Why bother watching the evening news anymore when we have The Good Wife bringing us the latest headlines? There’s no excuse for being ignorant of world affairs with our intrepid Chicago attorneys on the case.

But while the world stage takes center stage in “Live from Syria,” the old saying “all politics is local” certainly rings true for Will Gardner. He made a state’s attorney very, very mad — and she’s determined to make him pay.

The Case in Evidence

Honestly, do TGW‘s writers create these scripts just hours before the episodes air? You can’t get much more up-to-the-minute than the current crisis in Syria.

In “Live from Damascus,” the astoundingly relevant storyline is another Internet-related case (not unlike “A Great Firewall,” which dealt with Chinese dissidents). The Lockhart-Gardner team has taken on a small class-action suit involving the deaths of three young Americans caught up in the anti-government movement in Syria.

L-G accuses a computer mogul, Neil Gross, of selling decryption software to the Syrians, which they use to intercept the email (and discover the identity and location) of dissidents. Gross’ defense: He didn’t sell them the software, and anyway, he can’t control how people use it.

His attorney, Viola Walsh (returning guest star Rita Wilson) believes that L-G is just trying to drive Gross out of business. It turns out he’s the biggest competitor to Patrick Edelstein, the Mark Zuckerberg-like social media mogul who’s an L-G client.

A settlement conference falls through, so the opponents go to court. The L-G team manages to score some points with the judge, but the case seems to rest more on emotions than on solid evidence. Fortunately, Will saves the day with a flash of ingenuity: He puts a member of Gross’ tech support staff on the stand.

Gross’ entire defense rests on plausible deniability. But he can’t keep denying that the Syrian government bought his software when the staffer proves Gross’ company is aware of every customer’s identity when they call for support. Suddenly, Walsh and her client want to talk settlement again. 

Throughout the episode, Kalinda works back channels (via webcam) to get vital information from a Syrian dissident. When Walsh shows evidence in court that one of the Americans may in fact be alive, Kalinda’s contact, Samir, offers to help find out where she’s being held and even offers to help get her out of the country. In a bittersweet end to the case, we learn that the presumed-dead girl has been safely smuggled out of Syria, but Samir has disappeared.

Kalinda stares forlornly at her computer screen as news audio rolls about a government crackdown that resulted in four more deaths in western Syria. 

Double Jeopardy

Will’s a busy guy. Besides being lead on the Gross case, he’s also trying to save his career. Just as she threatened, the defeated Wendy Scott-Carr hasn’t given up on getting Will punished for corruption. After losing in front of the grand jury, she drops a dime to the state bar association, which opens proceedings against him. The charge stems from when he took money from a client’s account to pay a gambling debt 15 years ago. Although he repaid it within a short time, the blot remains on his record. 

Will has to face a review board that will decide the fate of his career. Thanks to some maneuvering by Diane, the board gives him credit for creating the pro bono legal defense division of the company. (Ironically, as Will notes to Alicia, he’d lobbied against it — hard. You have to love Diane’s loyalty.) The board offers him the choice of a six-month suspension or a hearing that could result in permanent disbarment.

Diane advises him to fight it, warning that six months away from the law would “kill” him. Much to everyone’s surprise, he decides to take the suspension. His decision seems to be based in part on his conscience, in part on a realization that he must put the past to rest. 

He and Diane discuss turning all his cases over to other attorneys, including a case involving Kalinda that goes to Alicia. Diane also tells him they’ll change the name of the firm to “Lockhart and Associates” for the time being. She adds that when he returns, he’ll always have a place there. The mere fact that she feels compelled to say this sounds ominous.

As Will walks out of the office, Louisville Slugger slung over his shoulder, he encounters Alicia at the elevator. He assures her that he’ll be all right and advises her to follow Diane’s lead while he’s gone. Once again, closing elevator doors mark another milestone in their relationship. 

Two Sidebars

Although the legal case and Will’s career woes claimed the lion’s share of the episode, it’s worth noting two other, smaller plot threads:

  • Eli and his ex, Vanessa (indie darling Parker Posey), face off over her hiring of Stacey Hall to advise her campaign run. He’s clearly a mass of contradictions. He doesn’t like the guidance Stacey is giving Vanessa, fearing it will hurt her chances. Yet he also hasn’t forgiven her for sleeping with “a bin Laden, but not THAT bin Laden” during their marriage. Is he still in love with her or does he really just dislike Stacey that much? Whatever’s going on, when Eli finally caves and agrees to help her, a relieved Vanessa admits that she’s missed arguing with him. “Win or lose, this is going to be nice,” she says. The look of confusion on his face shows that Eli isn’t so sure of that.
  • Back at the state’s attorney’s office, Cary must deal with the fallout from Wendy’s failed corruption campaign. As he announces that there will be reorganizations coming “for the good of the office,” the other prosecutors — who had nothing to do with the case, after all — grumble openly. Worse, Cary tells Dana that they’ll be pulling her back from the courtroom for a while, in favor of behind-the-scenes work. A furious and resentful Dana walks out. Is revenge on her mind now?

Summary Judgment

Is this the end of Will Gardner? Unlikely. In fact, TGW often skips ahead weeks at a time, so who knows how quickly six months will pass. In truth, I’m glad they moved this to resolution so quickly, yet without feeling unduly rushed. Moreover, the case of the week sat firmly in the Lockhart-Gardner (make that Lockhart and Associates) wheelhouse, with the writers making connections to earlier episodes subtly and smoothly. And with Will’s imminent departure, it gave him a chance to leave on a high note.

Given the circumstances of the suspension — even Will admits to his guilty past — it’s doubtful that next week will bring a sudden reversal of fortune. So I’m guessing we have several “Will-light” episodes coming, but they probably won’t be “plot-light.” For one thing, what’s that “tax case” of Kalinda’s that Alicia has been assigned? Will Caitlin prove to be untrustworthy, as Kalinda warns Alicia in the preview? Now that Will isn’t Alicia’s boss anymore, will he try to rekindle their flame? Tune in March 4 to find out more!

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV