“The Good Wife” recap: A Defense of Marriage (4.9)


Sometimes the complexity of The Good Wife makes my head hurt. As does life. Fortunately, I can rewind The Good Wife and try to figure out all the bamboozling parts at least a little better.

Let’s start from the beginning. We’re back in the parking lot seeing Cary getting beat up again, in case we forgot, which is a slightly jolting way to kick things off. Yet the next time we see Cary in person, he has one slightly bruised eye. That’s it. I mean, I assume his torso is pretty wrecked, but all that pounding and he still looks pretty much perfect? Uh, OK. Also, instead of someone rushing to his side at a hospital, or him going to Kalinda to say, “Hey, this is effed,” or some other satisfying sequence of events, we see him in this first appearance chatting with Horrible Husband. Alone. At his trucking business, where apparently he DOES do, like, actual work? I thought he just sulked around Chicago all day in his leather jacket looking for Kalinda and kicking trash cans and stuff.

Working hard at my completely legitimate job.

It’s clear that Cary knows that Horrible Husband had him beat up and it’s clear that Horrible Husband knows that he knows because they do this very weird dance where Cary is like “I know everything about you, including the fact that you’re trucking around cocaine as part of your business, because you know, I’m your lawyer and need to know everything,” and Horrible Husband’s like, “That is so great, I’m so glad you’re my lawyer, because something something LIFE AND DEATH.” Then they look at each other with all the testosterone they can shoot out of their eyeballs and then Cary spends the rest of the episode telling people he had a rough game of basketball. What?

All of this dangerous tension is just between you and me. Apparently.

Then we get to our Trial of the Week, which involves a CFO and a CEO and some type of Very Bad Tax Fraud. Lockhart Gardner is at the defense of the CFO, and Attorney Bucky is representing the CEO. Yeah, Bucky! Bucky’s back! I love Bucky! He’s so Bucky-ish!


Basically anytime there are stories about people whose titles start with C and end with O my brain glazes over, because who can even tell the difference between any of them, and oh they did something immoral and appalling, what a shocker. Let’s keep having TV storylines about how frustrating it all is while nothing in real life ever changes, whoopdedoo. But THEN, we find out that the CFO is a BIG OL’ GAY. Cue brain unglazing. And this matters because there’s apparently wiretap testimony of both the CFO and the CEO confessing their sins to their spouses: one gay, one straight. It’s ruled that the straight one (which would be good for us) can’t be used because, you know, legal stuff about spouses or something. Yet when they try to use the gay wiretap (which is bad for us) and Lockhart Gardner object, Bucky’s like, hey, we can use this one, because DOMA. Your marriage doesn’t count, losers, so you’re not protected by that legal stuff about spouses even though it will royally screw you over.

So our judge, a fiery woman whose last name is Friend, which is fun because then you can call her Judge Friend, or Honor Friend, who you might also recognize as Lilith from Frasier/Cheers (miss you always, early ’90s), calls the counsels to essentially defend both of their clients’ marriages to the court, as DOMA has been dealt with differently court by court and it sounds like it’s pretty much up to her to decide whether the gay marriage is valid in regards to the trial or not. This is where things get a little confusing.

The arguments in this part of the trial are infuriating in and of themselves. The CFO testifies and says, I love my husband, ‘till death do us part, yadda yadda. I may take it over the line a little and quote Shakespeare, but, you know, I am pretty gay. Then Bucky brings up their tradition of Free Fridays, wherein the CFO and his hubby apparently have worked out that on certain Fridays they can go and screw other dudes. To which everyone is obviously shocked and appalled. When Straight CEO is called up to the stand, however, Alicia has evidence that he has had 12 (straight) affairs in his 20 year marriage. No big. After all of it, Judge Friend concludes that it’s been proven that yes, straight relationships are messy, and so are homosexual ones. We’re even.

You know what, though? I don’t think this was even a point The Good Wife was trying to make, but having a pact with your partner about occasionally sleeping with other people is, in my opinion, not messy at all. Can it perhaps lead to messiness? Sure, but by itself, it’s in fact quite clear and healthy in its honesty. It’s something that both parties have clearly discussed, and agreed upon, and something that probably makes both of them happy, most likely even strengthening their own relationship. Not everyone’s sexual lives and desires are the same, and to equate something like this to an affair is discriminatory and gross in itself. Did Straight CEO discuss all of his affairs with his wife? Probably not, or else they wouldn’t be classified as affairs. His act is inherently dishonest and deceitful; the gays’ is open and fine. If anything, it proves the viability of their relationship.

