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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

The Good Wife – “Two Girls, One Code”

“You’ve been paranoid for so long that you don’t recognize when someone is on your side.”

The Good Wife Title Card s3As you may or may not be aware, I work for a Web site. And since I work for a Web site that has high-profile corporate sponsors, we’re constantly concerned about search engine optimization, or SEO. It was to my delight, then, to see a court case about how a search engine, in this case Chum Hum (owned by returning Web 2.0 nemesis/caricature Neil Gross), was potentially (and likely) gaming search results by tweaking its search algorithm. It’s something we talk about at work about every week in regards to Google Panda, their algorithm.

So perhaps I responded more strongly to the court case than others may have (it’s actually a really important thing to highlight, and I’ll get to that), but the rest of the episode offers lots of good stuff if the case’s search engine intricacies weren’t your cup of tea.

And, you know, the dramatic dead end that is the Kalinda-Nick thing. Oy.

So let me get this nerdy thing out of the way first, and then we can just talk about the episode. That the series would address something as seemingly esoteric as search engine algorithms is actually really forward thinking. Given how often we turn to Internet searches to answer even the most mundane things, how search engines organize/rank results is really important. And how businesses are ranked, as is the cornerstone of the case here, is also important because, as one of the girls notes, if you’re not in a search engine, you don’t exist.

This sort of thing should be troubling for everyone. If a search engine, as Will and Alicia are arguing during the case, games results for specific reasons (here, because they turned down an ad offer, had a competing product), that search engine is essentially denying something some existing in the free marketplace (not to mention issues of free speech, which the episode also addresses). But it can also alter reality a tad, as the button of the case shows when Will searchers for his own name, and the search engines offers that humorous and handy correction: Did you mean Will Gardner, disbarred lawyer?.

Keep an eye out for this sort of thing in the news, because I suspect it’ll actually become more and more prevalent as times goes on. Nerdy stuff over.

Even if all that wasn’t neat and cool for anyone else, the rest of the case was fascinating. I love the idea that Will took the case only to try and win back Gross’s business, business that the firm desperately needs, only to have Gross and Viola out-maneuver everyone in the end (I’m not entirely sure why Gross just didn’t buy the two girls earlier), including Clarke. And how great was Judge Marx, who seemed very in the know about how search engines work? I like how amused he seemed the entire time.

But what do we make of the reporter’s fishing expedition? The promos, and even the cold open, had us all looking at the potential that Alicia and Will had been found out, but it turned out to just be a lying campaign intern (she is so fired). It was a bit of a narrative implosion, for that plot to end the way it does in the episode, but given that we see Alicia doing an interview next week, it’s not completely finished.

It does, however, lead us to those kisses between Alicia and Peter at the very end of the episode. Alicia’s so exasperated by the notion that Peter may have cheated again, that she may not even care. But when the truth comes out, she’s so relieved and so…happy?…that she gives him warm, smiling kisses. I’m not sure what to make of it. This is a pretty serious thawing in their relationship, but I also don’t think it’s a signal of a potential reconciliation. But that is one of the most elegant things about this show: The potential fixing of their relationship is always in question because it’s a messy, complex thing that lacks an easy or clear resolution.

What isn’t elegant is the Kalinda-Nick thing. I’ll retract my excitement about the thematic parallels since this plot is dead in the water. Verbal abuse. Physical abuse. Sexy gazing. Drawing in an unsuspecting innocent bystander. The only thing that felt good about this was Kalinda punching Nick after he called her a dyke. (The problem, of course, is that he probably liked being punched.) This plot doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and it does seem to be mattering to the show as a whole. This is what happens when there’s not a baseline underlining a “mysterious” character, and you just throw things at the character to see what sticks.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • A little bit of me wants the rented out conference room to become a running gag, with different crazy things happening each episode.
  • Margulies’s faces in this episode? All of the awesome.
  • I can only assume that Cary is also having an affair with a previously unseen wife who is distracting him from his job since he’s barely existing on the show.

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