A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Landing is an excellent episode of The Good Wife, its remarkably illogical pivots at times feeding not into a sense of annoyance but one of belonging. Everything clicks even when it doesn’t and it’s largely because this episode finds itself overwhelmed by a sense of thrill it has lost so spectacularly this season. Even some of the better installments this season have at times felt as if they were treading water just for the sake of completing a storyline or two, filler material simply coasting along until the forty-five minute mark had been sufficiently reached. There was a lacking thrill and not just in terms relating to plot mechanics but ones even that felt emotionally insignificant. I lost count of how many times I thought to myself “Do I really care? Does it matter at any point if this person disappears forever? Who is that again? Why is he or she here?” A great dramatic series simply can’t rely upon its protagonist alone, especially not when there is a massive roster of a great supporting cast and the show’s ability to nab some amazing names for guest roles. But the show often forgot how to utilize that amazing supporting cast and since Alicia couldn’t take up all forty-five minutes of any given episode, it was difficult to truly embrace most installments after Cary’s trial concluded. At worst, there would sometimes be idiotic cases of the week that added to that deafening sense of despair in a series that had proven itself to be much more than a typical law drama. Landing sticks its titular promise and even when certain character arcs feel plot-wise suffocating, the emotional resonance carried it significantly forward and even the case of the week brought for it a thematic connection to the episode while simultaneously tying up one of the show’s longest-running story arcs.
The previous time the NSA graced the presence of The Good Wife, it was an embarrassment to the show and to an audience that had rightfully come to expect the material we all know this show is perfectly capable of delivering. Here, however, it is a taut beginning of closure for one of the generally strongest running legal thoroughfares the show has produced. It’s pointed political satire that makes a significant point about the vitality of holding liberties in high regards over the knee-jerk reaction towards preserving the national security apparatus. It’s done with the perfect blend of absurdity and realism here, beginning with a simple phone call and ending with that trademark The Good Wife cynicism I had missed recently. It’s a gut-wrenching ending when one thinks about it and not necessarily because Jeff Dillinger is a truly well-developed character (he’s not) but because of what it says about truly escaping from the national security apparatus. Having lived in Iceland in somewhat of a secure fashion so far, Jeff surprisingly arrives at the Toronto Airport. His mother had passed away and all he wanted to do was go to her funeral. It’s a profoundly human movement in the midst of this political crisis and it seemed at a point that it was all over for him, that he would be tried in the United States and that was going to be the end. It was a logical conclusion for a storyline so concerned with escaping a system determined to invade the privacy of its own citizens but the show added in an additional twist of the knife. They pull a trick with the Canadian version of the NSA and Jeff escapes prosecution within the States. Yet it seems like the price of that freedom might be losing it in Canada.
Alicia’s arc this hour struggles with the definition she had been facing ever since she sacrificed her career for the sake of Peter’s and their family: what does it mean to be a good wife? She has over the course of this season started to give less and less of two shits about what other people think, the feelings they conjure to express their opinions about her behavior. But nevertheless Alicia simply isn’t as free from opinions as she thought she might be. When she informs Jason that she’s getting a divorce from Peter, part of her doesn’t want to admit that he was a factor in making that decision. That’s not to say he was the entirety of it, there’s simply too much that has occurred between herself and Peter over the years for that to be the case. But he was a catalyst and there’s a real hesitancy between the two of going into depth as to what that truly means. As The Good Wife begins its crescendo towards its last hurrah, the plot mechanics of Alicia confronting the titular question become more and more obvious. While Peter’s potential fraud here lacked the proper groundwork for it to function as well the original idea must have sounded on paper, it’s working so well on a character level here that it is fairly difficult to complain as much as one would like. By far the best moment was Peter getting arrested and Alicia running to go grab the tie. “You will not humiliate my husband,” she notes with a formidable menace. She sells the notion that Peter is being framed to the press waiting so fervently outside. Alicia is standing behind Peter for what may very well be the last time. It remains to be seen, however, what she might lose in this act of solidarity, of being a good wife.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+A tussle over a literal line on the ground
+“Why would I ever get out of bed?”
+“My husband … he’s having issues.”
+The interrupting terminal announcement was one of those perfectly executed moments of awkward comedy the show does so well
+“I read what’s public. I want to know what’s not.”
+“No one has free reign.”
+Alicia realizing the depth to which she had been listened to for all these years
+I loved the subplot with Diane and Kurt. Logically, plot-wise it was a bit thin, but it had more emotional resonance than anything Diane has had in what feels like years.
+“Everything in America is a national security issue.”
+Looking down upon from the top
+“I am standing beside my husband again.”
+“Because I want to. Because the kids are leaving home. Because everything.”
+“Unfortunately, things aren’t simple.”
Episode Title: Landing
Written by: Luke Schelhaas
Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson
Image Courtesy: Two Cents TV