After last week’s uncomfortable episode, The Good Wife opts for a lighter touch this week, and it mostly works. When Alicia meets Daniel Irwin (Nestor Carbonell, from every show ever made, but we’re always going to think of him as Batmanuel from The Tick) while both are going through the tedious process of jury duty, flirting is immediate. Everything else that follows is awkward, from Alicia talking to herself when she doesn’t know what to do, to her watching some intentionally bad film that’s way too on the nose. The good news here is that Carbonell’s a natural in the romantic foil role (he did it on Psych when his character Declan Rand briefly dated Juliet O’Hara), so his presence is welcome, even if the plot itself is not so strong.
Meanwhile, Eli takes charge of Finn’s new campaign for State’s Attorney, while Finn himself visits Lockhart/Gardner because the son of one of Diane’s friends stands accused of selling drugs via a suspicious Internet website. Breaking Bad this is not; it’s letting Diane flex her legal muscle, much the way the show took the opportunity earlier this season to remind us that Will Gardner was a hell of a lawyer and not just a name partner. Likewise, Finn gets to do the most actual work he’s done since the attempted prosecution of Jeffrey Grant. The case itself isn’t remarkable, but what it allows our main characters to do is the real plus. (And as someone with cerebral palsy, this writer will admit it’s nice to see the condition represented by one of the guest characters.)
“The Deep Web” wants us to be surprised or at least intrigued by Alicia’s temptation to look outside her marriage, but the problem is that she already ventured well past those boundaries when she had her affair with Will two seasons ago. This isn’t new ground for her; it’s just a different other half of the same story. What’s newer is Alicia declaring to her mother (Stockard Channing) that she’s losing her taste for the law – but that seems to come out of left field and feels kind of hollow, considering that we can’t see Season 6 centering on Alicia as a stay-at-home mom again.
What’s more interesting is the case of the week, specifically because it puts together two characters who haven’t thus far really interacted – Diane and Finn. We’ve spoken the last few episodes about Finn being ingratiated into the show piece by piece, and this is one of those last remaining pieces. Another one is Eli attempting to manage Finn’s campaign. We’re seeing now how all the characters react to Finn, and more importantly, how he reacts to them. Watching him as something other than Will’s opposite number gives him professional credibility in the audience’s eyes. Plus, Christine Baranski could read the phone book and it would be entertaining television.
Much like its predecessor, this episode is not particularly memorable, but contains glimmers of strength amongst the chaos. And with just two episodes left, there isn’t going to be much more waiting. Let’s see how all these little things place themselves into the bigger picture as we head toward the finish line.
The Good Wife continues Season 5 next Sunday at 9 PM ET/PT on CBS.