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The Good Wife Review: "A Defense of Marriage" (Episode 4.09)

November 26, 2012  |  1:36pm
<i>The Good Wife</i> Review: "A Defense of Marriage" (Episode 4.09)

You can learn a lot about someone by meeting his or her parents. And viewers got quite the insight into Alicia when her mother, Veronica Loy (played by fabulous guest star Stockard Channing), descended upon her daughter for Thanksgiving. As a special holiday treat, viewers also got to see Alicia’s wonderful brother Owen for the first time this season.

Veronica hasn’t seen her daughter or her grandchildren in two years. She’s been busy traveling the globe with her third husband, Malcolm. She brings a big, giant stuffed giraffe for Grace (which served as a humorous sight gag throughout the episode), instantly criticizes her daughter’s hair and then announces she needs Alicia’s legal help. Malcolm has died and, before his death, he amended his will and left Veronica nothing.

At the law firm, Veronica shamelessly flirts with David Lee (the two of them munching on M&Ms was a hoot) and chats up Will, first because she thinks he’s Owen’s boyfriend and then because she knows Alicia likes him. For her final act, Veronica perjures herself by claiming she wasn’t cheating on Malcolm before his death. By the end of the hour, the entire family is awkwardly celebrating Thanksgiving. Jackie and Veronica exchange pointed barbs. When Veronica says to Jackie that she heard she almost died, Jackie responds “A stroke from helping with the kids by myself.” About Jackie’s companion, Veronica says “Yes, paying for it seems to run in your family.” Ha! Let’s have more scenes between these two dynamic matriarchs please.

Veronica asks Alicia why she’s holding onto her marriage and not pursuing a relationship with Will. “You want him but you won’t let yourself have him because then you’ll be like me,” she tells her daughter. It’s a pretty profound insight into what might be going on in Alicia’s psyche. Alicia responds to all of this by taking Peter into her bathroom and having sex with him which led to my favorite exchange of the night. “Is this about your mother?” Peter asks. “Yes,” Alicia responds.

The night’s big case involved an online tax filing company being prosecuted by the federal government for submitting fraudulent tax returns. The case brought back Brian Dennehy as Bucky Stabler last seen in the Nov. 4 episode as a defense attorney. Now Bucky is a prosecutor for the federal government. You kind of get the feeling the show thinks, “Hey we like Brian Dennehy! Let’s get him on the show again” and then just decides that Bucky will have a career change.

In typical The Good Wife fashion, the legal case takes a turn and becomes about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Alicia and Diane’s client is married to a man, and they are trying to invoke spousal privilege so his phone conversations with his husband cannot be admitted into court. That brings in famous civil rights attorney Jeremy Breslow (guest star Bruce McGill delightfully chewing the scenery). He offers to help with their case, but in reality he wants their client to lose so he can take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. With Kalinda’s help, Alicia and Diane win the case, while the show made its case against DOMA and its inherent hypocrisy.

Cary and Nick have an interesting exchange at the top of the episode. Without explicitly saying so, Cary lets Nick know that he knows Nick is the one who had him beaten up. Cary tells Nick he has friends in the District Attorney’s office who, he implies, could make his life very difficult. Nick basically lets Cary know he doesn’t care with a not-so-veiled threat. “I take this stuff very seriously. It’s life and death to me,” he tells Cary. Cary, who is telling everyone he got his black eye from a basketball game, still doesn’t know that Nick is Kalinda’s husband. Having Nick interact with Cary instead of Kalinda is making this storyline slightly more bearable.

Speaking of Kalinda, she was only seen for a brief scene about 43 minutes into the episode, another sign that the show is pulling away from her Nick storyline. Quite a few characters were missing from the episode. Once again there was no mention of the Maddie Hayward storyline, and Nathan Lane’s court-appointed conservator Clarke Hayden was also absent. We didn’t even see Eli in this episode. Who did he spend Thanksgiving with? I hope he wasn’t alone.

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