Pop the Cork
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Party is as close to a bottleneck episode of The Good Wife as I can remember, most of enclosed within the fairly eventful walls of Alicia Florrick’s apartment. A myriad of characters all converge upon the eventful ketubach signing ceremony between Jackie and Howard, the red wine flowing throughout the night like a veritable river of tumultuous dramatics. That sense of tumultuous drama has always been one of the hallmarks of this pivotal series and despite all of its missteps, that whirlwind proved to be extremely dramatically exciting and if not exciting, at the very least entertaining. And frankly there is lot to be said positively about an episode where so much dramatic tension erupts but whose finest moment lies in two beings of a couple, recognizing at last that their relationship was truly going to splinter apart. That recognition is a tough one to make regardless of one’s stage in a relationship. At the beginning, there’s the honeymoon phase and the sheer ecstasy of that is difficult to break. When that begins to fade away, a bit of a pattern sets in and patterns are even more difficult to snap one’s self from. When one arrives at the juncture of marriage and steps beyond it, divorce is a painful process to confront. But arguably the most difficult is when a couple has had children, a slowly building married life that crashes, spirals out of control, and never truly comes back together. Zach was already in college (and should have stayed there because I wanted to punch him in this episode) and Grace is heading out soon and at that stage, Alicia simply had no more reasons to stay in a marriage that had stopped giving her any semblance of happiness a long time ago.
The revelations were stunning right off the bat. Jason’s response to Alicia’s proclamation that she wanted him was to give her a deed to five hundred acres on Mars. Alicia is understandably dumbfounded and doubts begin to seep into her mind. What did she even know about Jason? Why was she potentially getting into a relationship with a man who couldn’t answer her response to if she wanted to be with him and instead gifts her land on Mars? But she barely has time to think about that before the ceremony begins in earnest and all of the guests start arriving. Jackie loves all of the funeral flowers, which is a hilarious note, but her interactions with Veronica and ending note to Alicia all come together to provide a fitting tribute to a character whose writing remained pitch perfect in this hour. Zach as mentioned arrives back and thank goodness for Grace’s relative calm in this episode because Zach dropping out of school to move to France with his lover was the last thing I had expected. His rationale is so shrill it becomes annoying and Peter and Alicia’s worry about the sudden route that he’s taking is understandable. It’s not that this paradigm inherently favors the parents, no, but his language is crafted less from a sense of thoughtfulness and understanding but one of shrill privilege and a substantial lack of understanding. When he screams at his mother for the divorce and sleeping with Jason, he has a point but instead of his listening to Alicia and her reasonings for why she is at her juncture, he takes it as a personal affront and storms off. Ugh, teenagers. Grace’s understated disappointment that Alicia didn’t share that piece of personal information with her is much more relatable, much more nuanced. It’s an earned disappointment, in a way Zach’s tantrum is not.
Party truly feels like an installment that signals more than ever before that The Good Wife is coming to an end. There’s a catharsis throughout the hour, hellos and good-byes with the smallest of tidbits keeping everything afloat while reminding the audience of some of the very best things it will miss once the finale has aired. There’s even a welcome return for Darkness at Noon, folks! Veronica and Jackie’s shade match with Owen in the awkward middle is great, as is her spilling the beans of the impending Florrick divorce. The investigation from Jason via Eli into whether or not Peter had actually committed a crime zapped some of the energy from the rest of the episode, but it was balanced enough to never tip into the truly mundane. I honestly find little dramatic catharsis in seeing if Peter actually committed the fraud or not because I simply have no emotional connection to the character in any way, shape, or form. That’s not a knock on Chris Noth’s performance, which has been stellar, it’s just the character himself isn’t all that appealing or compelling. What matters more to me as a viewer of this series is how Alicia reacts, how her character arc gets closure from Peter’s catastrophe. It’s Alicia’s words to Peter at the beginning of the episode that brings some sense of real closure to the series with only two episodes remaining. “Every time I waited for a better moment,” she began and she didn’t even need to complete the rest of the sentence because all of the audience collectively recalled every single moment where Alicia could have found a better life but she didn’t take that moment or wasn’t able to. She found that moment, she found that opportunity and it doesn’t matter if Jason reciprocates or not. What matters is that Alicia at last seized an opportunity to be happy and laid out all her cards on the table. Sometimes, that’s the best we can hope for and without a doubt, there’s a certain satisfaction in that.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“You were snoring.”
+“Je ne sais pas.” That was one of the best line deliveries from Julianna Margulies, period.
+“A coalition of the innocent.”
+“Firm of the Amazons?”
Episode Title: Party
Written by: Leonard Dick
Directed by: Rosemary Rodriguez
Image Courtesy: LA Times