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Denette Wilford Headshot

'The Good Wife': Guest Stars Make It Great

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Let me slam on the brakes for a second. "The Good Wife" is great because of its cast, the crew, the writing, the direction -- but there's something about its guest stars that make the CBS drama extra-special. It's reminscent of the days of "Ally McBeal," whenever the lawyers of Cage & Fish had to try their cases in front of a special-guest judge or attorney, but "The Good Wife" takes it to a whole other level.

Last night's season three finale, directed by co-creator Robert King, was aptly titled "The Dream Team" -- which is what Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) and Patti Nyholm (Martha Plimpton) christened themselves when suing the firm for $50 million for fraud and malicious prosecution. Wait ... let's backtrack here. The episode began with Diane (Christine Baranski) and Alicia (Julianna Marguiles) winning a flabbergasting $25 million settlement ($7 million more than they were asking) against a pharmaceutical company, which meant Lockhart/Gardner could finally pay off their balloon payment.

That's when Louis and Patti came in, informing Diane and Will (Josh Charles) of their goal to bankrupt the firm and take Lockhart/Gardner down. Dun-dun-duuuuuuun. Every hour of "The Good Wife" features a deluge of big-name -- or, at the very least, recognizable -- actors, and last night was that much more magnificent. Fox shines in every episode he's been a part of, and it was priceless to watch him try and fail to use his disability to influence wheelchair-bound Judge Linden (Mark-Linn Baker -- Cousin Larry!). And what can I say about Plimpton? I can't believe the actress playing cunning, conniving Patti (whose personality switches from cutthroat to cuddly whenever her kids are around) is also the dim-witted Virginia on "Raising Hope," whose constant use of malapropisms still make her smarter than husband Burt and son Jimmy. But back to Ms. Nyholm.

It was a sight to behold watching Patti use her kids as unwitting, rolling pawns, pint-sized distractions in baby walkers. The shot of the the attack-dog lawyer and Andrew Wiley (Tim Guinee) walking toward Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) at the playground was classic. Kalinda, who was first spotted on her knees next to sidewalk chalk, should've been the one out of place, but since we know all the players, it was the parents who were the "villains" this time around -- armed with nothing but their diaper bags and strollers.

There were so many twists and turns to last night's brilliant finale, from Alicia facing her conflicted feelings for Peter (Chris Noth), after her moment in the elevator with Will, to the past catching up with Kalinda; Panjabi's unique ability to play both bad-ass (just who was going to be on the receiving end of that sledgehammer?) and scared (the look on her face when she told Alicia she would take care of it, but you could see it in her eyes that she wasn't sure how) marked another fantastic hour. (Side note: was anyone else watching Alicia's final scene from behind a pillow, nervous that Kalinda's husband would be there to pounce? Thank goodness -- not for Ms. Sharma -- for that sinister knock on her door.)

Thankfully, it wasn't all ominous. Aside from the playground scene, there was the exchange between Eli (Alan Cumming) and Jackie (Mary Beth Peil), Alicia joking around, looking cozy with Zach (Graham Phillips) and Grace (Makenzie Vega), and any time Howard (Jerry Adler) opened his mouth, but the episode's clincher was the awkward elevator scene between Will and Peter, which only grew more farcical when Alicia met them, and Eli and Cary (Matt Czuchry) happened upon them.

The Dream Team/Super Posse soon told Will and Diane that their scheme to destroy Lockhart/Gardner was, in fact, not quite true. Rather, the lawsuit was simply a ploy to keep them distracted from their true intentions -- stealing away the firm's top client, Patrick Edelstein. "A sleight of hand," said Louis. "You were watching the right. You should have been watching the left." Afterwards, all Will could muster to Diane was, "Oops."

The core of the firm is where the heart of the show is, and the guest stars just give us more reason to root for the good guys. Next season likely means more Louis and Patti (yay!), and even though he has yet to be cast, we will undoubtedly meet the man behind the menacing voice in Alicia's ear -- and at Kalinda's (or is it Leela's?) door. Now, if the show can guarantee the returns of Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), Judge Abernathy (Denis O'Hare), Mike Kresteva (Matthew Perry), Judge Murphy Wicks (Stephen Root) and Nancy Crozier (Mamie Gummer), I won't stay mad at CBS for ending "The Good Wife" third season so early.