Sunday, March 16, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Alicia Remembers How She Got Hired in Order to Give a Keynote Speech in 'A Few Words'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 5.14 A Few Words

Alicia is asked to be the keynote speaker at the American Bar Association conference in New York City and she looks to her past for inspiration; the competition with Diane and Will continues as Alicia and Cary battle to align with a powerful New York lawyer; and Will turns to an old acquaintance when it becomes clear that the investigation into possible voter fraud isn't going away.

"Hitting the Fan" was The Good Wife at its best. It was a tense episode as Alicia and Cary left the firm and started their battle with Will and Diane over their clients. That episode had you on the edge of your seat while watching. "A Few Words" is equally as compelling as that episode - even though it is widely different. Instead of tension and breakneck speed, "A Few Words" is thoughtful, didactic and nostalgic while also clearing defining what these characters are up to now in contrast to how the series started. It's a memorable outing because of that as well as a terrific performance by Julianna Margulies.

It presents the two different sides of Alicia Florrick. The woman she was way back in season one and the powerful head of her own firm in season five. This evolution occurred slowly and naturally. Seeing them paired side by side shows their differences but also highlights how these two personalities are very much from the same woman. She had to land this job at Stern, Lockhart and Gardner (ah, remember the days when Stern was around?) in order to undergo this change. And it has made her more independent and powerful. But it's equally as powerful seeing that person reflecting on the past as it directly correlates to the direction of her future. Peter is in deep trouble with the law once again and even Will and Alicia may face jail time. Will has Elsbeth on his side and despite her best tactics is pushed even further into betraying attorney-client privilege in order to incriminate Peter. Meanwhile, Alicia is on the up-and-up finding this success striking out on her own with Cary. The two of them plus Clarke Hayden have such a fun and professional dynamic going on. I loved Alicia and Cary talking about the first time they met as while as the little scramble before meeting with Rayna the second time.

Alicia's keynote speech was the focal point of why this narrative device was happening. And then, when she goes to deliver it, most of the room walks out on her - not because of what she's saying but because of business elsewhere. But Alicia still delivers that speech she put so much thought into over the past day. And then, she goes across the street to get drunk on beer. And runs into Will, of course. They strike up a conversation which feels like the most honest and civil they have been towards each other since she left. Do I believe his feelings for her aren't driving some of his animosity towards her firm? Not really. But time has passed since her and Cary's departure. He was angry when it happened and that drove him to be an even better attorney. Now, he can look at the situation with a more leveled head. The two can agree to be competitors and who will do their best to always get the best outcome possible for themselves. Like they both articulated throughout the hour, they both have a past that can hurt them but both aren't going to let it hurt them any more going forward. And that's just a powerful and transformative thing for this episode to deliver.

Some more thoughts:
  • "A Few Words" was written by Leonard Dick and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez.
  • It's hard to believe that the show waited five seasons until doing an episode where a lot of the action occurs in New York City. The show is set in Chicago but production is done in New York City. So the idea had to be tempting for awhile.
  • Also, this past week CBS officially picked up The Good Wife for a sixth season! That makes me so happy and I'm really looking forward to seeing how these characters will develop over yet another year. I'm also curious if the two firms are going to stay as they are right now moving forward.
  • The anti-semitic bear in Times Square was odd but also the thing to hit Elsbeth in all the weird ways that are oh so good. 
  • Also, I could listen to Elsbeth trying to figure out the pronunciation of gif all day long. That and Alicia calling her waitress a bitch!
  • And Jackie squirming her way into Alicia's memory pops. Priceless!
  • I also love the way that The Good Wife handles these "flashbacks." They are all character induced and told from their perspective. It's exactly how you might remember something that happened a couple years ago. It's bits and pieces and the editing of such here is amazing.
  • I kinda want to see Elsbeth and Rayna's firm in action now.
  • Clarke: "Mrs. Florrick, are you inebriated?"