The Good Wife-“Affairs of State”

The Good Wife-“Affairs of State”

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Blah, blah, football over-runs, blah, blah.  I don’t watch The Amazing Race, but I’m irritated on the behalf of those that do that no one was eliminated in this episode; I hate that particular reality competition cliche.  What’s the point of watching one of these things if I don’t get to see someone get canned at the end?  Preferably the person who, you know, performed the weakest which on a show like Race is pretty cut and dry…you showed up last, here’s the door.  It’s not like Project Runway where the producers can make Nina and Michael spout whatever criticism serves their purposes since America at large doesn’t know diddly-squat about fashion.  Ugh.  Aaaanyway, tonight on The Good Wife…Parker Posey as Alan Cumming’s ex-wife!  Bring.  It.  On.

I really don’t know what to make of this episode, by which I mean I don’t know what the writers were hoping to accomplish in it.  Was it just a place-holder, an episode meant to accentuate the procedural aspects of The Good Wife with an excellent, twisty case (the case was not excellent nor particularly twisty)?  Was it supposed to be a show-case episode for the much-missed Cary, who finally got to defeat Lockhart Gardner (albeit only after Alicia essentially threw in the towel)?  Was it just a swing and miss?  I’m not sure, though I am sure that I feel kind of cold on the result.

The case revolved around a murder of a college girl on a booze cruise, but the meat of the proceedings was taken up with Alicia and Cary trying to suss out the protections provided by diplomatic immunity from Taiwan; apparently, there’s a “One China” rule, and as such Taiwanese do not receive…oh, honestly, I can’t pretend I care.  The whole time Alicia was followed around by Caitlin, who I think I’ve already stated is a character I dislike amongst a sea of characters I like, and Cary was helped by Dana, the third beautiful, young black woman he’s interacted with at the SA’s office who I really can’t be bothered to learn about because the show made sure to state at least three times that she’s leaving her job.  Ultimately, it turns out Alicia’s Taiwanese client did it and some of Caitlin’s innocence is lost and Dana…well, I don’t know, I suppose she leaves her job like she’s been saying she’s going to do the whole episode.

Honestly, the more I think about this episode, the more I must admit I feel it might be one of the low points for the series as a whole.  Caitlin and Dana got more screen time than the following characters: Diane, Will, Kalinda, Peter, Jackie, Grace, Owen and David Lee (he’s so one of those characters that should always be referred to by his full name).  That’s off the top of my head.  The Good Wife is usually so excellent at balancing it’s large cast, but this episode collapsed under the weight of it’s guest stars.  I can forgive the fleshing out of Caitlin’s character; despite my feelings on her, she’s apparently going to be around for a while and I can try to trust that they’re going somewhere with her.  Her obvious flirting with Will at the end and then undermining Alicia to his face points to something darker going on with her.  I can’t help it if I feel like she’s doing an impression of something Mamie Gummer did better last season.  Dana, on the other hand, was a waste of space.  Nothing against the actress or her performance, but what exactly was the purpose of that?  To give Cary someone to help him in his investigation?  A Kalinda-light, if you will?  And then the accusation mid-episode that Cary has a thing for ethnic women seemed to come out of no where and didn’t even wind up having a pay-off.  Cary deserves better than that.

Moving on, the stuff between Eli and his ex-wife was better than the A-plot, but still felt somewhat aimless.  Vanessa and Eli appear to have a congenial relationship (correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this a bit of a ret-con on last season, when he hated his ex?), and she asks him to vet her for a potential political campaign.  He, of course, assigns his best friend Kalinda to the task and before he can snap his fingers, she’s discovered that Vanessa had an affair with a man named Omar Tate, who (in a twist that really was five or seven steps over the line of believability) turns out to be the second cousin of Osama Bin-Laden.  Even writing that sentence makes me shake my head in wonder…this was better than the episode last season guest-starring Hugo Chavez’ stomach, but only because it didn’t receive as much screen time.  That being said, Posey and Cumming played off each other just as deliciously as I hoped, and their climactic argument over her past infidelity was the best scene of the episode.  Vanessa is a role that sits well on Parker Posey, who can sometimes feel over-the-top for me; here, she was quiet, her quirkiness was turned down to low volume and you could see why she and Eli might once have been good together.  I hope she returns in a story that serves her better.

I realize that not every episode of every great show is going to be fantastic; everything stumbles sometimes.  Personally, I think The Good Wife would be enormously served by figuring out how to get Alicia and Kalinda into the same room again, even if they barely speak to each other.  In the season opener, Diane snapped “whatever’s going on with you two, fix it!”  I echo her sentiment.

And some final points:

-One development that did seem interesting was Cary’s promotion to Deputy State Attorney.  Watching him walk into that office at the end was nice, I just wish it had been earned with a quality show preceding it.  While we’re on this topic, do we know why Matan dislikes Cary so much?  Moving him out of his office, telling people that he has a thing for ethnic women…was this simply supposed to be because Cary got promoted and he didn’t?

-Also, what happened with Diane and Will taking Legal Aid in-house?

-“Some poor, innocent kid is being accused of…something or other.”

-Another thing about this episode was that there was a lot of “younger people explaining how it really is to older people” scenes.  I can take Zach’s helping his mother with her computer, but Caitlin is talking about a “stoplight party” and then the introduction of the “Rape App” read a lot like someone trying to sound like they’re hip.  But while we’re talking about it, do they really make Solo Cups in any color other than red?

-Another bomb of a scene was the victim’s ex-boyfriend and Kalinda.  I feel like he was supposed to be somewhat nerdy, but he climbed out of the pool with the body of a god and then started complaining that his ex didn’t like it when he spoke to his waitress friend cause “she might also be a philosophy major, and I don’t even know if I WANT to be a philosophy major, she has three kids!”  I mean seriously, it was hard to watch.

-“I want a car.”  Zach was fun this episode, and this little moment of Alicia thinking that he was going to talk about Will and instead springing a vehicle request on her was a high point.

-“Not slut level?”

-More trouble and miscommunication between Alicia and Will when he all but begs her to let him meet her kids and she coolly rebuffs him with “Thank you, but it’s not necessary.”  Mr. Gardner’s gonna have a broken heart by the end of this season.

-I was harsh on this episode, but it’s only because I expect so much more from this show than almost anything else I watch on network TV.  This season has been uneven, but I completely believe that the show can right itself.  I hope it does so soon.

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Danielle-Rush/100002186800334 Danielle Rush

    [“And then the accusation mid-episode that Cary has a thing for ethnic women seemed to come out of no where and didn\’t even wind up having a pay-off.  Cary deserves better than that.”]

    I don’t think it came out of no where.  He used to hit on Kalinda a lot, back in the past.

    • Paul

      He still hits on Kalinda, though I think the last few episodes have tried to make the argument that he actually has feelings for her.  He also hit on the new AUSA, but then he never hit on Geneva that I can remember.  I wasn’t really complaining about the accusation itself, since it was clearly coming from someone who was bad-mouthing Cary for reasons of his own.  I meant more that it was apropos of nothing in the actual episode, and didn’t have anything to do with the story going forward.