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New Show Recap: The Good Wife 5×09: “Whack-A-Mole”

As much as I love my imaginary bestie, Olivia Benson, her show’s “ripped from the headlines” doesn’t hold a candle to how The Good Wife does it. This week, Florrick, Agos, Lockhart, and Gardner point the CBS eye at The Internet’s Front Page.  Wow. Much legal. So argue. 

Florrick Agos v. The FBI, Scabbit, the hivemind, et al.

A former client of Alicia’s, Zayeed, contacts her when the FBI visits him under the pretense of vetting a colleague of Zayeed’s. Zayeed is suspicious. Alicia advises him to ask the agents to hold off on any additional questions until she can join him. When she arrives, with Robyn in tow as a witness, the FBI reveals that they’ve actually come to collect all of Zayeed’s electronics, and they possess a warrant to back it up. Zayeed is a suspect in a recent municipal bombing not very much unlike the Boston marathon bombing earlier this year. The show is careful to mention that the bombing they are investigating, in Milwaukee, happened in addition to the Boston bombing. Robyn, still earning that paycheck, discovers the FBI is collecting their evidence, including a grainy photo of Zayeed, from a thread on the Internet message board Scabbit.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the choice to call this message board Scabbit. Clearly, it’s Reddit. Clearly, this is not a flattering choice of names. While I’ve laughed at many of the fictional Internet locations created by this show, none made me laugh harder than Scabbit. Recently, our team was contacted by a news outlet who wanted to give a P-Mag writer with an active Reddit account a platform to discuss how hostile some (not all, by far) sub-reddits can become. With the owner of Reddit. Hillary and I tried to find a volunteer, and we couldn’t. Neither of us was surprised, as the consequences for that writer would likely mean at least a year of rape/death threats from an army of angry bros. Again, the troglodytes who would resort to such methods are a small percentage of the millions of people who use Reddit as something more than an outlet for raging on the ladies. The actions of this vocal minority do justify women wanting to keep the site at arm’s length, or at least approaching it with a lot of side-eye. Which is a roundabout way of saying I’m okay with The Good Wife writers using Scabbit as a dig.

Of course, in this plotline, the topic isn’t sexism, but the hivemind that led Reddit to play detective after the Boston bombing, leading to the mis-identification of Sunil Tripathi, who later committed suicide, as one of the bombers. In The Good Wife‘s universe, Florrick Agos appear before recurring guest judge George Kluger, played by Jeffery Tambor, to force Scabbit to delete the thread containing photos and false information about Zayeed. The judge grants the request. Guess what happens next? Of course, a new thread appears within minutes, with a slightly different name. Then things get even more complicated, as you can imply from the heading below this sentence.

Lockhart Gardner for Scabbit v. Florrick Agos for Zayeed, My Patience v. Paddy McFurniture

During one of the establishing shots of this episode, we see Florrick, Agos, and Associates having an emergency meeting about a lack of clients. Simultaneously, at least on our teevees, Lockhart, Gardner, and Associates are having an emergency meeting about the glut of work they have, and the need to hire four litigators ASAP. It’s a nice moment, and it does a nice job contrasting the OMG IS THIS EVER GOING TO WORK feeling of a brand new endeavor with the wheel-grinding bureaucracy and politics of one that’s fairly firmly established. It’s meant to look a little romantic, but I like that The Good Wife chose not make it look overly idealistic, on either side.

Will and Diane meet with a hiring adviser, and Will picks the renegade, the loose cannon, the lone wolf, noted mob lawyer Damien Boyle, played by TV staple Jason O’Mara. I have Moretta to thank for his nickname in the header. O’Mara was certainly more lively than I’ve ever seen him, which may be attributable to him being allowed to use his real voice, instead of an American accent. His character, however, has the potential to annoy the crap out of me. He veered into odd stereotypes more than once, and he endeared himself to David Lee by stealing not only all of Florrick Agos’ furniture as if they were rival fraternities, he brought LG the Scabbit case on a silver platter. Additionally, I think he may be marked as the next Guylinda (h/t to A/V Club commenters, who transcend most other commenting communities. Except ours). This is terrible news. Please don’t remind us again how much Kalinda loves bad boys. I know we’ve been collectively begging for her to do more, but we did not mean for her to do “Bluto” Blutarsky.

All of this leads to Alicia and Will facing off in the courtroom, however, so we’re going to be temporarily forgiving. Florrick Agos argue for repeated take-downs of the threads as they appear. At one point, they try to creatively create a situation where future postings can be deleted without individual court actions, but Judge Kluger can’t declare something that hasn’t already been said defamatory. FA then tries to claim that an employee of Scabbit, one of their moderators, is creating these threads, and therefore acting on behalf of Scabbit, who can legally claim no responsibility for the content posted by their members. This is when we meet “lotionmyfeet,” who’s a big deal down at the Scabbit factory, with more Scabbit Pimp Points (snarf.) than most other Scabbiters. FA try to argue that Pimp Points are the equivalent of compensation (and our unicorn points almost disappeared) but were shot down when it was revealed Pimp Points were pretty pointless, and certainly not used in exchange for goods and services in the typical sense. (And our unicorn points live another day.)

Finally, FA establish that the most prolific poster in the defamatory threads is a social bot. A social bot is a tiny program meant to drive traffic to a site or sites by way of other social media accounts. It aggregates bits and pieces of other comments from accounts all over the web, and its intent is to appear human. (Whoa.) Scabbit created this bot, therefore Scabbit is responsible for its actions. Florrick Agos win, but Zayeed still lost his job and is probably not all that satisfied.

Jackie Florrick v. Rachel RE: The Judge

Mary Stuart Masterson makes a brief guest appearance as the next candidate for the supreme court seat intended for Diane. As it happens, her character, Rachel, used to sleep with Jackie’s dead husband, who she only refers to as “The Judge.” Jackie is clearly not a woman who’s going to blame her own husband for being a dirty cheater, so she’s intent on making sure Rachel does not get that seat. First, she tells Eli, and demands he withdraw her from consideration. He’s sympathetic, but he doesn’t want Peter to remove two women in a row. Jackie threatens to tell Peter, but Eli calls her bluff. She does the next best thing, for her, and threatens to tell Rachel’s husband (who is hospitalized with cancer, just for extra brutality) if Rachel doesn’t withdraw on her own. Rachel tells Jackie that her husband already knows, but Jackie calls HER bluff, and shows up at his hospital room. Rachel eventually withdraws, and Jackie wins again. She’s a terrible person, and I feel sorry for her, and I always enjoy every minute Mary Beth Peil is onscreen.

Finer Points

  • Judge Kluger gives Alicia a call at the end of the episode and asks to have dinner. Some are speculating he’s asking her out, I think he wants to join the firm.
  • Diane must be exhausted at the end of every day. Between Will’s manaissance, Boyle’s idiocy, and the David Lee/Howard Lyman two-headed hydra of greed and racism, it’s a wonder she doesn’t go join Florrick Agos, too.
  • I’m warming up to Robyn. Slowly.
  • There’s only one more episode left before the winter break, I’m wondering if we’ll see some of the stories introduced earlier in the season resolved. Specifically, the surrogate case and whether or not Hunter Parrish and his lovely cheekbones are guilty.
  • I thought for a second I saw Will grin when they got stuffed by Florrick Agos. I do think he might be evolving a bit after his break-up crisis, or he wouldn’t have shown up at FA to negotiate on Chum Hum.

 

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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