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'The Good Wife' review: 'We, The Juries' a slow mover (save the last 10 minutes)

Now that The Good Wife has gotten plenty of mileage out of its personal drama, it's time to throw some professional scandal back into the mix.

Photos from Sunday night's episode of 'The Good Wife,' entitled 'We, The Juries,' aired on Sunday, January 12, 2014 on CBS.
CBS
Alicia (Julianna Margulies) confronts her husband Peter (Chris Noth) in Sunday's 'The Good Wife.'
CBS

Last week's episode ended with Eli finding out that an anonymous source sent the press video that insinuates Peter may have become Governor of Illinois through some less than ethical means. (You have to feel for Eli. He's just moved past worrying that Peter slept with his ethics consultant, and now this happens.) Eli brings this development to Peter and Marilyn, and the latter immediately starts an investigation. At the center of it is fixer Jim Moody (Skipp Sudduth of Third Watch fame, returning to the show for the first time this season). While Eli tries to do damage control with Moody, Alicia tells Marilyn that she has no idea about the video, but then walks into her husband's office to confront him. "Just tell me that you will fix this," she insists, after referring to Zach as "my son" and not "our son." One could argue that Alicia still doesn't completely trust her husband.

Marilyn goes on to question Will, who admits to awareness of the video but declines to tell her whether or not he brought it to Peter's attention, citing attorney-client privilege. When Marilyn then hauls Will into Peter's office, Peter asks for a moment alone with Will, where we find out that Will told Peter about the video, but Peter didn't want to see it. Will then goes on to say he'll claim he told Peter what was on the tape, therefore incriminating Peter, because he wants to "make a point." The two of them start trading barbs about Diane's revoked judgeship and of course, Will's affair with Alicia. It's the most interesting scene in the entire episode. Peter tells Will not to waive privilege, therefore shutting down Marilyn's investigation, much to Eli's annoyance (and he knows exactly what's happening).

Meanwhile, Will and Alicia are each defending one half of a couple accused of drug smuggling (Josh Pais and Auden Thornton), since they first took the case on when both were still at Lockhart/Gardner. Judge Spencer (Victor Garber) takes the unorthodox step of ordering a double jury, telling the two legal teams that they need to cooperate, but of course they quickly decide not to. This feels implausible and generates a ton of confusion, for not just the characters but also the audience. And it's not surprising when Will and Alicia spy members of the separate juries talking to each other, nor that he then claims he didn't see it when she brings it to the judge. Ultimately, Will's client winds up being found not guilty and Alicia's client takes a deal. But do we really care about their fates? Not necessarily.

In other news, Florrick/Agos makes another play for a Lockhart/Gardner client, including Cary conveniently leaving his phone unattended so that Kalinda can spy a faux message from Robyn that leads to Will majorly embarrassing himself in front of said client. Kalinda goes to see Cary at his apartment, and asks if they're "even now," before they go out for a drink. Is the show returning to the Kalinda-Cary angle now that Kalinda-Jenna appears to be over? Time will tell, because little happens here.

The circumstances around this episode of The Good Wife were almost as busy as the episode itself; the installment went up against the Golden Globes (for which TGW was nominated three times, but lost all three); its lead-in (at least on the West Coast) was a six-year-old episode of CSI: Miami; and then there was the much-hyped tie-in with the new Bruce Springsteen album (at least the songs sort of worked with the scenes in which they were used).

But all those things shouldn't matter when you're critiquing a TV show; what really matters is the show itself. And considering that alone, this was not The Good Wife's finest hour. Its issues begin with a core concept - double juries for two defendants - that's not really believable, and that concept creates a narrative that's much more muddled than we're used to from this show. Whether it's between our heroes, or between them and the prosecutors, or even between the juries and the judge, there's so much back-and-forth that it's difficult to keep up with the case, which isn't that compelling anyway, nor does it serve the characters in any particular way.

"We, The Juries" doesn't really get interesting until the last ten minutes, with Will and Peter's scene together proving that there's plenty of vitriol still between the two for a variety of reasons. If you didn't have it already, you get the sense that Will's not just out to get Alicia; he'd be happy to watch both her and Peter burn, and not only because Alicia broke his heart. Whether you love or hate Will this season, you have to give points for the fact that his motivations are more complex than just being a jilted lover. So many other shows would seize on that aspect of his character and run it into the ground, but he's more developed than that. (And why exactly did Josh Charles not win the Golden Globe? We'd like to know.)

As Marilyn points out at episode's end, it's Will - and by extension, the personal warfare between him, Peter, and Alicia that's been permeating the show all season - that's going to potentially land Peter in political hell. It's about time that these arguments and games have bigger consequences, considering how intense they've been and how long they've gone on. And kudos to the Good Wife writers for, thus far, not turning the voting debacle into a huge conspiracy like Scandal. As much as we love that show, that's not what would work for this series. What works here are these characters - these complicated, intense, sometimes hard to embrace but always garnering a reaction characters - and there's more than enough tension to be mined from who they are, how they treat each other, and what comes of their behavior.

The Good Wife now goes into repeats until March 9. It's going to be a long wait.

(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.