With all the zombies, vampires, and sexy nurses populating prime time during Halloween week, The Good Wife may be the only real example of grown-up television on the air. But just because the characters aren’t wearing masks doesn’t mean they aren’t hiding something.

Whether covering up guilt for a murder or the evidence of past romantic dalliances, “Affairs of State” (another TGW title with a dual meaning), Alicia and company have more to worry about than what to wear to the office costume party.

A Brief Recess

Before I recap this week’s case, I’d like to say a word of congratulations. Last week, Robert and Michelle King–creators and producers of TGW–received the first-ever Integrity in Entertainment Award from Human Rights First. The organization singled out TGW for its regular exploration of human rights abuses, Internet freedom, and other real-world issues. Way to go, team!

The Case in Evidence

Back to the show. The case at the center of “Affairs of State” didn’t carry quite the ripped-from-the-headline vibe of such episodes as last year’s “Great Firewall.” Nevertheless, Cary almost causes an international incident by trying to hold two suspects in the rape and murder of a young college student during a “booze cruise.” Both are the sons of diplomats–one Dutch and one Chinese–and are therefore entitled to diplomatic immunity. However, Alicia’s client, Chen, is from Taiwan, not the People’s Republic of China. Under the State Department’s “one China” rule, only diplomats from the PRC get immunity.

Alicia cries foul, and with a little help from Eli–more on that later–the State Department agrees to reexamine the “one China” rule. Thanks to Alicia’s fancy footwork,the court releases Chen on bail. But despite that stroke of good luck, more and more evidence points to L-G’s client as the culprit.

It turns out the evidence points to him because–oops!–he committed the crime. As he attempts to flee the country, Alicia and Caitlin tip off Cary to Chen’s whereabouts. Young Caitlin admits that the case was “depressing.” Alicia says, “Yes–sometimes the guilty ones look innocent.”

(Ex) Friend of the Court

In yet another successful attempt to show us that the mighty Eli Gold has a heart, this week we meet the biggest heart-breaker of his life–his ex-wife, Vanessa.  Parker Posey portrays her as a smart, sympathetic woman. Yes, she’s a political operative–one with the kind of State Department contacts that can help Lockhart-Gardner.–but she still has respect and affection for her former husband, When Eli asks for help with the Taiwan case, she offers to do it, but only if he helps her launch her campaign for state senator.

Big mistake. Eli asks Kalinda to vet Vanessa as closely as she would any other political candidate. This leads the PI down a trail to an affair Vanessa had during her marriage to Eli.

Kalinda doesn’t judge her, but warns Eli that Vanessa may have issues that could make her unelectable. The man Vanessa slept with, Omar Tate, changed his last name from … bin Laden. Although only a second cousin and completely unconnected to terrorism, Kalinda thinks it would be a showstopper for an unknown candidate.

Hostile Witness

Eli tries to shrug the news off with a glib, “Oh great–she banged a bin Laden!” until he learns that he and Vanessa were still married during the relationship. He and his ex have a painful confrontation.

The tough political consultant is particularly upset because he thought they’d finally gotten their rocky marriage on track during 2006 and 2007, when the affair occurred. “I thought I did well those two years,” he says. She sadly replies, “You did do well, but sometimes it’s just too late.”

Legal Briefs

Some quick picks from “Affairs of State”:

  • The Son Also Rises. Will runs into Zach in Alicia’s office as the teen is fixing Mom’s computer. It’s the height of awkwardness. Tongue-tied around the boy, Will caps things off by leaving him with the deathless, “Keep on keeping on!” To Will’s credit, he grimaces at his blathering. Later, Zach asks Mom for a car. Coincidence?
  • Matan v. Cary. Besides moving Cary into a cubicle, Matan Brody makes a (failed) effort to derail Cary’s budding relationship with colleague Dana. Matan tells her Cary has a “thing” for ethnic women. Cary denies it, saying, “That’s not true… unless you think that’s a good thing.” She replies, “That depends…” and they begin making out. And after the embarrassment of moving into the cubicle, Cary ends up in a fabulous office with his name on the door–at Peter’s direction.
  • Chicago–City of Big Guest Stars. Let’s see: Parker Posey as Vanessa Gold, of course. But also Eureka fave Joe Morton returning as Dan, Peter’s former campaign manager and, as it happens, Dana’s “Uncle Dan.” Plus, Animal House‘s Peter Riegert returning as Judge Harvey Winter and Monica Raymund (formerly of the late, lamented Lie to Me) as Cary’s new flame, Dana.

Summary Judgment

There were many things to like in “Affairs of State.” To name a few: Alicia’s clever legal maneuvering in matters of diplomacy. Her acknowledgment that new associate Caitlin (her second choice for the job, remember?) may turn out all right– athough she seems to have a wee bit of a crush on Will. Cary’s dogged pursuit of justice, even as he slips down the path to second-rate citizenship at work. (Which makes the final scene in his new office that much more delicious.) Also: Every scene with Eli and Vanessa. Every scene with Eli and Kalinda.

Less-favorable elements included a case that didn’t really get the blood racing. (For the second week in a row, the characters resolved the legal dealings off screen.)  There was a serious shortage of Diane time (one or two short scenes, total) and no Peter at all. I guess that’s the flip side of having great guest stars–not enough time for all our regular favorites.

What did you think? Did this episode maintain the momentum of last week’s solid outing? Did you miss Diane as much as I did? Are you interested in seeing more of Dana, or are you holding out for a Cary-Kalinda reunion? And do you think Alicia is being smart keeping Will at a distance from her kids?

Have a safe and happy Halloween, all!

Photo AlbumThe Good Wife – 3.06 – “Affairs of State”

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV