You really have to wonder how they manage to be so prescient on The Good Wife. Last year, an episode focused on the role of the Internet in helping freedom fighters — right in the midst of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. This week, it’s all about the listeria. Okay, it’s in cheese, not cantaloupe, but close enough. Moreover, it forces Eli into unwillingly taking center stage in his own crisis communications work. An uncomfortable Eli is a viewer’s delight. 

But first, let’s join Will and Alicia at a hotel. Sadly, it’s not as sexy as you think — they’re stuck in a court-ordered mediation with several other attorneys.

The Case in Evidence

Another week, another civil case. In “Get a Room,” however, our legal eagles aren’t defending a client against libel. Instead, Will and Alicia must prove that a surgeon implanted a faulty medical device into the spine of their client. The woman, now in constant pain, seeks millions; the defense won’t budge past 100 grand. The mediator demands everyone stay over the weekend until both sides reach a settlement.

The surprise factor in the case isn’t any particular tidbit of evidence–it’s the defense attorney, Celeste, an old flame of Will’s. As played by House fave Lisa Edelstein with more than a hint of Lisa Cuddy’s feistiness, she won’t up her client’s offer. She’s convinced she can rattle Will into backing off.

She’s so sure of it, in fact, that she lures him into a poker game in the hotel bar. If he wins the next hand, her client will pay out $10 million. If she wins, they’ll pay $500K. He’ll have none of it and walks out. Despite Celeste calling out “wuss!” as he leaves, he only smiles: He now knows the defendant’s bottom line.

In the mediation, Celeste tries other gambits. The most promising ploy involves proving her client’s medical device only represented a “minor modification” over similar devices, so he couldn’t know it might be faulty. Unfortunately for Celeste, the surgeon had filed for a patent–claiming his device was unlike any other on the market. Game over. The surgeon ends up paying his former patient millions.

No Friend of the Court

In the other major plot thread, Eli gets a call from the Wisconsin Cheese Board. The board needs damage control — fast–when an outbreak of cheese-borne listeria sickens more than a dozen schoolchildren. He takes the case, but only if they also hire Lockhart-Gardner as outside council.

That might have seemed like a good idea at the time, until Diane starts overruling Eli’s PR guidance with her legal cautions. Eli wants the cheese company CEO he’s coaching to apologize and say his company will recall all its cheese. Diane is worried about liability and asks for a more measured public response.

Sadly, the CEO takes Diane’s advice, and the media ends up branding him as the executive who won’t apologize, won’t admit fault, and blames the kids for their sickness. (This mirrors Will and Alicia’s case, where the defense tries to blame the patient/plaintiff for her pain.)

Worst of all, someone has leaked the news that Eli is managing the cheesy crisis communications to an investigative reporter. The media jumps all over it, wondering why a political operative is doing PR for a story that involves the health of children. Eli confronts Diane about the leak, accusing Will of the deed. She defends him vehemently.
Checking the Briefs

Let’s face it — I love it anytime:

Owen appears. Because she’s stuck at the hotel for the weekend, Alicia drafts her brother into service as a teen-sitter. He does loads of laundry, has a heart-to-heart with nephew Zach, and susses out something important (as yet unsaid) about Grace’s college-age tutor. (Could she be transgender, as one of my readers recently commented?). He also sees right through Alicia’s calm facade and guesses about her relationship with Will. He even gets her to admit that whatever they’re doing, “it isn’t love,” much to Owen’s relief.

Jackie appears. I’ve missed Mama Florrick, haven’t you? She shows up at the apartment while the kids are out and runs into Owen and his new boyfriend, Finn. When Finn asks her to tell him about herself, she’s swept into a wave of nostalgia about the Chicago of her youth.

Kalinda appears. Though her role was smaller than usual this week, her scenes proved pivotal. Besides digging up the all-important patent information, she also has a one-on-one with Cary. He accuses her of using people’s feelings to get what she wants–and that includes what happened between them. Her hurt is evident as she denies ever trying to hurt or use him.

Summary Judgment

The third season of The Good Wife has gotten off to a solid but unspectacular start. (Yes, people, I’ve heard your grumblings!) With this week’s episode, however, we’re starting to pick up some steam–and I don’t just mean the hotel-room rendezvous/strategy session between Will and Alicia. Lots of things starting to churn.

For one thing, will having Eli’s business smackdab in the middle of L-G continue to cause Eli-Diane tiffs? (Or are you looking forward to that?) Is Kalinda in for a comeuppance for manipulating the people around her? How did the writers predict the recent (and ongoing) listeria crisis? What’s up with Grace’s tutor, anyway?

And most important, does Alicia’s confession about her (lack of) feelings for Will leave the door open for Celeste, who happens to be job hunting?

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Photo AlbumThe Good Wife – 3.03 – “Get a Room”

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV