A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Appearances are everything. It’s a despicable reality of politics, but who people believe you are is more often than not far more important than who you are in reality. Eli and Johnny affirm that reality at a focus group for Alicia. As it turns out, one member of the group finds Alicia to be selfish, entitled, a politico who always just thinks about herself. It cuts at Alicia, who has never seen herself in such absolutist, negative terms. At a moment in night, Alicia and Finn are sitting together and having a drink and Finn casually mentions that every Wednesday he goes to a soup kitchen. Alicia is taken aback. “You’re a good person,” she pronounces in a magnificent tone, echoing her earlier absolutist comment about Castro being a bad man. “Do you think I’m selfish?” she asks quietly. Finn says no, of course not and Alicia is surprised to learn that Finn’s ex-wife didn’t think that highly of him, either. But Alicia’s fear is never assuaged until the very end of the hour.
Part of that fear stems from a disbelief that anyone could see her as being that terrible. As has been discussed plenty before, Alicia has never operated within a realm of moral absolutism. Her job simply doesn’t allow for that type of ideology to fester and grow into a definitive characteristic. But never before has she been so taken aback by someone just outright disliking her based on her demeanor, never before had Alicia thought of herself in those terms. Throughout the episode, that vision of the one woman from the focus group who disliked her constantly dogged her footsteps, never letting Alicia off the hook, no matter what she does. Oddly enough but unsurprisingly so, the one exceedingly decent thing she does in this episode without any thought to herself didn’t help her image (more on that below). A frustrated Eli tries his best to explain that any photo op that she does has to seem natural, even if its absolutely fake. Her first trip to the Soup Kitchen is absolutely a disaster by every frame possible (the look on Grace’s face basically sums it up). But the carefully orchestrated photo-op, complete with names and everything, is the one that works. Saint Alicia is far more relatable than the real Alicia. It’s sobering, but the truth.
The Good Wife has always been super great about remaining topical. Owen comes back after the whole “family secrets spilling over wine” affair that revealed, well, that he was the one his boyfriend was having an affair with. In all fairness to Owen, that isn’t anything you want revealed by your own sibling. It’s fairly uncomfortable. Anyhow, Owen desperately brings Alicia to a university hearing. Initially hesitant, Alicia nevertheless agrees. The case revolves around a girl named Jodi who was raped and now finds herself in front of a university panel, compromised of poorly trained volunteers and college officials who have absolutely no incentive to actually do anything about the matter on hand. Slowly the panel unravels and it becomes obvious that there is going to be no justice for this girl because there was “insufficient evidence.” Alicia grabs the case and threatens to take it to court, which indeed she does. Upon discovering that there was a rape wall on the campus with the names of the perpetrators, the university proceeds to paint over it, but not before pictures are taken and Alicia begins to draw up a class action lawsuit. To protect itself, the university arranges a “random search” and expels the rapist for marijuana possession. Jodi is content with the decision, not wanting to take it any further. The case serves as a plot device to bring Louis Canning into the fold but also to enlighten Alicia’s character to everyone else. But outside of its plot mechanics, campus rape is an epidemic that is far deadlier than the Ebola virus ever will be in this country but there is absolutely nothing that is being done about it. The reality that campuses find their reputations to be more important than the very safety of their students is beyond sickening.
For Cary, the red zone has little to do with political realities and public images. His red zone is consistently covered with a spread of the color red and the face of Lamond Bishop. Dianne shrewdly brings in the sharp Viola Walsh to counter-prosecute Cary in a mock questioning and it is of absolutely no surprise to anyone that Cary unravels as quickly as he does. He can’t truly be blamed, of course, anyone in that position would be horrified. At the very least he understands that he makes a horrible, horrible witness as all lawyers do according to basically everyone. On the flip side, he does break the thirty yard rule with Kalinda over her affair with Agent Delaney, which as she rightfully points out is a phenomenally stupid thing to do. Nor is she in any safety, either. The relationship between Kalinda and Bishop is frought with absolute danger and frankly I see more red than anywhere else. Kalinda at the end snaps the card Bishop gave her in what might be the most honest, honorable thing she’s ever done. I just hope it’s not the last.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The music and altered intro were great
+“A saint, really.”
+Diane’s eyeroll is the stuff of legends
+Yes/No juxtaposition in the editing was nicely done
+The mutual respect between sometimes antagonistic pairs was pretty great here, with Diane/Viola and Alicia/Louis taking the cake. This show’s maturity shines through in these scenes.
+Castro out of the race. One on one, just a different opponent.
Title: Red Zone
Written By: Nichelle Tramble Spellman
Directed By: Félix Alcalá
Image Courtesy: Net Projection