Sunday, April 12, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Alicia Faces a Recount Which Builds to an Even More Devastating Conclusion in 'Winning Ugly'

CBS's The Good Wife - Episode 6.19 "Winning Ugly"

When potential voter fraud is discovered in the State's Attorney election, Eli and Alicia take steps to stop a recount by enlisting the help of a well-respected civil rights lawyer. Also, Diane learns she unwittingly submitted false evidence in Cary's case.

The Good Wife made Alicia Florrick want to be State's Attorney this season. It was a mission made possible through her own personal connection to corruption. Alicia needed to run for public office in order to effectively bring change to the way crimes are prosecuted. That was her dream. She fought hard to keep herself and her values intact while campaigning. She did slightly get corrupted herself. She had to more willingly embrace the gray area of the law in order to win. But that all was worth it because she won. She achieved victory and that felt so good to her. It was less so for the audience as the election story had been dragged out too much. But over the past two episodes, complications of the race have arisen that have made the story find relevance once again. It's all because the job is about to be taken away from Alicia.

No one honestly wanted Alicia to win this race. And yet, the show still allowed her to pull out a victory. It was crazy and filled with last minute maneuvers - none of which have huge importance during this recount story. Alicia got a taste of celebration and success. But now, she's realizing just how much more difficult it is to hold onto the power. She just wants to do the job to the best of her abilities. She doesn't want to be a politician. She had to become one for the campaign. Now that it's over and she's won, she can actually do the things she set out to do in the first place. But as Eli has helped her to see, it never stops. She is a politician now because she holds public office. That means every detail of her life is important even though she's still a valiant voice for privacy.

The show is now trying to take away this win from Alicia. It's not because the show itself doesn't want Alicia to be State's Attorney. The election storyline did make it appear that she would, in fact, be good at the job. They didn't do this whole elongated arc only to make the outcome irrelevant the first chance they got. No, this story is about Alicia and how badly she wanted something only for it to be violently taken away from her after she achieves it. That is personally devastating. Alicia wants to believe that the Democratic Party is fighting for her because of her vision for the office. In fact, they are the ones who got her into this mess in the first place and only make things much worse for her.

This campaign was personal for Alicia, but for the leaders of the party it's business as usual. They don't care what happens to Alicia. They just want to keep their majority in the State Senate. That's the reason why they planted those bugs in the voting machines. That's the reason why they hired prolific civil rights attorney Spencer Randolph (Ron Rifkin) to help Alicia avoid a recount. Once Alicia and her personal drive became too much of an inconvenience, they simply allowed for her to take the blunt of the blame while also jeopardizing Peter. That's the cost of doing business with these slippery politicians. They believe they can just offer Alicia a job on some other commission. They don't know and don't care just how strongly she wanted to be State's Attorney. She doesn't want to be on some other board that might have some influence. She wanted to incite change in the Cook County State's Attorney office. And now that it seems all of that power has been taken away from her, it's a crushing blow to her already fragile state. She has had to lie in order to keep her approval high while saying that's okay to do so to her daughter. She hates that this is the type of woman she has been forced to become. It was inevitable though. And to see people so coldly stomp on her dreams leaves her standing motionless and destroyed. The only one left to comfort her is Peter. Despite their differences lately, he is the only one who could possibly understand what this defeat means for her. She spent so much time fighting for this job. And now, it's taken away like it's nothing and the politicians around her don't seem to care.

But Alicia's world isn't the only one being blown up in "Winning Ugly." Diane and Cary are also let in the fact that Kalinda tampered evidence in Cary's trial and are facing the repercussions of that action. This story is barely told from Kalinda's point-of-view. And frankly, I appreciate that. Archie Panjabi is on her way out the door. And yet, the story still needs an unexpected quality to it and that's where Diane and Cary come in. They are in just as much danger as Kalinda is over this crime. With the detective now cleared of his negligence, he and Geneva Pine are able to focus their attentions back on the firm. Diane is facing three years in jail for submitting false evidence while Cary's trial could be reopened as the case to drop it isn't as strong as it once was. It's a very personal reversal of events of Diane and Cary. They are upset that Kalinda would do such a thing. They were so relieved when Cary was released. They believed this was all behind them and they could move forward with their lives again. They were wrong and it is all Kalinda's fault.

So, it's definitely a point not to take the time to tell things from Kalinda's perspective. Diane and Cary are the ones flailing around trying to figure out what they can do. They know that Kalinda wants to honorably fall on her sword for her friends. They are anger at her but they can't act on that impulse now. They just need to fix these new problems and the only solution is the same one presented back during Cary's trial. Someone has to testify against Lemond Bishop. Bishop is such a whale to the folks at the State's Attorney's office that they don't care what they have to do in order to get him. It takes things back to where they all started from. Bishop is the reason why all of these problems have persisted over this season. And now, Cary is planning on turning on him because it means saving two of the people he cares about most in his life right now. Sure, it means almost certain death for him. He knows the risks but he doesn't want Kalinda or Diane facing those same consequences. He wants to protect them. That means taking a huge chance in agreeing to testify but who knows if it will actually bear fruit for all parties involved. It's definitely a more precarious and dangerous situation than what Alicia finds herself in. But hopefully, it's what brings all of the stories together as the season heads into its final few episodes. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Winning Ugly" was written by Erica Shelton Kodish and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez.
  • How has it taken The Good Wife six seasons to cast Ron Rifkin in a role? That's seems almost too impossible to be true. And yet, it sadly is. Perhaps he can come back when the regular characters aren't simply fawning over him now that they know the truth of how he does business.
  • It was a big deal for the party to go after Peter in order to help Alicia win. It was an even bigger deal once they turned on both of them in order to secure their future.
  • Apparently, popcorn is the official state snack of Illinois.
  • In the beginning, Marissa wanted to marry Spencer Randolph. Upon realizing the headache he'll likely bring her father, I'm guessing she wanted to take back that proposal.
  • That line about Cary's trial seeing more remakes than Spider-Man was almost too meta for this show.
  • I wish Frank Prady was the one arguing for why the votes needed to be recounted instead of his campaign manager. Alicia has his private number. So, I'm still confused as to why he didn't show up to their meeting.
  • A dramatic reading of Alicia and Will's private emails that were leaked was wonderfully over-the-top.