In which The Good Wife producers embed an extremely pointed and crabby message to recappers and freeze-framers all over the world. I’m not kidding. It’s at the end of the recap.
As for the rest: This show has an amazing ability to be timely, because we JUST had the Religious Freedom Restoration Act craziness in Indiana, and here comes The Good Wife with an episode all about it. We also get Case of the Week: While Alicia is being interviewed by a TV reporter named Petra (Lily Rabe, American Horror Story) for a puff piece on her win, the hackers from last week leak Lily the e-mails, and the episode becomes a cat-and-mouse game as Lily edits and re-edits her video.
Kalinda finally got to come off the bench, although it’s because the excrement is finally hitting the electric cooling system — which is also the case for The Strange Case of Alicia’s Inability To Control What She Puts In Work Emails. And no brooches in sight this week for Diane, but we DO get more Finn In Glasses, because even when The Good Wife is boning itself it still seems to understand what crumbs to throw us. Except in the case of…
I genuinely don’t think Cary did ANYTHING this week — I genuinely appear to need a macro on my computer for that sentence — except frown at Kalinda and wonder why she was walking so fast. A hint: She is trucking through the office because she has two doom plots going at once and can’t decide which one will catch up to her first. Does Matt Czuchry have a dialogue cap in his contract, or something, and he used it all up? I am just as perplexed as he is as to why this show can only seem to juggle one thing at a time anymore.
Check out how he might feature in Lily Rabe’s news piece. You’re going to hate it:
So do we think this is Josh Charles’s newest piano picture, or his holiday card for 2015? No reason not to do both, actually. It’s so stirring. And a wonderful way to utilize the much-missed face of a beloved character. I’m sure right this very second, Josh Charles is thinking, “Thank you so much for doing this to me! It’s JUST WHAT I WANTED.”
She wears an unusually clubby dress — it’s not really like Kalinda to wear torso windows. And we can’t blame her frame of mind, because Kalinda wore it to work BEFORE she found out that she was in trouble as deep as the rivers of shame Will Gardner would feel if he were still alive to find out what the writers are claiming passes for sexy talk. See, people want to prosecute Detective Prima for misconduct, linking back to that email “from Canada” that Prima allegedly deleted so he could frame Cary — which, of course, we know is something Kalinda faked by hacking the metadata in his yada-yada. She then runs around the office trying to figure out what the consequences of this are — namely, whether Diane can be disbarred for presenting faked evidence in court, even if she did so ignorantly (the answer is yes). What you smell is a tire fire. She’s screwed.
I’m curious whether the last four episodes will unite this thread with any of the others left dangling with her. We have: Lana; the card key Lemond gave Kalinda that she snapped in half instead of giving to Lana; the investigation into Kalinda that Lemond uncovered; the fact that Lemond often seems to want to kill her for one reason or another; the fact that I never understood why Lemond omnisciently knew his deputy Trey was on his way to turn himself in (and thus killed him), yet never figured out it was Kalinda who convinced him to do it; need I go on? Will ANY of that be resolved before Archie Panjabi leaves the show, or was it all shunted to the side so she can leave with a whimper and in total disgrace after getting Diane Lockhart in trouble? ASKING FOR A FRIEND.
13. Andrew Wiley’s Kids
Wiley is the aptly named private investigator who is — much in the vein of Elsbeth Tascioni and half the judges; they love this conceit, in fact — a hot mess who you wouldn’t expect to be the finest-honed knife in the drawer, until you cut your finger and bleed all over your sandwich. And he brings his kids everywhere he goes, doing his work while they run roughshod over their surroundings. Here, they are blowing raspberries on Finn’s window while Kalinda eavesdrops on him discussing the email issue with Finn. They are an extremely cute and funny little plot device, and obviously are also sharply intelligent, as evidenced by the fact that it’s FINN’S window they chose to kiss. See, Alicia? EVEN TODDLERS PICK FINN.
It starts out calm and placid (so, we get a rich, gemmy blue). Alicia is interviewed for this puff piece, and she’s borderline smug about it all — understandably, given that all the B-roll they got involves faked pedeconferences with big important gestures, and Power Point presentations during which Cary points and nods and Alicia agrees and then everyone laughs as if they’ve just made the world’s first joke about pie charts.
