The Good Wife: Season 4, Episode 18
Death of a Client
If last week, The Good Wife gave us a filler episode, this week, its full to the brim with plot developments, character moments, and that special charm only this show can pull off. "Death of a Client" is funny, tense, sad, and sweet. It has moments for nearly all of our main characters, and a devil on an ancillary creation, who reveals his depth only at the episode's end. I wasn't sure I was going to love the flashback gimmick when it started, but the episode didn't overuse it, and thus, each glimpse back was important, a chance to view the character at the center of the piece, a part of Alicia's life we've never seen before. Where I assumed this would disadvantage the episode (like a sitcom episode where a character's "best friend from college" we've never heard mentioned stops by), but in fact, "Death of a Client" paints Matthew (John Noble) so well in glimpses, I never needed more to understand the larger picture.

Matthew is quite the character, too. An incredibly wealthy tech genius/completely insane "eccentric," he is incredibly litigious, deeply paranoid, and obsessed with a particular Bach Sonata he plays on a loop on speakers he carries with him everywhere. All of this means he is the type of character that might have worn thin with too much exposure, but one who sings in brief, often seconds-long appearances.

The mystery at the center of the episode is actually stunningly obvious--we see two people threaten Matthew, and one of them is the one our characters are focused on for the first 30 minutes of the episode, so I wasn't shocked to discover it was the dog lover who pulled the trigger. But unlike last week, the story works because of its unconventional delivery method, its slightly altered pacing, and the beautiful sense of melancholy the sonata provides, both to Matthew's story and to Alicia's other nostalgic wanderings.

The episode mixed the two well, treating Alicia's memory like an actual human recollection, where most television uses flashback sequences to dole out exposition, with nary a staging flourish. The quick glimpses of various encounters feel like the sort of things that would have stuck out to Alicia, and the way Will keeps creeping into her thoughts works perfectly (working less well, though, is the scene of Alicia and Will in bed, which actually looks like they are having sex while a group of people play the parachute game with the sheets). And while the resolution is pretty pat, it gets a wonderful button in Matthew's revelation that he is creating lawsuits to spend time with Alicia. Its a weird, intense, sad and slightly sweet moment, and the show doesn't linger long enough for any of those emotions to outweigh the others, which lends the whole thing the sort of ambiguity this show does well when it remembers to.

Over at the St. Patrick's Day party, we got the injection of Matthew Perry the Peter storyline has been desperate for all season, and damn it if the show didn't mine every second they had with him for gold. Kresteva is still a total mustache twirler, but because he's played by Matthew Perry, he's pretty likable anyway, and its almost as fun to watch him trade barbs with Alicia as it is to see him take a punch from Peter (in a moment that you could see coming from a mile away but were rooting for anyway). It's a completely batshit thing for Peter to do, and it reminds any of you who had forgotten just what an underhanded guy our Mr. Florrick is when given the chance, but when he's up against such an obvious villain, its hard not to root for him to use any trick in the book to get ahead.

Meanwhile, in two plotlines the show glanced at and decided it didn't really have time for, Cary and Kalinda are still banging (though Kalinda seemed perfectly happy with that massage therapist), and Peter wants Diane to take the vacated seat on the State Supreme Court. The latter plotline especially is interesting, but the show is so busy with other things, we don't even see her decision, despite the artificially imposed 2 1/2 hour deadline.

Particularly impressive is how well Veronica (the returning Stockard Channing, always welcome on my TV screen), Zack, and Grace are integrated here without feeling forced in. This is a busy episode of the show, but I was never annoyed to return to their story, and everyone involved got a few nice moments out of it.

Finally, there's the Will and Alicia stuff, which just works. At this point, Margulies and Charles have played the "we have to stop doing this" material so many times it should seem tired, but the way the show has made all of their reservations so realistic, and their yearning so subtle and persistent, somehow sells it for me. Will can hear Alicia tell him its over and just go on being her protector from afar; Alicia can tell Will (and more importantly, herself) its over, but even she can't will it to be so. Also, let's give a brief shout out to Josh Charles' puppy dog eyes, which are really just the best.

"Death of a Client" was a great episode of The Good Wife. It was funny, and it was sad. There was a lot of plot, but also plenty of character moments for us to savor. It juggled its storylines well, and though its mystery wasn't much, it presented it in a way that kept things interesting. If the show can sustain this for the remainder of the season, it may be forgiven for some of the bumps along the way.

Grade: A-


-Apologies for the late review. The delayed broadcast messed with my Tivo (as it seems to roughly half the time this show airs), so I had to watch on the interwebs.

-"You stood by your man, you never strayed..." "Good evening, everyone."

-"You know the problem with bad people? They use the arguments of good people." "You know the problem with good people? They think of themselves as good people."

-"Do you want me to offer some names?" "No. I want you to offer your name."

-"You know the way to battle a lie?" "With the truth." "No! With a bigger lie!"

-"That's a Cheshire smile." "Oh, that's a real smile."

-"This has to end." "Can you just decide that?" "I can. I have to."

-"Maybe I'm getting senile...but I like them. They remind me of your father."
Tags: The Good Wife
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