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Television

The Good Wife: Season 7, Episode 6 - "Lies"

Colin McGuire

Sure, you might have to endanger the patient to stop the cancer, but what happens if the cancer can't be stopped?


The Good Wife

Airtime: Sundays, 9 pm
Cast: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, Chris Noth
Subtitle: Season 7, Episode 6 - "Lies"
Network: CBS
Air date: 2015-11-08
Amazon

“Sometimes to stop the cancer, you have to endanger the patient.”

A tad cliche, yes, but Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold has been his own namesake this year, so even when something as borderline-cheesy as that comes out of his mouth, as it did in “Lies”, it works. The timing works. The intention works. The delivery works. All of it comes together for as powerful a moment as Eli has had this season, and that says a lot about a character who, remember, has already been fired … twice … over the span of only five episodes.

Still, there are reasons that cliches are cliches: more often than not, they’re right. As things are shaping up and settling in for the seventh season of The Good Wife, that purgatory between jeopardizing a singular goal for the sake of a personal greater good is very much in play. Eli thought he had Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) right where he wanted him …

… until - reveal! - we find out for the first time that Peter actually instructed Frank Landau (Mike Pniewski) to mess with last year’s election results. That wouldn’t matter all that much if last year’s election results didn’t proclaim Peter’s wife, Alicia (Julianna Margulies), the winner of the state attorney’s race. Did you get all that?

Peter rigged the election to get his wife a win! If that secret gets out, as Eli had hoped, it might also damage whatever political future Alicia could have! And now, all of a sudden, Eli has a soft spot for Alicia!

Which, of course, brings us back to, perhaps, a more subliminal retroactive consequence: might it be possible that Peter intentionally rigged season six’s election, knowing that his tampering would ultimately be found out, and in turn would effectively ruin Alicia’s political career? That’s hella cynical, but if you want to talk about endangering the patient (Alicia) to stop the cancer (of eventually upstaging Peter politically) … I mean, I’m not sayin,’ but I’m just sayin’.

Elsewhere this week, the NSA is back (as if they ever really go away in the first place). Kristen (Anna Wood), Lucca (Cush Jumbo), and Alicia’s next client du jour was fired because she lied on her resume about a job she never had. Ironically (read: only in TV land!), her employer found out about the lie due to a polygraph she was forced to take after a theft within the company. Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) (still loving him more each week) finds out that there was never a theft. Boom goes the dynamite.

When Alicia brings all of this up in court, to a particularly mouthy Andrea Stevens (played cuttingly by Christine Lahti), the prosecution argues that the lie-detector test could be used in court because, all of a sudden, the issue is a matter of national security. Thus, the call to Jeff Dellinger (Zach Woods), who’s now somewhere in Iceland, the utterance of the red-flag word of “Snowden” over the phone, and the reintroduction of the NSA into The Good Wife universe.

What does it mean, going forward? I don’t know. Of course I don’t know. Who the hell does know at this point? That’s between the Kings and God. What I do know, however, is that even when the NSA plot was running, full steam ahead, in seasons five and six, the series only periodically returned to it, oftentimes with no real resolution. (Worse, even when the plot-line was supposedly “resolved”, it never quite felt "done").

So, where does that leave us? Well, it leaves us in a mess of narratives that feel weirdly hopeless. Or, in other words, it leaves us wondering if there are any possible outcomes for these newfound issues that could satisfy us as viewers. Because now, with this week’s developments in mind, two few questions must be asked:

1. Why did we spend five weeks on Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler) going head to head with Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry)?

2. What’s the point of bringing back the NSA, if when the NSA story was introduced, it didn’t exactly light the world on fire?

The answer to the first question might be coming into focus now that Monica (Nikki M. James) has arrived, ready to expose Lockhart, Agos, & Lee for racial profiling. Combine that with Howard’s intent to expose Lockhart, Agos, & Lee for ageism, and what we have here is a season that might just end up being dedicated to destroying the law firm that has sat at the center of this series since its creation. (Side: if that’s the case, and the broader point here is that without Alicia, the firm lacks a moral compass, then … ha. Wouldn’t that be something?).

The answer to the second question, however, appears to be a bit more tricky. Much like I was/am with the Howard Lyman story, I’m apprehensive to bring the NSA crew back into the fold, if only because I didn’t see the need for it when it initially happened. Sorry -- the payoff just wasn’t enough to deserve the attention it got. I’ll ultimately give it a chance because it’s The Good Wife and everything on The Good Wife deserves a chance, but it won’t be without a weary eye.

Actually, weary eyes are beginning to pile up now, what with Eli gaming everyone (except Alicia?) for the sake of Eli’s Revenge, although even he conceded that he didn’t know what he was going to do next after allowing the image of Michelle Obama … er … Alicia Florrick to burn into his mind. At this point, the most fascinating weary eye Eli has is the one directed at himself.

Sure, he’s good at endangering the patient. But, at the end the day, can he really find a way to stop the cancer?

Approaching The Bench

OK. So, what happened overnight that made Alicia all of a sudden get super-curious about Jason and his past? And are we supposed to believe the hysterics from that guy on the other side of the phone? The whole thing is just so interesting, because this is what The Good Wife does: it takes a character, splits that character into two layers, and then plays in the gray area between those two layers. What’s made that tactic work in the past is the subtlety with which those two layers tend to be established. But this? It seems so cut-and-dry (and, frankly, lazy), that I can’t help but hope that the Jason-is-a-psychopath narrative finds another texture somewhere along the way.

The one consistently great thing about the NSA involvement: seeing Marc St. James from Ugly Betty and Gabe Lewis from The Office (no, not Donald "Jared" Dunn from HBO’s Silicon Valley) get screen time. Fun!

The under-the-blanket thing was so over-the-top that it’s hard to think it wasn’t inspired by some type of real-life event.

I mentioned this before, but whoa there, Christine Lahti. That Andrea Stevens character was so outlandishly detestable that I kind of hope they keep her around for an extended period of time.

Speaking of an extended period of time … Does anyone out there torture themselves like I do each week when I peruse the credit roll at the beginning of each episode? I keep hearing that Vanessa Williams is supposed to pop up this season and each week, I sit on all of the pins and all of the needles to see if she’ll finally be debuting, and six weeks into it, we’ve got nothing. But …

… When she finally does come around, can we all work to get the #markandwilhelminatogetheragain hashtag to be a top trend on Twitter? Please? Pretty please?

I understand that big-rimmed glasses are all the rage these days, but you can’t tell me I’m the only one on earth who sees Alicia wear those things now and immediately think: “Oh, I get it. She’s the next Diane.”

How about it, Monica? She has the feel of a character that might be around for a little bit, no? The most nonsensical aspect of that wrinkle in the story, though, is Cary’s push back when it came to hiring her. Instead, he weirdly wanted more impossibly great-looking dudes who look like him … when for five weeks now, he’s been preaching to the Old Guard about how essential it is to mix things up. There’s something that feels inherently infuriating about the whole deal. Why wouldn’t Diane (Christine Baranski) be more forceful in hiring her? Why would Cary be so narrow-minded? And why would some random character be looking to conduct a sting operation like that, out of nowhere, if it wasn't supposed to have an enormous effect on the story? The entire scenario has flimsy legs. It’s disappointing.

The Florricks-looking-like-the-Obamas thing took a minute, but that was sort of funny.

Crazy Prediction of the Week: Jason kills Peter in a Dexter-like manner and marries Alicia, who doesn’t find out about the murder until their wedding reception.

7

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