AND THEN: She finds out the emails might get leaked because the hackers don’t feel Florrick Agos Lockhart has sufficiently kissed up to WharfMaster, and they want the firm to state publicly that Hey, Piracy is Totally Legit, Y’all, So Get On Board And Raise Your Jolly Roger. This isn’t going to happen, but unfortunately for Alicia, before she can even beg them to think about it the hackers go rogue and get in touch with Petra.
At which point Alicia’s outfit changes into a jacket I like to call Emergency Plum, and a blouse that bespeaks her inner roiling and actually looks pretty terrible with the coat. This is what happens when you get dressed while upset. She clearly needs Marissa to deliver a hearty dose of Get A Grip to her mornings.
We proceed with a bunch of back-and-forth about how much of the truth to tell, which includes a TOTALLY insufficient amount of Alicia running scared from that time Will emailed her about how her inner thighs feel on his cheeks. Quite apart from the absurdity of — as commenters noted last week — the old Lockhart Gardner email servers still being in the possession of Florrick Agos Lockhart (given that TECHNICALLY the old company’s assets are still owned by Louis Canning; maybe HE is the hacker), it’s hilarious to me that when asked what the worst email is, Marissa responded with the one quoted above under Will’s face. WRONG. It’s CLEARLY the one in which Alicia told Will she wishes she could WEAR HIS TONGUE ON A CHAIN AROUND HER PELVIS, which is not only gross but also the least sexy line I can imagine. “Hey baby. I wish we could cut off your tongue and then put it in my pants.” Will should have broken up with her on the spot. [The commenters reminded me to note that it’s also INSANE that any of them thought they could get away with claiming it was just a flirtation. When was the last time you put your thighs on someone’s face as a way of FLIRTING?]
Here’s a fun flashback for you:
As is typical of The Good Wife, the show leans on gimmickry this week that tends to distract and exhaust, and one such thing is putting us in the edit bay with Petra while she goes back and forth, back and forth, on various cuts and adds and effects and distortions, all of which are achieved in a split second by her miraculous coworker. This shot of Alicia being The Good Wife gets milked a few times — once by Petra making only Alicia colorized, when she was cutting the favorable piece, and then once with everyone ELSE in color and Alicia in black and white, because SCANDAL. I forgot what a good job they did making Alicia look downtrodden.
How far we’ve come. She should smile while she can, though, because the end of the episode brings with it a totally new scandal that we’ll deal with in Petra’s section. CLIFFHANGER.
I need to complain one more time about the emails:
IF YOU ARE SO WORRIED THEN DON’T SEND THIS TO HIM VIA YOUR TWO WORK ACCOUNTS. The thing is, The Good Wife constantly has Lockhart Gardner/Florrick Agos Lockhart taking on high-tech cases (Bitcoin, ChumHum) and they were all recently spied on by the NSA, and then there was that time they were hacked and blackmailed, right? That they once made these mistakes might not be unusual, but that they’re STILL insufficiently secure and all being idiots about email is RIDICULOUS, especially with attorneys as young as Cary and Carey. LEARN. I mean, Zach figured out that Alicia’s house was being spied on by someone who tapped their home computer’s webcams — you KNOW he would have given Alicia a lecture about needing a personal e-mail account. It’s just the stupidest. I am so impatient with all of it.
So, Alicia isn’t getting a Loser Edit. She’s getting the edit she EARNED by being CRAZY. YOU DID ALL THESE THINGS, ALICIA. And now I guess you’re going to come close to paying for it.
11. Mo Rocca
Well. He is a DELIGHT. He’s a pawn in Eli’s game here: To stall Petra from airing her story about Alicia’s e-mails, he promises her an interview with Peter — which he will hold out on until VERY late — and then in the meantime he farms out more sympathetic scoops to other reporters who want to beat Petra to the game and undermine her story. One such interview is with Mo Rocca, who plays a complete vain dolt, and IT IS AMAZING. He is described by Eli as “dumb as an ox.” He asks her questions with the greatest of self-importance, then asks them again five minutes later as if he never asked them the first time. And when he sees Alicia, he uses the phrase “things of that elk,” and when she correct him, he’s like, “No. Things of that ELK,” with total confidence that he is right. He’s extremely entertaining, and it reminded me that I have missed Mo Rocca. Basically, he’s valuable to this hour because he’s a spot-on parody of a dimwit reporter who believes robust follicles equal robust brain cells.
