09 January, 2012

"Alienation of Affection"

Episode Title: Alienation of Affection
Season 3, Episode 12 | Original Air Date: January 8, 2012

After a one-month hiatus, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have a new episode of The Good Wife to kick off 2012.  Let’s be honest – I spent most of my day keeping busy so as to pass the time more quickly before that elusive hour of 9 pm (okay, 9:17 pm, because I live on the east coast, home of the football/CBS/The Good Wife/hot mess).  Lucky for me, the four week and 17 minute wait was absolutely worth it – this episode exceeded my exceptionally high expectations on every level: dialogue, story line, humor and fashion.  To say it was a drama-filled, madcap adventure would be an understatement.

Typically I write a full episode recap and leave it at that, but this week I thought I would spice things up with an overview of "Alienation of Affection" and finish things off with my top 10 favourite moments of the episode.  Look out – you’re being served.

In My Opinion – Episode Commentary

Despite being very confused by what day this episode was supposed to be starting on (Diane was at an art gallery, Alicia was at a busy school, Will was at a wedding and David Lee was backstage at a Gilbert and Sullivan production), everyone had one thing in common: getting served.  The Good Wife production staff must have placed a special order for office supplies just to keep enough yellow envelopes on hand.  The problem? A 2010 divorce gone awry.  As it would happen, David Lee, and therefore Lockhart Gardner, was being sued for $44 million dollars – the value of a company that was sold in said divorce. The crux of the problem was actually the tort Alienation of Affection – did Lockhart Gardner try to further their business interests (and therefore make a tidy sum) by ensuring the successful breakup of April and Jake Hundley?  With the hard-hitting Burl Preston (played by F. Murray Abraham) in from LA, the heart of the matter came down to what information could be collected in depositions.

First up: David Lee.  Always good for sarcasm and banter, David can’t pass up the opportunity to, as Will would say, “poke the bear.”   Does David run his legal dealings above board?  If I were to be called to the stand, I would have to confess to having some reservations about his ethical conduct.  What I do know is: a) he likes to tread a fine line around semantics and b) he could be cast in a production of H.M.S. Pinafore quicker than most.  While we don’t know much about David, we have the keen suspicion he is rather smart.  In “Alienation of Affection” we see this shine when he proclaims he didn’t hire a stripper to sleep with his client’s husband.  No, he had Kalinda do it – but Preston didn’t ask, so that little tidbit was astutely left out of the discussion.  Was it perjury?  No.  Is Diane going to be giving David sidelong glances for the rest of the season?  Hopefully…  but not just because she’s seen him in tassels.

Second in the hot seat: Alicia Florrick.  I’ve never seen anyone give a stare-down quite like her and let me just say, it’s intimidating.  If there’s one thing I’ve come to respect and admire about Julianna Margulies’ character, it’s that she is always in pursuit of justice.   Certainly the path isn’t without its meanders and proverbial potholes, but that doesn’t change the fact Alicia always tries to land on the right side of the fence.  This week, Alicia seemed even more direct and determined when it came to depositions – She’s done with being raked over the coals, personally and professionally.   While it provided a point of frustration for Buro Preston, I think in the end Diane was a little proud.

Buro: “You told her [April Hundley] you had also dealt with an unfaithful spouse?”
Alicia: “We commiserated over similarities in our personal lives.” 
Buro: “Did you express what a relief it was to be away from a cheating husband, saying “You can’t imagine the relief you feel that first night, just being alone, having a glass of wine” 
Diane: “Objection Mr. Preston. Are we really delving into the private life of Mrs. Florrick?”
What I loved most about this scene is not that Alicia stood her ground and didn’t crack one iota under the pressure, but that Diane was in the room to hear Alicia’s quote about her personal life.  Diane only knows Alicia to be someone who draws a strong line in the sand between her home and work spheres.  Yes, there was the relationship with Will (sigh…), but that didn’t impact the quality of her work.  In hearing those very intimate feelings Alicia had shared with the client, Diane can now appreciate what Alicia has be juggling for the past three years.  It may never be brought up again, but I think the level of respect Diane has for Alicia, has further elevated.  Also, I’m pretty sure if the circumstances were different, she would be rooting for the Team Gardner relationship.

