A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The latest round of episodes from The Good Wife were an odd bunch, a mix of great acting, occasional one-liners bursting with wit and a plethora of oblivious plot lines that essentially went nowhere. The fatigue in the series had set in long ago, but it is settling into this unfortunate romp from whence it seems almost impossible to truly recover. When the most entertaining part in about an hour and a half is a tenant who is constantly being mistaken for Alicia because the elevator in her apartment building switched the buttons for “6” and “9”, there’s a problem. Its resolution is a further indication of where The Good Wife has constantly found itself ever since the Will voice message was revealed at the end of “KSR”. Seemingly completely out of ideas for its future in dependence on its present, the series has constantly been digging into its past in order to find some semblance of cohesive storytelling going forward. If a series is approaching its end like this one, digging into the past makes sense in accordance with a goal to bring the storylines full circle. But that digging only yields cohesive results when it’s beginnings are germane, when they serve the story in a fashion that feels inevitable yet refreshing. The Good Wife instead seems exhausting, intent on dragging itself through narrative and emotional beats that ring absolutely hollow and thoroughly forced, digging into its past in a shallow attempt to salvage its present. Should Alicia go back to what is now Lockhart Agos (or was it Lockhart Agos Lee?)? Part of it makes sense for Alicia to end up where she began, even if one despairs at the long, winded road it took to get there in the first place.
Grace, a character along with Zach The Good Wife had little handle on for its run so far, takes center stage once more to prove that in a series increasingly filled with incompetent adult fools, she may be the only person behaving like an adult. While the audience wonders when Grace actually goes to school (the timeline right now is late winter, correct? With the Iowa caucuses in play, I would hazard at late January or an early February timetable for these two episodes), she does her best to ensure that the Florricks don’t get evicted out of their apartment. That narrative is just as exciting as one might imagine, with no offense to Grace intended. That equivalency passes over to Cary and Diane, MVPs of this television’s season’s award of “Most Unnecessary Series Regulars”. Cary gets no storyline outside of inviting Alicia back to the firm whose greatest expenditure is printing new business cards (one would imagine the two of them sharing another screen would be a greater moment of poignancy) and Diane gets stuck in another case of the week that tries to say something politically poignant but ends up doing the exact opposite. The centering of a case around the debate of political correctness on college campuses is sound in theory, but crucial errors around an unsympathetic protagonist and illogical storytelling tells me that the writers don’t really understand what the actual debate is about. Or perhaps they do and they simply can’t translate it to any effective narrative storytelling that gives Diane something more to do than simply appear on screen and collect a paycheck from CBS.
The overall narrative structure of these two episodes is a complete mess. Eli comes back twice, making an absolute mess of Alan Cummings’s innate talent. The sequence between him and Ruth suggested some sense of intimacy, which makes absolutely no sense considering that the vast majority of the time the two individuals were at each other’s throats like the ultra competitive political operatives they are. Sure, they can have some emotional attachment, but anything resembling friendship here is a case of the writers simply trying way too hard to wrench emotional fallout where there was little to no such sentiment in existence prior. Easily the greatest offense in that regard is the sequence is Alicia’s meltdown in the laundry room. Julianna Margulies is a great actor and her portrayal of Alicia Florrick has been one of the most iconic female roles in television, there is little to argue with that. Each performance, however, is supported by the foundation of good writing and that doesn’t exist here. Each frame, each line, each utterance was so beyond fake that it is honestly simply astounding that a single aspect of this was considered to be emotionally resonant other than infuriating. The sequence tries so hard to be relevant that the audience can almost literally see the seams of the entire narrative splinter apart and simply twirl about everywhere to the point where it resembles an entangled mess more than anything else. Lucca, a character whom Cush Jumbo has imbued with a greater performance than the character writing deserves, is now all of a sudden best friends with Alicia. It’s a simple matter of recognition and exasperation and nothing else. I simply can’t bring myself to buy it. I try, but I simply cannot.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Tracks):
+“Do you work for Miss Florrick?”
+Marissa helping Grace out
+Lucca killing it in court
+“I have eyes.”
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Judged):
+That kiss, though. Damn.
+“It usually involves seeing which number is higher.”
+Alicia back as a junior partner
-Judge Schakowsky is definitely the worst judge The Good Wife has ever created. Talk about a complete failure in writing.
-The whole “Where is Jason working?” isn’t working anymore
Episode Title: Tracks
Written by: Stephanie Sengupta
Directed by: Felix Alcala
Episode Title: Judged
Written by: Tyler Bensinger
Directed by: Rosemary Rodriguez
Image Courtesy: CBS