A The Good Wife Community
CBS (ended 2016)

The Good Wife S05E02: "The Bit Bucket"

Sorry, but you can only read this review if you have the proper security clearance for a SCIF.

Seriously. You can't read this!

THE NSA IS MONITORING MY REVIEWS. YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO GET ME IN TROUBLE!

JUST STOP. PLEAS— OH NO, THEY'RE HERE...

Great. Now I have to go to Russia and claim asylum. THANKS, EVERYONE.

Just kidding. You can keep reading. 

But seriously. I'm writing this review in a Russian airport. Someone help me!

This was a very busy episode of The Good Wife. Admittedly, most of it related to the big ongoing stories—the firm defection, Peter and Eli, Diane's judgeship—but there were so many plates spinning that I half expected Julius Cain to suddenly stagger out from beneath the giant bookcase that must've fallen on him, because where has that man been? I mean, if Becca's staging a comeback, Julius deserves one, too!

Anyway, over the summer, when all the Edward Snowden and NSA and Prism stuff was unfurling and consuming our attention spans, I thought to myself, "Boy. Law & Order would've had a field day with this." I was sad for a minute because I still miss Law & Order, and then I thought, "The Good Wife *is* going to have a field day with this." And they did, in a way that I really was not expecting.

I was expecting something along the lines of the case-of-the-week to play out: Neil Gross or Patric Edelstein would show up and be angry about the NSA wanting/collecting information, and how it might affect them and their bottom line. I got exactly that, along with Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, CCT instead of TED, and a nod to Google's Eric Schmidt visiting North Korea at the start of the year (he and Bill Richardson were just helping freedom fighters! I bet Dennis Rodman is, too!). It wasn't as compelling as I thought it would be, both because of its execution and because everything else around it was a lot more pressing. Although, I will never tire of John Benjamin Hickey looking and sounding ticked off and entitled while wearing a hoodie.


Anyway, just because the case itself wasn't particularly gripping or twisty, with its gag orders and SCIFs and North Korean freedom fighters, doesn't mean that it didn't yield a nice big looming concern for the rest of the season and a nice jab at the U.S. government's spying operations, which is the extra step that I've come to expect from the show, and why it's just so good. Using an episode from Season 3 as a springboard, it turned out that the NSA had been listening in on Alicia and Diane's phone calls all this time. I mean, no big deal, just the U.S. government spying on two citizens who were doing their jobs, but due to the NSA lawsuit on behalf of Chumhum, it sent the show down a delicious spiral of the NSA extending its FISA warrant on Alicia, so it could gather intelligence on Peter because of phone calls and voicemails between Zack and Nisa, because she's Somali and because her dad had/has ties to groups that the U.S. government doesn't like.

Yes, the U.S. government is spying on the Florricks because of an estranged relationship between two teenagers. What better way to satirize the NSA's privacy overreaches than basing an extension of a FISA warrant on multiple voicemails of a girl crying?

It was ridiculous, and it was supposed to be ridiculous. However, it was very serious ridiculousness. Alicia has now been recorded on ALL of the defection stuff, regardless of which phone she used, and now they have some access to the governor's office, and who the hell knows what Eli will say on the phone. It's something that's going to be hanging over the rest of the season, just like that tape of the stuffed ballot boxes from the Season 4 finale.


Meanwhile, there were the Veronica shenanigans. While I adore Stockard Channing, I've never been super-thrilled with much of the Veronica stuff since she's never felt very integrated into the plot, and has functioned more as an comedic annoyance or frustration for Alicia. Here, though, I liked how Veronica fit into the law firm defection by putting up the necessary $140,000 for the office space, which in turn effused more scents for David Lee to sniff out—not to mention Alicia's haphazard answering of the burner phone in his presence—and it made Veronica feel a bit more important to the show.

I thought that Alicia and Veronica's chat in the tapas bar was probably more important, though. The best things on this show happen when people are drunk, and their exchanges there, including Alicia's confession that she felt like Veronica never liked her as a kid, really rang truer more than their previous interactions. Barriers were dropped, tones changed, and that was something I think I really needed in order to be sold on Veronica's recurring presence on the show. They had a breakthrough of sorts, and I think I needed it as much as Alicia did.


