E: It’s target overload on The Good Wife, with quarry military, political, and sexual in our sights. Generally, however, this isn’t one of the stronger or more cohesive episodes; instead it’s a bunch of less-than-fully-realized plotlines thrown together to see what sticks. Hey, we’ve only got a few episodes left! Better re-use all the great guest stars! Better toss in all the new ones we can fit! Ever wanted to see Alicia on a secret military panel? Let’s try that too! More absurd interoffice dynamics? Check! Hot office sex? Gotta have that.
Basically, there were three main plots in Targets, two of which were fascinating but unfortunately truncated by the frustrating and dumb third plot. And I’m sure you can guess what I’m talking about.
The opening feels a bit more cloak and dagger than the usual video or montage; Alicia’s been approached by a secret military tribunal, which whisks her off to a secure location and makes her leave her phone out in a holding area, the better to preserve her from internecine stupidity as she can’t make a timely answer to calls from work. Today’s idiocy at Lockhart, Agos & Lee begins with photos for an ABA article which appears be slanted more toward the female partners, which obviously makes Cary and David Lee suspect that Diane’s plotting to head up an all female firm and push them out, because what else could it be? If only the writers had preserved us from having to watch that, too, but no. We’re not nearly as lucky as Alicia is this week.
Although on the other hand being impaneled by the military to decide whether an ISIS internet recruiter can be considered a military combatant and thus eligible to be put on the kill list for a drone strike probably isn’t much fun. I guess what I mean by lucky in this case is that it’s an interesting issue, with real world relevance, as opposed to the constant insane bickering at LAL. (Why could they not just give them another case? UGH!) Joining her on the panel are a lot of mucketty-mucks, including a lawyer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our old friend Captain Hicks/Dudley Do-right, and another civilian who styles himself as the fire-breathing conservative opposed to Alicia’s bleeding heart liberal. Ah, but the surprise is on him when Alicia pulls a Hillary Clinton, and instead of agreeing with Hicks (who argues that propagandists aren’t considered combatants under American legal precedent and law) contends that the recruiter does contribute materially to terrorism by supplying ISIS the bodies that carry their suicide bombs. It’s rather hilarious, actually, watching the committee members’ shocked faces when Alicia asks why they wouldn’t choose to do everything they can to stop ISIS. Of course, she takes back her vote to kill when she finds out that the radical is actually an American citizen, and that the real purpose of this commission is to provide the American with a certain amount of due process and by so doing give the President any kind of legal and political cover they can.
Yeah, that’s not cool. Learning this causes not only Alicia but another member of the panel to rethink his vote, and so the debate goes on for the rest of the day. Due process is the central issue; can this really count as a man’s day in court? Americans are entitled to civil rights, and it’s apparently easier to consider non-Americans alienated from inalienable rights. (Props to Hicks for believing that America ought to treat others according to our own laws and principles.) Eventually, the group breaks early at the rather suspicious insistence of its leader (character actor extraordinaire John Finn), and when Alicia arrives the next morning, she finds that Captain Hicks is suspiciously missing. I assume that this is simply because he’s not going to give in easily, which I’m sure is right, but the complicated pretext Finn’s Cleary gives Alicia for this absence is that there’s a leak inside the government. Hicks would never do that, Alicia replies in protest. Yes, he says. That’s why we’re looking at you.
And while we’re all pretty certain that Alicia would never purposely do that either, I was completely thrilled to learn that Alicia was actually the leak, because that the NSA has been ratting her phone. (I think that’s the term for them listening in to her conversations while she’s not on her phone?) Or rather, I was thrilled because it meant we got to see the wonderful Michael Urie, whose name I hadn’t noticed in the credits. That’s always a joy, isn’t it, to see a favorite character when you weren’t expecting them? And there wasn’t a funnier moment in the episode than when it cut from Alicia dirty-talking Jason (I’ll get back to that) to Tweedle-Dum (Tobias Segal) practically melting into his chair as he listened in. The NSA stories just pushes all my buttons; they terrify me as a citizen, first off, but they also hit a meta-level where the analysts stand in for the audience in a way that is pure genius. Poor Tweedle-Dum gets carted away when his boss, the thin man, discovers that he was the one sharing the information from Alicia’s phone. We’ll miss you, Tyler. You were entertaining, and your goat videos were way more interesting than a crashing wave your new colleagues sends to end the show. Of course, Tyler’s doing better than the American ISIS propagandist; Alicia finds out on the news that the committee acted without her, and that he’s been killed by drone strike.
Now, back at the governor’s mansion, there’s a lot of fear about Scott Deveraux/Roland Hlavin/Whatever The Bleep His Name Is’s on-going investigation, and so of course Eli calls in Elsbeth Tascioni to help extract them from that mess. So you want me to figure out why they’re investigating you, Elsbeth asks, and when Peter plays dumb Eli bundles the lawyer out of the room and finally confesses that he knows about the voter fix. (It’s reasonable for Peter to be there, but he was a bit wasted, no? He doesn’t have nearly the response to Eli’s admission that I wanted, and he’s back to acting like he never broke Eli’s heart, which annoys me.) While they’re having this conversation, the noose tightens; the FBI wants to talk to Nora.