Regardless. After the statement about both relationships being messy (eye roll), Judge Friend then says, “But DOMA is still the law of the land, and I have to abide by it.” So basically, the gays lose. So basically, we just went through that whole entire spiel for nothing. What could Judge Friend have possibly thought she’d hear that would change her mind if she was going to stick with DOMA the whole time? I do not feel so friendly with you anymore, your honor, even if I like it when you yell at people because you do it really well. But geez.

And then the problem is compounded by some highfalutin Supreme Court “superlawyer” who has shown up, played by Bruce McGill, as frequently seen on Rizzoli & Isles. He’s shown up because he smelled DOMA and followed the scent all the way to Lockhart Gardner, because apparently he really, really hates DOMA and wants to help get rid of it. Which is good, right? Yayyy Superlawyer! Except then it turns out that he actually wants gay CFO to lose. And in fact, keeps sabotaging Alicia and Diane left and right in order to make sure he loses. So, maybe not so yay? See, if he loses, then they can appeal that they lost on the basis of DOMA and take it to the Supreme Court and all the gays can be free. I mean, at least to marry each other.

“This is my right hand. It’s all powerful, like God’s.”

So, we want this, right? Booo DOMA! Except making your client lose on purpose seems like a pretty crappy thing to do, and also completely dishonest and against what your duty as a lawyer requires. Like a doctor letting a patient die on purpose because maybe a cure for a really awful disease can maybe be created from the dead body. It’s better for society as a whole in the long run, but you’re still breaking your moral code. Also, seeing him condescendingly knock down Alicia and Diane pisses me off real bad.

Our house.

In the end, Alicia and Diane will not be told what to do. Kalinda shows up on screen for exactly the thirty seconds that is needed to let Alicia know about the evidence that they need to win, per usual. Alicia uses it, and it works.

But, I get paid more to win all these cases for you, right?

Superlawyer angrily thanks Diane Lockhart for sticking us with DOMA for another decade.

I look so good in these glasses, though.

So. This seems a little dramatic. Then again, everything about Superlawyer has been a little dramatic. Did this one case really set back DOMA a decade? How can he know that? I mean, if there’s one thing we can trust in, it’s that there will still be a plethora of cases that use the law to discriminate against gays all the time! Still, am I now rooting against Superlawyer for wanting to get rid of it? Because that feels weird, too. Stupid show. I am still a little bamboozled by this one.

Other, slightly less confusing things: It’s Alicia quality family time! We get to see brother Owen/Angus again, along with their mother Veronica, played by Stockard Channing, who is so good at being crazy! Her husband has died and she needs some help because she was cheating on him so he changed his will at the last minute and she’s getting nothing. Life is tough. In between denying that she cheated to literally everyone, and getting her son to lie for her, too, she fits in some other great moments of crazy. Such as: sharing some creepy laughs over M&Ms with David Lee — what a pair! — and shoving Naomi Wolf’s Vagina in everyone’s faces. At one point, Alicia walks up as Momma Stockard is telling Will all about the obsession with the clitoris. Good stuff, Good Wife writers. Good stuff.

Oh, and she also buys a humongous stuffed giraffe. As one does.

I come bearing gifts of giraffe and vagina.

Yet at the very end, she seems more lucid than Alicia perhaps would like her to be. After an amazing family dinner which involves both cray cray grandmas going head to head — also, does Other Grandma’s sexy caretaker have a crush on her, or something? He and Peter have a brief conversation and something’s weird — Momma Stockard approaches Alicia about her and Peter. She says, you like Will, but you’ll never let yourself be with Will, because that would mean you’d have to leave your husband and then you’d be like me. And I know you hate me, but I’m happy. And happiness matters. To which Alicia basically says, you’re wrong and I do hate you go away.

Striking out with Alicia, Momma then attacks Peter, who’s innocently nibbling on leftover turkey in the kitchen. This conversation ensues:

Veronica: She’s never going to divorce you. She’s a good person. You’re exploiting her.

Peter: Wow. By not divorcing her?

Veronica: Yes. You’re leading her on. Let her go.

Peter: What if I don’t want to let her go?

Veronica: Then you’re just being selfish.

And let’s be honest: Veronica, right now, is not crazy at all.

In reaction, Alicia storms into the bathroom in a rage, taking Peter with her, and lowers herself onto his penis. Look, I know that’s graphic, but that’s what happened! It was gross! As it’s happening, Peter asks if this is about her mother. She says, yup. So. This all seems healthy, huh?

In the end, we never get any further development on Cary and Horrible Husband and Kalinda, or anything else. And it’s been quite a while since we saw Maura Tierney, am I right? It was a fascinating episode, yet left me feeling weirdly dispirited.

What did you think about the DOMA case? Do you also agree with Stockard Channing’s words of wisdom at the end of the episode — or is Alicia doing the right thing? How do you think Kalinda was spending all that time not-being-on-screen this week?

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