‘The Good Wife’ – ‘Getting Off’: Cheaters

Senior Television Writer
05.11.11 62 Comments


A review of last night’s “The Good Wife” coming up just as soon as I ask if it’s okay for me to visit the kids…

It takes two to commit adultery (technically, at least three, but the third party is usually passive and ignorant, unless they’re married to Sarah Silverman), and these last two weeks of “The Good Wife” have been largely about Alicia dealing with each party that wronged her. Because Kalinda is a much more prominent character on the show, and because this season has spent so much time building up Alicia and Kalinda’s friendship, this was definitely the shoe I was much more eager to see drop, and the execution – in particular, the performances by Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi – was as good and tough as I’d expected.

And I particularly liked how the episode allowed us to sympathize with Kalinda even as it let Alicia lay out all the reasons why her behavior – not just the affair, but never telling Alicia about it at any point in their business and personal relationship – was so terrible. Kalinda Sharma does not let people in. Ever. So for her to finally drop her guard for another human being, only for that person to then turn around and angrily shun her? That’s a bitter pill to swallow, even if Kalinda’s the one in the wrong here, and even if it probably would have been smarter if she’d tried befriending someone whose husband she didn’t once sleep with. Kalinda’s reaction to the news that her escape hatch job would just have her working for Peter – that no matter what she does, she seems fated to be caught in the middle of the Florricks – was as funny as it was sad, and helped set up the turn at the end where Kalinda returns to Lockhart Gardner with her shields back up and her wariness of Alicia far stronger than it was even back in the pilot.(*)

(*) It occurs to me that the Kalinda/Alicia friendship has been handled the way many shows deal with unresolved sexual tension: a long simmer, then cracks, then finally a push into a real relationship, and then some kind of complication to keep those crazy kids from being happy for too long. And, frankly, “The Good Wife” has handled this angle a whole lot more interestingly than it has the actual sexual tension between Alicia and Will.

The stuff around the Alicia/Kalinda beef was a bit more hit-and-miss. Like Martha Plimpton last week, Mamie Gummer’s pleasure at being back on this show, and in this role, was infectious, and the scenes Alicia had with David Lee and Peter’s mom were very strong. (I think Alicia’s making a tactical error in not telling her mother-in-law and kids about what Peter did, in that at some point Peter’s going to manage to paint her as unreasonable and vindictive, but I also understand the reasons she’s doing it.) On the other hand, I thought having Alicia take first chair on a case about an Ashley Madison-style adultery website in the same episode where she’s still dealing with the Peter/Kalinda fallout was just piling on. I know dramas with procedural elements like this often try to give its characters a personal stake in the case of the week by letting it parallel some conflict they’re facing in their personal life, but this was too much of a sledgehammer metaphor, and concluding the whole thing with a joke felt really tonally off, even with Will’s comment about how he didn’t expect it to go that way.

Still, all the Kalinda/Alicia scenes were terrific, and that’s essentially all that mattered this week.

What did everybody else think?

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