After an episode spinning largely in place on the politics front, this week we are treated to an hour with huge leaps forward in The Good Wife’s serial storyline. Â The case of the week spun around a series of sniper killings, with Lockhart, Stern & Gardner trying to clear the name of the man currently blamed for the murders who died of a heart attack after his conviction. Â Through Blake and Kalinda’s machinations, the crack team quickly ferrets out that the State Attorney’s Office cut corners to get a quick conviction. Â This led to a pleasantly realized victory for the home team, including an especially satisfying scene in which Alicia got to depose her arch-nemesis, Glenn Childs. Â As gripping as the case was, I couldn’t get too involved in this side of the story, because the story of Alicia and her family was so compelling in the intervening scenes.
First we meet Alicia’s little brother, Owen, a college professor who’s a visiting lecturer at DePaul University. Â Before the opening credits we have Owen cracking a joke about how he doesn’t see his sister much because Peter is uncomfortable with his homosexuality. Â Eli, who is getting more harried by the day (and that’s a good thing), springs into action on damage control, attempts to free up the “gay money” and finds out that it’s being held hostage because Spencer, a Jewish gay activist, feels Peter is soft on Palestine. Â Cut to a Yom Kippur dinner party at Peter and Alicia’s apartment to build bridges between all warring parties. Â This is a dinner party built for the Walkers over on Brothers & Sisters; these people need some experienced referees and Nora Walker would do wonderfully. Â Also, they could teach them how to not waste time decanting the wine, just get a straw and call it a day.
I think, in a season with numerous new characters introduced, not one has resonated so strongly and quickly as Owen. Â His connection with Alicia, their sibling affection for each other, is palpable the second the two hit the screen together. Â Also, in his status as her brother, he is in a position to challenge her like no other character ever has been. Â “Are you going to leave him?” he asks her flat out, and leaves no question as to what he believes the right answer to be. Â Alicia protests that she loves Peter, that her life is no one’s business, and even tells him to back off but you can see instantly that Owen is pushing her buttons in way that only siblings can. Â And it’s not only the scenes of confrontation that sparkle with these two, it’s also the scenes where they are simply enjoying each other’s company. Dallas Roberts and Julianna Margulies do fantastic work here; I’d watch the two of them for 45 minutes and cut the whole court case out entirely.
Meanwhile, you also have the Owen-Peter conflict brewing and it’s resolved in typical Good Wife fashion: unexpectedly. Â It’s established early that Peter and Owen dislike each other. Â Peter cheated on Owen’s sister, and Owen (by his sister’s admission) is a jerk. Â The two don’t come into direct conversation until after a few snarky comments from Owen at the Homo-Jewish Summit at Alicia’s, we find them alone in the kitchen. Â Owen says flat out that if Peter hurts her again, he’ll kill him. Â Peter snarls back that Owen abandoned his sister in her time of need, and that was just as unacceptable as what he did. Â The interesting thing here is that Owen takes Peter’s comments to heart. Â Peter, on the other hand, seems to not think much of Owen’s threats, and I wonder if this will play into a larger tapestry. Â Peter, for all of his protestations to the contrary, is focused on his campaign first; Owen appears to truly miss his sister and will make the effort to be a better man for her and not for a larger purpose. Â I was not expecting Peter to come out as the victor in this conflict, and his putting Owen in his place (for the moment) was well done.
If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan of the Owen character. Â From his telling his sister not to give him an “Alicia stare” and teasing her about being proper, to off-handedly revealing that Alicia was worried about him when their parents got divorced, we get more information from his side comments about his sister than we ever get from her directly (that’s not a criticism). Â In a show built around the central character’s stoicism and mystery, he’s a life-line for an audience starved for information. Â The final moments with the two of them waiting for the elevator after Owen promises to be around more were a welcome moment of light together-ness that underscores the darkness in Alicia’s relationship with Peter. Â Maybe she was upset with her brother’s lack of support during her darkest hour, but she can forgive him and move on. Â Every moment with Peter is weighted with his betrayal; I can’t picture her grinning at him and keeping him company while he waits for the elevator. Â And that says something.
And some bullet points for you:
– I appreciate a little levity, and Mary Beth Peil brings Jackie Florrick to life wonderfully. Â However, if Peter and his campaign were so worried about Alicia’s brother calling Peter homophobic, wouldn’t they also have an issue with his mother’s off-color remarks about Jews and gays? Â Granted, they weren’t recorded, but Jackie’s not an idiot; I don’t mind the character feeling that way, but I think she would be intelligent enough not to air those views in mixed company.
– I like Scott Porter, both in the superficial way and the actual way. Â But I can’t help feeling like he’s missing this character by just…this…much. Â There’s not much danger to him, and hence he doesn’t feel like a match for Kalinda; this week even more than last she appeared like she was going to eat him alive. Â He can wear a five o’clock shadow and a leather jacket, but he still doesn’t seem to radiate tough like she does.
– Let’s hear it for great New York theater actors! Â Dallas Roberts (Owen), Anika Noni Rose (Wendy) and David Pittu (Spencer) should all be experienced live onstage. Â So, for that matter, should Christine Baranski and Alan Cumming. Â And I’m seeing Women on The Verge this weekend, so I’ll let you know about Mary Beth Peil.
– Someone on the writing staff discovered Alan Cumming’s gift for slapstick. Â After the fall last week and the choking this week, I’m seeing a pattern.
– There was a little news blip about the Congressman referenced in the pilot taking his hooker to an abortion clinic. Â This has to be going somewhere. Â I wonder if at any point they are actually going to become part of Alicia’s life or if they will remain a simple counterpoint to her drama.
– These are some long, involved bullet points.