Screen / The Good Wife

Alicia’s Back on Her Game in The Good Wife‘s “All Tapped Out”

The NSA storyline has been a random one for the show, with geeky white guys watching Youtube videos in their cubicles and taking breaks to eavesdrop on the complicated workings of Florrick/Agos and follow Peter’s controversial election to governor. They’re a nice source of comic relief, and The Good Wife‘s tendency to pick up on real-life events (in this case, Edward Snowden’s leakage of classified documents) makes it appear to be going on in real-time even with the unique Chicago the show’s built up. But it’s been going on for awhile, and there’s only so long these characters can be listened to without their knowledge before it becomes annoying so “All Tapped Out” bringing an end to the storyline came just in time.

When a contractor at the NSA, Jeff (Zach Woods) accidentally took home a flash drive in the midst of a the NSA’s search for the next Edward Snowden, he approached Florrick/Agos about representing him. Though Cary and Clark were continuously shut down in their attempts at defending Jeff from the complaints of his supervisor Froines (Michael Kostroff) because of all the pesky classifications and secrets floating around the NSA, the case was the catalyst for Alicia shaking off her grief-driven lethargy.

The episode began with Alicia still confined to her bed, only getting up to aide Finn as the State Attorney proceeded with his investigation into blaming him for their Jeffrey Grant predicament. Before Jeff (not to be confused with Jeffrey) admitted that the NSA was listening to them, Alicia was a far more muted presence than usual which only intensified when she found out that the State Attorney was citing Finn putting Jeffrey in general detention as the reason for the shooting. But learning about the wire taps made Alicia abundantly energetic, racing to tell Eli and Peter, deciding to stay on Finn’s case and even putting Louis Canning on the NSA’s radar with some choice words during a phone conversation.

Speaking of Canning, he’s perhaps the only thing that may not have worked in “All Tapped Out”.  The character’s always worked better in stops and starts, coming in for episodes and then disappearing to wherever it is he’s from just like other recurring adversaries.  It’s hard to tell if The Good Wife is really planning on making him a permanent fixture or not (and I also have no idea if Michael J. Fox’s schedule would permit it), but doing so runs the risk of eliminating any fun the character brings with him (but maybe his super cool wife will show up?!). He’s a scumbag, as he astutely points out, and now he’s LGC’s scumbag (LGC is something they’re actually calling themselves). But LG has had plenty of scumbags before him like Stern and Derrick Bond, even Will depending on what episode we were on, and though Canning brings with him tensions and rivalries of the past I’m not too interested in seeing them play out on a weekly basis though Kalinda lobbing Will’s forgotten baseball at him was nice.

Though The Good Wife and Lockhart/Gardner are both on the hunt for a new Will, it’s up in the air if they’ll find one. Matthew Goode’s new series regular status as Finn, as well as statements from the Kings, indicates he’s the show’s replacement for Will, and so far, he’s doing fine. But Lockhart/Gardner may not need one. Practically, yes, since their monetary issues have been a recurring them in the show’s run, but it would be more satisfying to see Diane going it alone or, if the show’s insistent on finding a partner to replace Will, bringing on someone we’ve never met. The Good Wife‘s worldbuilding is excellent for a show many wouldn’t really consider loading up with recurring guest stars, and their ability to draw on these names and faces for stories across whole seasons is both admirable and enjoyable, but with a new character like Finn coming on, it’s clear The Good Wife is just as good at starting from scratch.

 

Anyway, back to the NSA. After Peter found out about the wire taps, he pulled an Alicia Florrick and scared a frenemy on the Senate Intelligence Committee into making sure the taps went away with mentions (via phone) of some potentially career-destroying controversy. That Alicia and Peter pretty much did the same thing to different people only indicates how alike they can be at times, an important something for the show to touch on now that their relationship is strictly political/professional and driven home with the episode closing with Alicia and Peter politely putting each other’s various commitments on their schedules,

Since Peter’s threats did their job, getting the wire taps squashed and putting the NSA contractors on a different target, it’s the end of this particular story. It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the end of the season with only a handful of episodes left, and it’s actually hard to pinpoint where the show may be by the time we get there with so much left up in the air at the moment. Alicia and Peter are pretty much separated, Canning’s at Lockhart/Gardner, Finn’s cleared (or at least on his way to being cleared) of the Jeffrey Grant controversy so what else is there for The Good Wife to do that would tie this season together in a cohesive little bow?

It’s not a complaint but an observation. The show’s always been good at tying seemingly unrelated things together, and with the season finale being titled “A Weird Year” and next week’s episode bringing back Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney and Josh Charles to direct, there’s still so much the show has left to do, and can do, before the season’s up, and that it’s hard for me to predict what it could be only makes it more exciting.

Stray Observations

  • People don’t give Alicia enough credit for being hilarious. Her back and forth with Castro about “going down” was pretty much perfect.
  • There was some momentary tension between Alicia and Cary when Cary found out Alicia and Diane were considering a merger without consulting him. Since the merger is now a thing of the past, that particular grievance is no longer urgent, but Cary’s annoyance at being left out of the loop was more than valid.
  • Of course putting Froines’ number on a bulletin board on a Muslim college campus and the resulting phone calls would make the NSA suspicious about any terrorist ties. It’s sad because that’s probably something that would happen. It’s probably happened already if we’re being honest.
  • It took me way too long to realize that Castro is played by Michael Cerveris who was on Fringe, one of my favorite shows EVER. Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie also showed up as an NSA contractor. So these two, plus Matan and Julius sightings, was a very good episode for familiar actors and characters I’ve come to care about.

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