The Good Wife recap: Mommie Dearest

Alicia's mother comes to town, and a famous liberal lawyer offers his help on the case of the week 
Ep. 09 | Aired Nov 25, 2012

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER? Alicia's mom (guest star Stockard Channing) arrives for Thanksgiving and subsequently drives Alicia crazy 

David M. Russell/CBS

Was it really necessary to air an all-new episode of The Good Wife during a post-holiday weekend? I grumbled about this very fact as I spent five hours on a bus returning to NYC from my own Thanksgiving celebration. And so what did Robert and Michelle King do? They delivered one of the best episodes of the season just to shut me up. You win, The Good Wife. Staying up late to catch "A Defense of Marriage" was totally worth it.

In the case of the week, Diane and Alicia were representing two clients, both the CEO and CFO of TaxLaunch.com, who were being accused of processing fraudulent claims from criminals. Mr. Stabler, I mean, Bucky (Brian Dennehy) returned as the opposing counsel. His case hinged upon the wiretaps between the CEO, Vance, and his wife. Alicia and Diane used spousal shield to prevent Bucky from using these tapes in court. So when it came time to play the wiretaps of CFO Dale's conversations with his husband, Warren, Alicia & Co. relied on the same argument. But that would make things all too easy, right? Bucky used the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): since the federal courts do not recognize same-sex marriage, he argued there could be no spousal shield.

And just like that, a case about fraudulent tax claims became a gay rights issue. Enter liberal super-lawyer Jeremy Breslow (Bruce McGill) who wanted to aid Diane and Alicia on their case. Breslow didn't so much care about the Dale's innocence or guilt, but he saw an opportunity to potentially overturn DOMA. And as a prominent gay right's activist, Breslow offered his services for free. Will warned Diane and Alicia against Breslow's Barnum & Bailey tactics, but extenuating circumstances led them to bring Breslow on anyway. Without the wiretap, Bucky didn't have enough against the CEO so they dropped the charges against Vance. Diane and Alicia knew that Vance would likely testify against Dale once he no longer had to worry about his own safety.

Judge Friend (Bebe Neuwirth) had her work cut out for her because she was presented with the mixed signals on the constitutionality of DOMA. She ruled that it was up to the individual courts to decide on the veracity of a marriage. So Diane and Alicia's next task was to prove the veracity of Dale and Warren's marriage. Both sides slung around evidence of affairs, and all that proved was that both straight and gay marriages can be messy—not a groundbreaking revelation. So Judge Friend ruled that DOMA was the law of the land, and that the wiretap was admissible in court. It was not the news they were hoping to get, but as Diane pointed out, they just lost the battle. They hadn't yet lost the war.

NEXT: Breslow tries to lose the case

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