Elsbeth Tascioni's commanding performance on The Good Wife

In the many episodes Elsbeth Tascioni (True Blood’s Carrie Preston) has appeared in “The Good Wife,” there were no real questions about the character's mental state.

Carrie Preston plays Tascioni as a little goofy, but incredibly sharp. It’s hard to discern if Elsbeth is facetious or simply disconnected because she’s thinking. There’s never any reason to feel empathy for Elsbeth because her genius is robotic, almost.

But on Sunday night’s episode Elsbeth Tascioni was jailed over the weekend and forced to take a psych eval. Empathy bells for Elsbeth rang through TVLand. Not Elsbeth. Jail? Really?

Sunday’s night episode of “The Good Wife” returned full force. Writers took advantage of the doping controversy in professional sports. A star athlete was accused of doping after she failed a drug test. Peter's office had to face its racial hiring preference problem and Elsbeth Tascioni was jailed in what looked like a set up to keep her from winning an Olympic athlete doping case.

It took a minute for Elsbeth to figure out that her female Olympian client failed the drug test because of a pregnancy. Yet, her client didn’t wish to admit to being pregnant because she didn’t wish to share that with the world. In fact, the athlete would have rather sat in jail than admit that she hadn’t gone through with her pregnancy.

Elsbeth did most of her task mastering from behind bars with Alicia as her liaison. Diane and Will were her proxies in an informal court that operated under Swiss law. The hearing committee spoke French, which exasperated Will. Exasperated Will called a self-indulgent, but French speaking Diane who cancelled a spa day to proxy for the jailed Elsbeth.

The day wasn’t a total waste for Diane because she connected with the lead committee guy, a Frenchmen. And the episode opened with a sensual scene between Alicia and someone else. The idea here is that at this point, women aren't thinking about work, but romance.

Sunday's episode featured a fun and surprising visit from former “Sopranos” star Vincent Curatola (Johnny Sack Sacrimoni). Curatola played Judge Politi, and suddenly it appeared Tascioni’s Italian last name may work in her favor. The judge released Tascioni but agreed she’s a bit of a public nuisance who talks too much.

Meanwhile, Peter was in hot water with potential constituents in the black community. Even as he touted President Obama, he was booed at a speech. His office has fired five minorities, promoted two whites who weren’t deserving. And Peter said it was all coincidental but his ADA didn't care.

Peter and Alicia are back together in a sense. Alicia is still calling in favors, but Peter’s wise enough to use those favors as long as those favors appear to be in his best interest. So Peter couldn't place a call to get Elsbeth out of jail. Peter’s bad luck on the campaign trail has everything to do with an inattentive Eli.

Eli’s a bit paranoid because he’s being ousted from the campaign and because he’s under investigation. In fact, Zach—Peter’s son—proved to be a better P.R. manager than Eli, simply because Zach is always surfing the web and watching his dad’s opposition.

Problem: Zach’s still in high school.

Sunday night’s episode of The Good Wife was probably the best of the season. The writing was sharp and the plot was fresh and fast paced. It’s a lot to expect from writers, but it’s definitely what viewers want.

Can "The Good Wife" deliver superstar characters like Preston and Curatola every once in a while? Preston's jailing and Curatola's mob boss at the bench were fun features that politely mocked stereotypes and expectations in television that expand beyond The Good Wife and tap into viewers who appreciate other genres like the fantasy in True Blood and the crime drama in the Sopranos.

photo appears courtesy CBS/The Good Wife

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
The Good Wife is one of my favourite shows and I loved the character played by Elsbeth Tascioni. Wish they would keep her as a regular and through out Eli. What is he doing in the lawyer's office anyway? He's boring. I'd also like to see Alicia and Peter back together for good -- not just in the "quickie" scenes. Makes her look like a call girl for goodness sake, except that she's the one make the call.

Submitted by Cubicle King (not verified) on
For whatever reason, I thought this was the best ever episode of The Good Wife. My long term memory, however, is failing and I couldn't figure out why Alicia, Will, AND Diane were so indulgent and willing to drop what they were doing in order to help Elsbeth. Whatever. This show has the best guest stars and recurring guest roles going and seems to be getting better as it ages (gracefully).

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
they know Elsbeth is genius based on the past work she's done, and she may deserve a lot of things for her tactics,or her style, but she shouldn't have been locked up. That was mean even for Elsbeth.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
they know Elsbeth is genius based on the past work she's done, and she may deserve a lot of things for her tactics,or her style, but she shouldn't have been locked up. That was mean even for Elsbeth.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I think that was the best episode they've done too

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Elsbeth was the lawyer that represented Peter before and was the lawyer that represented Will when he was in danger from being stripped of his license to practice law. She saved Will's career so they all love her

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