10. Petra’s Boss
When Petra brings the story of the leaked emails to him, his initial response is not, “Well, great, source them and investigate the hell out of this so we can run an airtight story on this ENORMOUS SCANDAL.” Instead, he’s like, “I thought that was going to be a puff piece,” and then suggests that maybe they should do nothing because people don’t like holes poked in their heroes. It is only GRUDGINGLY that he allows Petra to noodle around, and throughout he is SO ready to pull this thing. You are the worst manager of a news organization EVER. Yes, you want your reporter to research the emails, and you need to tread carefully with hacked materials. But the answer, if you are a newsman, is NEVER to say, “Eh, people don’t like to hear bad things about authority figures,” and it is REALLY never, “But it was supposed to be a puff piece.” I JUDGE THEE TO BE LACKING, SIR. And the even weirder part is, the show want us to think PETRA is the enemy for going after a tip she got that is, frankly, both TOTALLY ACCURATE and EXTREMELY JUICY. If Alicia was elected on the back of a marriage to the governor that is in fact a HOUSE OF LIES, that’s pretty damning, right at the intersection of news and gossip.
So, Mr. Petra’s Boss languishes here in the middle because I don’t think even HE buys his own journalistic authority.
Now that Diane is on retainer with Oliver Platt, he brings her in to argue a hypothetical with him about gay marriage, and as he lays out the issue — a gay couple walks into a bakery and is denied a wedding cake on grounds of religious conflict — she is tasked with poking holes in the logic. The show illustrates their various points (what if it’s in California? or New Mexico? Or Colorado? What if it’s a copy shop for invitations, rather than a bakery?) by cutting to these little cartoonish scenarios in which a male couple bursts into a store…
I’m not sure which person, exactly, we’re meant to assume is picturing these scenarios; if it’s no one, then basically The Good Wife has turned these into those silly Human Resources videos that big companies show to new hires so that they understand how not to commit sexual harassment. It’s silly. This season it feels like — and I do not know this to be true; just guessing — they cleaned house and hired all new writers who are not totally boned up on the show’s history and who decided that using this stuff as a crutch would give energy to a show that did not need an injection of wackitude. To me this kind of stuff bespeaks a lack of confidence in our investment in the characters, which after five seasons is not a fear the show ought to have. This isn’t your personality, Good Wife. You know the TV Land series Younger, in which Sutton Foster at 40 tries to pass as 26? That’s what this feels like to me. The Good Wife has decided it’s too old and is enacting its midlife crisis by trying to be a hipster.
Oh, Ms. Lockhart, you foxy classy genius you:
The Good Wife this season has ALSO decided to grind to a halt and preach, and this week Diane gets to do that. Luckily, I would watch Diane argue pretty much anything for an hour, so they’ve picked the right mouthpiece. I love this orange color on her, and the glasses… well. She is a glorious Tree of Oui.
It doesn’t work as well sitting down, and might even NAB — Needs a Brooch — but whatever. Diane basically spends the first ten minutes in what she believe is a theoretical argument about the aforementioned cake baker, to convince Oliver Platt and his band of conservative cohorts that it’s legally (and morally) unwise to defend that case. It turns out that was just a warm-up: It’s a real case, it’s actually a wedding planner being sued, and Oliver wants Diane to represent the plaintiff in a mock trial they’re going to stage WITH THE ACTUAL DEFENDANT. Who doesn’t live in their area, so basically… isn’t this an ENORMOUS waste of time and money just so they can all have an intellectual circle jerk?
That’s what it FEELS like, at least. And not because the issues at the heart of it aren’t interesting and important. They are. I think discussions of our rights and freedoms, and indeed the very liberty to HAVE those discussions, are vital. But one of the reasons all the debates about Catholicism on The Good Wife weren’t TOO interminable was because they were pinned to Alicia’s daughter, Grace. Unfortunately for Grace, I never liked her that much — the character was too hollow all along, so her sudden embrace of religion felt plot-driven rather than personal, like an excuse to deal with a topic rather than something the person herself would do. But Grace embracing Jesus was germane to Alicia’s life as a parent and as a lawyer (and eventually a candidate), and how those things color each other. It even occasionally tried to say some things about hypocrisy. But here, all the show does wants to do is pat itself on the back for pushing the hot button. So it brings in Oliver Platt’s beloved gay nephew — so, the relative of a character we just met last week, and aren’t being positioned to like because he’s in smug opposition to someone we DO like — and expects that to be the vehicle through which we all have The Feels. Diane hires said nephew to portray the fiancé of the fake-plaintiff, and it infuriates O.P. because he thinks it’s hitting too close to the belt. “Isn’t the laws supposed to be impersonal?” he asks. “It’s supposed to be fair, not impersonal,” Diane replies. “You have to see the human side too. Or else it’s meaningless.”
