The Good Wife: Season 4, Episode 9
A Defense of Marriage
This week, we will begin with a nitpick, because that is my right: When Jeremy Breslow (Bruce McGill), Supreme Court Super Lawyer Extraordinaire, shows up and wants to throw the case to get DOMA in front of the Supreme Court, it forced me into my "how far removed from our reality is this show?" tailspin. There are multiple gay marriage cases the Court is considering hearing currently, and it seems like the sort of situation where the show should have tossed off a reference to them. I also find it a little hard to believe that Breslow thinks this is the ideal test case to get DOMA overturned. This case has already revealed the marriage at its center is an open one, the sort of thing that would probably be enough to derail it as a test case. So while Breslow is a potentially interesting character I'd like to see become part of The Good Wife's stable of recurring lawyers, some aspects of his first outing here were slightly troubling.

But all of that pales (as everything must) in comparison to Stockard Channing's turn as Veronica, Owen and Alicia's mother. Her over-the-top, aggressively sexual turn is perhaps an obvious way to take the character, by way of explaining Alicia's reserved nature, but Channing is so stellar in the role that it was impossible to quibble. Veronica's husband has died, and she's been written out of the will after he discovered she had cheated on him. This leads to her retaining David Lee as counsel (because The Good Wife wanted to make me squeal with glee at watching those two bounce off each other), and to some good old fashioned perjury. It was obvious from the start Owen would cave to his mother and help her cover up her affair, but everything in this story was so much fun that predictability was irrelevant. Dallas Roberts is always fun as Owen, and bouncing him off Will, David Lee, and Stockard Channing was such a blast, this story could have been about Veronica losing a button and everyone helping her look for it, and I would have loved it (actually, I might have loved that more, but that's just me).

To return to the case of the week, nitpicks aside, there was a lot of good material here. The arguments over DOMA weren't the highlight, but I enjoyed Diane and Alicia's slow realization that Breslow wanted to lose and their fight against him and for their client was enjoyable. Brian Dennehy's Bucky was back, now as an AUSA forced to argue marriage is between a man and a woman (confusing, as the government's position under Obama is that DOMA is unconstitutional), and Bebe Neuwirth could probably have spent her whole time presiding asking "hey, what about that button? Anyone found that sucker yet?" and I still would have loved it. Neuwirth and Channing played two of my favorite TV wives on previous series (the former as Lilith Sternin on Cheers and Frasier, the latter as Abigail Bartlet on The West Wing), and have earned enough good will from me to largely coast. Fortunately, neither does so here, and even in her slight role Neuwirth is a lot of fun. She can come back whenever she'd like, and I hope she does so soon.

At this point in The Good Wife's fourth season, perhaps the best that can be said for this (pretty solid) episode is how little screen time is given over to No Law and Very Little Order: Kalinda's Sex Life Unit. Kalinda shows up to do shots, and Cary vaguely threatens Nick at his site, but mostly this is as sidelined as the story has been in a while, and the episode is better for it.

This is ultimately a slight episode of the show. There is no political subplot, no Kalinda freak show, Grace isn't feeling tingly below the waist and Zack isn't fixing anyone's computer (or at least he isn't making me watch him do it). "A Defense of Marriage" has two fairly straight forward cases with fun little twists (intra-defense rivalry and perjury are enough to beef up each of them), enough interactions between Stockard Channing and the people we would dream of seeing her bounce off of (Will, David Lee, Jackie Florrick), and a sex scene that didn't involve soft serve. All in all, it wasn't the best episode The Good Wife has ever done, but it beat the hell out of last week's and it was a lot of fun throughout. For this week, that's enough for me.

Grade: B+


-"We're family. We don't hide things from each other."

-"I was just telling Will about the vagina book we're reading." "I'm not reading it." "It sounds interesting."

-"I got three whites and two reds. Think that'll be enough?...Apparently not."

-"What does he charge?" "$40 an hour. You should consider it. Wouldn't have to go begging for male attention." "Yes. Paying for it seems to run in your family."

-"Is this about your mother?" "Yes."
Tags: The Good Wife
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