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'The Good Wife' review: 'A Few Words' and a major look back into Alicia's past

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Last Sunday, The Good Wife began a three-episode story arc by giving us Jack Davenport; this week, it continues by bringing in Carrie Preston and Jill Hennessy. What could go wrong?

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Well, actually, a lot if you're Will Gardner. The emotional strain has been wearing on him all season, and the professional pressure continues to increase for our favorite character. With Nelson Dubeck (Eric Bogosian, appearing everywhere like a bad cold) nipping at his heels, Will turns to Elsbeth Tascioni (Preston, in entertaining, impressive, Emmy-winner form as always). Watching the energetic Elsbeth taking on the droll Dubeck is a treat. Will is far from safe, though, as Jim Moody (Skipp Sudduth) approaches him, and though Will dismisses him near-instantly, the two of them being seen together is damning enough.

Meanwhile, Alicia is the keynote speaker at the American Bar Association conference. This provides the writers another reason to let us look back at the past - her transition back into the workforce, finding a new apartment, and of course, the run-in with Will that started her on the road to joining then-Stern, Lockhart and Gardner. Her final speech makes direct reference to what she learned from Will, and of course he's in the room to hear it, which creates the personal tension for this week. The two share the most awkward handshake in TV history, made more poignant because we're simultaneously seeing a time when Will fought to bring Alicia aboard.

And because business doesn't stop for everyone's personal issues, the two firms are both trying to win the services of power lawyer Rayna Hecht (Hennessy, miles away from her days playing Claire Kincaid on Law & Order). Alicia is forced to meet with Rayna after a few drinks, which doesn't make Cary or Clarke Hayden (a returning Nathan Lane) comfortable. But it turns out not to matter, as we find out Rayna's decided to start a new firm with Elsbeth instead. Whoops. But that's really a footnote in an installment that's more about seeing how we all got to this point.

What's interesting about "A Few Words" is that its flashback sequences legitimately place us in a different time period. This isn't just one of those episodes where people have different hairstyles to signify that it was a few years ago. Characters not only look different, but they also sound different and are played differently. You wouldn't see Alicia be so hesitant now, but she was then, and the idea of her being not "tough enough" is laughable. Kudos to Leonard Dick for a script that's willing to draw its protagonists with wholly different strokes. It kind of makes the present look different, now that we're privy to more details from the past. Why bring all this up now, in the middle of a multi-episode story arc? Well, that's what we'll get to find out next week.

The Good Wife continues next Sunday at 9 PM ET/PT on CBS.

(c)2014 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.

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