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New Show Recap: The Good Wife 5×02, “The Bit Bucket”

My pleas last week for all of you to start watching this show should have included a sidebar advising DVR padding. The Good Wife is pushed out of its regular programming slot more than it isn’t; Sunday night’s broadcast was pushed back 45 minutes. 

CBS must have something against this show. Even on nights the show isn’t bumped from its timeslot, it’s up against the Cable Emmy Power Hour on Sunday nights. Five years in, it’s unlikely the network will find a ratings sweet spot for what is easily the highest quality program in the CBS stable.

Sunday night’s show was easily one of the best of the entire series. Not only did we see Jeffrey Tambor return as one of my new favorite musical judges, Dreama Walker is back as baby con artist Becca. There’s a lot happening, so let’s break this down into various plots.

Actor Jeffery Tambor, appearing in CBS's The Good Wife

Main Plot: Chum Hum v. NSA

Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey) is back as the CEO of Chum Hum, the biggest search engine in the TGW universe. Chum Hum refused to release data to the NSA, but is currently under a gag order that prevents Chum Hum from telling its users their data is safe. Cary, Alicia, and Carey-with-an-‘e’ try several strategies, including accusing the NSA of selective enforcement of the gag order, interfering with their ability to make a profit, and, finally, interfering with Chum Hum’s ability to spread democracy to North Korea. It’s the last one that wins the case, granting Chum Hum damages of $14k, and a gag order of their own that allows Gross to look great to his users while making the government look bad.

Chum Hum, The Good Wife's fictional search engine

Interesting trivia: one of the potential strategies Cary and Alicia employ is creating a class action suit against the NSA, in conjunction with Google, Yahoo, and Facebook. This is the first time real world companies have been mentioned alongside TGW’s stable of fictional Internet companies. I wonder if the real world companies had anything to do with that. “Dear TGW: We at Google love your show, but we’d love it even more if you didn’t make your viewers think we’re like Chum Hum. Best! Sergei and a small town’s worth of lawyers.”

I greatly admire the way the writers on this show handle technology. My 70-year-old dad, who sends me emails with the entire message in all caps in the subject line, knows what a bitcoin is from watching The Good Wife. I consider myself pretty savvy, and they do their homework. It’s refreshing, especially compared to the fifteen seconds of random keystrokes = hacking! approach of most TV shows.

Sub-plot A: David Lee v. Alicia’s Mom And The Fourth Years

Stockard Channing, Honorary P-Mag Unicorn Emeritus, is also back as Alicia’s complicated, delightful, trouble-making mom. Florrick, Agos, and Associates have found prime office space, but fall substantially short of making the required deposit. Alicia’s mom steps in, writing a check for $140k to cover the difference. After Alicia’s warning last week, the fourth years have switched to using burner phones to communicate with poached clients and each other. David Lee, boy detective, not only catches Alicia on her burner phone, he’s her mother’s financial adviser, so he knows about the check. Alicia’s mom is no slouch, so she keeps him away from the truth for the moment, but this is sure to blow up in everyone’s face soon.

Sub-plot B: Nisa v. The Three Hop

For new viewers, Nisa is Zach’s ex-girlfriend. He broke up with her last season, and she’s still upset with him. She calls him several times throughout this episode, and leaves a few messages. Nisa is originally from Somalia, and that detail is about to make TGW take a chilling set of turns.

The Good Wife screenshot featuring an audio log of a phone call mentioning hot-button terms.

The NSA is recording all of Lockhart Gardner’s communications, because a client of theirs from two years prior was accused of associating with terrorists. While eavesdropping in search of information related to that warrant, the twentysomething white male analysts overhear L&G’s plans to sue the NSA, which they send up the chain. They also overhear details of the case with Gross and Chum Hum, which piques the interest of the NSA middle managers even more. The original, two year old warrant, is originally considered a one-hop, which means any communication within one degree of the subject of the FISA warrant is free game. Upping the stakes against Chum Hum in the middle of the case allows for a two-hop warrant. This leads to overhearing Nisa’s teenage heartbreak voicemails for Zack, which lead to the reveal that a relative of Nisa’s has some (tenuous?) ties to nefarious types, which then allows for a three-hop warrant, meaning the NSA can collect the communications of anyone within three degrees of Nisa, teenage girl who wants her boyfriend back, clear threat to national security. This leads the NSA to conversations at the Governor-elect’s office, and this is going nowhere good. And it’s kind of terrifying.

The Good Wife screenshot showing a very large office filled with hundreds of NSA analysts

Sub-plot C: Diane v. Will

Peter wants to put Diane on the Illinois Supreme Court, and we are all for this, because Diane is awesome. The Chief Justice does not share our feelings, however. While he’s fine with Diane, he was personally burned by Will during Will’s disbarment proceedings, and wants Diane to publicly denounce everything Will did before he’ll approve of the appointment. Eli pressures Diane into doing an interview, but she doesn’t take the baited questions about her partner. Eli yells at her when he hears, and then goes back to the Chief Justice with Peter in tow, and changes his mind. Too late, though, because a final scene in the episode shows the same reporter leaving Diane’s office, very satisfied, and a pity pan over to Will, working hard, alone, in his office.

Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on CBS's The Good Wife

Sub-plot D: Eli Gold v. Becca

Dreama Walker is fantastic in everything she does, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for her performance as Hurricane Becca, a walking metaphor for what people outside of Chicago mean when they say “Chicago politics.” Becca has befriended Grace, who is embracing her status as the fourth-hottest politician’s daughter with some grown-up dresses and make-up tips. Becca has catapulted this into an opportunity to steal and sell stuff owned by the Governor-elect on Clarkslist. Including a gold-plated gavel from the Chief Justice, which she attempts to sell back to Eli for nearly $900.

Dreama Walker as Becca on CBS's The Good Wife

All of this is tied together with scenes in the NSA analyst cubicle farm, where our two self-proclaimed genius twenty-somethings take snippets of conversations about Chum Hum, the check Alicia’s mom wrote, Becca extorting Eli, Peter trying to convince the Chief Justice to change his mind, the fourth years plotting their exodus, and one really sad sixteen-year-old girl, and turn it into an all-access pass to every major character on this show.

I, for one, am looking forward to a pretty kick-ass season of television. I’ll be watching while under my tinfoil blanket fort.

 

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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