Sunday, November 24, 2013

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' Gets Too Caught Up in Technology and Melodrama Again in 'Whack-a-Mole'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 5.09 Whack-a-Mole

Alicia tries to hold a website accountable when its users accuse her client of being linked to domestic terrorism; Will goes against Diane's wishes when he hires Damian Boyle (Jason O'Mara), an unpredictable attorney with ties to organized crime; and Eli and Jackie clash over a Florrick family secret.

"Whack-a-Mole" is just one very weird and odd episode of The Good Wife. It is startling what the core of this episode is. Everything about it just feels off. Combine that with several subplots that seem pretty repetitive and this has to be a low point for the season so far. I just don't know what this hour ultimately wanted to do and because of that lack of ambitious it really sticks out in this season of action and excitement.

The Good Wife loves technology. Anyone who saw the third season knows this. "Whack-a-Mole" would fit right in with those cases. And that wherein lies the problem. So much of the show's foundation was been shaken this season and this case-of-the-week is too much of what the show has done in the past. Their client was arrested for setting off a bomb in Milwaukee. And yet, Alicia and Cary barely interact with the FBI. They spend most of the running time arguing against social media site Scabbit. The show wanted to tell a technology-based case and forced one into this plot. But I just really wanted to know what was happening with the FBI investigation of their client for the entire time.

The episode also spends a considerable amount of time introducing Jason O'Mara as new recurring lawyer joining Lockhart/Gardner. I like O'Mara perfectly fine as an actor but he's still searching for the perfect show and perfect role. When I heard he was joining The Good Wife, I had high hopes because this show has always been stellar in casting actors in roles that are different from what they typically do. However, O'Mara's Damian Boyle feels very reminiscent of the Marc Warren and Scott Porter characters of seasons past. That is very much concerning. Those two past characters weren't used well or added something interesting to the show. They actually took away from the greatness of it. And Damian is very much in the same "rugged guy with a mysterious and untrustworthy side" vein. I really don't want to see that again - especially now when this season had been so good.

Also, there was more Eli and Jackie arguing. Now, I love Eli and Jackie arguing as much as the next person. However, I also strive for the show to make their interactions meaningful. This issue tonight came up out of nowhere - like most of their plots do - and it was so melodramatic. When Diane was being appointed to the judgeship, it was nuanced and meaningful and better connected the worlds of Lockhart/Gardner and Peter & Eli. Now, it's just a story to give Alan Cumming and Mary Beth Peil something to do. Even though it also pulls in Mary Stuart Masterson, it never escapes its melodramatic premise.

I do think the episode had its moments though. In particular, I enjoyed when Diane and Will first visit Florrick/Agos, Jeffrey Tambor telling Alicia not to gloat, the obvious Whack-a-Mole references and Robyn in general. But there was just too much perfunctory and meaningless action happening elsewhere for me to truly enjoy "Whack-a-Mole."

Some more thoughts:
  • So either everyone is in the Florrick/Agos office at the same time or only one person is.
  • And a Damian-Kalinda pairing would have to be the worst possible thing right now.
  • Hey, where was other Carey? Did Ben Rappaport suddenly have something better to do than stand by Alicia and Cary's sides and look serious?
  • Remember when Jackie had a stroke and memory issues? Yeah, neither does The Good Wife.
  • Those opening over-the-head shots at both firms was nice though. 
  • Seriously though, what was with that last scene? I liked Jeffrey Tambor a lot but I never read him as being flirtatious with Alicia. Does he know she's the governor's wife? That just didn't play at all.