The Good Wife 6.04: “Oppo Research” Review

The Skeletons in One’s Closet

A Television Review by Akash Singh


Despite my greatest hopes, this episode of The Good Wife does not reference the great Jedi Master Oppo Rancisis in any way. Instead, the show goes the far more logical route this week by introducing the concept as opposition research that’s been done on Alicia herself to prepare her for potential campaign mud that might be slung at her. It’s a supremely uncomfortable turn of events for Alicia, who goes from nervous to pissed to resigned, all over the course of an hour. The big news ultimately out of this episode is that Alicia has agreed to run, despite everything that’s been dug on her and her family. But even the last few moments where she decides to run don’t give her any semblance of normalcy or break. There’s been a political action committee set up for her, a grassroots thing as her campaign manager Johnny Elfman notes. Grace is ecstatic over the potential capmiagn and the money rolling in, noting that she’s garnered over $84,000 in donations already. But as Alicia learns, even that has a price tag to it, one that immediately puts all of her ethics in question, which isn’t exactly how she wanted to begin her campaign. And that’s what ultimately I love about this show, it isn’t afraid to pull its punches at whatever moment they are required, especially since last season.

The episode’s large thematic unity (apart from the election, of course) is Alicia’s hypocrisy. In this golden age of the anti-hero, Carrie Mathison from Homeland and Alicia Florrick sort of stand as a couple of the few anti-heroines in existence. But generally Alicia has been more likable in her behavior than Carrie, which partially stems from their jobs and the worlds around them. But what Season 6 has made more clear than any other season in this series is that Alicia, like most people, is inherently at heart a hypocrite. The thing is, disloyalty and betrayal anger her more than anything else (channeling an unfavorable comparison to Dolores Jane Umbridge in the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). But she has done more than a fair share of it herself, from abandoning Lockhart Gardner at the beginning of Season 5 to pushing in Diane Lockhart into her new firm. She barely flinches when Elfman and Eli tell her that she has to dump Bishop as a client because he has way too much baggage for her to handle.

The baggage of her own family is in abundance. There’s a folder that hyperbolically seems to be about the size of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which is especially shocking to Alicia considering that she wasn’t expecting much baggage except for Peter. Her mother spanked a child in a department store because he was behaving abominably. They have a meeting with the child’s mother, which doesn’t go over very well because she wants $50,000. “I should have spanked you, you bitch,” Veronica spats, which doesn’t make anything easier. Thanks to the videotape, however, it is revealed that child knocked over an 86-year-old woman. The case is relented. But Alicia’s “chat” about her family with the baggage they have doesn’t go over nearly as well with Owen as it does with her mother. It’s sort of astonishing how little tact Alicia employs when telling him that the Palestinian man he’s been seeing is married and performs bareback gay porn under the name “Phil.” It’s not really clear how much of that Owen knew before he thunders out of Alicia’s apartment, slamming the door behind him.

What really pulls Alicia’s hair and is frankly quite understandable are the lies that Zach has been constantly selling her since August of last year. He had apparently gone to Boston to scout out colleges but instead he went with his girlfriend Neesa and her parents for her abortion. It’s not the abortion itself that pisses Alicia off completely, or her son getting his girlfriend pregnant. It’s the lies he told to cover that particular dimension of his existence that riles her up. It’s the abortion that was done in secret that makes her furious. It’s the reality of him spilling the truth to Neesa’s parents as required by law but not trusting his own parents enough to do the same thing. It’s that breach. “What about Grace?” Alicia asks irritably, preparing herself for the worst. But Grace is clean. “Christianity: 3, Atheism: 0,” she mutters miserably as she drowns wine. A ton of pictures taken of her, including the one about Finn Palmer, are handed out to her, one by one. She notes wryly how her whole life has been documented and before she would go to work and then go to her apartment, where she would have a glass of wine at five p.m. and nobody cared.

The first real indication out on the street of what she’s setting herself up for is when she is driving after one glass of wine and she’s caught by the police. Not that that should be a great deal considering that one glass of wine puts her well below the legal limit. The police officer automatically notes her as “Mrs. Florrick” before looking at her, which is a warning bell by itself. She offers to take a voluntary breathalyzer test, but the policeman forces her to walk back and forth, nine steps each way. Paparazzi drives by and takes photos in an obvious set-up. She calls Eli, but it turns out that she has bigger problems on the horizon. Kalinda gets grabbed by Bishop and she reveals that Alicia is considering a run for State’s Attorney. Initially hesitant to abandon Alicia’s law firm, Bishop touts that he was fired by Alicia as a candidate, fueling her PAC with more than $140,000. As far as Bishop is concerned, the money won’t be traced back to him and he want in with the new State’s Attorney. The screen fades to black as the gray morality within which Alicia operates so often in return, just with far larger complications.

Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:

+The consistent choir breaks from Grace & Co. with the arrival of the ballerina were absolutely hilarious

+“Irony is dead now—you’re campaigning.”

+“Good news tends not to last.”

+“I’m not your superhero, Mr. Elfman. You want to go find someone to restore your faith in humanity? Don’t waste my time—or yours.”

+The cameos from The Americans’ Joe Weisberg and comedienne Carmen Lynch about  a TV show within this TV show

+Alicia’s reaction to spoilers is perfect

+Eli using the blue and red pills from The Matrix to explain the election is possibly the best use of that film to explain anything ever, which is largely due to Alan Cumming’s delivery of it

+“Israel matters in every race.”

+Alicia: “I’m a nerd.”

+The rapport between Peter’s secretary and Eli is great

+Alicia’s expressions of disdain are amazing

+Is Peter having an affair with Lauren’s mother and not Lauren? Is she, as Emily Nussbaum speculated, Peter’s daughter? Either way, there’s something certainly going on here and it doesn’t bode well



Title: Oppo Research

Written By: Robert King & Michelle King

Directed By: Matt Shakman

Image Courtesy: Spoiler TV


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