The Good Wife "Parallel Construction, Bitches" Review: Of Wiretaps and Voting Fraud

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Mar 10, 2014

The Good Wife S05E13: "Parallel Construction, Bitches"

Is it just me, or did the break between this new episode and mid-January's "We, the Juries" feel way longer than the break between seasons? After yielding to NFL games, the Grammys, the Winter Olympics, and the Oscars, I'm just glad CBS was like, "Oh, no, we're not running away from Neil deGrasse Tyson. We have limits, people."

In any case, The Good Wife is back, and with "Parallel Construction, Bitches," it kicked off what CBS is billing as a three-episode "event." Now, pretty much all episode promos try to make their subject matter look as riveting and exciting as possible, even if the actual episodes don't stack up. But the recent uptick in multi-episode "events" on shows that may already be quasi-serialized—I'm thinking about what Person of Interest did with Carter earlier this season, or what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing now—is interesting. The promise of an "event" certainly raises expectations, regarding both the episodes' importance to the show and their overall quality. That The Good Wife and S.H.I.E.L.D. are both staging "events" as they return from hibernation demonstrates just how much catching up the TV networks think audiences need in order to get back into the groove of tuning in every week. 

It appears that The Good Wife's big arc, at least for the moment, is centered on how the National Security Agency (NSA) is doling out hints about life, the universe, and everything to other organizations within the U.S. government. These include the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and, more importantly, the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Department of Justice, a.k.a. the federal agency that can bring down a very big hammer on the Florricks for engaging in voting fraud and stealing a state-wide election.

Ever since "The Bit Bucket" at the start of the season, I've been curious as to how The Good Wife would bring the NSA back into the narrative loop. I figured it would involve the stuffed ballot box, but I wasn't sure how, since the NSA probably couldn't care less about voting irregularities in Illinois. Enter Nelson Dubeck (Eric Bogosian of Law & Order: Criminal Intent fame) from PIN, who is way, way more skilled at the act of parallel construction—which was helpfully, if clunkily, explained to us through Cary—than the DEA was in its effort to get something solid on Lemond Bishop.

The structural pleasure of "Parallel Construction, Bitches" was in its parallel plots, which demonstrated how the NSA's information was used. The DEA engaged in an act of musical witness locations, and Lester and Bishop's game of "Catch the leaker!" ferreted out the wiretap, leaving the DEA's plan looking half-baked and without the necessary legal legs to stand on. But Dubeck and PIN were a touch more methodical. They knew there was a video, so they made sure to get it first by coercing Marilyn. ("You have no attorney-client privilege. Everybody else is a lawyer, the world is full of lawyers. You're the type to go to jail.") Dubeck going to Alicia and then Will was also a smart move. They both represented Peter's interest in court, but while Alicia couldn't be shaken—"I used to be like you: Certain. Deferential to authority." "Is that what I am?" "Thinking everyone being investigated is obviously guilty. It's just a matter of time. You should be investigated. It changes you."—Dubeck, thanks to the NSA tipping him off, tried to rattle Will with a grand jury summons, despite the fact that Will didn't seem interested in budging.

I'm not sure what to make of Will's reticence on burning Peter to the ground. I think part of the reason is that, while Will is very much a slash-and-burn kind of guy, he'd rather destroy Alicia professionally for hurting him both personally and professionally than see everything in her life, including her kids, suffer the blowback. He may hate both Alicia and Peter, but there's some inkling of a conscience in that litigator's brain, one that wants a contained but harmful burn instead of a conflagration. Maybe I'm giving Will too much credit?

Overall, "Parallel Construction, Bitches" was a tight episode. The Good Wife has craftily incorporated the NSA into its narrative by using both one-off characters from previous seasons and recurring ones like Bishop and Lester to propel the story forward, instead of just introducing new clients every week. This helps The Good Wife maintain its particular sense of realism, and Bishop and Lester's amusing little leak hunt in "Parallel Construction Bitches" allowed The Good Wife to reasonably lead its characters to certain conclusions without it feeling like convenient plotting just to move the story along.

In the end, though, this was just table-setting for the next two episodes. So, unfold your napkins and grab your forks. I think we've got a tasty meal on the way.



