The Good Wife: Threesome

E: You know one thing I love about this show?  I’ve just realized – perhaps I am slow – that Alicia Florrick has Lauren Bacall hair.  And eyebrows. She’s got the eyes of a sorrowing Madonna (the pieta Madonna, not the voguing one) framed by this glamorous, classy, untouchable movie star hair and arch, smart-allecky eyebrows.  It’s just another subtle way that this show brings us character.  Sorry for taking a little break there over the holiday weekend, but I hope you enjoy hearing about this anyway.  It was a completely fantastic episode, don’t you think?

The episode opens with Grace and Zach watching a clip of Chelsea Lately online.  They’re watching it because one of the call girls frequented by their dad is looking to extend her 15 minutes, and so pimping her would-be book.  The girl’s name is Amber Madison (the tagline under her name in the clip is “high class whore” – hee!).  She’s blond.  Ah, writers – is it horribly unkind to observe that so many of these girls are named Amber?  And that they’re pretty much all blond? I’m not making that up, am I?  Peter, who seems to be living in the courthouse now, frantically tries to reach Alicia before she sees it.  Secretary Courtney (nice to see you, finally!) makes Alicia watch it before she does anything else, so that at least she knows.  She gets to hear this girl say that Peter was going to divorce her so that they could be together and she could work on his campaign.  And there Alicia is, feeling naked again, expecting judgment and pity and scorn in every glance.

Let’s break it down.  In this episode, we have the Amber Alert plot, the chief legal plot (partner Stern and various bits of interoffice plotting), and Zach’s continuing mini-rebellion.  Seriously, these people can pack a lot into one episode!  (I was going to say an hour of television, but we all know it’s more like 40 minutes)

First off, let’s dispose of the labyrinthian internal legal plotting. Mysterious partner Stern (whom both Will and Alicia idolized in law school) comes home and crashes his car.  He’s so shaken he hops into a bar and downs 4 drinks in rapid succession, causing him to fail a breathalizer test and perhaps having something to do with him trying to punch out the arresting officer.  The firm insists he not represent himself on the DUI, and eventually he accepts the idea of Alicia being his beard because she did such a good job clearing his daughter of blame in that slip and fall.  And also because he thinks he can run roughshod over her.  He gives her lines to say, but can’t even contain himself to let her deliver them.  The judge and the opposing council both address him.  But Alicia – our Alicia – talks over Stern to save his bacon.  She manages to get half the evidence excluded and the charges dropped (merely by being observant – and listening to the similarly observant Kalinda).  A lawyer friend of mine tells me that this sort of technicality rarely happens in real life – well, that is to say, the whole “fruit of the poisoned tree” notion to rule out evidence is rarely something which succeeds in real life.  This seemed like a slight switch in that time honored tv legal strategy, though it’s a good thing to remember; don’t use it as a crutch, writers!  Just saying.  Because you know, of course, they read this blog and are hanging on my every word of advice. 😉

Anyway, our Alicia is so smart that she not only poisons that tree, she figures out what’s really the cause of the crash and Stern’s erratic behavior.  The managing partner of her firm has dementia.  That’s what led him to crash the car, and to lash out angrily at Will and Diane; it’s what led him to start mismanaging his cases a year ago, and to his year long leave of absence. and he’s so desperate to hide that knowledge that he was willing to risk jail time on the DUI/assault combo.  He orders Alicia never to break attorney/client confidentiality by telling, even if he’s honor bound to share his impairment with the court.   She’s not happy about it at all, and tells him so in no uncertain terms.   He responds by asking her to join the new firm he’s going to start up – taking a third of Stern, Lockhart & Gardiner’s clients with him.   Ouch!  Will wanted him gone so they could save more staff, and because he seemed erratic and wasn’t contributing, but at this cost?  Ouch.  As she turns down his offer, Stern tells Alicia that Will will someday stab her in the back, too, if it ever serves his interests.  (We’ve heard this before.  Interesting.  It’s not the impression we have of Will, but when people keep saying so, you have to wonder.) And THEN he casually mentions that Peter was set up by powerful people who will never let him out of jail.  “I’m not your Deep Throat on this,” he growls as he returns to a phone call.  Damn.