Diane, in her weird brown cardigan, tries to trap the wedding planner by asking how many times Jesus condemns divorce (three or four times) versus homosexuality (“Never,” she says), as a way of noting that willfully providing services to people who are remarrying contravenes her religious dictates just as much as working for homosexuals theoretically would — thereby proving that she’s anti-gay and not consistently cleaving to her faith. I don’t know why Diane makes it SPECIFICALLY about Jesus; the lady is Catholic, and a lot of Catholics embrace The Bible as a whole, not just the parts that mention Jesus. She could have refuted Diane’s “Jesus never rags on homosexuality” argument by citing the Old Testament passages that appear to forbid it, like the most famous one in Leviticus (some scholars argue that what it’s really against is men simply dabbling in homosexuality as a diversion from heterosexuality, but it’s my understanding that this is a recent and not widely embraced reading of the text). But she doesn’t, and so chalk up one for the Lockhart.
And then subtract that one point for THIS SOUL-SUCKING COAT. She looks like a chair in Buckingham Palace. Diane Lockhart has way more innate coolness than that, in my opinion.
This is the face Diane is going to make when she eventually finds out that while she was marooned in plot purgatory, she was secretly getting SCREWED. Because even though Diane didn’t know the evidence was fake, and took it from Kalinda’s computer without Kalinda’s knowledge, the fact that she presented it in court is going to get her in MASSIVE TROUBLE. And it can’t be a coincidence that this is all going to come to ahead when Alicia is the S.A. and this may end up being her office’s first high-profile case. Alicia vs. Diane Lockhart. TEAM DIANE. BRING OUR YOUR BROOCHES.
You can’t tell as well in this shot, but in this episode, Oliver Platt’s shoulder pads were GINORMOUS and made his head look tiny. It was supremely distracting. I’ll try to get him next time.
Also, in the end, the judge at the mock trial sides with Diane, but Oliver Platt decides to fund the defense anyway — meaning he probably was never going to let Diane talk him out of ANYTHING, and just wasted several days of her time. (Doesn’t she have WORK to do?) And his nephew’s. And the FIFTY other people sitting in and listening to this mock trial as if it were real. “I like people who stand by their beliefs,” he says, citing all the politicians he believes only lined up behind gay marriage because it became “politically expedient for them to do so.” So basically this entire plot took us around the block and then dropped us off where we started, and it’s frustrating, because it feels like the show is sidelining its actual long-standing characters in order to become Face The Nation or something. I’m not saying that Kalinda would ever believably decide to marry Lana, or any other woman OR man, but The Good Wife had one of the most richly interesting bisexual characters on television and they botched her handling tremendously. It seems strange for them to grind the plot to a halt just so Diane could do some cool and yet ultimately meaningless fake lawyering, while at the same time, they’ve obliterated the shades of Kalinda’s sexuality entirely. KALINDA. An existing character on the canvas about whom we all care. It’s curious.
He participates in Eli’s game of trying to stall with Petra, the journalist, and makes a great winking nudge-nudge show of making sure Petra knows that they used the time to give the story — a more sympathetic version — to other journalists. Then he goes to Alicia’s so they can drink together… and promptly HITS ON HER, because he’s Peter, and he can’t read a room because he can only see through the hole in his wang and there’s no eyeball in that one.