Finally, there was the set-up for next week, and boy, does it look like that set-up is going to end up being a doozy. The State Supreme Court Chief Justice returned to restate his objections to Diane, and this time Peter and Eli had to deal with him and then deal with Diane. Peter ended up getting the judge in line, but not before Diane redid an interview in which she demolished Will's past, including his love of barely legal legalities.

As much as I hate Diane tossing Will under the bus for the sake of career and personal advancement—I like the two of them as partners—I also love it because it creates such a nifty parallel of character growth through backstabbing with Cary and Alicia's decision to leave Lockhart/Gardner. Diane's damning interview is no less a betrayal than what Cary and Alicia have planned with the client-poaching; Diane's is just far more in the open at the moment. 



SIDEBAR


– Becca's responsible for Grace's sudden hawtness? I like that the show acknowledged that the shift happened by having Zack comment on it, but the timeline is still nutty. Oh well. 

– Loved the NSA office full of seemingly endless cubicles with people listening to all that information. Did you notice the cameras pointing down on each desk? Really nice touch, I thought.

– Speaking of things that I hope The Good Wife has a field day with: the shutdown of the U.S. government. I realize that's a horrible thing to hope for, but I want it to happen. 

– Now that I know Carey is Ben Rappaport, he actually looks like Ben Rappaport. Which is nice. He's no longer that unrecognizable version of Ben Rappaport that he was last week.

– "Tingles, Counselor... tingles." I didn't mention this last week when Judge Kluger (Jeffrey Tambor) first appeared, but I like the way The Good Wife tends to make its higher court judges considerably less eccentric than its lower court judges. It provides a nice differentiation in tone beyond just the change in set.

– "When you lose with the Constitution, try money." Oh, United States.

– That SCIF door was very impressive. Guess what: There's a manual about building those rooms. Enjoy!


What did you think of "The Bit Bucket"?

And now I'm in an undisclosed location. ...this will probably be my last review.

77 Comments
Comments (77)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I miss Law & Order too. At least The Good Wife fills some of the void.
1
Reply
Flag
Love this show so much! So much!
1
Reply
Flag
I personally don't like how the writers involved the NSA into the show. Personally, I just think the NSA is too big and omnipotent to be handled by a Chicago law firm who was facing corrupt charges and bankruptcy. I don't like how they set it up for future episodes. Sure privacy and all the jazz is the hot topic right now, but personally, I'm just not interested if The Good Wife covers it in its story lines.

I agree that this episode was too busy. Zack had two ex-girlfriends problems, Alicia's mom problems, Alicia's new law firm problems, the NSA, Diane's judgeship, and Eli. They should tone it down a bit. Last episode was good because the death penalty was the main focus and the side plot flowed so seamlessly throughout the episode. This, not so much.
Reply
Flag
Yay!! Review for episode 2!! **happy dance**

A lot of things happened, can't wait for what's next and I definitely agree that Veronica was finally integrated to the good wife plot, she had always been super annoying and the "guess he wasn't that divorced" part was perfect, love Stockard Chaning and now I buy her as Alicia's mom.

It's very frustrating how law can be used so easily on loose(?) grounds and it's amazing how the good wife writers integrate current affairs on the show, makes things seem as the actual government timeline.

The bit bucket had a lot of action and Jeffrey Tambor kept the tone and it's good to see him on TV. I'm so frustrated that Diane gave the second interview but it's quite poetic how the betrayal is going to manifest eventually and destroy oh so many things... I just find it so frustrating to wait for it.


Thanks for the review and let's keep 'em comin' cause this is going to rule.
1
Reply
Flag
Excellent review as always :D.

Although the episode was jampacked it never felt over stuffed to me. All the storylines were connected to one another, if only because the NSA was listening in on it all. It set up a glorious sense of looming doom and of more intricate dealings to come.
What I like as well is how long it is taking Alicia, Carey et all to actually leave Lockhart/Gardner. Television (and movies as well) can sometimes give the illusion that when one makes a decision this has immediate influence on your day to day life, but as everybody who has ever made a big life decision probably knows, this is not the case. When you make a big decision, you have to deal with the repurcussions of that first, not to mention putting it all together. In theory the whole thing works, but executing it is a lot more trickier. I really appreciate the show showing how stressful that can be. Alicia being the worried one and Carey the optimist who has to keep the train running.

