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The Good Wife 5×02: “A Precious Commodity”

This week’s episode is full of gray areas, and mom and dad are fighting. Plus, Janel Maloney. (Why is she not in more things? Janel Maloney should be in more things!) 

The theme of this episode is making a choice when there are no good choices.

Lockhart Gardner v. Donna Moss

The case of the week is heartbreaking. An infertile couple and their surrogate discover the fetus the surrogate is carrying has an 85% chance of being born with a rare, devastating genetic disorder that will cause both intense suffering and a very early death. Alicia is representing the parents but under the agreement she will act in the best interests of the surrogate, Tara, who is currently well into her second trimester. The couple decides to terminate, but complications arise when Tara doesn’t show up to the clinic for the appointment. Tara doesn’t want to terminate, and suddenly the already heartbreaking situation is made much, much worse. The contract between parents and surrogate included a clause that Tara would agree to terminate if genetic testing indicated a major problem. The case hinges on the parents’ right to terminate versus the surrogate’s right to body autonomy, and it’s all handled with a lot of nuance. I can count the number of times I’ve seen abortion addressed on network TV on my fingers. I can count the number of times it’s been addressed well on one hand.

The parents, Kathy and Brian, fire Alicia when Alicia tries to represent Tara’s interests, and bring a breach of contract suit against Tara for financial devastation, asking for half a million dollars. Which is incredibly smarmy, but then we learn Kathy and Cam have already lost a child to a severe illness, and they would still be obligated to raise the child if Tara gives birth. As the audience, we have the luxury of empathizing with both sides, and the challenge of recognizing that no matter how this case ends, there are no winners.

David Lee hops in, and things get even more terrible, but Zach Granier makes David Lee a delightful villain. It’s a treat to watch that man act, and I’m glad to see him getting more screen time. His motivation is the possibility of suing the hospital who performed two amnio procedures on Tara. If the fetus is born, it increases the payout from $2m to $8m if they win.

After hearing the arguments, the judge rules in favor of Tara, which means she won’t be forced to abort. The parents’ lawyer immediately requests to pursue other contractual breeches the parents allege Tara committed, which takes an already ugly situation and throws gasoline on it. A witness is called who claims he had a threesome with Tara and another man while she was pregnant.

In the end, Robyn discovers there’s been a miscalculation in the date of conception: Tara is in her third trimester, and the fetus is viable. After court, Kathy tells Tara she’s selfish. Tara isn’t adopting the child once it’s born, so Kathy and Brian will likely watch another child suffer and die. Tara reminds Kathy that Kathy made Tara promise to do everything she could to protect the baby, and Tara claims this is the only way she knows how to protect him.

As an ardently pro-choice woman, this plot challenged a lot of beliefs I thought were fairly cemented in my world view. It’s equally horrifying to compel a woman to either abort or carry a pregnancy to term if she doesn’t want to. Is it Tara’s choice or Kathy’s?

Diane v. Will

Diane confesses her interview to Will immediately, because Diane didn’t get to be one of the most powerful people in Chicago by beating around the bush. Will is hurt, which means Will is angry. Will’s anger is very quiet, and quiet anger is dangerous.

Shallow moment: Will, baby, you run along the lake in that black track suit any time you want.

Will decides to solve the issue with a blow torch. Quietly. He assembles the partners to remove Diane from the firm. His stated motivations are that Diane hurt the firm, but it’s pretty clear that Will is mad because Diane hurt Will. David Lee, who I’m sure spends his off hours trolling Reddit, jumps in with both feet, because while Lee is a prick, his motivations are always crystal clear. Less Diane means more money/power for David, and David thinks that’s a pretty good plan.

Alicia brings some much needed reason, and a certain amount of loyalty, to the plan, as she is reluctantly drug into the middle of things by Will. David Lee unearths the exit package given to Stern when he left, and the other partners think Diane isn’t even worth half. Even though, like Stern, she was a founding partner, and, as Alicia argues, about to be seated on the Supreme Court. Will worries about Diane’s clients, and whether Diane would encourage her clients to go elsewhere if Gardner and Associates burn their bridges. This is a nice moment for Alicia, as we can see her realizing Lockhart clients might very well equal Florrick, Agos, and Associates clients. (In the Game of Torts, you win or you die.)

When the Committee To Show Diane The Door presents Diane with their offer, she tells all of them to go fuck themselves with her eyes, and demands to be given what she’s worth. She kicks them out of her office, David replies that it’s not her office anymore, Diane echos an earlier statement she made to Will and tells him to have security carry her out. To raise the stakes just a little more, Will offers Diane’s former role as managing partner to Alicia.

The CTSDTD offers Diane another package; she refuses. Will tries to find the amount she’ll be happy with, which leads to a brief, hard-to-watch scene where they quietly and calmly let each other know there’s no going back, and there’s no fixing what’s been broken. Diane demands 20% more than the latest offer to leave, Will refuses, Diane leaves. Will thinks she’ll come around. Alicia goes to Cary and the Fourth Years and tells them they have to leave this week.

Peter v. His Better Angels

Breathy Ethics Lady. Marilyn Garbanza, is back, and I do not enjoy her. Peter seems to, and that’s going to be an issue. Eli does not, so maybe there’s hope. Peter, recognizing the urges that get him in so much trouble, and overcompensates by trying to convince Alicia to renew their vows as soon as possible. Alicia interprets more subtext before 9AM than most of us do all year, so she’s on alert.

Alicia v. Grace’s Young Adulthood

Alicia notices several men, including Cary and Eli, checking Grace out. This make Alicia very uncomfortable, which she manages to convey only with her face. After Alicia takes a message from a gentleman caller for Grace, she presses Zach to tell her if something is going on. Zach shows her the hottest political daughters site, and Alicia has many feels. Later, she scans the comments on Grace’s photo, and she learns one of the primary lessons of 21st Century womanhood, which is never read the fucking comments. (Except on P-mag.)

Alicia hits her tipping point a little later in the episode when she answers the door to a man who’s at least 30, and who is looking for Grace. Grace is out, so Alicia asks if he’d like to wait and have a beer with her. He says sure, she stops being composed, and explains to him in no uncertain terms that he shan’t be socializing with her daughter. Later, Grace tells her that the man is her pastor.

“Just because they’re pastors doesn’t mean anything!”

Grace wants to be pretty. Alicia wants to go back to a time when terrible internet commenters aren’t talking about her daughter’s fuckability.

Kalinda v. Robyn

Kalinda hasn’t been nearly as prominent as I think she should be so far this season. In this episode, she learns that Alicia is part of the fourth year migration, and she’s hurt. Because her friend didn’t tell her, for one, and I’m sure at least partially because Kalinda hadn’t already figured it out. Kalinda is used to being the first one to figure things out, so being blindsided can really knock her off her game.

Key Points:

[icon name=”icon-film”] I don’t love NuCar(e)y. Let’s hook him up with Ms. Garbanza, who doesn’t read books.

[icon name=”icon-film”] This episode was especially .gif-able; I hope Tumblr is on that.

[icon name=”icon-film”] Elsbeth is coming back next week! And so is Diane’s hunky Republican boyfriend. Carrie Preston and Gary Cole both have impressive careers, filled with some great characters. I think they both bring a lot to their guest spots on TGW.

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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