We’ve Got Bagels (And Not Much Else)
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Catching up on The Good Wife was excruciating, like visiting some segment of your existence that started well, got great, and then crashed precipitously. The only reason you’re coming back is to get some closure and then move beyond to hopefully better pastures. In the case of The Good Wife, those better pastures are guaranteed: The Americans is coming back this week and Game of Thrones is bloodily gracing our screens at the end of April. There’s little joy in writing such a harsh judgment on a show that landed on several top ten lists in its fifth season, an achievement considering there are twenty-two episodes the show has to construct during each season, but The Good Wife made its seem effortless then. There are small bits of enjoyment left in the series, like the two flavors of ice cream that one likes in a shop even though the shop as a whole is no longer really worth writing home about. There’s not even a joy in seeing the fine assembly of actors the show often assembles anymore, which is a darn shame considering the show has such a wide array of them to begin with. Julianna Margulies is as excellent as always and thankfully in this trio of episodes she hasn’t gotten anything nearly as embarrassing as her breakdown in the laundry room. Cush Jumbo is giving a good performance, but Lucca hasn’t evolved beyond a Kalinda replacement with little characterization. Christine Baranski is a treasure but Diane Lockhart has been wasted since the second half of season six. And the less said about the writing Matt Czuchry’s Cary at this point, the better.
Monday and Targets both suffer considerably from an almost lackadaisical consideration of plot and character, meandering about with some superb sequences but never coming together and finding a cohesive whole. Monday starts off with Alicia and Lucca in the halls of Lockhart, Agos, & Lee, a law firm that I assume will include the name “Florrick” by the end of it all, forcing more changes to stationery. It’s a slightly awkward homecoming, but just in case the audience didn’t already understand that point, Alicia’s office includes a chair that is broken in what is possibly the most heavy-handed metaphor the show has ever done. The legal case that comes with the return of Neil Gross is dismissible, squandering an intriguing set up about deals between Silicon Valley tech CEOs having, in effect, their own police force. The legal case in Targets gets into ISIS territory and for the first two acts of this specific plot, it is actually interesting. The Good Wife does excellent work when it manages to merge both character and legal plot significantly together and Alicia going through these decisions only to see the American-born ISIS recruiter be killed in a targeted strike anyhow worked quite well. The tension is built remarkably well and the slowly creeping sense of the inevitable consequence results in a strong indictment of the American military and judicial systems. It’s quite unfortunate that that storyline had to end within the halls of the NSA, however, removing quite a bit of its potency in the quest for something I’m not quite sure of.
Hearing is juxtaposed in terms of how utterly energetic it feels. That energy arises from Alicia and Jason abandoning worldly pretensions and thoughts to have a plethora of fun, sexy time. It’s great to see Alicia just relaxed and a little loose with herself, allowing that breathing room and pleasure that she deserves but is just consistently bound in by the expectations and realities of other people and especially for herself. Adding in Veronica and Owen into the mix adds to that energy, even if Veronica’s subplot of a bad investment never really goes anywhere. The main thoroughfare, however, is inconsistent in that very energy and it portends to slightly troubling things down the road. Peter is apparently under a federal investigation and it takes some finagling to discover that it has to do with a man named Lloyd Garber, who is fantastically wealthy and has dairy farms in Israel. Ruth is back as a result of the investigation and it’s always a pleasure to see Margo Martindale in anything. She brings Alicia some quality tequila but also warns that she should cut her losses and cash out while she still could. It’s an interesting scene on its own, but the weight doesn’t completely land as the shared history between the characters falls on the flatter side of things. Peter being investigated for potential corruption and not another sexual scandal is a better choice (for now anyhow), but there’s a lacking urgency with the storyline as a whole that’s slightly infuriating. For Eli and Ruth to be consternated is one thing but no one else is extremely concerned and it’s a problem the series would be wiser to address now rather than later. But wisdom, as we all know, is a difficult thing to come by and an even more difficult to maintain.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Monday):
+The attempts to put Lucca and Monica together are fantastic, reinforcing the ignorant racism and privilege that still permeates those sheen walls. It’s the rare Good Wife subplot these days that sticks and makes a mark.
+“That’s going to be disgusting, just so you know.”
+“It’s not Europe, so I only get an hour.”
+Eli’s reasoning as to why people have children: “They can admire themselves in someone else.” It’s strangely touching, primarily because Eli and Marissa are fantastic.
+“I was this close to being called Budapest.”
+“I think it’s supposed to be revolution.”
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Targets):
+“…the bleeding heart…”
+“Maroon signifies sacrifice and bravery.”
+The dancing around of legality in the quest to authorize a targeted kill of an American citizen were disquieting in the reality they show
+Green notebook for serious notes
+“Any future attack is now considered imminent.”
+“Keeper of secrets. Pourer of comfort cereal.” I love Marissa. She would be great on Game of Thrones.
-Cary and David Lee’s subplot of them worrying about Diane’s possible desire for an all-female firm is one of the dumbest things this show has ever done, not because of theory, but of the absolute lack of character work within it
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (Hearing):
+“This must be the painter.”
+Carrie Preston returns for one last time as Elsbeth Tascioni and it is an absolute treat. Preston took a character that could have easily been a caricature and made her absolutely thrilling.
+The bathroom wall sequence was perfect, embellished with some extremely clever camerawork
+“We can make ourselves more relevant.”
+The doorbell motif
Episode Title: Monday
Written by: Leonard Dick
Directed by: Nelson McCormick
Episode Title: Targets
Written by: Luke Schelhaas
Directed by: David Dworetzky
Episode Title: Hearing
Written by: Adam R. Perlman
Directed by: Félix Alcalá
Image Courtesy: TV Guide