Meanwhile, Zach is showing his own rebellious side.  Alicia comes home – seemingly during her work day? – to deal with the fallout of the interview.  She’s calm and honest, and I’m impressed with her.  Zach wants to know what Peter has to say about it, and pounces on Alicia when she admits she hasn’t called Peter back to discuss it. “Dad still slept with her,” Grace reminds him.  “But he already apologized for that!” Zach counters, on the defensive.  “That doesn’t make it right,”Grace responds, and of course she’s right. It doesn’t mean the pain ends.  This dynamic seems so realistic; she’s devastated by this new vision of Daddy as betrayer.  He wants to put it behind him.  They have a cute argument about whether you can call a threesome a threeway – cute in the sense that siblings can argue about anything, making something this dreadful seems a bit smaller and more manageable even in its absurdity.

Later we see Zach in his room, sitting on his bed doing homework while a tarty blond sits at his desk.  Becca’s allegedly there to help with his homework – even though she’s two years older- but she’s clearly far more motivated to pump him for gossip.  Should she place an online bet that his parents will divorce, or that they’ll stay together?  Together, Zach says emphatically.  Then little miss starts blasting him with the sexy, saying that Amber (as quoted by some kid at school) says that she and Peter had sex on Zach’s bed.  She makes it clear this turns her on.  He’s lost most of his mental function from lust, but he’s much less enchanted by that idea.  Blessedly Jackie arrives, and Becca bounces out of his room – not before leaving a parting gift of music made for taming parents.  Hilariously, it’s some sort of Muslim chanting.

Jackie is so disconcerted by the falsely polite 16 year old stalking her 14 year old grandson – bringing Muslim music! – that she searches Zach’s room, finds the pictures of Peter, and throws them out.  Damn it!  She doesn’t shred them or anything.  Not only can they not use those to exonerate Peter now, but someone else might get a hold of them.  Damn it, Jackie!  When Alicia comes home, Jackie sits down and informs her that the kids need to go to church more often.  Alicia has trouble containing her laughter, until Jackie gets a little further into the whole story of Zach’s Muslim girlfriend.  You can see that she doesn’t believe he has a clandestine girlfriend, but that he’s got girls in his room is right out.  Alicia confronts him. “She’s a girl and my friend, and she’s helping me with my social studies homework” is his defense; “she’s a junior!”  Grace volunteers from down the hall.  “Mom, she’s nice.  You’d like her,” he adds.  Is he that dumb, I wonder?  That blinded by hormones?  Because the last thing Becca is is nice, and Alicia would most assuredly not like her.  Alicia handles this so well.  I’m sure I would, she says, and she’s welcome to come over and study as long as Jackie is here and you’re in the living room.  “But the computer is in here,” Zach shrugs, as if that’s the end of all arguments.  And Alicia promptly picks up his computers and starts carrying them out to her desk.  Zach whines about losing his privacy, and claims that she’s victimizing him because of Dad’s infidelities.  She doesn’t lose her cool, however (very impressive skill, that) and merely tells him that it’s a parenting thing; that she loves him more than she can say, and that this is the way it has to be.  Zach storms off and blasts the Muslim cd.

And finally, obviously, there is Amber. Amber provides the episode title; her claim is that Peter contacted her because Alicia wouldn’t participate in a threesome.  (Am I the only one who thinks that Peter would never have asked his wife of 15 plus years for such a thing?  The impression from Alicia is that he never did.)  Handler refers to Alicia as frigid.  (Oh, so not giving your husband a threesome is frigid, is it? Chelsea Classy Handler, that’s her.)  You can see Alicia relax when the scandal Diane and Will are discussing is Stern’s crash and not her marriage.

Kalinda offers to talk to her. “What would this entail?” wonders Alicia.  “Just talking,” shrugs Kalinda, and Alicia says she’ll do without.  When Amber starts calling Alicia at work, however, Alicia finds another heavy hitter.  She shows up at the courthouse (“I promised the kids I would talk to you”)  and dissolves into tears. Have we seen that before?  It’s a fascinating hold over of their former intimacy, because normally Alicia is all about underreacting and internalizing her emotions.  It’s so much easier for her to feel other people’s pain than her own – but here she is, allowing Peter to see how much she’s thrown.  “Your… prostitute is calling my work.”  In the end, she has one instruction for him. Make it stop.  She doesn’t care about the libel laws or whatever is holding him back.  She’s threatening your family. Make it stop.

