Sunday, November 23, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Cary Considers His Future While Alicia Deals With Yet Another Scandal in 'The Trial'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 6.10 "The Trial"

When Cary's case goes to trial, a plea deal offer has him seriously considering jail time. Meanwhile, a joke between mother and daughter lands Alicia in trouble as her campaign for State's Attorney is in full stride.

The Good Wife has enjoyed reinventing itself a lot throughout the past two seasons in order to stay creatively strong. Cary's trial is happening in the tenth episode this season. His legal issues have been a strong through-line for the season so far and they are already coming to a head in the final episode of 2014. Throughout this hour, Cary has to deal with the weight of this trial. The Good Wife has done case of the week legal stuff for over a hundred episodes now. And yet, the full weight of a trial on the person being accused has never been as heavy as when Cary's fate lies in the hands of twelve jurors. This is an incredibly personal story. Typically when Alicia, Diane or anyone at the firm is representing a client, it's a professional arrangement. Now, they are representing one of their own and the friendships they have built have made them more adamant about fighting even as his case gets weaker and weaker by the minute.

Because the stakes of Cary's trials are so personal, the show makes every aspect of the trial personal. We get glimpses into the lives of the judge (who's trying to buy Neil Diamond tickets for his anniversary), the ASA (who's dating her lead detective witness) and a juror (who has a hearing disorder when he's under stress). Every single person in this courtroom has their own lives. They've been assembled in the same place in order to determine the fate of yet another person. The details of the case as presented by Diane and Geneva Pine will determine whether or not the jury will convict Cary or set him free. Unless, of course, Cary decides to take the plea deal - which goes down from 10 years to 6 before ending up at 4. It's strange that the worse the trial gets for Cary the better the plea deal gets. That doesn't make a lot of sense. And yet, it makes it seem like there's a much better option out there. The trial is heading towards a conviction which would mean at least 15 years in prison. With the plea deal, he could be out in just two. He barely survived a week in prison at the start of the season. At the top of the hour, he adamantly didn't want to take the deal. By hour's end though, he is taking the deal seeing two years as the easy way out. He's not without another option. After hurting Cary in court, Bishop still offers him passage out of the country and a legal position for his holdings in Europe. However, the firm is Cary's family. Even if he is sentenced, he knows that his friends will visit and remain a part of his family. If he would leave, he would be betraying all of them and he would be effectively starting over. That's a reality he just doesn't want. He doesn't want prison either. But he remains steadfast in his devotion not to testify against Bishop in court. So now, he pleads guilty in order to get the four year deal. I'm not sure if it's going to stick in the long term. The show could always find a way out of this mess still. And yet, I love that they are willing to send a main character to prison with the belief that it will be for a considerable (for episodic television) amount of time.

And then, there's the continued politicking going on in Alicia's campaign for State's Attorney. She should have spent this episode at Cary's trial. Those two started their own firm together. She should be by his side every step of the way for both support, friendship and legal advice. Their scene at the end of the episode is dynamic and I wish we could have had more of them throughout. Instead she is dealing with the latest crisis of her campaign that results with her standing firm in her beliefs not to do things the way politicians always do. Both Alicia's campaign and Cary's legal troubles have had great moments this season. However, they feel like separate narratives that aren't effecting each other. Cary's trial has no fallout with Alicia's campaign and vice versa. The focus in this episode should have been on Cary's trial without the cutaway to Alicia dealing with Grace and the threat to kill one of her teachers. It's completely ridiculous and absolutely played for the laughs. The fact that Alicia would threaten to kill a man with a knife is just funny. She blames Darkness at Noon for motivating her to write this threat down. It's meant as a joke and yet has major complications once Grace decides for some bad reason to share the note with her ethics teacher. Why did we need this story? To further point out that Alicia is completely lost in the world of politics? The resolution is Peter doing stuff she won't do off-screen which happened too late in the hour. Alicia likes to joke and that's a great quality of her character. She just should have spent this episode being a major presence at the firm and the trial.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Trial" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye.
  • Jackie returns! Where have you been Jackie? We've missed you this season.
  • Even the Kalinda story worked tonight. It just backfired severely at Cary's trial. But wouldn't she have suspected Bishop might intimidate the witness after she threatens his life with his son?
  • The show is obviously testing the waters of an Alicia-Finn relationship. I'm all for it. They just aren't being that subtle about it. I'm glad that the characters don't really know how to react to it either.
  • How did the envelope from Finn make its way from Alicia to Kalinda? I think we should have seen that.
  • I love that Marissa comments on Alicia's relationship with Grace in comparison to her relationship with her father. It's a minor detail but also very rewarding.