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The Good Wife: Slap Happy

The Good Wife S03E14: “Another Ham Sandwich”

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.”

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I don't think it's the single best drama on network TV, but it's quite easily in the top five. I've been a big fan of Julianna Margulies since "ER", and this show does not disappoint (thanks to SUPERB acting from the ENTIRE cast).



This episode was indeed tops, as you said, each character is extremely well written and it was well handled all around. Personally I love the Cary Agos character and always felt like he was getting the short end of the stick, so it's nice to see where things are heading (it looks like he's going to have a LOT more to do in the future). Good show, glad to watch.
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I've always wondered why The Good Wife didn't get much attention around here.. To me, it's one of the best shows on TV. Good to see somebody's taking on the topic!
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Love this show. Season 3 doesn't start in Ireland for another few weeks. Can not wait. The reviews seem very positive for season 3.
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This episode was fantastic. I was glad that Cary tried to call out Wendy on her inappropriate line of questioning and it was supremely satisfying to see Wendy Scott-Carr and Dana get their comeuppance.
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That was the best episode of the season so far. It flowed effortlessly from one storyline to another for the full hour and I didn't find myself bored whatsoever. I love this show but I noticed this season it's had it's moments. Watching Wendy Scott-Car get shown up like that in the court room was sheer perfection. It was so smoothly done and honestly I can't help but wonder if even the actors had a hard time keeping a straight face during it because I know I couldn't keep one. The entire Dana and Kalinda thing was gettng on my nerves from the beginning but I was so beyond thrilled to see Dana's face when she realized she got screwed! Well...not screwed per se.I mean she had been trying to play Kalinda (KALINDA!) the entire time...and yet was shocked that she got played herself! I cannot fathom people who not only think others are supposed to sit back and let them walk all over them but get pissed when you don't let them! The slap was cheesy. I even loved Cary, he's the character I fluctuate on, but his reaction to everything going on was quite interesting. I really hope to see more of Elsbeth. I love that woman! And Eli was just hysterical...I actually found his antics with David Lee, and Lee's niece more hilarious than his rendezvous with whats her name. For whatever reason when David Lee waltzed into his office and knocked over all of his crap and Eli called in Lee's niece I was in stitches.
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I do have one question: Diane's line to Alicia about "...and you've never acted as one"



What did that mean.



Was it a kind: we don't blame you for any of this, and you've never done anything wrong

Or

An informative: we don't expect you to get involved to help, not that you have in the past anyway.
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i believe it was diane's way of saying that alicia has never taken a stand against her husband's investigation, but it was time she did. the end of the sentence "...and you've never acted as one" sounded to me like an implication, as if alicia should have acted like one. since diane knows how personal peter's vendetta against will is, and this largely thanks to his affair with alicia, diane blames her and suggests here that alicia should do something about it.

i suppose diane could not say that out in the open because it would be inappropiate for the head of the firm to demand such a personal interference, i don't know it might even be illegal? certainly not professional. but i think the subtext was pretty clear, and in my ears it sounded like diane did not approve of alicia's private mess being the reason for will's problems. for her, it was time for alicia to get involved and finally pull some strings. i hope this makes sense, i'm sorry if my english is not correct at times, it isn't my first language :)
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Add a comment...It was great, and had the pay-off I was hoping for: Mary Scott Car getting the legal-equivalent of a b*tch-slap in from of a group of people. The "wrong" email, the ridiculousness of her questions.



The icing on the cake was when the jury/panel was essentially asking WTF are you doing charging Will?



Meanwhile, Will and Kalinda played them like a violin... and even Alicia had her assertive scenes.
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After watching this episode I was thinking how I wished you guys did recaps of The Good Wife. So thanks for doing this one! It was just an excellent episode.
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This was an excellent episode. Will's ambushing Wendy in front of the jury was priceless, Peter's "validate your parking" line was great, and Amy Sedaris' eyes when Eli told her he got the account going from playful to pissed was far better range than I normally give her credit for... having (damn preposition sentence-ending!). Peter and Alicia talking about her and Will sleeping together was very good, although I did think Peter's outburst and her reaction actually could have been drawn out a little more in one way or another. But I think most interesting was that the whole Grand Jury plotline played out with Cary saying almost nothing, just reacting with his eyes. You know what, you're right, last night's episode had EVERYTHING. Eli vs David, David testifying with his slick smile, on and on like that, and it all looked slick too. Seems like this show is head and shoulders above anything else network is putting out these days.
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Completely agree, one of the best episodes in a while and definitely the best this season
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- This show never fails to impress. Each episode seems to be masterfully written. I'm a little embarrassed that I usually don't think twice about the show after I watch an episode. With all the hype around cult shows (on Sundays) like Dexter, The Walking Dead and some overrated ones like House Of Lies, "The Good Wife" doesn't exactly get the recognition it deserves. I actually find it more engaging than some of the primetime heavyweights like NCIS or Criminal Minds. I don't know what the numbers are for the show, but whatever they are, more people should be watching.

- David Lee is my favorite character on the show. Why don't we ever get to follow him around when he's on a case??

- Carrie Preston has made more of an impact with her role on this show, compared to her character on True Blood.
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I totally agree, i felt this was the best episode of the season. I wonder what is next. they basically summed up all the storylines for the first half of the season.
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This is one of the better dramas cable shows included. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite drama but for a show that I thought would end up as a gimmick this one has proven as capable as any. The characters are well crafted, deliver an excellent performance virtually every episode and not just the stars but the entire cast. Great season for dramas on TV and this one certainly earned a top spot on my scorecard.
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"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."

True that! I had to quote you because that's exactly what I wanted to say, but didn't find the words to. And I also have to put an emphasis on the word humour. Most dramas try to add a little bit of humour in the mix so that the show wouldn't feel so dry, but usually they fail miserably. The comedy just feels so forced and immature. But during The Good Wife I many times find myself laughing out loud at all the sly remarks in court, the clever ways they stab each other in the back, the tricks, the cunning plots to outsmart the others, the mind games they play while having a casual conversation, and finally, the gleeful joy they take in beating their opponents (in court or within their own company). And of course, let's not forget Archie Panjabi. She and Lana Parrilla make my Sunday evenings. Not even Emmy Rossum has the same effect on me as these two ladies.
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