Sunday, December 1, 2013

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' Hits the 100th Episode Milestone So Proudly & Confidently in 'The Decision Tree'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 5.10 The Decision Tree (100th Episode)

Alicia is shocked to learn that a former client bequeathed her millions, but Lockhart/Gardner quickly contests the will on behalf of the deceased's wife; Diane asks Kalinda to look into Damian's background; and Eli and Marilyn are concerned about Peter being seen with Alicia's more disreputable clients at the Florrick/Agos holiday party.

It's a huge milestone for a series to hit 100 episodes. It's almost a rarity that a series hits such a milestone during a creative peak. The fifth season of The Good Wife has been so strong so far. And the series heads into "The Decision Tree" - its 100th episode - so confidently and proudly. This hour displayed so much of what the show has done in its past while still remaining true to the current narrative flow of the season.

"The Decision Tree" includes callbacks to past episodes "Death of a Client" and "Marthas and Caitlins" as well as the first part of the third season where Alicia and Will were dating. The hour also respectively confronted the core driving point of the entire series - Alicia's marriage - in a way that the series has never done before and it was immensely satisfying.

The episode's true highlight comes in a pair of sequences involving Alicia and Will. Their relationship was a soapy twist that didn't have much legs once it evolved into an actual thing. But it always being a constant underlying theme in their dynamic has always been pleasurable - especially this season with her split from the firm. Will took that immensely personal. And that fuels the great scene where Will is writing down his strategy for questioning Alicia. That sequence is so wonderfully written, directed and acted that I was just left in awe when it was over. Giving that sequence so much detail meant you know it wouldn't turn out like that in reality. But having Alicia on the stand was so strong as well. Will did all this planning and she was able to turn the tables on his argument so easily. It's a careful balance of who you should feel sympathy for and in this pair of sequences the show beautifully executes that always shifting balance.

These last string of episodes have been about Will and Alicia attacking one another because of this deep personal betrayal. They hashed it out in court. And by letting that all out there, it feels satisfying that their episode ending phone call is tame and quiet - even with the chaos of a party around Alicia. And with Will saying "Happy Holidays" at the end gives the inclination that perhaps the two firms will be more civil in the future. They likely won't be best friends any time soon but maybe they will be less animalistic towards the other.

Some more thoughts:
  • I loved the cheeky nod the show made at the top of the hour that this was the 100th episode by using the number on Kalinda's speedometer.
  • The Good Wife is known for its 12-15 first acts - which makes it all the more startling that tonight's concludes after only 8 minutes.
  • Kalinda was just a badass. The show has been very hesitant with what to give her ever since the husband story. But speeding after Damian and seducing Jordana Spiro is the type of stuff we all love about Kalinda.
  • The only disappointment from this episode was that there wasn't enough Diane!
  • I do groin at Marilyn choosing to call her baby Peter. But how can I be mad when it also gives us an Eli spit take.
  • I love how the show always mixes up its structure. So much of why that Will planning sequence works is how the show mixes in reality, flashbacks and imagination. 
  • The kids only pop up for a second but Zach definitely had the line of the night - "Sometimes I think of you as mom and other times just as this interesting person who lives in our house."