“The Good Wife” Recap: Eli’s Most Human Moment in Months?

There’s no other way to put it: Last night’s The Good Wife was a medley of stagnating old story lines and a dull featured case. I zoned in and out, even when Alicia and Diane shocked us with remarkable grimaces and eyebrow choreography, my two favorite things about The Good Wife. Not even the shrewd, spunky Elsbeth could save the episode, though whenever she appears I clutch my maroon pantsuit and a box of Clairol’s “Vermilion Vixen” in triumph.

Nope, this episode was merely a perfunctory bit of plot resolution, unless you consider a particularly salty appearance from Amanda Peet scintillating, or a series of “flirtatious” moments between competing attorneys Elsbeth and Kyle MacLachlan, Esq. Suddenly we find ourselves at what could be the conclusion of several tepid adventures, and I’m sure I speak for most people when I say, “Thank God.” Still, there is some quality hotness that needs assessing. Here are the five most noteworthy parts of “Going For the Gold.”

1. The star of the hour: Sad Cary

We spent a ton of time this episode waiting around for Alicia to heed Diane’s partner-to-partner wisdom and cut down Cary’s hours. Not very interesting, but the show is establishing that Alicia is a PARTNER NOW and has no time to symphathize with dimplemonger Cary the way she used to. This warranted a number of disappointed, confused glances from Cary, who is sickeningly adorable when he exhibits personal conundrums. It feels like the show is ramping up a bigger rivalry between Cary and Alicia, and I hope that means we’re in for another wicked mock trial that turns into a microcosm of the characters’ boiling-under tension! Aw, yeah. Give me Cary’s pursed lips. Give me his newborn baby blondness. Will Gardner is no good at courtroom stankface, but Cary is at least sexy and smirky about it. Here’s to more tension between Alicia and Cary, because it inevitably means Cary will flash copious amounts of sexy pout and horny sads. 

2. This? This is what we do with S. Epatha Merkerson?

Not every judge character on The Good Wife is a time-filler. Indeed, there’ve been some real standouts this season, including my girl Jane Alexander as a silver-coiffed gavel-pounder during a key episode. But this week’s episode threw Emmy/Golden Globe/Obie-winning and Tony-nominated S. Epatha Merkerson into the judge’s seat, and she was given no chance to rain down wisdom, challenge Diane to a knife fight, or rewrite laws. She just sat there and grumbled through a trial, and that’s just not awesome enough for a woman who starred on over 45,000 episodes of Law & Order. Can’t Amanda Peet and S. Epatha trade roles? Why don’t I run television?

3. No. That couldn’t have been the end of T.R. Knight.

Uh, guys: I think we just saw the end of T.R. Knight on The Good Wife. Unless I’m mistaken, Knight’s slimy campaign adviser character Jordan told Peter to dodge Maddie Hayward’s debate tactics, Peter defied him, and now Jordan’s influence is irrelevant and Eli takes his place. Is this most anticlimactic exit of any guest-star of the season? Certainly. Hell, T.R. Knight was wearing the most anticlimactic red hooded sweatshirt of the season too. Dear The Good Wife: What is with all the hooded sweatshirts this season? Is “Lockhart-Gardner” code for “the Law Offices of Hustle & Flow,” because there are simply too many hoodies at this firm. 

I thought Jordan was going to amount to a more nefarious presence. He’s just been a mouthbreathing, unsuccessful wise-ass. Eli crushed him with his furrowed brows. If The Good Wife somehow made Maddie recruit Jordan, that might be an interesting pairing. And it would also make Maddie less tolerable, which is necessary because she’s truly not as menacing as she should be, at least in order for this unending election plot-line to matter. T.R. Knight, if this is the end of you on The Good Wife, happy travels. You’ll always be 1980-Timothy-Hutton-precious to me.  


4. Nice debate skills, Peter.

Let me get this straight: Clueless, spineless (at least these days) Peter honestly felt that allowing Maddie Hayward to stomp all over him in the gubernatorial debate was a good idea. He didn’t think she’d seize upon his reticence and launch into a full-scale attack on TV. Because guess what? I thought she’d do that. Should I be governor? 

For a second it looked like Maddie had cornered Peter with her barb about the lack of African-American representation in his office, but after a last-minute audible in which Peter phoned Eli for advice, Peter spoke up and laid out Maddie with a (pretty obvious?) point about how she outsources too many jobs. I guess that election’s over? Peter wins? It was a bizarrely pat solution, and Eli’s advice was far too broad to earn so much credit. Speaking for myself, Peter feels like the least interesting character on The Good Wife, and I know that’s not what the show’s creators intend. Let’s give this man something awesome to do that doesn’t resemble an immature student council election, shall we?

5. Yay, Eli reveals a second emotion!

I’ll say this: I’ve been praying for Eli to come up with more emotions than “exasperated” and “livid,” and he finally did last night. Following Peter’s comeback knockout in the debate, Peter phoned Eli to thank him for his sage advice. Coyly, Eli replied, “Thank you.” It was a cute and (dare I say) intimate moment between two languishing dudes. Frankly, it reminded me of Eli’s humanity, even if only for a half-nanosecond. I don’t know what else can be done to make Eli fascinating again, but if it comes to kicking swivel chairs and howling at underlings, I’ll settle for that over his grumpy mugging. Less facial tics, more spatial kicks. Yes, I’m Shel Silverstein.  

What did you think of this episode? Was Elsbeth satisfying? Was Alicia? And what’s happening with our boy Cary?