And so he calls Amber into his courthouse office.  (I still can’t figure out how he’s swinging this, btw.) “I always liked you in a suit,” says Amber, uncomfortably echoing Grace and Alicia in a strange attempt at intimacy.  Image consultant Kya has wondered, and we do too, what Amber’s game is.  Does she want money, or fame, or does she want Peter?  It’s a fine question.  Does she really believe that Peter was going to leave Alicia, or is that just how she was portraying herself?  Did Peter – loathesome thought – actually say those things to her?  He told Alicia he hadn’t, but his word isn’t worth much.  And here’s it’s really not him that speaks to Amber.  “How much,” she wants to know; instead of bribing her, Peter has a threat.  Drop the book idea and the talk show appearances and we won’t contact this mobster you were seeing before and intimate that bits of the book will be about him.  Dropping a few personal details she passed on to Peter might get the mobster riled up enough to kill. “That was between us,” she responds, shocked, with tears in her eyes. Oh, that’s rich, Amber. Perhaps I should feel sorry for her, since he did just threaten her life, but honestly!  What sort of moral high ground does she think she has?  She get to ruin his life and he doesn’t get to fight back?  Ah, but since he was pissing on his old life by being with her, she must have gotten the impression he didn’t care about it.  Wrong.  I will do anything to protect my family, Peter tells her, wrenching out the words through clenched teeth.  “You have no idea what I’m capable of.”

After calling Alicia and being avoided (surprise!), Amber shows up at Alicia’s car at the end of the day.  I thought your husband was in love with me, but he threatened me, and you should know what he’s capable of doing, she cries.  What, was she looking for sympathy?  A girl to girl chat about how difficult Peter can be?  Alicia drives away.  And then she drives to the courthouse, and kisses Peter.  I’m not sure that would have been my reaction that situation, and I don’t entirely know what that’s all about – but one thing I can see for sure is the moment of power, of sexual power, where Alicia knows that she’s got Peter’s full attention and response.  There’s a tiny moment of victory for her, perhaps because Peter protected her at a rival’s expense.  It’s not very pretty, but it’s a fascinating and nuanced scene, just like every one they do here. And it packs a heck of a punch.

Honestly?  This is my favorite new show.  At first I tuned in on a whim, because I approve of Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles and Christine Baranski on principle.  I was far more excited about Flash Forward and V – I was practically trembling with excitement over the two of them – but this has been the show that delivers.  It’s smart, emotionally honest, and consistent. The entire creative team behind this show has my respect.  The protagonist might be under a cloud, but her work ethic and intelligence and moral standards lift the audience up.

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10 comments on “The Good Wife: Threesome

  1. C says:

    I think it’s a proven fact that a disproportionately large number of prostitutes are blonde and/or named Amber. Neither one by birth, one imagines.

  2. music says:

    Hi E, I like your idea that Alicia’s kiss to Peter was one of sexual power, I couldn’t make much of it at the time. I certainly wasn’t expecting it.
    And see how Will discards people he doesn’t need anymore. He even tried to get information from Alicia about Stern saying it was for his own good. He is cunning, suave and very seductive. I want to like him too, but his actions are less than altruistic.

    • E says:

      They’re definitely not setting Will up as white horse, are they? He’s not an easy alternative to Peter. That’s what makes it so brilliant, I think.

      I wonder if I want to like Will so much because of Knox Overstreet? He’s got those sad, sad, puppy dog eyes. I don’t think he’s playing Alicia (as much as it’s possible for him not to) but that doesn’t mean he’s good for her, or that he would put her needs ahead of his own. He’s no different from Peter in that sense.

      • music says:

        HI E!

        I wanted to watch Dead P. Society again to give you a proper response but it may never happen. So I did find someone’s thoughts on Knox Overstreet, which happily coincide with mine of Will Gardner!

        Here is an excerpt:

        Knox’s “object of desire” was Chris. He broke rules to see her, competed for her attention with her boyfriend, and sacrificed his relationship with his family and with the boyfriend’s family.

        In TGW, Will favors Alicia over Cary undermining his authority as a senior partner in the firm.

