Sunday, March 3, 2013

'The Good Wife' Review - 4.15 Going for the Gold

        On the newest episode of CBS' The Good Wife, the Justice Department refuses to reveal who will be testifying against Eli, so Elsbeth takes AUSA Josh Perrotti to civil court for defamation in order to force him to answer her questions under oath; Jordan helps Peter prepare for a debate; and Alicia's relationship with her co-workers evolves.

        One of the reasons why I have loved these last 2 or 3 episodes of The Good Wife is because the show's writers were able to take a step back and look at the first half of the season and correct what wasn't working and focus more on what was doing well. Thusly, we've gotten these great character bits like Alicia and her promotion, Cary's promotion being taken away, the renewed spark of the Alicia-Will-Peter love saga. Gone are the days of Kalinda and her husband and the bankruptcy of the firm. Those stories didn't work out because the show was determine to stretch them to last for 12 or 13 episodes of story although they didn't warrant it. Likewise, Peter's race for the governor has been a lackluster story but the show is forced to keep going with it because of its importance to the Eli, Peter and Alicia characters. The end goal is a desired moment for these characters and the show is sufficiently building up to - and when it hands out moments like Alicia and Peter's talk at the debate or Peter asking Eli to stay the drama is excellent and the payoff feels earned. However, the overall story does feel lackluster because there is no amble stakes. Maddie as a friend to Alicia was interesting. Maddie as the competitor to Peter not so much because she's now relied on as a more one-note villain/obstacle in the way of Peter's journey. It doesn't feel like there is a purpose driving the action or the characters in way that Peter has to win the race in order to be redeemed or something. In season two, his race for the State's Attorney's office worked because he was fighting to get back what was his - his office and his family - and prove that he can do things the right way. Back then, he came up on top in the election but lost his wife with the Kalinda secret. But now, only his personal ambition and wanting to climb up the political ladder and driving his campaign which could be a great character beat but he is not a main focus on the show. So, without any personalized drive or connection to another main characters, this story could feel off from what the rest of the show is trying to do. But again, like I said, this episode allowed for Peter to reach out and make this personal connections to both Alicia and Eli and although the overall plot isn't the best these moments are.
        Additionally, the first half of season four also felt like a rehash of story or character beats that have happened before. In the Michael J. Fox episode, the Mike Colter one and Carrie Preston's first appearance - before she was helping Eli - the stories felt exactly the same as every other episode they had appeared in. The show did a great service to itself by giving Preston something more engaging and connected to the main action which allowed for a different take on the character. She gave life to the Justice Department investigation plot - which was given more fuel once Kyle MacLachlan joined as a worthy adversary. The back and forth between the two here was exceptional. But also of note is that the story has met its rightful conclusion. This story was not meant to be a season (or even half-season arc) and over the course of the last three episodes in which it was highlight it gave some weight to the proceedings in a profound way. And yet, while the show did reinvigorate those characters, I do await with pause and caution because the next few March episodes detail the returns of Mike Colter, Matthew Perry, Dylan Baker and Gary Cole and I hope the show will not fall back into the same patterns with those characters.
        Finally, Alicia's acceptance of the promotion to equality partner has been a gold mine for the character and in Julianna Margulies' performance. That aspect continues to shine brightly here even though it's done with a much gentler touch compared to the stakes in the last episode, "Red Team/Blue Team." Here, she is faced with learning how to make the tough decisions and be the boss. She doesn't want to cut the hours of the hard-working associates underneath her on the Bishop case but she is forced to by Diane because of how it would appear to the client. She wants to remain the nice and friendly person she has always been to the other associates but now that she is a partner more responsibility has fallen on her shoulders. Although she is uncomfortable with it all, she does it because she is a strong and independent woman - a note that Margulies continually shines in.

So what did everyone think of the episode? How soon do you want Carrie Preston and Kyle MacLachlan to return? Has this been one of Alicia's best story arcs yet? Share your thoughts in the comments.