The Good Wife: Season 4, Episode 15
Going for the Gold
I love it when The Good Wife combines business and pleasure, so I was completely in favor of Kyle MacLachlan's Josh Perroti using his case against Eli as a means of courting Elsbeth. She, however, was not, and while her polite, but firm, refusal to get involved with Josh, and her awkward flight from their lunch together were triumphs for Elsbeth as a character, they left most of the flirting feeling far too predatory for my taste. Perhaps Josh got his when he was shut down at the end of the episode, or perhaps this isn't the last we've seen of his character, but as it stands, the story came across as slightly underdone.

Perhaps it had to, though, to allow room for all of Eli Gold's various triumphs this week. Not only does this episode see him beating the corruption charges (thanks to Elsbeth, of course), but it also puts him back in Peter's good graces, when he let's the Gubernatorial candidate off his leash during the debate. Jordan argued Peter should avoid seeming aggressive and force Maddie to appear desperate, which is terrible advice for anyone who has seen the First Presidential Debate from last fall (which Peter even references). One quick call to Eli rights Peter's ship, though, and he wins the debate handily. The phone call also gives us a great guy-love moment between Eli and Peter, where they acknowledge how much they enjoy working with each other. From intimidating Landau outside his office to besting both Jackie and Jordan without even facing them down, this was a good night for Eli, and one or two explosive rants away from an all-time great outing for the character.

A lot of the debate stuff didn't really work for me, honestly, at least not as more than a way to bring Eli back into the fold. The idea that Maddie is outsourcing jobs and engaging in Union busting, and Peter has never brought that up before the debate, is just a little insane. If Maddie was that anti-Union, it would be the central thrust of Peter's campaign, and I can guarantee you she would have an answer prepped on that point during the debate. This left the whole sequence feeling sort of bland; the debate lacked the tension the scene should have had, and it did so for a few reasons. First, Maddie has never really worked as a character, and especially not as an antagonist. Maura Tierney is a very capable actress, but her character never clicked with Alicia, and has been far too absent to coalesce as a villain. I don't really blame the show for this, as they expected to have Matthew Perry all season until Go On took off, but still, the fact that Maddie has never felt like a threat means this showdown didn't have any stakes for me. When Alicia is standing on the sidelines nervously hoping Peter will go after her, it seemed the show wanted us to feel the same. I didn't, and in part because Maddie is such a cipher. The other major failing here is that the show spends either too much or not enough time on the debate prep and the actual debate. Either this is the central story of an episode, or it should come off as a much smaller moment. To try to use it as the primary subplot for the episode left it in a strange middle ground: it wasn't given enough screen time or stakes for us to become invested, but it was given too much for us to just enjoy Peter's beat down of Maddie. If we had just seen a TV clip of his Union rant, that would have landed the moment with as much triumph as this did, but as it is, the story was given too much or too little room to breathe, depending on what the show wanted it to achieve.

The case of the week had some fun turns to it, especially when Elsbeth decides to file the defamation suit in front of Judge Marc (Dominic Chianese is always welcome on my TV screen), but it also may have gone just a bit too far. The co-conspirator fishing was fine and dandy, until we reached the Diane Lockhart portion of the episode, when it became clear almost instantly that the DOJ was out of ideas. If Diane actually had some testimony to provide that made Eli look shady, this could have been a huge climactic moment that would have let Elsbeth shine; as is, it mostly just lies there for her to scoff at, and for us to join in on. If the climax of your storyline is "Elsbeth, and the audience, laughs at how flawed this legal strategy is," there may be some rethinking you should do. That being said, most of the courtroom stuff works, and its always a pleasure to watch Carrie Preston work. I just like it when Elsbeth is forced to be slightly more brilliant than she needed to be tonight. Perhaps, in the end, that's why she turns Josh down. Maybe he just wasn't quick enough to keep up with her. But if so, I'm not sure this plotline was the best way to make that clear.

Meanwhile, Alicia has to cut hours on a Lamont Bishop case, which puts her at odds with Cary again. She throws herself on the grenade, cutting her own hours to save him, but reverses course by episode's end. I am enjoying, for the most part, the subplot about Alicia adjusting to the new pressures of equity partnership, but this all felt a bit forced. I find it hard to believe Alicia wouldn't be aware that partner hours look better to a client than associate hours, and her "but they're doing the heavy lifting" argument is weak sauce. She should know how law firm's work, and she should be prepared to get her hands dirty; it goes with the pay grade. Glad she corrected by the episode's end, of course, but it seemed like the first time the "partnership has its challenges" storyline has lost its footing.

Basically, "Going for the Gold" was a mixed bag. There was great Eli stuff, and I don't know if I will ever tire of seeing Elsbeth work, but most of the other plots fell flat, and even the main story had its narrative convolutions and its warped climax. After last week, I expected a step-down, and if this episode served to shut down the Maddie plotline and move Eli past his DOJ troubles, that may be enough for me. The Good Wife had a stellar episode last week, and I hope this was a minor step down before the show moves into the final act of this season. This has been an uneven year for the show, but if it can end strong, it may be easier in hindsight to overlook a lot of the bumps along the way.

Grade: B


-"Are you on the committee?" "Don't sound so surprised." "That wasn't surprise. It was...awe."

-"You want me play act a lawyer in your sham defamation suit?" "Pretty much, yes."..."This is NOT a sham, your honor."

-"Not in trade! Coincidentally, at the same time."

-"Do you want to have dinner tonight?" "Why?" "What do you mean, why?"

-"So why'd you do that?" "It's the truth, isn't it?"

-"But isn't it true Mr. Perroti..." "You can call me Josh." "But isn't it true Mr. Perotti..."
Tags: The Good Wife
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