        Also, Alicia has a scheming husband at home ALL the time who may get very powerful (and dangerous) again. Her job is at risk, and the ways things are going she won’t go back to being a stay at home mom.

        Her children could stop believing in her, and her reputation, now that’s she high profile, is in jeopardy.

        Everything in Knox Overstreet’s (Josh Charles) life occurred out of impulse.
        His friend calls him “noxious” which is defined by Webster as:

        1. (a) physically harmful or destructive to living beings (noxious wastes that poison our streams)
        2. (b) constituting a harmful influence on mind or behavior : morally corrupting (noxious doctrines)

        When I read point b) I remembered Alicia pocketing the evidence on “Hi” before the police arrived while feeling vile. No question it was her decision, but who is her mentor?

        Anyway, you can read the whole article on
        http://www.antiromantic.com/knox-overstreet/
        if you are as nerdy as I am (:

        So look attentively at the swinging pendulum E. and repeat after me : “I am immune to those sad, sad, puppy dog eyes”.

        (:

        • E says:

          Thanks for the article (and of course I’m nerdy enough to read it!). It points to my major disatisfaction with Knox’s romance in the movie – he doesn’t know Chris, and that makes his infatuation with her just that, an infatuation. Definitely less romantic, and less meaningful, than loving someone for who they are, even if his willingness to make a fool out of himself was pretty appealing. If for no other reason than you don’t get a lot of 17 year olds making grand romantic gestures.

          Now, on the other hand, I think the author makes too much of the noxious dig, which was simply a play on the character’s name. I don’t think can be taken as a larger point about him.

          As for Will, I think we’re going to see tomorrow that even the suggestion that something might go on could have a terrible, adverse affect on Alicia’s kids. It’s interesting; I think if she’d divorced Peter immediately, and started dating afterwards, that might have been less horrible for her kids. More straightforward, more understandable. If she has an affair with Will, it could wreck them again. It makes for great drama, though!

  3. music says:

    Arghhhh ! I thought I was being successful at avoiding spoilers for the Doubt episode. So much for that. It’s a catch 22, while waiting for what’s next I like to think and read about what others think, but is that possible without finding out ahead of time what’s going to happen?
    I may be out of sync but I avoid promos for that reason. It’s just not the same when you know what’s coming. Especially in TGF, with all the different directions it’s taking. I assume the promos are intended to attract new watchers and not for existing ones. Guess I’m not right on that one.

  4. […] we have pretty simple words: Bang.  Boom.  Bad.  They don’t get much more complicated than Threesome (which, granted, is complicated enough). But when Diane informs us that a hybristophiliac is a […]

  5. […] C and I like to kid her about it.  Anyway, after episodes of The Good Wife entitled Bang and Threesome we’ve been, and still are, deluged with hits from searches such […]

  6. […] And the doors of the court swing open to allow Alicia access, and we hear an argument immediately about the transcript of the earlier trial. “Your Honor, if I could finish, this is a travesty,” a young woman’s high pitched voice calls out, with conviction but without authority. Alicia sits unobtrusively at the back. “The defense attorney’s arguing double jeopardy,” the smug tones of the delightfully loathsome Matan Brody reach us before we see his face, “but Mr. Tatro is not being accused of the same crime.”  That seems like its splitting hairs to me.  How can he be guilty of killing someone when he was found innocent of trying to kill him?  Also, gosh, they’re really going for it in the first season parallels by trotting Matan out, aren’t they?   The young defense attorney, who wears a pale aqua suit under her long red hair, complains to the judge that Brody’s not letting her speak.  “In 2009, we had to prove that Mr. Tatro had a specific intent to kill Mr. Jeffrey Garrix.”  And they didn’t, Defender Girl pipes up. “But now that the charge is first degree murder, we don’t need to prove an intent.”  Really?  That’s fascinating.  I don’t see how that affects double jeopardy, though.  (Also, have we moved on from the first season to the second?  Being that the second episode of season 2 was called actually Double Jeopardy?  It’s a nice parallel to have the second to last episode of season 6 about the same thing.  And then there’s the whole issue of Defender Girl being reminiscent of season three’s Martha and Caitlin — both of them — while having the same first name as Peter’s paramour Amber Madison.) […]

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