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'The Good Wife': Good Law? - Season 5, Episode 18

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

This week's episode of "The Good Wife" was all about returns and reacquaintances, both in plot and in legal inspiration.

After a whole season of intermittent NSA bits, this plotline is finally wrapped up in "All Tapped Out." Here's what you need to know:

Episode Recap (Spoiler Alert!):

"All Tapped Out" may be a bit thin on legal meat, but it's chock-full of celebrity guests. Michael J. Fox returns as Louis Canning, a former opponent of Lockhart/Gardner who is now the newest partner -- after an unsurprising merger orchestrated by the firm's own Snidely Whiplash, David Lee. Nathan Lane returns as the relatively mild-mannered Clarke Hayden, helping Cary take on an NSA whistleblower case. And of course, the return of the NSA wiretapping office gang (hope CBS greenlights their spinoff) who really love "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." (By the way, the NSA bros are discussing this song in the opener.)

The Good Wife: Good Law?

Season 5, Episode 18
"All Tapped Out"

Legal References:

More Legal Analysis of CBS' "The Good Wife":

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Next Post in This Series:

If the title is any indication, "All Tapped Out" is the last we should be seeing of the NSA gang, especially since the "three-hop" wiretap on the entire cast was dropped. It also signaled the return of a spunky and non-mopey Alicia, which is great news for viewers and her fictitious clients.

As we noted in "The Bit Bucket," much of the show's somewhat caricatured portrayal of the NSA's spying activities were based on the real-life revelations of domestic spying brought to light by Edward Snowden.

Watching Alicia run frantically through Florrick/Agos warning employees not to use phones or laptops is fun, but not great advice -- legal or otherwise.

There's also nothing especially threatening about a workplace discrimination suit based on race versus a retaliatory claim based on being a whistleblower. It just sounded cool when Clarke said "racism" and "Cherokee" to a very thin white government lawyer.

There is such a thing as protective custody in jail and prison, and much of the discretion for placing defendants in the general population lies with state prosecutors. That's really the only legal nugget to be gleaned from this week's "general detention" case.

On the other hand, the whistleblower case presented many issues with trying to sue a government security agency and tried to hone in on what is protected whistleblower activity.

Objection?: The NSA's general counsel seemed unfamiliar with the concept of mediation or arbitration. While a judge may have presided over the administrative ADR session between the NSA and Florrick/Agos, it wasn't a trial or hearing, and objections were neither necessary nor effective.

The Verdict:

The NSA plot is over, which hopefully means less confusing interactions with the federal government, but unfortunately no more goofy NSA contractors. However, it looks like Michael J. Fox is here for the duration.

What did you think of this week's episode of "The Good Wife"? Is the show guilty of making any legal mistakes? Check back here for more legal recaps of "The Good Wife," and send us a tweet at @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #TheGoodWife.

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