SIDEBAR

– I appreciated The Good Wife's acknowledgment of how much Alicia and Cary keep running into Diane and Will during various cases. It set up an episode that would seemingly focus on the battle for Bishop, only to have Diane and Will fade into the background after the initial round of testimony. Such a relief.

– So was there anything better on TV this week than Darkness at Noon, the send-up of "quality" cable dramas? It totally felt like a jab at all those "The Good Wife is the best show on broadcast TV" lines that came out around the start of this season. "You can't cross the line and then act like you didn't cross the line." "Then shoot me. Shoot me." Love it.

– Man, Kalinda. You get some sexytimes with Cary and you just assume he's lying to you in bed. Give the guy some credit.

– Sad to see the Judge Kluger thing kind of fizzle out. Also, is it just me, or are they going to federal court a lot more often lately?

– I love the NSA employees treating their wiretaps like a show. "It's almost fun to watch." "I think Will and Diane end up getting it on." Terrific stuff.

– "Okay. I think this will make sense if I get more wine." This is how I approach all things.


What did you think of "Parallel Construction, Bitches"?


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  • gzeigler3 Mar 13, 2014

    Since watching the episode, I have been mulling over why Kalinda thought Carey was lying. It just occurred to me that, he WANTED Kalinda to think that he was lying. If Diane and Will believe that he was lying, then perhaps they will slip up in some manner, if they are also being tapped, and lose a client or two.

  • lana619 Mar 11, 2014

    it's great to have The Good Wife back! Finally, felt like forever ago , been on withdrawal. Each single episode is huge for me. Love Alicia & Will , am hopeful Will won't be written off.

  • hurtlocker10 Mar 11, 2014

    Every episode of The Good Wife is an event for me :)

  • Gonzai Mar 11, 2014

    Prediction: The phone call Alicia gets in the 'event' previews is from one of the NSA guys, warning her of something imminent. Those two are getting rather fond of the Floricks, esp. Alicia.

  • JT_Kirk Mar 11, 2014

    This break did feel very long, I had entirely forgotten who Wallace Shawn's character was when he showed up at the front door, what the overarching storylines were, everything.

    Honestly, this is no more an "event" than SHIELD's murdering of strangers who were doing their job simply to save Skye. Alicia and Peter are both being investigated? Not an event.

    Will does ultimately care for Alicia in that way, but he also has no love for the system, he's been jerked around by subpoenas and accusations, I have to believe some of that reticence stems from there.

    While this was a tight episode, I didn't see the disbelief between Kalinda and Cary this time, it's as if Kalinda just assumes everyone's lying now, and that is its own type of faith - which is not useful to an investigator.

  • noelrk Mar 11, 2014

    How can you forget Wallace Shawn's character?! BAH. ;)

    No, the details of things were hella fuzzy, and I likely would've benefited from re-visiting "We, The Juries" and "The Bit Bucket" before writing this up, but only so many hours in the day (and I really didn't want to re-watch "We, The Juries", because, urgh).

    Also, just let you know, I'm covering the Lost Missions season of Clone Wars which ended up on Netflix last week. Second arc (which was suuuuuuuuper boring) will be hitting the site sometime this week.

  • LeaveComments Mar 11, 2014

    Loved this episode! What I hope happens is both firms unite and fight the NSA evidence. Since that was illegally obtained, the case against Big, (he is still Big to me), gets dropped. Both firms are so kick ass and to see them fighting side by side together and maybe healing a few wounds, would be awesome. I love the change of direction this show has taken. Breaking up the band was such a great idea.

  • missjudgment Mar 11, 2014

    Such a great episode. I kept thinking all shows shouldn't be written like this.

    • The NSA nerds are hilarious, scary and probably quite realistic.
    • I really liked Will at the end. I'm giving him even more credit and thinking maybe he will actually do Alicia some good, despite everything that happened. I'd like to see some growth from him.

  • Vicky8675309 Mar 11, 2014

    Great way to welcome back TGW. I'm a bit confused on Will's obligations as a lawyer concerning Peter. The NSA guys were a lot of fun to watch. Why did Kalinda think Carey was lying? I wonder how that will play out.
    Great review for a great episode.

