I’ll admit I had my doubts about The Good Wife early on in this season, but “Another Ham Sandwich” was one of the strongest the series has ever done. There’s no question in my mind at this point: The Good Wife is the best non-cable drama on television right now. No other show gives us such complex characters, challenging storylines, and rich interpersonal dynamics.
Sunday's episode did an excellent job of showcasing The Good Wife's character relationships—though I think it’s also important to note where it took the plot. I’d been worried that the judicial bribes storyline would end in a cop-out, with Will somehow avoiding indictment and Lockhart Gardner moving on as though nothing had happened. What surprised me about how things played out is, while the arc did conclude in Will’s favor—he didn’t even have to go to trial—none of it felt like a cheat. Once the episode ended, it seemed as though things couldn't have happened any other way.
I counted eight face-offs, each one executed flawlessly: This was an hour rife with confrontation, and it could have reached soap opera levels of over-the-top. But even a moment as daytime drama as a public slap came off natural—it was shocking, and it was earned.
I can’t go over all the one-on-ones—I mean, I can, but you don’t need to hear all of that—so I’ll focus on those I thought worked best. First, Alicia and Peter. I guess we’ve known for some time that the State’s Attorney’s Office war against Will Gardner is largely personal for Peter, but it still felt satisfying to get that out in the open. And it was a pleasure to finally see Alicia assert herself and demand that Peter back off. She didn’t know the seriousness of the case against Will, so I understand why she didn’t say something sooner, but I’m so glad she finally did.
The aforementioned slap was the culmination of Kalinda playing Dana. The relationship between these two has been fraught with hostility and sexual tension from the beginning: You can never really tell if they’re about to fight or fu—well, you know. We knew Kalinda would never betray Will, but it’s always a thrill to watch a plan fall into place. And Dana’s reaction to learning she’d been fooled was so believably stung that I really bought that slap. On almost any other show I would have rolled my eyes, because, seriously, who does that? Here, it worked.
And then there were the confrontations outside of the case against Will: Eli vs. David Lee continues to be a fun battle to watch, but I’m loving Amy Sedaris as Stacie Hall, and I’m glad she’ll be working for Eli’s ex-wife. (Sedaris and Parker Posey teaming up? Be still my heart.) The Good Wife can be a very serious drama, but it also gives us characters—like Stacie and Carrie Preston’s Elsbeth Tascioni—who are hilarious oddballs. Like the Dana-Kalinda slap, they don’t really belong here, and yet they’re so well-drawn, so weird in an interesting way, that they round out the episodes perfectly. Not to mention the fact that the humor balances how good they are at what they do—the audience is always a little bit caught off guard, even if Eli isn’t.
I could go on. I kind of want to. But instead, I’ll leave you with my favorite conversation-ending lines from the episode, because holy crap, there were a lot of them:
Diane to Alicia: “We’ve never considered you an extension of the State’s Attorney’s Office, and you’ve never acted as one.”
Peter to Alicia: “Will Gardner is not my family.”
Kalinda to Dana: “Hit me. It’ll make you feel better.”
Alicia to Wendy Scott-Carr: “You are out of control.”
Stacie to Eli: “Okay. Let’s go. Let’s have intercourse.”
Peter to Wendy Scott-Carr: “Thank you for your service. My assistant will validate your parking.”
Peter to Wendy Scott-Carr (again): “Do what you have to do. Now get out of my office.”