The Good Wife returns from its short winter break this week with an episode that is erratic at best. “Goliath and David” has a mediocre case-of-the-week, an annoying plotline involving Marilyn’s baby, sub-par Lockhart Gardner drama, and hints that the Kalinda/Damian story is going to get as bad as we’d worried. Basically, it is an episode that shows that even at its best, The Good Wife makes the occasional misstep.
The case-of-the-week is the sort of storyline this show almost has to turn out a few times a season, due to its increased episode order. It’s a pulled from the headlines situation that feels selected more so audiences will laugh with recognition than because it’s a particularly interesting or pressing legal issue. Alicia and Cary are approached by the band from the Christmas party (fronted by Matthew Lillard) about a Glee-type show stealing their cover of a song. It’s obvious from the first that the show stole the song and the legal acrobatics the show goes through before the resolution are mediocre at best. The “Will objects a lot to throw Alicia off, Alicia dresses provocatively to throw Will off” sequence almost feels like a parody of the courtroom interactions this season has been turning out at their best; it has maybe one-quarter of the complex, charged conflict we’ve become accustomed to.
Meanwhile, at Lockhart Gardner, Will wants to open a Los Angeles office almost immediately after the New York division opens its doors, while Diane thinks things are moving a bit quickly. That Will is driven more by revenge and resentment than by logic is fine as a character motivator, but the idea that a slim majority of the partnership might agree with his explosive growth strategy (in a firm that has flirted with bankruptcy before, and recently) is a bit much to take. Diane is, of course, the voice of reason here, but Will indicates she’s lost some clout since she made the choice to step out on the firm.
One thing “Goliath and David” thankfully does right is putting the whole question of whether Peter fathered Marilyn’s child to bed, and also winking at how patently ridiculous the idea of that as a storyline would have been by bringing Peter Bogdanovich around to admit he is the father of Marilyn’s child. This makes no sense as anything beyond stunt-casting, but it’s funny, and it is the sort of joke the show can get away with simply due to high relief that we aren’t witnessing more infidelity from Peter.
The important thing we learn in “Goliath and David” is that Peter’s election rigging is going to come out. This has been obvious since last season’s finale, yet the show finally pulling the trigger means it is moving things forward in Peter’s storyline, a definite positive development compared to “is Peter sleeping with Marilyn?” and “Marilyn sure is crazy because she’s pregnant, huh?”
Ultimately, “Goliath and David” is a mixed bag. It’s the wacky version of The Good Wife which I don’t necessarily mind if pulled off well, but this mostly feels like a blow-off episode for the show’s writers, the sort of filler a network series with a twenty-two episode order is bound to deliver a few times a season. It isn’t on par with the rest of this stellar season, but though it’s inconsequential, it’s entertaining and packs enough self-awareness to keep me hopeful this season won’t be swallowed by Kalinda’s sexcapades or Marilyn’s pregnancy. Though if Marilyn and Peter Bogdanovich want to have some baby daddy drama for a while, there’s a chance it would be interesting at this point.
-“You’re offering your services? No, thank you though.” “Why not?” “I don’t like you.” “I don’t like you either. What difference does that make?”
-“So you decided to change?” “Yup. Into what I wore the night you banged me the first time.” “That was pretty low of you.” “I know. I wasn’t so discriminating back then.”
-“It’s kind of like jazz, right? It’s like legal jazz.”
-This episode is worth it for F. Murray Abraham reading rap lyrics deadpan.
-“Are you checking up on me?” “This is my life! Of course I’m checking up on you!”