Sunday, October 12, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Alicia Learns About Her Family's Secrets and Then Gets Pulled Over in 'Oppo Research'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 6.04 "Oppo Research"

When Alicia agrees to further explore the option of running for State's Attorney, Eli brings a respected campaign manager into the fold to help her decide once and for all.

Why does Alicia Florrick want to run for State's Attorney of Cook County, Illinois? That question is poised multiple times to her as she commits to exploring what all running would entail. The skeletons are coming out of her closest - but more importantly the closets of her family. And yet, why does Alicia personally want to become State's Attorney? She has a business that is on the rise. The additions of Diane and Dean are moving the firm ahead in a direction she really enjoys. However, she is pulled into the world of politics largely because she dislikes the way that Castro is handling the office. Not because she has strong ideas for the community. She just thinks she can do a better job than him - that's the feeling that dawned on her in the treatment of Cary's ongoing case. By the end of the hour, Alicia has officially thrown her hat in the race and it is completely her decision. She has addressed all the issues that Eli and new campaign manager Jonathan Elfman have presented with class and confidence. Sure, she is shocked by all the details from her family's lives - Grace is the only good one apparently. However, a new passion has been lit in her. Her message needs to get clearer but she's already off to one great start.

The emotional journey of Alicia isn't without its setbacks throughout this hour. Yes, it's fun to learn the secrets going on with Owen and Veronica - she spanked a kid in a department store while he's having an affair with a married man who also films bareback porn. Veronica's problem is easy to shut down because it falls squarely into Alicia's wheelhouse of the law. There is a right and a wrong in this case. The kid was out of control but Veronica shouldn't have spanked him. And yet, it also shows how far Alicia has come since the first season. She is willing to show more of the video of the kid hurting other people in order to get this suit settled. It's those kinds of tactics that will come in handy once she holds a political office.

But nothing is more surprising than the fact that Zach got his girlfriend pregnant and she then had an abortion without Alicia or Peter knowing about it. Alicia has always respected her children's independent spirits. She has raised smart kids. But she doesn't know everything that is happening in their lives. She likes to think that they would come to her if something like this happened. But this is a big wake-up call that that is not the case. She is not upset because Nisa had the procedure. She is upset that Zach did not tell her about it. Her handling of the situation is very powerful throughout the episode. The two don't even get to speak until near the end. It's an emotional moment but also one where Alicia gets to showcase her position of power. She has to handle this like a politician handling a scandal. She needs to share a story with Zach for them to tell if this should ever become an issue in the race. And that is powerful while never undercut how upset and emotional she is over the whole situation.

The hour also does a great job framing everything around Alicia's love of red wine. That has always been such a strong and notable characteristic for her. And now, it may be hurting her and her potential candidacy. A police officer pulls her over one night and has her do all the physical tests while someone drives by to take pictures. The obvious conspirator would be Castro trying to derail her campaign before it even begins. But what I especially love about this story is how the sound department makes the sound of her pouring another drink seem so potent. She has a handful of drinks throughout the hour. It's a comfort for her - and one that she is in control of. And yet, the way it is framed in this episode leading up to the reveal that it could be a big scandal for her is just incredible and impeccable pay-off.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Oppo Research" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Matt Shakman.
  • As if Alicia's relationship with Lemond Bishop wasn't complicated enough with Cary's case, he has also formed a fundraising PAC for her campaign. He's not happy that they fired him as a client and now this is a way to keep him in her life for the foreseeable future.
  • I was never intrigued by Peter possibly sleeping with the cute little intern girl. Now that she is being replaced by Connie Nielsen, my interested has been peaked - but just a little bit more.
  • And yet, I really enjoyed Eli running this meeting with Alicia and Elfman while also having to focus on his allegiance to Peter and all the secrets the governor has in his closet.
  • However, Alicia's official campaign manager doesn't really add a differing point-of-view for her campaign from what Eli is suggesting. Eli and Peter have a vague discussion about him. But otherwise, Steven Pasquale doesn't make that impressionable of an entrance.
  • Eli also learns that Peter and Kalinda slept together once from Alicia. That led to a wonderful scene between Eli and Kalinda. The hour actually got my hopes up that a Alicia and Kalinda scene was coming. Kalinda is working for Alicia's firm now and both are effecting each other a lot throughout this episode. But alas, it did not occur.
  • I just realized that there wasn't a case-of-the-week in "Oppo Research." I was having such a good time with Alicia that I didn't notice. The thing with Veronica was as close as we got and that was such a brief part of the episode.
  • All the riffs and parodies The Good Wife does on cable dramas, the networks that program them and the criticism of TV have always been genius and hysterically. I especially enjoyed the cameo by The Americans creator Joe Weisberg. However, I do have to worry that after The Good Wife ends if the Kings will be able to get a job at a cable network - or if they will forever be stuck with the broadcast networks?