Sunday, October 20, 2013

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Christine Baranski Continues to Steal the Show in 'Outside the Bubble'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 5.04 Outside the Bubble

Alicia attempts to obtain Lockhart/Gardner files as she prepares to leave the firm; the firm hires Elsbeth Tascioni to represent them in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought on by an employee; and Eli and Jackie disagree over how much influence she should have in Peter's administration.

When The Good Wife is good, it is great. And season five has been amazing so far because it has deeply rooted itself in its characters. There are some minor quibbles - anything with the kids, the Marilyn subplot - but overall this has been a strong start for a show in its fifth season.

It's hard to imagine an episode that features the return of Emmy winner Carrie Preston where her Elsbeth Tascioni isn't the biggest scene-stealer. That honor in "Outside the Bubble" goes to Christine Baranski. She was phenomenal in last week's "A Precious Commodity" where she sublimely combined poise and anger as she was being pushed out of the firm. This week is a much stronger showcase as she is allowed to be happy only to quickly be pulled back into the workings of the firm and those she once was so close to. Her relationship with Kurt makes no sense at all on paper but there's a spark that just can't be silenced there. He makes her happy and that's delightful to see. But when she returns to Lockhart/Gardner, she actually seems like an outsider looking in. She notices the things that are off about the fourth years especially Alicia. And she expertly retrieves confirmation that Alicia is indeed leaving. But the true beauty of Baranski's performance comes during that final sequence. Diane, silent until the end, walks through the firm and to her now empty office. She looks around until Alicia walks in. Alicia awkwardly exits. And Diane proud and tall walks confidently to Will's office - to the man she has trusted with everything over the years - and tells him that Alicia and Cary are leaving. That was powerful and left me in awe. Christine Baranski for the Emmy, please!

But the sexual harassment suit at the center of the hour was also quite good. It was probably my favorite case-of-the-week story so far this season. That too was likely because it revolved around the characters at the firm. And not just one of them. It encapsulated Alicia, Cary, Will, Diane, David Lee and Howard Lyman! Plus, Elsbeth being her fun and quirky self.

Some more thoughts:
  • You just knew something was gonna go wrong when suddenly there was a new face in the main group of fourth year's. The scene where Alicia, Cary and Carey confront him was great. I really wish we got more of a fallout from it through.
  • Also, Jackie and Eli arguing! That is never not good. And hey, Dan Lauria stopped by for some fun too. So, that's nice, I guess.
  • It has been fantastic having David Lee in every episode this year. His bafflement-turned-approval of Elsbeth was great.
  • That was a weird but cool song over the title sequence, right?