The Good Wife Review: Stripped

E:I didn’t sleep with everyone, he says.

I don’t understand why you can’t just forgive me and get it over with.

Perhaps it’s just to soon for Alicia Florrick to forgive her husband.  Perhaps it’s because when she steels herself to ask just what it was he did, he won’t tell her.  Perhaps it’s because – in flagrant disregard of the Alexis Castle rule of apologies – nothing about Peter Florrick looks or sounds truly apologetic. He just wants to get on with his life and pretend it never happened. Even in prison, the man is loose and relaxed and in control, while Alicia coils inward with rage and tension.  Isn’t that part of an old Howard Jones song – you can feel the punishment but you can’t commit the sin?  Alicia looks like the one with the guilty conscience.  Call me old fashioned, call me Victorian, call me Catholic; you’d be (mostly) right.  I believe marriage ought to be forever.  I feel like I ought to admire her more for staying.  But I also don’t know how you get past this one.

And perhaps that’s because where ever she goes, there are the photos and the videos she can’t bring herself to watch; the hands that touched her, that held their children, now touching those other women, reaching back and poisoning her past.  The images haunt her dreams. They’re sent to her by nasty little coworkers.  They’re slipped under her door by oily power brokers eager to prove that she owes them something for their kind forbearance.

And so when she’s requested by rape victim in what threatens to be a Duke lacrosse style case pitting the stripper/victim against one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in Chicago, we know that the title works on many level;  it’s victim Christy’s job, it’s what happens to rape victims during a trial, and it’s what happens to Alicia every day. Even strangers use her past against her from the very first moment they meet. She’s the reverse of the Emperor with his new clothes; she’s naked, no matter what she wears.

The unctuous new states attorney fixates on Alicia as we only can suppose he fixated on confident, collected Peter.  I knew much worse things about your husband than I told, he claims, as if it would absolve him of anything.  And presumably, he’s the one who slips photos under her door of her husband lighting up a pipe with yet another a prostitute.  Unfortunately for him, it’s her horrified children, Zach and Grace, who open the door – and who, in an improbable yet satisfying twist, figure out that the pictures were photoshopped.  Likely?  I dunno.  Sleuthing kids are enormously appealing, though.  They take the tiny opening offered to shake off their victimization.  They want to protect their mother, so she’s left with too little a glimpse to know who’s in the pictures, and wondering if her son has been looking at porn.

The rape case is twisty and largely well written.  The writers are good at setting you up to understand the legal maneuvering; after our heroes go into their initial “settlement lunch” expecting a $50,000 bribe (essentially), and instead get offered nine times that much, it’s immediately clear that the man is guilty.  The victim proceedes anyway because We have a judge (the stylistic opposite of last week’s snippy fellow) who seems to naturally favor the plaintiffs and yet ends up overcompensating in favor of the defense.  And the entire episode reinforces Christy’s stand in not taking the enormous bribe; acknowledging the truth is what matters, not how it’s done.

The show definitely doesn’t set out to amuse, and yet there were some lighter moments.  The porn mistake is a little funny, and the way Archie Panjabi’s investigator doesn’t respond when Alicia mentions it?  Cute.  Then of course there’s the exchange  between Josh Charles’ Will Gardner and Christine Baranski’s wry Diane Lockhart after a distressing revelation in the case:

“Your stripper was hooking!”

“Why is she my stripper when she does something bad?”

At the end of the hour, Alicia steels herself to watch the video.  “Does she do this for you?” the call girl asks Peter.  I don’t think the show is going to be all lawyering anytime soon.   And I’m okay with that.  We’ve got Peter’s appeal coming along nicely; perhaps some time we’ll find out exactly what he’s done, and what he’s accused of doing.  Alicia sees his betrayals everywhere; I’m fascinated to see how, and if, that evolves.  Can Peter become worthy of her trust?  I don’t see how that’s possible, but I’m definitely along for the ride.

Next week – Alicia goes to trial with someone who looks a heck of a lot like The Nine‘s Jessica Collins.   The IMDB is, unusually, no help in sussing out the specifics.  The IMDB also has this episode title listed as Crack; it’s not subtle (neither one was subtle), but I think they renamed it more properly.

2 comments on “The Good Wife Review: Stripped

  1. […] Good Wife has addressed this issue before – the intersection of sexual violence, the law, and the media – but not quite from this […]

  2. […] the terrible jealousies of those days, that she’d be spending her time at the Pink Sapphire wondering if Peter had been here and who he’d slept with, but she seems pretty collected. […]

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