TV Recap: The Good Wife, ‘Judged’

Written by Matt Taylor

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Fans of The Good Wife know there are some iconic episodes of this series. Whether it be the second season’s incredibly suspenseful “Ham Sandwich”, season five’s game changing “Hitting the Fan” and, of course, “Dramatics, Your Honor,” when Will Gardner met his untimely death. And, despite the presence of a hugely unnecessary subplot, tonight’s episode, “Judged,” is most likely going to join those ranks. It was, simply put, a stunning episode, with one of the best-acted scenes you’ll see on any TV series this season.

If you read my reviews on a weekly basis, you know that my biggest worry about this season of The Good Wife was that it could be its last, and it felt like the story was going nowhere. That changed in a big way this week, with Alicia being brought up on malpractice charges after trying to take down Judge Don Schakowsky (Christopher McDonald) for his civil rights violations. The suit being brought against her forces Alicia to consider her current place in life, and why she even got into law in the first place. More importantly, it forces her to reconnect with old allies (like Cary, who will defend her), and bond with new characters in ways we’ve never seen before. Having the last nine episodes of The Good Wife center on Alicia as she puts her career on the line, while also having a mid-life crisis of sorts, is such a phenomenal final subplot for the series. While I’m interested in seeing whether or not Alicia can beat the malpractice suit thrown in her face, I’m more curious to see what sort of character development she undergoes, and that’s entirely because of Julianna Margulies.

This week, Margulies delivered what might have been her best-acted scene since she drunkenly fought with Peter about the loss of her lover. Here, we see a broken, deeply depressed Alicia confide in Lucca about her insecurities as a mother, her crippling loneliness, her subtle drinking problem and her general unhappiness about life, all while robotically trying to start a load of laundry. Watching her slowly fall apart as the speech progresses was a jaw-dropping experience, with two season’s worth of angst exploding out of the screen. Margulies took full advantage of her monologue and, if that’s the last one she has in this series, she will have gone out with a bang. She should start practicing her Emmy speech now.

Elsewhere in the hour, we saw Alicia grow closer to Lucca and Jason, with both new additions to the series finally starting to feel like significant characters and not just plot devices. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was particularly impressive and, for the first time, his chemistry with Margulies was suitably convincing. And, while he’s playing one of the most detestable villains in the series history, Christopher McDonald is really delivering a fierce performance, and makes his antagonist a joy to watch.

If there was a flaw in this week’s episode (and there was a minor one), it was the way Christine Baranski was wasted with a dull subplot that was in no way needed. Diane’s storyline found her defending the students at a college newspaper that the school was trying to shut down for publishing a controversial opinion piece, but the story felt rushed and tacky. Even worse, the subplot’s flaws were only magnified when placed in the middle of one of the season’s most dramatic hours to date. Hopefully Diane will find her way back to center stage as we reach the final episodes.

Rumor has it that CBS is trying to formulate a way to continue The Good Wife without its creators or the titular character on board. Under any circumstances, that would be a stupid idea. But tonight’s episode drove that point home. These past seven seasons have been building to this, and, after some initial worry, it seems like The Good Wife will go out with a bang. Let’s see what these last few episodes will bring.

Overall rating: 9.9/10