Third time’s the charm: Cary Agos.  With all questions going somewhat unanswered, Buro had no option but to call in Cary to the deposition process.  You see, a rider went missing with the original divorce filing… unfortunately it happened on Alicia’s watch.  Believe it or not (emphasis on “or not”) the document was found in Cary’s old files.  Happenstance?  Unlikely.  David Lee definitely planted a fresh copy and passed it off as the 2010 document, but there’s no way to prove it.  Well, there is.  A $30,000 ink analysis could confirm its legitimacy, but who was going to conduct that analysis with the divorce being back on?  Oh yes, in an unpredictable series of events, the man responsible for serving everyone with those treasured yellow envelopes, Jack Copeland, was the one to break the news to Diane – the husband in the divorce was still cheating on this wife.  Case closed.

Alienation of Affection – Top 10 Favourite Moments 
(because 11 seemed like too many and nine seemed like too few)

1) On Exhibit– The episode opens with Diane standing alone at a Harry Borgman art exhibit (robust piano music plays in the background).  Personally, I was thrilled with this scene as we got a glimpse into the world of Diane after hours (she wears flats and likes art - now we're getting somewhere). Enter a rather handsome older man with an Australian accent.  They strike up a slightly flirtatious conversation and all signs point to Diane having plans for a dinner date later in the week until… she gets served.  The man?  Jack Copeland.  Well, at least he was nice.

2) “I am the Captain of the Pinafore” – Having also been served, David Lee shows up to work wearing his costume from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, H.M.S. Pinafore.  I may or may not have clapped when I saw him dressed in such theatrical garb – moments like these make The Good Wife stand apart from other network dramas. Diane, Alicia and Will all did their best not to laugh and/or cry at David’s expense.  I tried to do the same.  There’s nothing more I can say, except, perhaps, “Ahoy!”

3) Fisticuffs – There’s nothing I like more than a good bout of verbal sparring and this week was full of moments on which the writers can proudly hang their hats.  The fact there is no love lost between David and basically everyone at the firm was officially settled.  Julius almost punched David in the face and Eli began quickly crafting a coup to oust Lee from his high horse... or ship deck, whichever the case may be.  It’s just a good thing Eli didn’t see David dressed up.

4) “I’m going to write that down as a yes”  For the first time since season two, Kalinda and Alicia were finally on semi-casual speaking terms.  In fact, the thawing ice between these two was a welcome addition to “Alienation of Affection” especially because Alicia was responsible for the missing rider.  Kalinda had to bring up the error and you could tell she was willing to do just about anything to get Alicia out of the sticky situation. While Alicia became confused about what could have happened to the document, Kalinda once again proved she has Alicia’s back.  On the trust report card, I think Alicia would move K back up to a solid C+.

5) "Are you looking for a lawyer?" – Let me open with this: Did anyone predict the whole “grand jury” situation coming out to Alicia so, well, plainly?  Just one more thing to add to my I didn’t see that coming list I suppose.  Will just blurted out “Wendy Scott-Carr” and “grand jury” over the speaker phone and that was it:  Can of worms, you’ve been released.  That surprise aside, I was thrilled to see Alicia and Will have a somewhat normal conversation.  It was sweet, genuine and a little mysterious.  It made me long for the days of “Feeding the Rat” with the proclamation of love, but, in a strange way, Will being able to approach Alicia for Elsbeth Tascioni’s business card sent a message: I’m around, I love you, I’m not mad and I could be in trouble.

6) "Don’t judge by first impressions" – Will quickly headed to Elsbeth Tascioni for help after a few botched interviews with other lawyers (who unwittingly would have him inside of a prison cell faster than Kalinda can take a bat to a car).  As it turns out, Elsbeth’s office was under construction so off the top, the meeting was a bit unorthodox.  First, Elsbeth had to double check the chair she gave Will because the contractors were practical jokers.  Well, sure.  Second, it seemed that while she had no desk, she also had no phone.  Correction.  She had a phone (maybe two) and all were hidden under drop cloths.  Kicking at the floor, she tried to dislodge them to stop the ringing.  Third, for whatever reason the only thing exposed in her office, aside from two chairs, was a pile of purses.  I’m going to keep active notes on this in the future, but do we think she ever carries the same bag twice?  Despite all of this, Will trusted Elsbeth with his grand jury turmoil because unlike the other lawyers he talked to, Elsbeth began to immediately tackle the idea of innocence.

7) “I like anything with bears” – You just never know where or when Elsbeth is going to show up when she’s on a case, but surprising Wendy Scott-Carr at a children’s play was a brilliant move.  Also, she probably bought a ticket and thoroughly enjoyed the show with dancing stuffed bears, elephants and lions.  No judgment here – I think she’s a superb blend of clever and zany swirled together with comedic genius and dramatic flair.  Even better?  As predicted, Wendy Scott-Carr has no idea what to do with her!  Oh yes, and Elsbeth leaked Wendy’s back-room dealings to the press and therefore three of Cook County’s most honest judges.  Point Tascioni.

