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'The Good Wife' review: 'All Tapped Out' tackles NSA wiretapping subplot

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With the big bombshell of Season 5 out of the way, now we're starting to see where The Good Wife is headed. There's another power struggle ahead. That pesky wiretapping business to wrap up. And the segue of Finn Polmar from State's Attorney to free agent. All these things are addressed in Sunday's episode. Never let it be said these writers aren't efficient.

When Clarke Hayden (a returning Nathan Lane) and Cary find out about Diane's suggestion of a merger, Clarke suggests that Cary start making decisions without Alicia, who's apparently still having "difficulties." The subsequent conversation Cary has with Diane seems to put her off the idea for the time being - which is the perfect opportunity for David to introduce Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) as an alternative partner. Next thing we know, Canning is setting up shop in Will's old office, calling Alicia to inform her of the new merger, and telling Kalinda he's "the new Will." Even if he's played by Michael J. Fox, we still hate this guy. While Canning actually helps Diane when it comes to tying up the issue of Lockhart/Gardner's expansion, it doesn't erase 50 minutes of being a jerk.

Elsewhere, it's officially on between Alicia and State's Attorney Castro (Michael Cerveris) after she finds out that Finn is now formally under investigation. The State's Attorney's Office blames Finn because he placed Jeffrey Grant into general population when he was in custody, thus causing the stress that led him to eventually snap, grab an officer's firearm in open court, and murder Will. Alicia takes awhile to get going, but eventually she does, and it's always a joy to watch.

And NSA minion Jeff (Zach Woods) shows up at the Florrick/Agos offices, telling Cary that he needs a lawyer after he accidentally took confidential material home from work on a flash drive. Cary and Clarke try to turn Jeff into a whistleblower so he's protected, but the plan spectacularly fails. When Jeff returns to the firm after being demoted, he unknowingly reveals to Alicia that the NSA has been spying on everyone, and panic ensues. Not to mention more awkwardness between Alicia and now technically-ex Peter, who goes on the immediate offensive.

It's nice to see "All Tapped Out" pull together several of The Good Wife's ongoing storylines and move them all forward; there's only so long a subplot like the wiretapping story can go on before it runs its course, and bonus points for its portion of the proceedings giving Chris Noth something to do that doesn't involve the ballot box scandal or referencing Alicia's affair with Will. Plus, this means we can now move past all those cube farm scenes that were never quite as funny as they thought they were.

Also worth noting is seeing Cary step forward, however briefly, as co-managing partner of Florrick/Agos. We see plenty of Alicia making decisions regarding the firm, so it's easy to forget that Cary's name is also on the wall, and there's no reason why we can't have fantastic scenes between Julianna Margulies and Matt Czuchry like the ones we used to enjoy between Christine Baranski and Josh Charles. Even just watching Diane and Will run their firm was entertaining, and we'd love to see more of how Alicia and Cary manage theirs, especially since there's a greater difference between the two of them.

Now for the criticism: we love Michael J. Fox as much as the next TV fan, but speaking of things which have run their course, we'd say Louis Canning is also on that list. Fox may have earned three Emmy nominations for the role, and rightfully so as he's a fantastic actor, but this episode pushes his character from merely annoying to being difficult to watch. The script seemed designed to have him do everything to alienate the audience, short of spitting on Will Gardner's grave. It's a nifty trick to use Canning to also knock off the expansion subplot - since it was sort of a given that we weren't really going to explore those Lockhart/Gardner offices in Los Angeles and New York - but it comes off as something added on to prompt us to forgive all that came before. Thankfully, Fox is still billed as a recurring guest star, so at least we don't have to see Canning every week.

The most interesting part of the episode is the final five minutes, in which Peter and Alicia negotiate their schedule. That seems to point toward The Good Wife sticking with the Florrick marriage being over, which as we mentioned last week, would be the more intriguing route to take. We'll put more faith in it when it lasts more than a few episodes, but just that one scene is a step in the right direction. Let's hope that the marital split doesn't mean the show eliminates Peter's office from Season 6, however, because you can never have enough Eli Gold. It definitely seems like The Good Wife is finishing up a lot and moving into a completely different world for next season, and we have to say, we kind of like it.

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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