E: They picked the right word here: reason and the audience might have won, but man has it been ugly. What they’ve done to Alicia not merely in this brutal episode, but over the course of the season leading up to this? Ugly.
To sum up: this week was more exciting and better paced than most of the back half of this season, but seeing Alicia wrecked felt just as bad as I imagined it would. We saw a whole host of legal-ish proceedings. At the same time, we get a glimpse of the season — and probably the show’s — end game.
Also. CBS. What the heck? And why, if you must make my show come on so late (even without football or March Madness as an excuse) why can you not put this information out in advance so my DVR can actually record the whole show? Don’t you WANT us to watch the show?
E: You know who comes out of this edit feeling like a loser, right? Me. Because I spent the entire episode hoping that my beloved main character would be scandalized and humiliated and have to resign from the State’s Attorney’s Office, and I hate that it’s come to this. I don’t like hoping to see her wrecked, and yet I can’t help feeling like that’d be a far better thing — both for the show and for her — than what’s happening now. At what point is there going to be a pay off to this benighted story line? I genuinely don’t know what that might even be, or how they can wring something enjoyable out of the territory we’re headed toward. Every time Politician Alicia blanches, declares “I can’t possibly do that,” and then turns around, smiles, and commits that same soul-destroying act, more of my love for this show dies.
I usually avoid reading press about the episodes before I’ve finished writing about them myself, but I found this quote from Robert King instructive: “We’ve been with Alicia throughout the show and she’s done some questionable things, but you often forgive her as a character. But now we see how the public might react to her. There are things that we know and love, but the viewing public in Alicia’s world may view it a completely different way.” What I wonder if the writing staff has considered is the possibility that while the real world audience generally continues to care about Alicia despite her questionable and/or immoral choices, this doesn’t mean we have a rose-colored view of her as a candidate. I think as viewers we’re all pretty clear that Alicia’s been perpetrating a kind of fraud against the voting public, and we’re not all rooting for her to get away with it simply because she’s the main character of the show.
Also: the show remembers it’s own history! Yay, a continuity re-write. And then, both detail and emotional continuity fail. Sigh. At least there’s more fun, smart debate between Diane and new found conservative foil R.J. Dipple, as well as more guest stars and more dang content than you can shake at stick at.
E: Wondering what’s newly disappointing on our favorite show? The writing staff takes the idea of the Sony email hack and throws half the guest stars in their roster at it. Eli teaches Alicia that you can catch more flies with honey than with a fly swatter. Funny that she’s suddenly dumb enough to need a basic lesson in civility, isn’t it? Ah, that’s why we watched sophisticated television, to learn valuable life skills we’d never pick up on our own. Between spit and wrestling, the glass walls of Florrick, Agos & Lockhart take more abuse that we’ve ever seen. Yep. It’s happy days in the post-election world.
E: A transitional era ends, and a new one begins, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Oh – there were bangs (witness the red meat of the title) but they occurred mostly off screen. Kind of like the explosions going on in my head. What does all this mean for the future? Current guest characters make their exits, at least one new one arrives.
Check out the show’s Facebook page if you’re looking for a laugh. Their social media team put up a little “who would you vote for?” question. Guess who the vast and overwhelming majority wanted to win? Hint: it’s not the main character of the show.
E: It’s a funny thing. Based on last week’s brilliantly appalling episode, and the preview for this week’s, I really expected to hate Open Source; I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I don’t think I did. I don’t know that I liked it, exactly, but I’m grateful for a few things, which I’m going to tell you up front.
First of all, there was actually interesting courtroom time, which was so very welcome. I missed caring about the case of the week! Next, this election plot is blessedly coming to an end. Whichever way the election lands, I’m going to be glad to be done hating Alicia in this way, even if I have to move on to new ways of being disappointed in her. Also, the ending was managed a bit better than I thought it would be. And that’s good? But there’s a lot of ground to cover before we get to that debate. So, no more waiting. Welcome to Open Source: Less Vomit-Inducing Than Expected!
E: First, we got a look inside Will Gardner’s consciousness in the masterpiece The Decision Tree. Then, we pinged around the inside of Elspeth Tascioni’s bouncy brain in Shiny Objects. Finally, our series of head trips takes us on a visit to Alicia Florrick’s mind. What we learn is in some ways impressive — she has a really fun work process — but in many others unpleasant, confused and controlled, thoughtful and self-serving. I can’t but admire the brilliance and subtlety of the episode’s structure and writing, but I also can’t help being sick to my stomach over where we seem to be going.
It’s often been said that The Good Wife is a show about the education of Alicia Florrick. I’m not sure it was until this episode that I realized that this is an education in the same sense that Breaking Bad‘s Walter White was “educated” into being a drug kingpin, willing to cross more lines and worse lines as his story continued. I’ve always assumed that the goal of the show was for Alicia to find her way through the competing roles she’s been assigned — wife, mother, lawyer, boss, candidate — and arrive at a place where she can truly be herself. That she would find a way to be more than society told her she could be, that she would make the roles bend to her. That she would not merely recover from the hurt done to her, but thrive. It wasn’t until this episode that I started to think she might never get there at all; that the person I grieved with and respected and cheered for all these years is in fact on the verge of disappearing altogether. That instead, she is literally and figuratively losing her voice. That she may end up a highly successful shell of a human being, a cautionary tale for women with ambition. And once again, we’re left to ponder whether we can still like her because she knows she’s making corrupt choices when she makes them. Continue reading
E: This show spoils me for everything else and even, ironically, itself; the bar has been set ridiculously high. When there’s an episode that’s just good instead of amazing, it’s hard to remember that we still get the usual tight plotting and investigation of Alicia’s nuanced moral world. This week the problem is two-fold: first, it’s not a game-changing episode like Hail Mary, and second, it’s just really depressing to see Alicia so compromised and so unhappy. Let’s all hope it’s building to something better.
Fun bits of the episode? A kind of meta-conundrum in which our team sues a television show with ripped-from-the-headlines plots for defamation. Ultimately, however, it’s not in TGW‘s best interest to actually prove the plausibility of defamation, is it? Because then who knows – Aaron Sorkin or Mark Zuckerberg or Ryan Murphy might send a few lawyers their way.