There are many great things about The Good Wife. We all know this. But probably the thing I love most about the series is how easily it transitions from story to story and from character to character with little problem. With such a fine writing staff and a great stable of performers, the series can handle it’s 82 different storylines really well so that an episode like “The Silver Bullet” comes along and the viewing experience doesn’t fully change, even with Alicia having little to do and there not being substantial movement on either the campaign or LG&B fronts.
Instead, “Bullet” is a fine showcase for two the series’ better supporting characters: Diane and Eli. Both Christine Baranski and Alan Cumming were well-praised for their performances in the first season but with all sorts of new stories and new characters piling on top of the already awesome Good Wife formula, they’ve had a bit less to do this season. Again, that’s not really a detriment to the series or the performers, just a by-product of all the great things happening on Wife at once. In any event, it was kind of nice to sit back and watch this episode without much concern for what it meant to the overall scope of the series’ ongoing narratives. It also didn’t hurt that the stories focusing on Diane and Eli played to the respective actors’ strengths and brought in some fantastic guest work as well.
For whatever reason, Alan Cumming is fantastic at undressing younger women with his words. That’s not meant to be a sexist comment and I don’t think Eli does the things he does to be sexist, but Cumming appears to have more spring in his step when he’s working with women, whether it’s Juliana Margulies or Dreama Walker. Here, Eli learns that Wendy Scott Carr’s former nanny happens to be an illegal alien and he hopes to use this information to improve Peter’s chances. Of course things don’t end up that way when Eli meets the woman (played charmingly by America Ferrera) and he’s actually smitten with her intelligence, drive and charm.
Instead of trying to use the woman as a campaign casualty, he actually forces her lawyer to improve her chances of obtaining citizenship. Later the two of them actually go to dinner even though she admits she has a boyfriend and clearly knows who Eli is and it’s all sort of weird but fascinating and charming. The two of them have fantastic chemistry with one another and although there is not any real hint that they’d ever hook up or something, it’s apparent that Eli’s looking for a human connection outside of the draining world of the campaign.
Unfortunately, Natalie ultimately doesn’t want to hang out with Eli since he doesn’t come fully forward about his true identity, but she still contemplates staying. In the end, the Florrick campaign decides to go ahead with the information that Eli discovers and he’s crushed. I don’t really know what the ultimate purpose of this little story was in terms of the campaign’s outcome aside from to show us how the negative side effects of the campaign can also hurt even the most cut-throat of political plotters, but that’s completely fine with me. The Good Wife is tremendous at creating these short, effective stories that don’t always have to push the narrative forward. The Kings and their staff never forget to take a moment to let the characters breathe and experience some real life. I actually enjoyed Cumming and Ferrera’s chemistry so much that I hope she returns in some capacity in the future as the election grows closer. This was just a fun story.
Speaking of fun, “Bullet” also brings the return of Professional Ass-Kicker Gary Cole and his Kurt McVeigh. McVeigh is probably the series’ best recurring character and so I felt nothing but pure joy to have him back flirting with Baranski’s Diane. Like Cumming and Ferrera, the two of them have unbelievable and real chemistry, so even though the tension between them is basically boiled down to “She loves Barack! He loves Palin!” it absolutely works as a piece of character development. This episode explored some of the same beats McVeigh’s past episodes had — the politics, Diane’s hypocritical attraction to guns — but it doesn’t even matter because it’s too fun to watch these professionals do their thing. And even though this looks like it might be Cole’s final appearance for a little while, this episode does a nice job of building up to and releasing the tension between McVeigh and Diane. Because of all the stress she’s been facing at work this season, it was fully believable that Diane might actually run away with Kurt.
Combine these two enjoyable plots with a hilarious C-story involving Alicia trying to understand her daughter’s newfound desire to be religious, and “The Silver Bullet” works as a nice breather before what looks to be a big-time episode next week. I can’t wait.
- Nice to see Cary working with Alicia and the firm this week, even if it was begrudgingly. Apparently only Kalinda can melt his moderately cold heart.
- Fun Alicia is fun. Her constant referencing of wine as the “crack pipe” was just fantastic. I don’t want to mess with the kids every episode, but I’d much prefer to have Grace and Zach around in fun, goofy stories like this. Not that religion is goofy, but you know what I mean.
- No Blake this week and Kalinda references the fact that he’s “sick,” but he’s not gone for good right?
- The 20 second sequence with Diane looking at Alicia walk into the meeting with Kurt, then quickly glancing out at Will and then back at Alicia before rolling her eyes? FANTASTIC. Great actors doing wonderful, economical work with absolutely no dialogue.