Also a little extra thing I noticed. When Carey was talking to Kalinda and she was asking him about leaving she mentioned Agos & Associates. She probably doesn't even know that Alicia is going with them. I truly hope they do something with this regarding Alicia/Kalinda (I keep mentioning them, I can't help it. I think their relationship/friendship is one of the best and intriguing ones on television. I want it to have more attention).
More+
Reply
Flag
I liked how they did the NSA storyline with the two NSA employees who were enjoying spying on all the drama happening at Lockart/Gardner.
4
Reply
Flag
I've always been a big fan of this show, but they seem to be coming awfully close to jumping the shark. NSA? Really?? If they want to turn this show into the political cause of the week, so that writers and producers can force their political agenda down our throats, I'll drop it as fast as I dropped Law and Order, (you add the initials.)

Just sayin'
3
Reply
Flag
I'm a little lost. I live outside the US. I have read the news, the US government has admitted to this spying on US citizens for security reasons. The show made a satiric episode about it. You say there is a political agenda here. Would that be conservative or liberal? Who's more inclined to spy on US citizens?
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Can it be a political agenda with an acknowledged "threading of the needle" when it comes to the politics, plus a writer's room made up of both liberals and conservatives?

https://twitter.com/GoodWifeWriters/status/384489754969923584
https://twitter.com/GoodWifeWriters/status/384489968518717440

While I certainly read the NSA plot as angling at satire, zhivik makes a nice point that it can also read as good people with too many powers leading to mistakes, so it's not a total indictment of the NSA's intelligence gathering to the layer that I read it as.

And while I don't have a link (yet), I've kikidevil17 telling me that in a recent panel discussion, Robert King claims to be more conservative on issues than liberal, meaning that a definitive agenda seems really tricky to latch onto. To that end, I'm not sure that there's a clear agenda presented in the episode.

If there is a real agenda at work, I agree with how Robert King presented it, and referenced here, that the show's real agenda is a battle between pragmatism and idealism. I'd toss in cynicism as well, as the show is deeply cynical, and how that cynicism influences the other two aspects.
More +
4
Reply
Flag
Yawn
1
Reply
Flag
HAHA! Good SCIF joke! The episode felt a bit messy to me, so much going on. I was getting lost in some of the plots. It was still really entertaining of course. And the bloodbath that is coming is going to be intense! I am loving Cary and Alicia, they are going to be great, I am so happy for them! Poor Will is going to be really freaking pissed!

Great review like always!!
2
Reply
Flag
hey, was the name of the community always like this? :-O
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
I think so, yes?
Reply
Flag
Oh, and I barely missed Kalinda after her small single scene, they wrote that just right, not too light, not too heavy.
Reply
Flag
Staff
I'm really curious if Kalinda will disappear for a little while if Panjabi is in the second season of The Fall, which starts shooting in January.
1
Reply
Flag
If that is truly the case (although The Fall will probably be 5 episodes again right? And it's hardly like she has a major role (that show belongs to Gillian Anderson and boy does she own it! But I digress)), then if I was Archie Panjabi I'd feel cheated at this point. Cause they could be having her do more stuff now, if she's leaving for a bit later. But we'll see.
Reply
Flag
Heh heh, good ol' SCIF jokes. And a callout to the long-missing Julius Cain? Awesome! And yeah, it wasn't a particularly toothsome case of the week, but I loved the performances in it, especially Jefferey Tambor's well-balanced performance.

I also liked the use of Zach Woods (Gabe from The Office) as the NSA tech geek who had gotten hooked on the Lockhart/Gardner soap opera through their phone monitoring. Great perspective on Diane and Will's falling out being a parallel for Alicia and Cary, it's that "it'd be a soap opera to people living it" thing that makes it real, it's not SOAPY for the audience but it is for the characters observing it. Oh, and big props to Ben Rappaport's new haircut and behavior, gonna be a Cary/Carey throwdown soon.

