Sunday, October 19, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Alicia & Elsbeth Oppose Each Other in Court While the Firm Deals with a Hacker in 'Shiny Objects'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 6.05 "Shiny Objects"

When Alicia and Dean represent a fired female CEO in a sex discrimination suit against her company, they face a tough defense team in familiar foes Elsbeth Tascioni and Rayna Hecht. Meanwhile, a hacker seizes control and threatens to delete all of Florrick/Agos/Lockhart's files, sending the firm into panic mode when he demands a ransom.

"Shiny Objects" features the grand return of Emmy winner Carrie Preston as lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni - and to a much lesser extent Jill Hennessy as lawyer Rayna Hecht and Kyle MacLachlan as AUSA Josh Perotti. I love Elsbeth. She is a great and fascinating character to watch. I just think they maybe pushed how easily she can get distracted a bit too far in this episode. She is a great attorney and it's interesting on its own watching Alicia and Dean go up against her in court. Alicia and Elsbeth have a great relationship. That back-and-forth would have been enough to make this case interesting. I did not need the cutaways to Elsbeth at home and how the world around her distracts her so often - even though it was really funny. The case itself - a sex discrimination suit - isn't all that fascinating on its own merits. But the attorneys involved in it do. Fortunately, we'll have another week to watch Alicia and Elsbeth deal with each other on this case because Josh walks into the proceedings with a federal lawsuit against the company. That further complicates this situation which could in turn make the core case this week more riveting next week.

Moreover, The Good Wife felt a bit more scattered this week in its focus than it has earlier this season. Alicia and Dean are dealing with Elsbeth in court; the rest of the firm is dealing with a hacker seizing control of their files and refusing to give them the decryption key; and Alicia is getting ready to announce her candidacy. All of the parts are interesting on their own. But thrown all together none really seem to have the depth to make the twists and turns compelling.

Diane reacting to things has always been a strong go-to device for that character. It's just great seeing Diane in this type of office that isn't as polished and put together as her last firm. But doesn't she know that you're never supposed to click on those things? The show was much more interested in the hacker subplot than I ever was. It was ultimately just another case of Kalinda sleeping with a female in order to get information. This time it's another returning guest star, Jill Flint. This time she's a bit more conflicted because she's in something a bit serious with Cary. And then, other Carey gets to be somewhat useful because he can speak Russian - and even that is proven pointless a minute later. However, it does lead to Diane returning to her old offices to duke things out with David Lee. They each have something the other wants - an email for her and the firm's lease for him. It sets up a potentially interesting narrative drive for the near future. Diane technically still owns the loft space and what she does with that lease could be really engaging. She's just about had it with the current Florrick, Agos and Lockhart office space. So this seems like a decent direction to send her in.

And then came Alicia getting up on stage to announce that she is officially running for State's Attorney of Cook Attorney. She came to that decision marvelously in the last episode. That episode was focused in its singularity. Her big announcement doesn't really seem like the most important thing going on with her in "Shiny Objects." The show would rather have her sparing with Elsbeth in court - and frankly I would too. And yet, this was an avenue the show is committed to exploring and I'm finally on board with it as well. The argument with Peter was a scene that could only work because of the six year history between those two characters. In this moment, Alicia is trying to take charge of her own narrative and redefine the now classic shot of her standing by her husband in the pilot. The two of them have grown so much since those days. Alicia is a confident woman. She doesn't need Peter's support to do anything. Publicly, it helps of course. But she and Jordan could have easily explained away his absence. The fact that he does show up in the end is powerful in that it showcases just how much the two of them need each other in order to grow past the scandal in the eyes of the public.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Shiny Objects" was written by Keith Eisner and directed by Fred Toye.
  • It was announced this week that Archie Panjabi is leaving The Good Wife at the end of this season. This episode basically proves that the show doesn't really know what new thing to do with Kalinda anymore.
  • It's also made way too big a deal that Finn Polmar is endorsing Alicia for State's Attorney. That should not have been a major focus for the hour. 
  • Again, I have no clue if Jordan is good at his job of campaign managing or not. Eli still seems to be calling all the shots.
  • The only thing missing in the Alicia and Peter scene in the highway was a slap to the face.
  • Diane's shriek upon seeing the bug in her office. So fantastic. 
  • Penguins and clowns. That is all.