Breaking the Ice
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The election is over and now that Alicia is now waiting as a mere formality until she steps into her new elected office, the focus of this episode splits between her soon-to-be former office and her duties of the newer one. The problem is that the narrative tension simply doesn’t exist here. This creative predicament sort of reminds me of the Battle of Castle Black in the fourth season of Game of Thrones, where there wasn’t nearly enough focus paid attention to a conflict that suddenly took up an entire precious episode. This is about ten times worse, considering that The Good Wife has twenty-two episodes on its shelf instead of ten and in fairness to Thrones, they at least had more than a handful of scenes to predate the conflict. At the end of one of their worst episodes ever, Alicia came to the absurd conclusion that Diane Lockhart was sexist and that bizarre moment was the last real time that the conflicts that could be caused by Alicia’s electoral victory. So that particular narrative focus becomes, in hindsight, that much more grating.
If there had been consistent scenes with that focus prior to this evening’s episode, the dramatic story thrusts would have landed with a much greater impact. There is an e-mail hacking case that formed a significant thread throughout, but it largely fell flat amidst a clearly struggling script that could not rescue this case with some of the show’s trademark wit. Instead of the mature tact that The Good Wife is known and lauded for when it comes to handling its interpersonal drama, the e-mail leak just felt desperate and exceedingly dull, and that especially is a rarity for this team of writers. The aim is exceedingly clear – the script is aiming at all of these e-mails leaking and playing out in a manner that would, or could, force the characters to arrive at circumstances where they are capable of destroying each other and have the audience care. The audience does not, because the entire affair feels like the Burn Book from Mean Girls being treated with pretentious dramatization without any of the satire.
If Archie Panjabi’s decision to leave the show originally struck me as unfortunate because of how much power she has as an actress, than this season more than any other since the great season three has proven that the actress deserves greener pastures to go towards. Having annoyingly turned into a bonafide nanny last week, Kalinda in this episode is dealt perhaps a more condescending turn of events. Within the case of the week, she is paired with none other than Howard Lyman. Lyman has proved to be a treasure trove of absolute hilarity for a long time, but having Kalinda’s primary interaction this week be that she never had sex with Lyman in a supply closet is nothing but groan-worthy. The whole season four husband storyline was an absolute wreck, but there at least they had somewhat of a framework in mind. Now it seems that the writers aren’t even trying anymore.
There is one solid chunk of the episode that saves Undisclosed Recipients from pure ignominy and that is Alicia’s exit package negotiations. Having won her election, Alicia has to to leave the firm she began with Cary amidst the brilliant thunderstorm that was the beginning of season five for the understated reasoning of conflicts of interest. In keeping with Alicia’s badassery this episode, the conflict over her departure becomes fixated at the obvious juncture: money. Negotiating exit packages for employees can be a fairly tricky thing to do and certainly more so for actual partners of a business. Add in the legalese of a law firm and it becomes that much more trickier. Alicia’s threat of taking Cary and Diane to court if they don’t bump up her exit package is the most promising bit of narrative hope that The Good Wife has shown us in recent episodes and just for the sake of germane drama, I hope they follow through.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“Go slow. Choose carefully.”
+Alicia: “Can you do me a favor?”
Marissa: “Sure, what, shoot you now?” Thank goodness she’s sticking around.
+“Respectfully Alicia, our interests have not been aligned since you used our office as a staging ground for your political career.”
+“You mean the man, Guy Redmayne who came in here and pressed his groin against me, compared my feet to those of an Arizona prostitute and then demanded that I hire a deputy SA of his choosing?” Alicia, you’ve always dabbled in the gray area and you’ve done well. For any more tips, look at Ned Stark and do the opposite.
Title: Undisclosed Recipients
Written By: Leonard Dick
Directed By: James Whitmore, Jr.
Image Courtesy: Spoilers Guide