The Good Wife 7.06-7.08: “Lies/Driven/Restraint” Review

Sudden Transitions

A Television Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

The Good Wife is undergoing an odd transition in what could be its final season (still no word on that from CBS or from the show runners). Lies and Driven are amongst the stronger episodes of the season for actually focusing on the strengths of Alicia and her burgeoning skills as a bartender but also balancing cases of the week that are at least mildly interesting. That balance of the two has recently become a difficult task for the show to knock out of the park and in a sense it is understandable. The show as the preeminent prestige drama of broadcast network has a plethora of expectations attached to the twenty-two episodes it produces each year. Yet The Good Wife has proven itself in the past on a regular basis, especially with a fifth season that was amongst the top seasons of television that year. That balance, however, cracked in the second half of the sixth season and the show buckled. The strains began to be slightly patched in the seventh season and while the first two episodes here gave me a strong sense of resurgence for the series, Restraint gave me considerable pause. The episode is a solid one but outside of giving Diane yet another case from Dipple that goes against her liberal values and some solid sequence, it starts losing track of its characters to the point where the episode legitimately feels that a romance between Eli and Courtney actually makes any sense.

One of the stronger recurring cases of The Good Wife has been the NSA. The writing around it has been smarter than a plethora of the media coverage on the federal surveillance apparatus. The cases here covering the federal contracts with this massive apparatus isn’t the most intriguing handling of it, but it is a solid fashion that ties in many moving parts centered around the questions of authority and the lies it feels free to tell. Lies comes back around to Peter Florrick and in doing so revisits one of the greater lies Alicia had to tell from an authority figure for whom the truth was objective in what it could garner him in his political position. The election fraud in favor of Alicia was real, except it was done from a completely unexpected yet utterly unsurprising source. Peter Florrick has never really gone away from his days of corruption at the State’s Attorney’s office, but his act being cleaned up had been something of a difficult pill to entirely swallow. Cheating in an election because he wanted to avoid looking bad just in case Alicia lost is the precisely the sort of thing one tries to avoid in a presidential campaign. I’m not quite sure how this is going to come back since it was nonexistent in the subsequent episodes, but it seems like Chekhov’s device to bring Peter’s campaign to a screeching halt.

Driven was an episode centered around its main protagonist and it was brilliantly done, despite a case of the week that left a little bit to be desired in terms of excitement. It is always a thrill to see an Alicia at the top of her game, knocking down pins and not giving a damn at all. Part of that joy arises from watching Julianna Margulies give a knockout performance. Another part of that joy comes from Alicia largely not having a decent plot line since before the mess of the election last season. Those two aspects coupled together with the setting of the Lockhart, Agos, and Lee provided for nothing but thrilling material. The following hour was a much more sobering one for Alicia, until Grace unexpectedly arrives to save the day with some of the largest clients any firm could hope for, let alone a fledgling firm that failed to capture the attention of four clients in a single day by switching the word “charitable” with “corporate”. The Good Wife has never really known what to do with Grace and The Americans has done a much better job at integrating her newfound faith with her character and the plot as a whole. But this Grace that gets stuff done and then walks away with $35,800 is without a doubt my favorite iteration of this character thus far. That trick she played with the multiple computers playing office sounds so she could make it seem to potential clients that she was a receptionist in a busy office? Genius, pure genius.

While Grace out of all characters is enjoying a resurgence, Diane is regressing. One of the most complex, powerful female characters on television, Diane has recently been thrown into case after case where she has to find the middle road between her liberal principles and the cases that Dipple brings to her. The first time it wasn’t that interesting because it was a mock trial over same-sex marriage and this time isn’t, despite the topical nature of the case at hand. Edited Planned Parenthood videos demeaning the organization are a serious issue and it seemed obvious in hindsight that the show would go there. It is great when The Good Wife goes to that place of hard questions but if feels a bit demeaning when the show plays the same plot card over and over again. Diane sticking to her guns throughout the entire case despite her own personal politics is admirable, but the Diane we know and love is professional. The episode plays off of that dramatic side to craft suspense it knows doesn’t really exist there to begin with, telling the audience nothing new and wasting valuable storytelling credentials to boot. The Diane in an office full of young, white men, turning down a job to an excellent black female candidate and struggling to do so is the much more intriguing Diane. It’s unfortunate the show seems to be espousing more of the former.

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Lies):

+“The Silicon Valley’s a provincial town.”

+“The most powerful men are the ones know one knows exist.”

+The music as always is top notch

+“I need a drink.”

+The Alicia: Tequila and triple sec

+“We need fighters in here.”

+“You’re like an evil scientist.”

+“It’s complicated.”

“What isn’t?”

+“A lot of things that aren’t fair are true!”

+“This was most illuminating.”

+“I don’t want your understanding. I don’t need your advice. What I need is a job.”

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Driven):

+“Oh my God, that’s a terrifying thought.”

+“We should talk.”

“We just did.”

+“That’s a terrifying thought.”

+“I have no words.”

+“You used to be nicer!”

+“You’d be surprised what I get into late at night.”

+“Want to get laid?”

“Sure. I’ve got twenty minutes.”

+“You don’t have to call me in the morning.”

+“It’s always sexier to not care.”

+“You are an inspiration to all urban children.”

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Restraint):

+“The majority of Americans only support anything if they don’t have to face the fact of it.”

+“Well, he can grow a uterus.”

+I’m loving Lucca and her “Yeah, don’t bs me” attitude

+“No, quite scintillating.”

+“Why do I have to be so damn convincing?”

+“Bible stories aren’t usually the best business plans.”

+“Cynicism disguised as benevolence.”

Brilliant

9/10

Episode Title: Lies

Written by: Erica Shelton Kodich

Directed by: James Whitmore

Brilliant

9/10

Episode Title: Driven

Written by: Tyler Bensinger

Directed by: David Dworetzky

Image Courtesy: Google Play

Good

7.5/10

Episode Title: Restraint

Written by: Adam R. Perlman

Directed by: Matt Shakman

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