If there were some sort of competition to see who could have the most name guest stars in a single episode, The Good Wife would have won this week. Amanda Peet, Brian Dennehy, Maura Tierney and, most notably, Kristin Chenoweth all stopped by “The Art of War.”
Except for a brief appearance by Will at the top of the hour, Josh Charles was mostly absent. That’s because the actor, who made his directorial debut with the episode, was busy behind the camera. It was great to see Chenoweth, who had to drop out of the show after being injured on the set, return as reporter Peggy Byrne. Her brief scene with Alan Cumming’s Eli demonstrated how much fun her character could have been. Eli used Peggy to get back at Mandy for running the story about Peter’s alleged affair.
Viewers finally discovered exactly what Maddie Hayward is up to—she is going to run against Peter in the Democratic primary. She comes to Alicia’s office to tell her this hoping that they can still be friends. Yeah, that’s so not going to happen. “I understand and you don’t have to explain anything,” Alicia tells her with ice in her voice. Maddie claims that it was never her intention to run against Peter, but I’m absolutely convinced Maddie is in cahoots with Indira Starr and that she invested in Peter’s campaign only so she could dramatically withdraw her support and run for Governor herself.
Maddie wants Peter to run as her Lieutenant Governor. He not-so-politely declines. “That’s more than a no. That’s a never,” he tells her. One of the best things about this season is that we’ve had the chance to see much more of Peter.
Nick and his sneer also only appeared briefly. Clearly the showrunners have realized he’s a character who should be both not seen and not heard. “I have a difficult time being away from him,” Kalinda tells Alicia which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since she’s been away from him since the series began. I used to think I wanted to understand the hold Nick has over Kalinda, but the laborious plotline has killed any curiosity I once had.
Alicia assists Captain Laura Hellinger (guest star Peet) who was sexually assaulted by a civilian contract employee while in Afghanistan. In a rare occurrence for The Good Wife, Alicia loses the case on a technicality. Peet, who starred in last season’s quickly canceled Bent, will be back on the show for the next two Sundays. She’s an actress who is equally adept at comedy and drama, and she deserves to be a series regular somewhere. Perhaps Lockhart Gardner could use a new lawyer?
Surprisingly, the Jackie story was used more for comic relief. Jackie keeps firing her caretakers, and Alicia suggests to Peter that he try hiring a man for the position. That works perfectly as Cristian (guest star Yul Vazquez) is able to handle Jackie’s biting barbs and nasty attitude. By the end of the episode the two are giggling conspiratorially and Jackie is acting like a school girl in love. One of the best scenes of the night found Peter observing Cristian and Jackie’s interactions with bewilderment. There’s a rich story to be told about Jackie’s struggles with senility and her family’s reaction. I’m hoping the drama digs deeper into that and doesn’t merely use Jackie’s increasing fragility for laughs.
The best news of all is that Cary finally got some well-deserved screen time. We’re not the only ones who noticed he hasn’t been busy this season. “I haven’t been on a single criminal case,” he tells Diane. She promises to put him to better use. Let’s hope we start seeing evidence of that next week.
Nathan Lane remains as the firm’s court appointment conservator. I still don’t get him or his newfound friendship with Cary. This week found him cranky because he was reading the Steve Jobs biography. Lane is doing a great job (of course), but his character still isn’t adding much to the show. For a show that is ostensibly a legal drama, the best stories this season are coming from politics.