Elsbeth interviews Nora and then Marissa, and suddenly declares that she can’t represent Peter; she gives Eli her ex-husband’s card and then flees. To comic effect, Eli uses ex-husband Mike (Will Patton, another wonderful character actor who’s fun but far too old for Elsbeth) to figure out that one of Elsbeth’s clients is also a big donor of Peter’s and friend of Eli’s, who got Marissa one of her many jobs, this one on a dairy farm. Perhaps like me you are asking yourself why that matters so much, and why we had to spend so much time figuring it out. Other than introducing us to an interesting new character, this feels like a complete waste of time. Did we need to know that Elsbeth has to do yoga because of her inherited high blood pressure? Or that she still shares a spark with her ex? Granted it was fun to see her bond with Marissa over their mutual love of purses, and the shared custody dog was cute, but I don’t at all know how any of this served the story, or merited so much of our preciously limited time. Maybe we’re going to see more of Mike, but I hope this doesn’t mean it was the last we’ll see of Elsbeth.
Of course, back at LAL, Cary and David Lee immediately involved Lucca and Jason in their paranoia — which is to say, they wasted no time before wasting our time. Sigh. And lucky Lucca! What a warm welcome to the firm! Cary asks Lucca to lunch so he can pester her for information about Alicia’s ambitions; Lucca can’t pass on any information, because there is none. After calling the investigator out on his Marlboro Man persona, David hires Jason to do a little sleuthing on Diane’s intentions, a strategy Diane twigs to immediately. Glass walls, y’all. Of course Diane is doing no such thing. Ah, it’s just another episode in Smart Lawyers Behaving Stupidly. Or maybe it should be called Legal Middle School? Either way, they’re all acting like idiots, and it feels incredibly unnecessary. I like it so much more when they have actual cases. What happened to your creativity, writing staff?
And then I guess there was sort of a fourth plot, if you can call it that; one where Jason shows up at Alicia’s office when she’s trying to fight off the urge to drink her problems into oblivion after the first day in the military kangaroo court. He offers her an alternative; close your eyes, he suggests, and breath. I don’t meditate, she snorts, frustrated. Listen to the sound of my breathing, then, he whispers in her ear. But there’s only so long that you can listen to your hot crush’s breathing before you’re kissing them, and it’s not much longer before Jason’s helping Alicia christen her new couch, glass walls be damned.
Of course, the next day Jason declines a call from Alicia, which predictably irritates her, and so the following night when he appears at her office, she immediately calls him on it. Good for you, girlfriend! They have a moderately grown up conversation about the difficulties of embarking on a continued sexual relationship, which is refreshing. With more stubbornness than rationality, Alicia insists that Peter won’t care if they continue seeing each other and neither will anyone else, making me I literally laugh out loud. I’m with Jason, and so is anyone who’s ever seen Peter. He would not be cool with this, their agreement be damned. But it all comes down to one thing, Alicia points out; their desire for each other hasn’t remotely lessened. She’s frank and confident and powerful, and he finds it irresistible.
Okay, so the tryst between Alicia and Jason was incredibly sexy (and like I said, I love our audience surrogates at the NSA swooning over Alicia’s sexual honesty) but it also makes me sad. I’ve said it before, I’m happy that Alicia’s reclaimed her sexuality. I’m happy she feels so empowered. And it’s obviously quite absorbing TV. (Also, I love that she called Jason on avoiding her; that was pretty juvenile). But I would enjoy it so much more if she wasn’t married. In fact, I’ll say that I find it painful to see her acting like she’s single when she isn’t; first of all, it’s stupid, because it will come out eventually (did she learn nothing from Will and the Haircut and the emails?) but more importantly, it’s just sad. Divorce Peter! Divorce him already! For the love of God, woman, get a fricking divorce! Why do you still think that you need him? His team thinks that you could be an even better politician than he is (doubtful, because he likes it and you hate it, but let’s go with that). You already have a great job. You make great money. You very rarely see him; you haven’t lived together in years, and you’ve officially given up on ever rekindling your marriage. You kids are nearly out of the house – and what’s more, they don’t care, because it’s very clear to them that their parents marriage exists in name only. You didn’t really want to be First Lady. So what is it? What does being married to him give you that you can’t just get on your own? It’s not any resembling a conventional look at a marriage, that’s for sure: love, companionship, intimacy, sex, shared finances or child-rearing.
I am truly at a loss, and wasn’t that the whole point of this exercise? Finding out why these women – these wives of straying politicians – stay? They did a beautiful job of making us understand Alicia and her determination and her fidelity and stubbornness in the beginning, but she’s worn through all of those things beside her stubbornness. Is there anything left beyond ambition? That would be something, even (an unpalatable something, but still something), if it were clear that she really believed in him as a politician achieving particular goals, or thought that being married to him in name would get her certain things, or that together they had dreams to achieve SOMETHING, it would help.
It’s a funny thing; is there a Team Jason out there in the fandom, the way there used to be a Team Will? I feel like there isn’t. Jason’s very sexy, but the show’s made it incredibly clear there’s not more to their attraction. It’s not about me wanting Jason to be her one true love; it’s more that I’d rather she would not have flings while she’s married. I mean, I’d rather see her develop an emotional relationship, but since that’s clearly not going to happen (not with this emotionally unavailable cowboy, and not with Peter), as a baseline I’d be so much happier if she actually was the sexy single she’s acting like.
Oh well. That’s just me, railing against the universe as always!
I did really find the military tribunal plot fascinating, and wish we could have spent more time with it. I suppose the show must be contractually required to use the LAL actors, but there was really no place for them in this episode, and the audience would have been so much better served with more time at the military court, or at the NSA, or both. Random mistake? The documentation on the ISIS recruiter reveals that he was born in Philadelphia, while the head of the panel (Finn) says the man was Chicago born and raised.
And I guess that’s it for now. What did you guys think? Are you as frustrated as I am, or are you ready to start up a Team Jason? Did you think the episode hung together, or did you find it as disjointed as I did? Let me know!