Sunday, January 31, 2016

REVIEW: 'The Good Wife' - Alicia Finally Lets Out Her Emotions and It Feels So Good in 'Judged'

CBS' The Good Wife - Episode 7.13 "Judged"

Alicia argues against Judge Schakowsky when she learns that a former bond court client was wrongfully imprisoned. Diane assists the student editor of a college newspaper when the school threatens to fire her for writing a politically charged article.

The Good Wife has been very problematic this season. It has had some great highs but it's also had some miserable lows. There just hasn't been a strong enough hook to this season to really bring everything together. There has been a lot of fragmentation. There are many things that the creative team is amused by. Some of that has worked. Some of it has also been very dreadful. "Judged" attempts to find focus for the second half of the season. This year could be the last for the show. If it's not, it at least is for series creators Robert and Michelle King. There should be an exciting final storyline that is able to bring all of the many pieces together again and make the show captivating to watch. Peter's whole presidential campaign arc was horrendous and didn't make the show's effort to be cultural relevant all that appealing. Most importantly, it was a story that had absolutely no purpose. This episode introduces a couple of plot threads that could snowball into a great dramatic story arc for many characters. This episode is still a pretty big and disjointed mess. But it also includes a number of scenes that indicate a necessary change for the episodes to come this season.

Eli confessing to Alicia that he deleted Will's voice message to her from the Season 1 finale has offered very dramatic material for both characters. It's been a very interesting story development. Alicia and Will had their time together and the show didn't quite know what to do with them as a romantic couple. Moreover, Alicia knew during the time that Will left that message that he had those feelings for her. So, it's largely just been a story to bring a level of connectivity to the show. A way to bring things back to the early years by making this plot point relevant again. It has changed Alicia and Eli's friendship. That has certainly been more appealing than Eli's dynamic with either Peter or Ruth. But it's also more of an excuse just to wallow in the fact that Will is dead all over again. Alicia has been able to continue as an functioning human being. But this episode showcases just how damaged and destructive she has gotten.

Moreover, the show really needed a number of things to happen in this hour to truly justify all this time spent on this animosity between the two characters over this issue. Alicia forgiving Eli is a huge part of that. But the most meaningful gestures have absolutely nothing to do with Eli. He's still wrecked with guilt over this action. He's still fighting for forgiveness. But this hour is more interested in Alicia's journey - as it should be. She wants to know what the purpose in her life is after she has been betrayed like this. Again, she's forgetting all of her actions from the past with Will. But that's what this kind of reveal does. It forces her to rethink and wallow. She's sucked whole by that grief. She can still put on a face and do her job. But her job is getting increasingly more difficult and personally vindictive. And yet, Lucca and Jason are able to pull Alicia out of this funk. Her professional life may be getting more complicated. But these two individuals have come to mean so much to her. And now, she is willing to embrace those relationships for what they truly are.

It's so devastating to watch as Alicia has her biggest breakdown yet while trying to do laundry in her apartment. She is finally letting her emotions out for the first time in a long time. She had to keep it together for Peter's campaign and for her children. But now, she is all alone and forced to focus on nothing but her job. It's overwhelming. It's very fitting that Lucca is the person who receives this big display of emotion. Alicia is bearing her soul in a very nerve-wrecking and potentially dangerous way. For a second, Lucca wonders if Alicia has gotten suicidal over this information. It's definitely appropriate to have that reaction. This outburst is just so raw. But it's also an important scene for Lucca. She's allowing Alicia the comfort she desperately needs right now. Lucca is the one who is able to help heal Alicia through this difficult time. She doesn't know all the specifics. But she needs to tell Alicia just how much her world has changed simply because the two of them are now friends. This partnership has been life-changing to her. She doesn't want to see Alicia like this. This moment of honesty truly strengthens their relationship.

In getting these emotions out, it finally allows Alicia the perspective she has desperately needed on life. She has pained herself over all the details. She has expressed her emotions in every way possible. She has been comforted and accepted what her world is right now. Now, she has the daunting task of moving forward. Jason has aggressively been flirting with her all season long. After the huge tease with no action at all with Finn, it's just so rewarding to see Alicia let go and just go after this attractive man. It's something that she deserves. Jason represents a new opportunity for her to be happy. Before, she would bottle up all of her emotions and worry over what his actions and words actually meant while never exploring this as a possibility. And now, she's choosing not to stress over those worries and details any more. She pursues him to the elevator because it's what she wants. It's her accepting him as a part of her future. She has been re-motivated about life. This is a part of that process. It brings her joy right now. It only amounts to kissing though. The show could easily screw it up in the future by having Eli or Peter ruining this potential happiness for her. But now, it's just so rewarding to see her give in to these feelings again.

The case at the center of this episode is also a way to connect the start of the season with a potential new story avenue. Alicia's time in bond court was a really compelling story. It wasn't sustainable for a whole season. But it was a fun location for the start of the year as she was building herself up again and not having to worry about anyone else telling her what to do. That hasn't gone so well for her since then. And now, she's going to have to face the potential consequences of her actions at the start of the season. She wants to take on Judge Schakowsky in court because she's personally angry. The tables eventually get turned and she's the one faced with losing everything. She's being sued for malpractice. That's a fantastic potential final season story. It brings the focus back onto Alicia in a way that is very closely connected to the law. That has often been where she shines the most. Not when she's out campaigning but when she's in the courtroom fighting for justice for her clients. This case is overly complicated. It could also just be the thing that ultimately brings her back to Diane and Cary at the firm (which will be riddled with its own consequences). But it's a story with loads of potential moving forward. Right now, it seems pretty thin. A new twist will need to be added to make it have a lot of value and impact on the characters. But it's at least a story that's moving in the right direction for the show.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Judged" was written by Tyler Bensinger and directed by Rosemary Rodriguez.
  • Seriously, that Alicia-Lucca scene is the best thing that has happened this season. It's not even a close race at all. Both Julianna Margulies and Cush Jumbo nailed it.
  • Diane's story largely felt like the show just giving her something to do. It didn't really connect all that well with the rest of the episode's stories - except in a suit being filled against people in power with a ton of influence. Plus, Jason was able to show up in both stories without it becoming too complicated.
  • Jason being able to work for both Alicia's firm and Diane's firm really wasn't as tense at seemed at the beginning of the season. The tension is still unnecessarily high between Alicia and Diane. But this really wasn't a source of conflict. In fact, it explains how Alicia and Jason will still be able to work together once Alicia returns to her old firm (as a junior partner).
  • Bernie notes that not many people like Alicia or Peter anymore. It seems very likely that Peter is going to get caught up in this malpractice suit very quickly. Ruth did say someone would likely be targeting him soon.
  • At least the judge was amused by the musical chairs happening within this case as the target turns from Schakowsky to Alicia. Also, what a weird use of Debra Monk, right? She's too talented to just be a throwaway lawyer - though perhaps she'll pop up again too.