Sunday, November 17, 2013

REVIEW: America Ferrera Brings a Case to 'The Good Wife' but Robyn is the True Emotional Standout in 'The Next Month'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 5.08 The Next Month

As Florrick/Agos move into their new offices, Alicia represents an undocumented immigrant who faces deportation unless he testifies against a member of a drug cartel; Marilyn is concerned about the ethical ramifications when Eli reconnects with Natalie Flores; and Robyn tries to be more like Kalinda.

"The Next Month" opens and ends on this idea of conquering the world. Lockhart/Gardner - or as Will now wants to call them LG but I'll probably still call them Lockhart/Gardner - is on the first step of achieving that goal. They will soon be opening new offices in New York. Elsewhere, Florrick/Agos are finally moving into office space. It's a huge fixer-upper. Eli and Marilyn are trying to coordinate Peter's visit to the firm to support his wife. It's not until the very end that he can finally get there. However, he deems it the place where she will conquer the world.

When America Ferrera first popped up as Natalie Flores in the second season, I remember liking her character. Her chemistry with Alan Cumming was very weird and different yet somehow interesting. But after that initial three-episode arc, I wasn't feeling a need to see her again - especially in these later seasons as the show has gone so far away from that story. Her return here does bring about a sense of The Good Wife pre-season 5. The Eli-Peter-Marilyn-Natalie stuff was the weakest story of the episode. It just didn't have as much excitement or urgency as the rest of the plots. Nor did it seem entirely relevant or connected to the main driving action of the show.

The show is slowly figuring out the repercussions of the firm split. Those initial episodes post-split were very high-stakes excitement as it pitted one side of characters directly against the other. That simply is unsustainable over a long term basis. Of course, these characters will always interact and effect one another. They simply don't have to do so in a physical way in each episode. In "The Next Month," the only thing connecting Alicia & Cary and Will & Diane is Natalie. That largely comes from trying to get her larger business. However, they aren't shown directly facing off and competing over it. Alicia and Cary are working feverishly to help Natalie's friend from being deported. They hope that succeeding with that will in turn bring Natalie's employers as new clients. Lockhart/Gardner are thrown out of the running very quickly because of Howard Lyman's mouth. They try catching up but nothing ever really materializes. This story is about Alicia and Cary fighting to save a man with Natalie as a nice little wrinkle to stir up feelings amongst Will, David Lee, Howard and Eli.

But the true highlight of this hour is definitely Jess Weixler. Now, I've always been charmed by her since her first appearance. But I truly feel in love with Weixler's performance in this episode. Robyn was given a weighty and emotional story and she did it well. When other Carey told Cary Agos about cutting her, the story did feel contrived. But the show took that beat and turned it into a great personal story for that character. That scene between her and Kalinda is wonderful. Even though Robin is no longer welcome at Lockhart/Gardner, it's still nice and interesting to see her still reaching out to Kalinda for help. Kalinda very easily could turn her away. Instead she gives some very great advice about proving her worth to the lawyers at Florrick/Agos. And her showing how great she is at investigating was very delightful. I worried for a bit when she dropped that bullet in the mail box because that could severely destroy Alicia and Cary's entire case and ultimately her job. I'm glad the show didn't go in that predictable direction. And having Robyn be the one to save their client from entering Mexico was a strong definition that this was the hour for and about Robyn.

Some more thoughts:
  • The folks at Florrick/Agos realistically think they can turn that space around in a week? Only if they had crews of teams working on it non-stop.
  • What is with Will's new gal pal? Whenever she pops up, momentum just stops. I have no clue what the show wants to do with her or even why she's a necessary component to Will's story right now.
  • When is other Carey (Ben Rappaport) actually going to do something big and important?
  • James LeGros was delightful as the judge with a love of Bob Dylan song titles. Hope he comes back again.
  • Why didn't they try the plan that ultimately kept the client out of Mexico in the first place? Oh that's right, then there wouldn't have been a plot for the rest of the hour.
  • But seriously, LG? Won't people get confused by those initials? Or do Diane and Will work for an electronics company now?