When you think of TV shows with plots “ripped from the headlines,” you probably think of a long-running, now defunct, legal drama set in NYC. Well, that was then. Now, there’s a new legal drama in town — but that town is Chicago. Because this week’s The Good Wife is as timely as they come.

But why let a little thing like world history get in the way of what we really care about? Here’s a hint: It might be time for the firm of Lockhart, Gardner & Bond to change the letterhead soon.

The Case in Question

Will and Diane take the case of a Chinese dissident (played by Lost‘s Ken Leung) who is suing a social network for giving his IP address and identity to the Chinese government. The information led to his arrest, torture and imprisonment for the “crime” of predicting that democracy would one day come to the People’s Republic.

He asks for money, yes — but what he really wants is for the American-owned company to stop providing the identities of political dissidents to the Chinese authorities. The social network’s defense? It’s the law in China to turn over any such information. After all, says defense attorney Viola Walsh (a return performance by Rita Wilson from “Net Worth,” two weeks ago), one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

Alicia, attracted to the case’s strong moral overtones, argues with Will when it looks like he’s bringing in new-media mogul Patrick Edelstein (also from “Net Worth”) to save the day. If Edelstein’s company moves into China, they’ll still have to follow the local law. She wonders: Don’t businesses have a responsibility to do the right thing?

Will reminds Alicia that sometimes good things happen for the wrong reasons and vice versa. In the end, the social networking company withdraws from China, saying it’s too hard to do business there. But although the L,G&B team has won, Alicia is disillusioned–nothing new for her, unfortunately.

Unindicted Co-Conspirators

How timely is the plot of “Great Firewall”? Even though it was no doubt filmed weeks before the recent uprisings in the Middle East and northern Africa, the producers cleverly slipped in a line (using voiceover) about how the Internet has been instrumental in organizing the protesters in Egypt.

But sometimes people throw off their oppressors using old-fashioned methods. When it comes to counting the votes needed to dislodge Derrick Bond from the law firm, Will, Diane, David, and Julius stick to whispering, secret meetings, and clever plots. One of Diane’s ideas — bringing back the firm’s original “alter kockers” (loosely translated as “old men” in Yiddish) — succeeds in getting them two votes. Oops: Make that a single vote, after one of the men dies right before the partners’ meeting.

Things look pretty bleak for our team. Bond even appears to lure Julius away with the promise of running the litigation department. A confident Bond brings together the equity partners and calls for them to dismiss Diane from the firm. But when the final vote is taken — bam! Pow! Bond is outta there! Our side has pulled it off.

A jubilant Will and Diane toast their good fortune. As they laugh and dance, Diane says they’re the perfect couple. “Yeah — everything but the sex,” Will replies.

Three Strikes

Over at Peter’s campaign HQ, the candidate is ready to call it a day. Although Wendy Scott-Carr was knocked down by the revelations about her illegal-immigrant nanny, she’s not out. Peter doesn’t have the money to continue in a three-way race.

But Zach isn’t ready to see his dad withdraw from the contest. Working with the wily Becca, the kids dig up proof that Glenn Childs has his own nanny problem. They slip the information to Eli, then to Peter (without involving Alicia, who never wants Zach or Grace involved in politics).

Peter confronts Childs with the information. Backed into a corner, Childs announces that he’s leaving the race “to spend more time with my family.” Peter thanks his son for helping him — and Alicia remains in the dark.

Pieces of Evidence

Considering the serious topics under discussion — political prisoners, torture, illegal immigration, office backstabbing — this episode containa a lot of sparkling dialogue. Just a few examples:

“This is going in my copy of Eat Pray Love.” — Alicia to Kalinda, after Kalinda hands her a card with her new address.

“Excuse me, this isn’t a smoking section, it’s a secret section.”– David Lee to a lonely smoker trying to join the cold-weather huddle of anti-Bond conspirators.

“I am the smartest person I know.”– A gleeful Eli Gold to himself, after he gets Zach and Becca to do the legwork proving that Glenn Childs employed an illegal-immigrant nanny.

“I just don’t like you.”– Julius to Bond, when Derrick asks him why he sided with Will despite appearing to be Bond’s ally.

Summary Judgment

No courtroom fireworks this week, but lots of action: A timely topic, a campaign renewed, a law firm saved. (Most shows would have withheld this stuff till the season finale.) And what about that Kalinda-Cary action? What was that all about?

No new episode next week. Sorry as I am that we won’t see what happens next right away, let’s bask in the glow of our TGW friends’ happiness. It probably can’t last, but for now — enjoy!

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV