Review: ‘The Good Wife’ – ‘The Decision Tree’

A review of last night’s “The Good Wife” coming up just as soon as I press the farting button…

“The Decision Tree” was the series’ 100th episode – note Kalinda’s speedometer at 100 in the opening sequence – and TV shows tend to approach that kind of milestone in different ways. Some use it as an excuse to do a huge episode involving metaphorical and/or literal explosions, some treat it as an exercise in nostalgia for the events that got us here, and some ignore the numbering altogether and just do a regular episode. “The Decision Tree” trended more towards the second option. It wasn’t an encyclopedic history of all things “Good Wife,” but it revisited Matthew Ashbaugh, brought back and/or mentioned troublesome clients like Colin Sweeney and Lemond Bishop, and put Eli and Peter together with Donna Brazile again.

Most importantly, though, it was another referendum on the end of Will and Alicia’s relationships, both personal and professional. I find the two of them being enemies vastly more interesting than them either being together or pining for each other, but it’s understandable that Will would be so angry at Alicia – and that he would have some legitimate questions about how much of their romance was real and how much was her manipulating him to get what she wanted. Alicia’s ultimately a less duplicitous character than that – and we can debate whether it would be more fun if she had been consciously taking advantage of Will’s interest in her, or if a show this morally complicated needs a relatively pure character at its center – but Will’s anger is coming from a real place, and it continues to fuel some excellent conflict between the two firms.

Less compelling so far is Damian Boyle. Glad as I am that Jason O’Mara gets to play Irish, Damian fits into the bad boy archetype that the show has toyed with in the past with Blake and Kalinda’s ex, and never all that well. Cat-and-mouse between Alicia/Cary and Will/Diane: fun. Cat-and-mouse between super detective Kalinda and super gangster Damian: overheated.

The best part of the 100th, though, was the very last moment, with Alan Cumming’s perfect spit take as Marilyn announced that she was going to name her baby Peter. It’s a strange turn the show has made with Marilyn, who was introduced (in Eli and Peter’s minds, if not in reality) as a temptress who could bring down the governor, before the writers instead made her the wacky pregnant lady with the frequent nausea and gadgets. If the idea is that the two character concepts are one – when we weren’t looking, Marilyn and Peter hooked up, and she got pregnant – I’d have to wonder about the timeline (the season’s early episodes took place over a compressed time period as the fourth years plotted their escape while waiting for their bonuses), and then we’d be back to Peter betraying Alicia again, which is true to character but territory the show may want to leave in the rearview a while longer. (The Peter of the last few seasons, who is trying to be a better man and husband, but who still has many weaknesses, has worked very well, especially given Chris Noth’s limited availability.) If, on the other hand, the line was just a set-up for the spit take? Bravo.

This was our last new episode til 2014, and a nice note on which to close an incredibly strong calendar year for the show.

What did everybody else think?