I was also thinking about what they're going to do with the government shutdown, and wondered how this case would have ended if that had been factored in. Probably just ask for a continuance, but still, there were ideas in there.

If I had more time, I'd have a field day reading the manual on the SCIF right now, I get into pointless tech manuals (mostly Star Trek :p).

Overall, a very satisfying and nerve-wracking episode, lots of David Lee as "the villain" which isn't entirely fair, and Becca as the villain which is entirely fair.
More+
2
Reply
Flag
Staff
Not going to lie: I wanted to do the entire review in white font, but I figured that wouldn't go over well. So a few jokes scattered about for it are enough for me. :)

I figure we'll get a lawsuit connected to the shutdown after it ends. ...Assuming it ends. Sigh.
1
Reply
Flag
Don't forget to say "hi" to Snowden for the rest of us. ;-)

"Assuming it ends" and that brought me down. :-(
Reply
Flag
Good point in the parallel of Alicia and Cary. If they are the new Diane and Will, how is it going to feel next week when they get to know what Diane just did to Will in that interview? I'm not seeing that new firm happening... Not even with that big real estate investment.
3
Reply
Flag
Alicia has already gotten Cary feeling defensive, so it won't take much to bring a wedge between them.
Reply
Flag
It was brilliant! Now that TGW has established this intrigue of the 4 year assocs + Alicia leaving, the show can ride almost just on that, accented by the now inevitable Dianne-Will civil war. But TGW on top of that builds the most amazing 'case of the week' scenarios... Loved how they showed the absurdity of a lot of the home security legislation and the SCIF thing was just hilarious... As were the two guys listening to goats and to the Florricks now... Of course it is beautiful that some very inconvenient conversations are going to be aired at some point... And all because Nisa can't get over Zach... But true, it is scary how little of our lives is now truly private. David Lee was a riot as the only partner who is right on the money suspecting the sudden disappearance of texts & calls... And Veronica buying offices... Yep, he is going to be all over that... And don't get me started on Eli and the lost gavel? Give this guy his own Indiana Jones movie

3
Reply
Flag
LOL on the Indiana Jones movie for Eli! :-D
I agree on everything.
1
Reply
Flag
People drink a lot on this show. Well, Alicia does.
3
Reply
Flag
I love drunk Alicia, she's so much more fun.
3
Reply
Flag
Staff
You know who's more fun than Drunk Alicia? Drunk Diane.
6
Reply
Flag
And then Drunk Will comes in and ruins it for everybody. Have we had Drunk Cary yet? Would he be any different than Sober Cary? Would he try to nail Kalinda more? Ooh, Drunk Kalinda!
1
Reply
Flag
With so many wonderful main and supporting cast plus lots of recurring guest stars added with a case of the week, we will probably see lesser of some characters.

Last season we saw very little of Cary, this season will be different with Alicia starting a firm with him. From the 1st 2 episodes, it seems the one being sacrfice is Kalinda. I agreed it is probably to early to tell so I do hope that is not the case and hope we see more of her. I am a big fan of Kalinda and Eli.

As for recurring guest star, we must have Carrie Preston back and hopefully Amanda peet. News is that Matthew Perry will not be back but I sure hope M J FOX will though now that he got his own show on NBC, I am not hopeful.
2
Reply
Flag
Staff
Carrie Preston's been confirmed as returning, and so have Nathan Lane and Gary Cole. For whatever reason, America Ferrera is also coming back. I have no idea why.

And Michael J. Fox is totally game to come back, and he's allowed to come back as well. It'll just rely on scheduling, in the same way it works Martha Plimpton on Raising Hope.
1
Reply
Flag
I have heard about America coming back and I am happy as her scenes with Eli were great the last time around. I did not know about Nathan Lane and would gladly welcome him back too.

