus it must be said: It’s only deception that often carries with it a handful of ugly consequences. Alicia should know that by now, even if Eli doesn’t.

Approaching The Bench

I’ve found Mary Beth Peil’s Jackie Florrick so annoying and so infuriating over the course of this series that it’s almost made me despise Peil as an actress (which, truth be told, is probably the sign of a great actress). So, pairing her with Howard Lyman, while at once makes all the sense in the world, also forces me to turn away from the screen. Those two characters, man -- I just can’t get on board with either of them. I never have. I never will. I get it, especially with this week’s episode hanging so tightly onto the notion of deception (watching Howard land a money-making client as a result of his new-found romance was sort of fun, but you have to question his motives now, don’t you?). Anyway, at the end of the day, the Florrick/Lyman story just doesn’t appeal to me.

Let’s hear it for Luke Kirby! He was the prosecutor in this week’s case and he co-stars in one of my favorite movies of the last decade, Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz. I’ve always wondered what happened to him, and it’s nice to see the guy get work.

I hate to say that the show doesn’t work when Diane and Alicia are fighting, but … the show doesn’t work when Diane and Alicia are fighting. Especially over something as stupid as Howard Lyman, whom nobody should really trust in the first place.

Oh, so Alicia does still have a son! The faceless, body-less, presence-less Zach (Graham Phillips) helped Grace (Makenzie Vega) with face-recognition software! Yay!

Three episodes in, and Cary continues to be reduced to little more than The Guy Who Says Everyone Needs More Balance. Diane got to where she got because she forfeited her personal life in the name of The Law. It’s not unreasonable for her to expect others to do the same. Cary, though, has come to exemplify a generation that already gets a bad rap for being too laissez faire in the first place. It’s an interesting dynamic.

“I just made an enemy I don’t need,” says Lucca. Ohhhhhh, but if you only knew.

Did anyone else pick up on the parallels between Howard and Eli? “You can’t harass me out of my job,” is a line that cuts deeper for those two than one might think.

So, the FBI is going to come after the Florricks now, right?

#bringoliverplattback

Crazy Prediction of the Week: Howard Lyman is actually Louis Canning’s grandfather. Jackie and Howard elope. Alicia then realizes her worst nightmare: She’s all of a sudden the distant cousin of Louis Canning.

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