A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The first half of The Good Wife’s seventh season closes out on two shaky episodes that are saved from sinking by strong cases of the week, but the red flags that have sprung about in regards to the show’s increasing incapacity to follow its own characters are only getting brighter. Diane is still milling about but at least this week her scenes in court don’t feel repetitive or insulting to the audience’s intelligence. This week it’s Cary’s turn to do the same. When Cary was potentially going to be sent to jail over his connections to Lemond Bishop, there were actual character stakes and there was a certain amount of sympathy for Cary seemingly taking the punishment for Bishop’s crimes. The injustice there felt strong and at many points that’s where The Good Wife has shone the best. Here Cary seems to be an entirely different person, a casualty of a writing team that has for all intents and purposes forgotten about his existence after the seminal episode Hail Mary. Cary’s first appearance in the show’s pilot was that of an eager but capable young lawyer and over the years he grew into a flawed, likable, and occasionally severely punchable person. In essence, he felt real. This Cary is an absolute ass to a woman who rightfully called him out on perpetrating the culture of young white men dominating their workplace, reacting to the revealing video she put as if he were truly taken aback at being presumed a bigot. His behavior here certainly doesn’t help that perception very much. He calls in Lucca when the case at hand is about race and she sets him straight in about three seconds. When Monica mocks his two hires (both young white men), he immediately takes up the defense of reverse racism, which isn’t a thing and anyone who thinks so needs a strong lesson in basic vocabulary and societal structures stat.
The Good Wife has tackled racism many times in the past and I admire the show’s persistence in going to these places even after their attempts have backfired. I always think about to the epic disaster The Debate was with that cringeworthy, God-awful kitchen scene where Alicia and Frank were debating crime policies. But then I recall the episode where Chicago’s infamous Black Box site was the focus. What The Debate significantly lacked was prominent characters of color and so, despite the script acknowledging as much, it became an episode where privileged white characters made remarks and observations on the racial prejudices and corrupt judicial institutions that were actually taking lives. As a result, the episode felt incredibly tone-deaf. In Discovery, having Monica and Lucca in prominent positions buoyed the episode’s take on racial exclusions and social hierarchies considerably. It’s not where the series should be, but it’s a considerable step forward from where it was (remember Taye Diggs? What happened to his character?). Monica is brilliant, even though she at this point is a minor character and one I hope becomes a permanent fixture at the law firm that had originally rejected her. Lucca is significantly more developed as a character and so her presence her lends considerably greater weight to the episode constructions around race. The disgust she has when Canning confesses that he’s asking her to litigate over the case instead of Alicia because his office is “a little pale” is palpable, as is her expression when Cary pulls a move that is roughly similar.
KSR, entitled after the fairly disturbing case of the week, is a terrible place to leave a season at a break. The final two minutes were a terrific cliffhanger, but it doesn’t make up for the languid forty something minutes came before it. To begin with, Courtney is leaving for a year to the Bay Area, which is a complete waste of her character her love affair with Eli is now apparently ending as abruptly as it began. She is, at Ruth’s behest, also taking Jason with her. The campaign (primarily Ruth and to a lesser degree, Eli) were concerned that him and Alicia were getting too chummy (maybe they too were reading all of the tweets mentioning their smoldering chemistry). As a result, Jason took a job offer from Courtney for two months, denying all of us the opportunity to see him and Alicia hook up as soon as possible. Two arcs were cut short in such an obtuse fashion and to top it off, Judge Schakowsky was residing over this week’s case. He was an ass for the first half and a sudden friend the next, but he’s still extremely little more than a caricature, turning over one leaf or another as the story requires. The cliffhanger, however, presents as many questions as it does in providing a key answer. The specter of Will Gardner has never really left the show in the grand scheme of things and I’d be curious to know for how long this particular reveal was planned. Was it a spur of the moment suggestion or was there a longer play here? Certainly the momentum from Eli left much to be desired. The whole “Courtney leaving is making me sad” angle is not that suits Eli’s character very well and thus the entire impetus rings false on more levels than one. But if there’s one thing that makes me want to get to the episode now was the look on Julianna Margulies’s face as Eli reveals that he deleted Will’s voicemail in which he confessed that he loved her and he would give up everything to be with her. “Get out,” indeed.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Discovery):
+Equations – my life
+“My parents would be so proud.”
+The case of the algorithm avoiding the “dangerous” parts of the city was a solid one, layering in just in how many ways people of color are being screwed over.
+“It isn’t a marginal neighborhood.”
+“It’s Iowa. All they smell is bullcrap.”
+“When I sleep with Jason, you’d rather I kept it quiet?… This is the first and last time we discuss this.”
+“There is nothing I do that makes me uncomfortable.”
+“I seriously don’t give a damn.”
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (KSR):
+The KSR meaning of “kidnap, sedate, rape” was chilling
+“First case I ever worked on was for a patent.”
“For what, a wheel?”
+Monica hired with 250 protected pro bono hours
+“Too much fleece, too many ironic beards.”
+Unhealthy Obsessions: Why Smart Women Make Bad Decisions
+“Eli, I don’t give a single damn.”
+“My life is my life and I want you to back the hell off!”
+“He’s highly compartmentalized.”
+“I don’t give a damn about any of it.”
-Cary’s subplot of the young associates was beyond dull
-Jackie’s prenup? Yawn.
Episode Title: Discovery
Written by: Joey Scavuzzo and Aaron Slavick
Directed by: Rosemary Rodriguez
Episode Title: KSR
Written by: Craig Turk
Directed by: Jim McKay
Image Courtesy: Julianna Margulies