The Jury’s Back
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The penultimate episode of The Good Wife is an above average hour, boosted above its plot by expectedly great performances and unexpected pathos in some of the quieter moments amongst its supporting cast, a key weakness of the show over a significant amount of time. The titular meaning of “Verdict” is obvious, if not made even more so by where the episode begins and where it ends, but the theme of finality is less obvious, even when the episode’s weakest subplot bludgeons the audience over the head with it. The Good Wife is ending and it is an absolute surprise to no one at this point, unless they’ve somehow missed all of the announcement of CBS counting down the remaining number of episodes in every single promo. It would be quite nice if the series was ignorant of the fact from the perspective of its writing and its characters, which would allow it to inherently evolve organically towards an ending that would be as cathartic as possible. But time and time again the show is simply not content with letting its story progress towards its final hour without throwing out as many references towards its end as humanly possible (this episode in that regard is about as subtle as Alicia’s broken chair when she returns to Lockhart, Agos, and Lee). When it works its way into the plot and actually receives a decent amount of screen time, however, it grates in a way that seems less tongue-in-cheek and more inane. The verdict on the future of Alicia and Diane’s all female-led firm (which takes a completely inane turn this week) is made uncertain, but it is a future whose idea on paper sounded great and execution became fairly weak.
The Good Wife, despite its missteps in this regard, is nevertheless one of the most feminist shows on television. Its female protagonist in Alicia is accomplished, messy, and sexy in ways women over the age of forty are never allowed to be. Diane is a television feminist icon and Kalinda was a queer feminist icon, despite whatever happened to her after season three. The show’s supporting cast and vast array of esteemed guest stars have plenty of female characters who are sharp and complex in their own way, even if some of them (like Robyn) tend to disappear awkwardly. The show’s reveal that Diane wanted to pursue an all female-led firm was a natural extension of that, even if it was presented in the plot in a fairly awkward fashion. As always, it made sense that David Lee would be the biggest obstacle in that creation, because that’s what he does. One of the smarmiest characters but arguably one of the least developed ones, David Lee pulls a complete one eighty and all of a sudden he sounds like one of those idiotic men’s rights activists, claiming that Diane is inherently discriminating against men in her interview and hiring practices (cue hopefully massive audience eye rolls everywhere). It really makes no sense that David Lee went form being okay with Diane’s plans to suddenly being against them. The thing he cares about the most is his bottom line, hence his lucrative earnings through high-end divorces keeping him in the firm through the myriad of changes. It’s a waste of precious time as a subplot, matched only by the inanity of the office being torn apart for expansion, completely by mistake. We get it, this firm will no longer be in this shape. There’s no need to clobber the audiences over the head by having the “Lockhart, Agos, & Lee” sign collapse right as Alicia and Diane open the doors, aghast that the construction crew wouldn’t double check the floor they were demolishing.
As one would expect from the title, Peter’s trial takes center stage in this episode but it doesn’t have the weight or dramatic effect the show was really going for. The most pathos coming from a character whom arguably has no real stake in the trial itself doesn’t bode that well for the ending, but I have to give credit where it is due here. Out of all the myriad of relationships on this show that would come across as the most poignant during the trial, I didn’t expect it to be the one between Diane and Kurt. One of the show’s better pairing decisions, the political boundary-crossing pair come across an unforeseen hurdle after Diane asks Kurt to testify at the court on her defense’s behalf. Kurt does so but the consequences are his work ethic being openly lambasted in court by his former protégée, who was more than happy to get revenge on losing out on the opportunity to purchase Kurt’s business. It’s as thin of a characterization as Geneva Pine receives here, but it does allow for a touching scene between him and Diane that reaffirms that in spite of everything, their relationship is stronger than ever and something that could lead to a significant amount of crack in a weaker relationship is an event they have to contend with but have the strength of their love to get past. It’s certainly a lot more than Alicia and Peter can say for themselves, certainly, but their cold/warm interactions feel more germane than any of their appearances before the camera and that’s how it should be; their trial coaching sequence was great and the work there made the results that much more effective. There may not be much of the pathos that the show expects from Peter’s trial in all honesty (nor is there the amount of fanfare that I would expect from a gubernatorial trial), but there’s a bit of excited trepidation for what it means for the show’s final hour and that’s something at least.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I don’t care what you believe. I care what you can prove.”
+“Do you want me to cry, Mr. Canning?”
+“When people think bad things of you, they keep on thinking.”
+“I’m not on trial, buddy.”
+“I have as much right to complain as any minority.” Lucca’s eye roll is great here.
+“I never liked wine.” Oh, hell no, Peter.
+“The hardest thing is being forgotten.”
+“The jury’s back.”
Episode Title: Verdict
Written by: Craig Turk
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
Image Courtesy: CBS