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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.

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/10/2015

Season 6 : Episode 22

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