Then again, maybe he’s onto something. Alicia does admit that it’s nice sitting there having wine together like two mature adults, and they wonder if they’ve come through the other side of all the ill will and resentment. Peter playfully asks Alicia if he ever disgusted her. “For a while,” she admits. Then he twiddles his eyebrows and wonders about the two of them getting along and maybe getting it off, to which Alicia giggles, “You’re like an eighteen year old boy! Everything isa bout where you can stick it.” Peter leans in and intones, “I’ve never been as bad as you’ve wanted me to be.” Oh, cram it, Peter. Yes you have. He also claims he still loves Alicia, and she just chews on that for a second and then replies, “Love is a word that is so exhausted. Can I leave it that I like sitting and drinking with you here?” He agrees, and pours them each another glass. And… I guess this means Peter, at the end of the day, will always have a hold over Alicia. But I will be really irritated if this show ends with some ham-handed conclusion that Peter and Alicia are made for each other. Because that, to me, would be TOTALLY revisionist and wrong and fly in the face of Alicia’s quest for self-actualization. PETER IS A CHEESY DINK. Alicia should be better than that. And this journey should be about Alicia REALIZING she’s better than that, not sinking to that level and deciding she’s happy there.
He makes this face the entire time. His boxers are permanently bunched up in unpleasant places. He does SO MUCH expert juggling of Petra, undermining the scoop she’s trying to get, and it very nearly works. He almost puppets this entire situation to perfection. I love it when Eli has his back up against the wall, because when he’s desperate, he’s EXTREMELY entertaining.
He is the Ann Perkins of this show. Hello, Finn Polmar, you beautiful tantalizing flesh sundae.
This whole episode is my catnip. Kalinda goes to Finn for theoretical advice, which he quickly sees through; he makes her give him a dollar, calls it a retainer, and invokes attorney-client privilege so that she can speak openly to him about what she did, and how, so that he can help her. He’s extremely serious with her and basically spends the hour saying hot, sensible things while making hot, sensible faces. He is dripping in hot hot sense. IT’S SO DELICIOUS. I cannot say enough about how immaculate this experience is.
Our favorite marginally recurring investigator shows up and pokes around, seemingly ineffectually, until he susses out that Detective Prima was on the witness stand for hours at the time he was allegedly deleting inconvenient emails from Canada. “You’re caught, Kalinda,” he tells her, pointing out that the sooner she owns up, the better. THIS GUY. He has like two scenes, maybe three, and he figures out the score, while Cary is around going, “LA LA LA why on EARTH is Kalinda so stressed WELL WHO KNOWS NEVER GONNA FIGURE THAT OUT.”
My peeve with Petra is that she has been on the show twice before — once in 2013, once in 2011 — and I can’t remember that. So, she has no personality to me. Am I supposed to remember that she has a legit beef with the Florricks, and would want to take them down? Is she just supposed to be a hungry reporter? Is she just a device? I’m picking the latter.
But she has all the cards here. First she gets the emails, which send the Florricks scrambling, and then when Peter and Company ruin her scoop and then effectively kick dirt in her face and laugh about it, she fights back.
That night, during what Team Florrick believes is a triumphant news piece, Petra announces that she’s investigating rumors of voter fraud that pushed the election unfairly to Alicia. MIC DROP. I just wish I cared about this particular reporter. Elsbeth Tascioni, Colin Sweeney, and Lemond Bishop are such great examples of characters who pop in and out with complete consistency: We know who they are, what they want, what their angle is. But someone like Petra just pops up to advance the plot, and if she had actually been present during the election on a recurring basis — not always, but occasionally, like a fly in the ointment — then we would understand why the show portrays her as a cunning muckraker. It might mean something to us that Petra is the one digging into this and rocking the Florrick cradle. I HAVE NOTES.
This leaked email is from Cary, bitching about how Alicia was promoted. Please try not to focus on how many sentences are improperly punctuated (could it be that we simply can’t SEE the periods?). The entire thing is him bitching to someone about how Alicia slept her way to the top, and he feels sorry for her family, which is way harsh, Tai.
But this one is the prize:
1) The email, from Alicia to Cary, bitches about how the partners are out of touch with the costs of raising a family because none of them have children — and, by the way, she refers to hers as “a financial burden,” which is EXTREMELY SENSITIVE. It also baldly states that Peter “probably takes bribes, which could pay their tuition, but that’s beside the point.” The idea of Alicia ever typing that out INTO A WORK EMAIL TO CARY AGOS is laughable, and I am indeed laughing. BUT…
2) The very last line of this email is, and I will bold it because it is EXTREMELY ballsy and amusing and defensive and I laughed and laughed when I caught it: “If you’ve read this far, you aren’t paying any attention to our show. So, bite me.”
Well, sir and madam, I guess I’ve bitten you. How does it feel? My advice: MAKE A BETTER SHOW THEN.