  • noelrk Mar 11, 2014

    WAIT. Kalinda slept with Carey, too?! ;)

  • superjulia Mar 10, 2014

    It really did feel like a long, long time, especially since this season has been so good and I wanted more! The NSA guys are so delightful and it's great to see Lemond Bishop again.
    But I think we can all agree we're still waiting for Colin Sweeney to make his retun, right? He's just the kind of character who would revel in the chaos that's going on right now!

  • noelrk Mar 10, 2014

    As much as I love Sweeney, I sort of don't need him to come back just now. That said, they still have 8 or 9 (!!!) episodes or so left, so there's still time!

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 10, 2014

    I am so happy TGW is back. It really felt like a long long time. While many full season shows are at episodes 15-18, TGW is only showing episode 13. Well, I hope the good news now is that there is no break til the end of the season.

    Sometimes when I start watching TGW, it felt like I had tune into the wrong channel and the wrong show by mistake, I had to double check. It happen again this week, maybe it is just me but its kind of funny.

    Someone might want to help me here. I do not really understand about how the US law system works. If one is bound by attorney-client privilege, does it mean he/she still have to spill the beans when they are summon by the grand jury?

    So am I right to say a lawyer can hold on all the secrets but have to spill them if they are ask to appear infront of a grand jury. How does that help the client?

    And why does a drug lord need to tell his lawyers he is moving drugs at a specific time? I have never seen this before till now.

    I am both surprised and glad Will is showing some resilience. I agree with Noel that as much as he hate Alicia now, he draws the line in hurting her family and kids.

    NSA employees are really two funny dudes. We should get this guys on more often.

    While Kalinda often gets it right, I am glad this time she got it wrong.

    Again fantastic performance for all the guest stars. For some reasons, I liked the delightful Wallace Shawn (Charles Lester - Lemond bishop's lawyer) this week better than anyone else.

    My only complaint is that I am a little sad that it seems the call from the judge was really just about him asking for help with his book. They kept the mystery for a while now and it amounts to nothing much.

  • Gonzai Mar 11, 2014

    Lawyers may not violate attorney/client privilege, even on the witness stand, unless the client agrees to waive privilege. Period. End of story. It's grounds for disbarment at best.

    Will is holding back because of Alicia's kids. He's shown in the past that he will not involve her kids in any of the conflicts he has with their parents. (Wonder if his own parents involved him in their problems...)

    I think the judge was hoping the lunch with Alicia was a date. When he realized Alicia genuinely thought it was a professional if casual meeting regarding a book, he backed off before he was rejected.

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 12, 2014

    So Will cannot go to jail as suggested by the guy who was interrogatiing him?

  • Gonzai Mar 12, 2014

    Will could go to jail for contempt of court if he refuses to violate privilege, but it doesn't happen often.

  • noelrk Mar 10, 2014

    My understanding is that the lawyer isn't the one who gets to waive attorney-client privilege, only the client has that option, and Peter has instructed Will not to say a single word.

    A lawyer friend of mine on Twitter is slightly confounded by all of that maneuvering since it can't really lead anywhere, legally speaking anyway.

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 10, 2014

    If that is the case, our theory of Will not wanting to hurt Alicia might to stand true as he does not really have a choice. That guy interrogating him makes it sound like he have.

    So even in front of a grand Jury does Will have to say anything if Peter do not waive it? And if so, how can he go to Jail since he is following what his client instructed him?

  • Vicky8675309 Mar 11, 2014

    was Will still Peter's lawyer at the time of discovery of the fraud? If so and if Peter did not waive attorney client privilege then Will can't say anything (just my guess). I agree--How can he go to jail since he is following what his client instructed him to do (keep silent)

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 11, 2014

    He was Peter's lawyer. That was a scene some episodes ago when both of them actually talked about it. I can wait and hopefully the show will address this at some point.

    What I really want to know is WHY does a drug lord need to inform HIS lawyer if he is going to move drugs??

    THAT really bothers me !

  • AndrewBrand Mar 11, 2014

    The ABA has several outs for lawyers to break confidentiality without client authorization. One out is a lawyer can break confidentiality by court order.

  • noelrk Mar 10, 2014

    Answers to those questions, sadly, I do not have since, well, I don't know! :) Hopefully next week's episode will clear things up on this front a bit.

  • MarlboroMagpi Mar 11, 2014

    Thank you for reading and trying to answer. Sometimes the show just assume we all know the legal system. I thought it was only me that don't

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