Sunday, March 8, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Alicia's Mind Wanders as She Prepares for a Key Interview & Deposition in 'Mind's Eye'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 6.14 "Mind's Eye"

Alicia prepares for a key interview which could impact the outcome of the race for State's Attorney. Louis Canning pressures Florrick/Agos/Lockhart to agree on a settlement in his wrongful eviction case against the firm.

Words can only convey so much of how a person feels about any given situation. Their internalized feelings can sometimes be difficult to portray on TV. The audience is delving deep into the minds of the ensemble of characters. But relationships and people are constantly evolving. The Good Wife has fully embraced the idea of change over an extended period of time. The Alicia Florrick of Season 6 is not the same woman as Season 1. The same can be said about almost every character on the show. Friendships change. Jobs change. Aspirations and goals change.

Over the last year and a half, The Good Wife has fallen in love with this narrative device of bringing the internal thoughts of one of its main characters into physical representations. It worked immensely well when Will was writing out his argument when he had to face Alicia on the stand and when Alicia had to deal with the immediate aftermath of Will's death. "Mind's Eye" devotes almost the entire hour to Alicia's memory as she tries juggling the pressures of her job at the firm and her campaign for State's Attorney. It's a neat trick for sure. The show had some fun in utilizing it to this extent. But at times, it was almost overbearing. She was dealing with complicated feelings from almost every single corner of her life.

In some cases, that brought some immense closure or helped properly explain her current state of mind. It felt so good to have Will return even if it was only in the context of Alicia's memory. He was a major part of her life for so long and he was brutally taken away from her too soon. She hasn't been able to move on from that relationship yet. She has seen romantic intrigue from both Finn and Jonathan. And yet, she hasn't acted on her desires because she is still clinging to the man she actually loved. It's weird that she is thinking about this sexual tension at a time where her work demands are so high. It was scandalous seeing her in bed with three different men. At times, it played as simple fan service. But it was also an important moment for the character. At some point in time, she would have to move on from Will because he's gone forever. Finn and Jonathan are both attractive men and she should allow herself the idea of being with them. She has severed that tie completely with Peter. She only needs him to better her political career - and vice versa. But Alicia needed this moment of saying goodbye to Will. It was shown in a pure thematic and metaphoric way but it was a necessary point for the character's progression.

It's also wonderful to see how Alicia is still bothered by the fact that Peter and Kalinda once slept with each other. She and Kalinda were so close in the first two seasons. Their friendship scenes were some of the best moments of the show. Since then, not only has the show struggled with knowing what to do with Kalinda, but she and Alicia haven't appeared in a scene together for a year. That could be entirely purposeful in showing how relationships and friendships change over time. Alicia found out this truth years ago but she is still holding it against both of them. They aren't receiving any closure any time soon either. This representation of her memory is solely to show the audience that she is still resentful to them.

The episode's grand concept worked the best for me when it came down to Alicia thinking about how to best handle any given situation she was presented with. The romantic stuff had purpose but it was also meant to distract her. This is something on her mind and it doesn't have that much clarity yet. But in her professional responsibilities as both a lawyer and a candidate, she has to make clear-cut decisions. She has to formulate an argument that will help the firm with Louis Canning's wrongful eviction suit against the firm. She has to figure out how best to answer a question that may or may not be asked in a very important interview for the State's Attorney's race. She is able to consider all the possibilities. She sees which ones make her feel good and which ones have great consequences for her future. Almost every decision she makes has a reaction to it that she can only imagine how the people in her life would react. She knows Diane, Cary, Louis, David Lee, Howard, Lemond, Kalinda, Eli, Marissa, Jonathan, Grace, Zach and Frank well enough by now to have a pretty good guess as to how they would react in each given situation. And that was a lot of fun.

It's captivating to see this thought process mapped out so clearly and precisely. Of course, Alicia can think and contemplate about any given scenario as much as she wants without producing results. Her plans for the Canning lawsuit are swiftly pushed aside after he faints and lands in the hospital - possibly on his deathbed. She also has her own bias to deal with. Every time she pictures Zach, she sees him homeless and living on the street. She wants to apologize to Zach and console Canning's wife but she often doesn't know what the best decision is. All she can do is pick one option and see what the fallout is. She wants to be there for Louis because he deserves someone caring enough about him to visit him and his wife while he's in this state. She may not know what to do when she's there but her presence is comforting to his wife. Likewise, she extends that olive branch with Zach by trying to call and apologize for the way she reacted when she found out he and his girlfriend had an abortion. He doesn't answer. But there's still the desire to make things better for herself and for the people around her. Alicia wants to do a good job with everything she does. She doesn't always succeed. She struggles answering the Lemond Bishop question. She settles on telling her version of the truth. But again, we don't even know if the question will come up. She just has to be content with the way the world is. But that doesn't mean she won't worry about all of these things as they are happening.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Mind's Eye" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Robert King.
  • Yeah, that was a really bad body double for Josh Charles. I liked that he came back to record a few lines of dialogue. But did he not have time to come back on the set to film those very brief scenes?
  • Grace is also wavering on her faith a little bit. It's not explained all that well and Alicia has no clue how to address it because she only learned about it from a text she was never suppose to have received. This is a core part of who Grace is as a character but we don't have a strong enough context to make us care about it.
  • If we read into that longing look she gives him during that car ride, I'd say Alicia is leaning towards Jonathan as her new romantic interest. She shouldn't so easily cast Finn aside. But I do think she's eying Jonathan more now because she spends so much more time with him than anyone else.
  • I definitely approve of Alicia's soundtrack.