Best news is M J Fox. Hope the scheduling works out !
1
Reply
Flag
I think Matthew Perry's Mike Krestiva got his comeuppance strongly enough that his character returning so soon would feel forced, it'd make him a mustache-twirling villain to come back so soon after getting beat hard.
Reply
Flag
Spectacular episode, looks like this will be a much better season than the last one.
3
Reply
Flag
Another wonderful episodes and mostly covered by Noel. I just want to thank Noel again for doing the weekly review as fans like us requested. I will be here every week to read and support through my comments even if I have not much to comment.

I do wonder why would people still have important/secret conversation through handphone and emails since we all know anyone can listen/read about us anytime they want.

Try having a cup of coffee instead.
3
Reply
Flag
Staff
I only communicate through pneumatic tubes. It really annoys Jen because the TV.com office had to install one.
2
Reply
Flag
That explains why my bank's old drive-through windows still have them! Noel Kirkpatrick's secret communications network, of course! All the pieces fit.
Reply
Flag
I guess most of us just don't have that much to hide anyways (or do we?)
2
Reply
Flag
Simply no time.
Reply
Flag
I loved the NSA analysts! They were funny
4
Reply
Flag
I was glad they didnt spend too much time with the new firm this week - after the associates wanting to wait for their bonuses last week, i was worried the next few episodes would be bogged down with petty sniping.

The fact that Chum hum guy doesnt like Cary but hates Will leads me to think Alicia will be his new lawyer. The way she managed Cary and the other associate in the meetings made her look like a managing partner while Cary looked weak and sycophantic in comparison.

Also i would have loved it if 2 of the NSA guys were called Reese and Finch
Reply
Flag
I am not looking forward to the falling out between Will and Diane. I love their friendship, and it makes me sad she went ahead with the interview. I kept hoping she would go to him first and tell him what was happening. I have my fingers crossed that this won't ruin them as friends for long. It is rare that a TV show depicts a man and woman as friends and equals without any romance creeping in.
6
Reply
Flag
My guess is this year will be the unraveling of some of the best relationships on the show. Diane/Will. Alicia/Will. Alicia/Diane. Carey and everybody ;). A lot of relationships are already strained and getting more tense with every episode that airs.
Reply
Flag
Very rare, it's true. And yet, for that they had to make Diane a lot older than Will (and did you notice that Alicia is also older than Cary).
5
Reply
Flag
That was THE best hour of television I've seen since the fall season started!
6
Reply
Flag
Another awesome episode and I hope we get to see more of Stockard Channing this season. I love the scenes with Veronica and David Lee.
2
Reply
Flag
Before this episode Stockhard Channing was underused, but this episode has changed my opinion
2
Reply
Flag
I'm catching up this week with the second season of the show Scandal, and just watched yesterday a couple of episodes that relate to government espionage on American people. It was good on Scandal, but it is brilliant how The Good Wife took care of it here. So funny to see the voice graphs dancing to the music, to start with. And the way these two NSA analysts look when compared to their supervisors. It is significant indeed that they manage to treat very serious matters and make fun of them at the same time. It was a great episode!

The one thing I did not enjoy was Becca's return.
2
Reply
Flag
Thank you, Noel for posting the review. Please can it be a weekly thing. :) By the way, you are the best!!!
8
Reply
Flag
So true - this show is so good and yet the ratings are so poor. I am always shocked by that but also eternally grateful to CBS for keeping the show on air.
5
Reply
Flag
As this site and The Good Wife are both CBS entities, shouldn't there be synergy driving these reviews? X-D
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
Flattery will get you everywhere, but I don't get to decide the weekly reviews. Just need to get people to read and comment. :)
4
Reply
Flag
Comment approved!
2
Reply
Flag
Would blackmail work?
1
Reply
Flag
Staff
It would. If you had anything you could possibly blackmail me about.
2
Reply
Flag
I have a friend who works at the NSA, maybe he can help...
3
Flag
I was thinking about blackmailing other members of tv.com.
i've already got the surveillance tape of what Cory gets up to while watching Masters of Sex......its not pretty
2
Flag
I love how this show plays out the ridiculousness of serious situations. The NSA was perfect for them to play with and the result was a great episode.
Also, the Diane situation is heating up, I like that. I literally said "Oh oh" when Mandy left her office in that closing scene. Can't wait to see her and Will argue, they are at their best on opposite sides because they care for each other.
I don't know what to make of Becca returning, she always seemed to be a device to annoy Eli, nothing more. But seeing Stockard Channing/Veronica play a part in Alicia's leaving is pure gold, she can stay. And while you're at it, bring Owen back, too.
1
Reply
Flag
"Jesus wants her to look her best."
1
Reply
Flag
Correction: "Jesus has no problem with Grace looking her best."
6
Reply
Flag
Alicia has now been recorded on ALL of the defection stuff, regardless of which phone she used

