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Wednesday, 22 of September of 2021

The Good Wife – “Wrongful Termination”

I’m just trying to ascertain the extent of your humiliation.

After last week’s just off episode, it was nice to see the show come back with something that clicked along better. I don’t know what it was about last week, the songwriting serial killer or the choppy transitions between scenes, but nothing really worked for me. And it wasn’t like the episode was trying something new (like a musical episode or something (though The Good Wife should TOTALLY do a musical episode)), but it just didn’t feel like an episode of The Good Wife.

“Wrongful Termination” did feel like an episode of The Good Wife, and a very good one. Not good enough to help me through my writer’s block, but enough that I’m willing to try and eke out a post on it. So this may be briefer and less in-depth than my usual thoughts. Apologies in advance.

I think my favorite thing about “Wrongful Termination” is that everything actually worked this week, including the court case. While some of the court cases have been interesting (like the whole not-Facebook movie stuff), it hasn’t been anything that felt super vital to the episode. And while the case here, again, isn’t vital, it does feel like a more fully developed part of the episode’s thematic heft of workplace challenges and opportunities.

And that could be why I liked “Wrongful Termination” more than some of the previous episodes: it does feel thematically coherent, which is something I always appreciate and is something I don’t think that season 2 has been as smart at executing as season 1 is. Here, the traces of multiple workplace issues, from re-taking Stern’s clients to Louis Canning buy Stern’s firm (must’ve gotten it for a song) to Canning offering Alicia not only a job, but a partner-level position at the firm to the SA’s office politics surrounding Blake’s last testimony to Eli’s issues with the DCC paint a picture of what happens when a professional life seems to overtake everything else.

The episode even allows time for the show to reflect on this issue by allowing Diane and Will to talk about the mortality of lawyers after Stern’s death (I appreciate that the show gave him a final cameo before offing him). “All that’s left is our Wikipedia entry,” Will notes, with his wry sense of humor (unless, of course, you don’t meet notability standards, Will), and it does give both of them pause as they consider exactly what they want their lives to be. Does Diane want to be a judge and does Will want to make things with Tammi work? The episode isn’t as deft at making the personal impact of these professional problems clear, but in an episode that already does so much, it feels a tad unfair asking it do everything.

There’ll be a hail of bullets as I mention a couple of other things, but I do want to talk about Louis Canning for a moment. When I saw that Canning was in the episode, I was worried that the show was going to this well one too many times. I think Canning is a terrific character, and Michael J. Fox does a very superb job with it, but I was starting to feel a little burnt out: Is Chicago that small a law community that they’d keep running into Canning? There aren’t other non-SAs for L-G to battle with?

Thankfully, the episode scaled back normal degree of Canning conniving the show has engaged in in the past, and made his legal wits less overpowering than in the past. I do worry that Canning can be overplayed, and his note that he is not beat does indicate that he’ll be back at some point, but I trust the show to prevent that from happening. Or just give the character a spin-off. I’d totally watch it. So would everyone else. Just cancel CSI: Miami.

One last thing before the hail of bullets: This episode had a talking lion phone. I don’t think I can reasonably ask for anything else. The fact that this scene worked as well as it did, between Cary confusion and Andrew’s utter seriousness at talking back to the talking lion and was still funny and still advanced that plot, is a testament to just how good this show is. That said, it’s still a remarkably funny scene.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Eli should choke someone every episode. Every. Episode. While doing a pratfall.
  • Thank goodness they said Tammi’s name, because I had already forgotten it. But like Carrie Raisler, I’m having a tough time caring about the relationship. Yes, Sad Josh Charles face will basically make me weak in the knees and convince me that this plot really matters, but it does wear off eventually, and then I remember that I always forget Tammi’s name.
  • Scene with the reporter, Alicia, and Eli was really strong. I kind of didn’t like the AIDS test drop, though it’s a nice way to make Alicia re-reexamine her life with Peter, it felt a little rushed for me.
  • Judge Abernathy is amazing: “I seem to have misplaced my gavel.”
  • But he is not as amazing as a TALKING LION PHONE.

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