The Good Wife 6.16: “Red Meat” Review

Hunting for Votes

A Television Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

It’s Election Day! And thank goodness for that, as there truly is no greater joy on television than watching Alicia Florrick and Marissa Gould play Halo with Finn Palmar tuning in. Red Meat, perhaps an appropriate title for an episode dealing with elections and a group of Republican donors at a frigid hunting lodge, is a much better episode than the ones in most recent memory as the final race to the finish line provides the hour with a structural foundation previous episodes have lacked. It’s a bit lachrymose that the best portions of the election arrive at the end of the storyline, but perhaps that is understandably so. As I stated last week, the election storyline was never really written with a sense of defining narrative propulsion. As Alicia went in front of her supporters to make her victory speech at the Florrick Camp Headquarters, that became more clear than ever before. There was no massive burst of excitement, but instead a deflating sense of relief that that plot has been unfurled to its logical conclusion and now we can all move on.

I haven’t completely hated the election storyline, not with the great moments that Johnny and Marissa have had, especially coupled with Eli’s initial involvement. It’s just that the dramatic tension that ought to have been in this race was never present, it never truly became clear to the audience as to why it was so imperative that Alicia not only won, but ran. Sure, we all love Alicia, but that alone cannot suffice as a reasoning to garner support for a season-long arc of a twenty-two episode season. It just simply can’t. Racing against the clock has provided The Good Wife with some superlative stories in the past and it’s surprising to me that the writers didn’t take that nail-biting suspicion and insert into this storyline that arguably was the central crux of the entire season. What we needed was storm after storm after storm hitting this campaign, affecting Alicia and everyone around her to such an extent that when Alicia did indeed win, we would we swept up in that triumph because at the very least we’ve seen her traverse through the lowest of mud to achieve what she had worked so hard for. Instead we got a calm win that doesn’t feel as earned as it ought to have been. Alicia wasn’t sure on the onset of the campaign as to why she was truly running and it seems that at some critical juncture, the writers forgot so, too. Here’s to hoping they remember.

Diane gets her own subplot this episode and while it is enjoyable on its own, the metaphor with Alicia’s plot using the gun as the connecting device felt a little too heavy-handed for its own good. And the entire effort to snag a rich Republican at the cabin retreat to replace the loss of Chumhum felt perfunctory to a great extent, same as Alicia’s campaign. The energy, the drive simply isn’t there an not only because The Good Wife has done plenty of “we’re out of finances” story lines for whichever law firm took the spotlight at that time. But the subplot never appropriately rises because outside of David Lee and Cary standing next to a phone call in a dully-lit office because they apparently have nothing else to do with their lives, there’s nothing else to even remotely make the case that this is urgent business. We do get some sweet confirmation that Diane and Kurt are a great couple and Diane’s expressions of liberalism in a conservative hub. There’s a mature conversation between Diane and a wealthy Republican about abortion that’s well-written, but honestly, it provided nothing new to chew on.

What did provide something remotely interesting to chew on was Peter and Alicia after the campaign clash from last week. He goes to the first of his several scheduled interviews, designed in logic to give Alicia’s campaign a last-minute boost. The conclusion to the first interview, while seeming completely innocent at first, is in quick hindsight a complete fiasco. The election is close, as the audience is informed about thirty different times over the course of thirty minutes, and the key as it always is voter turnout. Peter declaring “As far as I’m concerned, you can take it to the bank” is a death knell for the Florrick campaign because it sends the message to Alicia’s potential voters that they don’t have to be bothered to actually go out and vote. Alicia slams Peter for what she sees as a deliberate move to ensure that he is the only winner in the family. I have a hunch that she is right, but Eli rightfully points out that if Alicia loses, it would mean nothing but embarrassment for Peter’s political future. Perhaps that kicked a gear or two in his mind and he arranged a last-minute speech on unions and pensions right in the middle of downtown Chicago, where Prady’s greatest concentration of support came from. Traffic shuts down all the roads and along with it, Prady’s voters. Alicia wins and Peter joins her at her victory party., but as the ersatz couple waltz through the crowd, an ironic tragedy permeates through the entire frame. It was as if the very air had realized that the two central figures in its midst were awash in a celebration where they have to be together even though some semblance of true happiness was so close by.

Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:

+“She’s finally gutting to vote for her favorite Florrick!”

+Diane with a gun

+“So these are the top one percent of the one percent.”; “Okay, let’s not talk like Communists.”

+“If I were to set off a bomb in this room we’d have Democratic presidents for the next 30 years.”

+Donut therapy

+“Sacrificing welfare virgins?”

+Diane’s disgust at spa day

+Spin-Off Ideas: The Avatar Twins, Marissa’s Mochas

+“Gill hates all the Jews, but he’s not anti-Semitic.”

+“This is you being nice to me.”

+“There are no words for how much I love you.”

+“In the original Hippocratic oath, they swore by Apollo? Should we do that?”

+“That’s beneath you.”; “No, it’s not. I just said it.”

+“It was the first thing I did after declaring.”

+“Hey, at least I have a skill to fall back on if this falls through.”

+The little “Right after the break.” and the following “Ugh.” was a nice meta touch.

+Alicia disappointed that Peter wasn’t on the phone, but Eli

+“Take care of her.” Poor Johnny. I’ll miss him. His eyes misting over when Peter entered the room was a nice little moment.

-The Kalinda storyline is so dull it’s sleep-inducing. I hope Archie Panjabi got a raise for that.

Great

8/10

Title: Red Meat

Written By: Nichelle Tramble Spellman

Directed By: Michael Zinberg

Image Courtesy: Demanjo

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