8) The questioning of Cary Agos – This scene was brief but telling.  Cary truly loves being a lawyer and he’s not in it to throw anyone under the bus.  In fact, out of anyone on the show, he may have the most altruistic goals of all.  He’s willing to work hard, he appreciates a job well done and if circumstances had been different, I truly believe he and Alicia would be friends.  As Cary stated: “I have absolutely no reason to believe that document is a forgery. I knew Mrs. Florrick and Mr. Lee to be outstanding, competent and ethical lawyers at the firm.”  Maybe this is the new leaf that needed to be turned, after all, the last time Alicia and Cary spoke was because Kalinda had been arrested.  It’s just too bad Cary is being pulled into Wendy Scott-Carr’s hornet’s nest.

9) For the love of children – Diane never had children, and I think at this point, she’s grateful.  Quite frankly, with Eli and David going head-to-head trying to fight each other to the death, she is playing both mother and boss.  The best part?  She’s tough and she wins.  Both men are strong-willed, but no one is more capable of sending two people to their corners to make them think about what they’ve done than Diane Lockhart.  There’s a reason she’s the master of the eye-roll.  That’s a time-out, men. 

10) The pillar push – Finally!  The scene I’ve been waiting since November for – the lobby altercation!  This is the scene I saw filmed live (see The Good Wife: On Location in NYC for details) and I couldn’t have been happier to see it finally air.  What’s even better is that we now have context for that story line – Jack Copeland, welcome to the show.

Quotes of the Week:

Diane: “We’re not throwing anyone under the bus.”
Eli: “Last time I looked we were all under the bus.”

Will to Alicia (about the grand jury): “I just don’t want to make life more complicated”

Will: “It’s probably too early to drink…”
Diane: “Another two hours”

Jack: "Where am I looking?" (when searching for the artist's autograph in a painting)
Diane: "The inside top of the right thigh... That wasn't a pick up line, I did think you wanted the spot."
Jack: "I know, I just like your voice. I wanted to hear it again."

What’s Next?

Next week we’re in for a real treat when guest star Jason Biggs joins the cast as a computer programmer turned client who is “arrested by the government for not revealing the name of an anonymous client” and it all ties back to a new online currency (Clarissa, TV Over Mind).  Stay tuned, it’s going to get juicy.

Also, Elsbeth will be back for round two, where it’s likely her run-ins with Wendy Scott-Carr are only going to increase in number.  Will we finally learn how legitimate this case against Will really is (or isn't, as it may turn out)?

To top things off, Bob Balaban will return as Gordon Higgs (remember, the man from the Department of Treasury who just loves his red velvet cupcakes?).  I can only hope there will be a happy reunion between Tascioni, Higgs, Florrick and Gardner over coffee in a break room. 

Related to this Post:
  • Preview: Episode 13 - "Bitcoin for Dummies"


  1. What a great start into 2012 for "The Good Wife" - episode- and recap-wise :-)

    I could not resist and had to watch the episode before leaving for work this morning.... and it turns out, it was the perfect start into the day.
    And to say it with your words: "I’ve found myself clapping, shrieking, gasping and/or hiding". Loved the episode!
    Each episode I think it can´t get any better and then boooom - big surprise! Great writing, awesome characters/actors.

    I am so glad that you were right about Elsbeth coming back and being Will´s lawyer. Can´t wait to have more "Scott-Carr/Tascioni Time"!!"

    And also THANKS for another mind blowing blog entry - it´s like watching the episode again with someone writing down what you thought and felt while watching it the first time.
    Now not only watching last nights episode is an important part of my Monday but also reading your blog ;-).

  2. "Alienation of Affection" certainly was a great way to start 2012 - I'm in full agreement, Birgit!

    Having Elsbeth come back to represent Will is an outstanding story line development - I'm thrilled she's back on the scene and can't wait to see what Wendy Scott-Carr does to try to outsmart her (I say this while simultaneously shaking my head... oh Wendy). Let's face it, WSC can't compete with the zaniness of Elsbeth though - she's unconscionably brilliant. It's going to be a hilarious and dramatic showdown to be sure. Season three has officially gotten even better, if that was possible.

    Thanks again for writing in! I'm thrilled to be part of your Monday tradition (your comments are becoming a highlight of my Mondays as well!).

    Cheers and Happy New Year!

  3. Lola from Las VegasJanuary 12, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Loved the episode and the Blog!! Can't wait for next week!!


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