The Good Wife Recap: Taking Control

The Good Wife Recap: Taking Control

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Last TV season held no larger surprise for me than The Good Wife.  I won’t say I feel the same way about it as I do about Glee, or Modern Family, or Cougar Town but the fact is that I fully expected to love those shows; I fully expected to be bored by Julianna Margulies’ latest headlining effort.  However, over the season Wife refused to succumb to the case-of-the-week procedural formula, and instead became an incredibly sharp show anchored by one of the best casts on television.  I can’t say that I’m always intrigued by the law cases that Alicia takes on, but the drama behind the scenes is always riveting.

Enough introducing…what everyone really wants to know is what happened after last season ended?  Did Alicia walk out onstage with her philandering husband, or pick up the phone call from Will?  The answer is, in true Good Wife fashion, neither.  As she hesitates, Eli (who it appears may have heard her conversation with Will) snatches her phone and sends her off to Peter’s press conference. Will’s first message is one of dismissal, however he leaves a second one where he simply states his “plan is that I love you.”  Eli, whose scenes with Alicia always sparkle with mutual dislike and grudging respect, listens to the message and deletes it.  Eli is not interested in Alicia walking away from Peter and scuttling his campaign, so he makes a move.

We jump a week ahead, and find out that there’s a new status quo at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner: the hoped-for merger of last season has happened with a DC law firm headed by Derrick Bond (guest star Michael Ealy), who has quite a few ideas for the office, including a peer review program and an official mentoring process.  He comes on strong, and Will and Diane feel like they’re being played even though they both admit that they can’t see how.  At the end of the episode, Derrick reveals to Alicia that he’s her new mentor.  He zeroes in so fast on her that I suspect that she might be a part of his end-game.

Cary is not given much in this episode, but he does get his first chance to go up against Alicia in court with his new job in the State’s Attorney’s Office.  The match ends in a draw (Alicia knows her client is guilty, manages to end the trial before all the evidence can be admitted and gets a plea bargain), but when Glenn Childs asks if Cary can beat Alicia in court, he gets an emphatic “yes.”  Cary is made first chair, and when the former first chair notes that that isn’t a good way to make friends at your new job, Cary is quite clear that he doesn’t plan on making friends at work any longer.  Cary is definitely headed down a dark path this season.

Meanwhile, Kalinda has a new foil in Blake, Derrick’s in-house investigator.  The two seem torn between loving to hate each other and just flat out hating each other.  Blake gets the jump on Kalinda in their first investigation, and then proceeds to needle her about her tactics and her abilities; Kalinda responds with perhaps the most emotion we’ve seen from her in the whole series.  “Stop it.” she snaps at him, and then goes so far as to physically push him away from her.  At the end of the episode, Blake gives her a tip that allows Alicia to get her client a plea bargain; whether that’s a white flag of truce or a simple smoke screen remains to be seen.

At the Florrick house, Alicia and Peter are still living separate enough lives that Peter needs to knock on the door to enter his wife’s room, and she mutes the TV when she watches the news about another fallen, adulterous politician.  Yet it’s clear that Peter has a full reconciliation on his mind; when he stops in to court to see Alicia face down a judge, he goes home to seduce her despite her resistance to the idea.

The ambiguity in people, particularly in Alicia, is what the entire series spins around; her poker face has been referenced in the past, and the show has never stated why exactly she stood by Peter.  In the first photo campaign, Alicia plays with her wedding ring and one can’t tell if she’s putting it on, taking it off, or simply spinning it on her finger.  What makes these people so fascinating is that you are never given easy heroes or villains.  Certainly, Alicia is the lead of the series and our sympathies are with her, but she pulled at least two dirty tricks in the court room to win her case.  Peter is an adulterer and a liar, but he refuses to use Glenn Childs’ family against him in the upcoming campaign.  Will says that he won’t take any action against Alicia if she doesn’t respond to feelings (never mind that she never heard the message), but clearly he’s having difficulty keeping that promise.  Cary is out for blood, but at the same time he was the one trying to convict a murderer.  As long as The Good Wife keeps me guessing about these people, I’ll be watching.

And some bullet points for an excellent season premiere:

– “Yeah, like that’s a real baby.”

– Good for Grace, figuring out about the tracker without even being warned.  That scene went from cute to creepy in about 3 seconds.

– The alliance between Eli and Jackie, Peter’s mother, really has the potential to make a lot of trouble for Alicia.

– “Anything said in a voicemail doesn’t count.”  True, and it’s pretty obvious who Kalinda thinks Alicia should be with.

– I can’t tell if it’s Michael Ealy that I don’t enjoy as an actor or simply that he always plays characters that I’m supposed to dislike.  I suspect that latter, in which case…good job, Michael Ealy.

– That scene with Alicia and Peter in the bathroom…certainly not something one expects to see on CBS.

– Is “My plan is I love you.  I’ve probably loved you since Georgetown.  So meet me anywhere, and we’ll make a plan.” the new “Pick me.  Choose me.  Love me.”?  I kind of hope so.

  • Mara

    Paranoid girl was made of win but please don’t compare Will to Meredith Grey. His message was in no way that nauseatingly desperate. I loved it and I hate “Pick me”.

    I’m also looking forward to the trouble coming for Alicia from the Eli/Jackie alliance.

    ITA about the ambiguities. That is my favorite part of this series- the characters are all layered but not to the point that we’re expected to sympathize with truly awful, destructive people. They aren’t flawed to the point that they don’t feel like they could exist in the real world anymore. They’re just human. My favorite part of this episode was the dirty tricks that Alicia pulled in this episode. She’s turning into a great lawyer- much better than Cary. It was great when it was revealed that she knew he was guilty and made him take a plea. I hope she continues beating Cary because I have no sympathy for his revenge plans.