Correct me if I'm wrong, but so what? Apart for that little thing we like to call the constitution and whatever ramifications it has for other matters (her husband, her clients, etc).

Her defecting to another firm isn't illegal, nor is stealing clients.

Recordings of her defection chatter would only hurt her if the details of her phone calls would come out BEFORE they split from the firm which is happening... soon?

I forgot what they said last episode: I know originally they were planning on splitting in 1-2 weeks but then extended it so everyone would get their bonuses. How much longer is that in in-universe time?
Reply
Flag
Staff
It was an issue, as she explained last week: She has "a fiduciary responsibility to Lockhart/Gardner and [is] opening [herself] up to a lawsuit just talking" to Cary about things. So, it's a "what" not a "so what?" for Alicia. I would imagine that L/G could still sue her if they found out that she helped to organize this, regardless of when/if the recordings come out.

And it was three weeks extra for the bonuses.
4
Reply
Flag
Ah, thanks.

Though that's still just civil and thus the NSA wouldn't bring the suit or charge her.

But I guess if they release that info now or a year from now then it WOULD suck for her. Thanks!
Reply
Flag
I'm guessing it also depends on what clients she solicits - the NSA could get L/G to turn on a client that is going to leave them
Reply
Flag
I gotta say, I love this show. It's one of the few shows that consistently delivers, especially on network TV. Love it
5
Reply
Flag
Awesome episode! So many serious events, all gussied up into a nice package that makes me laugh so many times. How does The Good Wife do this? Take important stuff, roll it up and roll it back out in the best way?! Just spectacular and an absolute treat every week.
Please keep the reviews, because I'm loving them!
3
Reply
Flag
Sheer excellence!
1
Reply
Flag
Great episode, really loved the way it handled the whole NSA situation.

And thanks for a great review.
1
Reply
Flag
As always, an amazing ep. And thanks for continuing to support my favourite show on TV right now!
5
Reply
Flag
Great episode. It shows one of the greatest strengths of "The Good Wife" - they don't try to overplay any plot, yet they don't lose their touch for drama or importance. It was the same with the death row case in the season pilot - nothing was overdramatised, yet you always had that sense of urgency and importance. That's a great way to portray everyday life, and I am very happy the show continues to prove it is the best drama on network TV.

I also enjoyed a lot how the NSA was represented - it's not necessarily some secret police with a voyeur complex, but rather ordinary people, who tend to make wrong assumptions, like everyone else. The point that was made is not that much that the NSA is evil by nature, but that its too broad authority, caused mostly by paranoia, could turn a wrong assumption into a very serious matter.

There is a reason why people' privacy was protected by law in the first place, and the current plot shows very well what may happen (and is probably happening) when those checks and balances are thrown away.
8
Reply
Flag
That was the scariest episode of television I have ever watched.
I felt naked, violated, and helpless.

I am excited about where this season is going but I may very well be traumatized permanently before its over.
Great to see The Good Wife is stronger than ever as it addresses some key plot issues (Will and Diane) and ventures into dark waters (NSA).
1
Reply
Flag
I think it's amazing shows like The Good Wife that exhibit this kind of mirror of the world. We go through life everyday not thinking about this stuff. Sending texts and emails and thinking nothing of it. The fact is that this stuff DOES happen, maybe not on this scale, but it does serve as a reminder.
Bringing this into the show so early in the season undoubtedly means it will come back and have major repurcussions. Essentially showing that interactions that we may perceive as meaningless (i.e. heartbroken Nisa calling Zach) can be interpreted and used as something completely different.
I completely get the feelings you had after watching the episode!
1
Reply
Flag
Follow this Show
Members
6,911