Monday, October 17, 2011

The Televangelist:Pan Am 'The Good Wife,' Season 3 Ep. 4

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Youre seriously going to play the race card? Im sitting right here!
  • "You're seriously going to play the race card? I'm sitting right here!"

Ah, what a refreshing and satisfying feeling to switch off from "Pan Am" to "The Good Wife." I was a late-comer to the series (full disclosure, I still haven't see most of the first season), but picked it up last season and haven't looked back. The show has plenty of flaws, many of which played out last year (the Kalinda and Blake storyline being the main offender), but it hasn't stopped it from being a premiere network drama. One of the most interesting things heading into this third season (which is more like Season Five given how networks run their series - instead of a 10 or 12 episode arc they opt for around 20 episodes per season) is that the creators never planned for the show to go past Season Two. The advertising campaign for Season Three focused on a seductively posed Alicia with the tagline "don't let the title fool you." Like "Cougar Town," is "The Good Wife" poised to make a fundamental story change? There are many fans who have argued, rightly, that Alicia leaving Peter would have nullified the title. But so far this season we've seen Alicia carry on an affair with Will, which seems just as compromising. Most viewers of the show are either "Team Peter" or "Team Will," and both come with complicated arguments (and is something that gives the love triangle a more unconventional side). To me, the love triangle is the least interesting part of the show. There are other aspects that elevate "The Good Wife" out of the realm of procedural and into the that of compelling drama.

I am, I should note, a fan of procedurals. Maybe as a creature of habit I am drawn to their comforting structure. "The Good Wife" adheres to a certain narrative construct, but it isn't afraid to go out of bounds. This week, "Feed the Rat" did something the show typically doesn't do - it played out the crime at the beginning, "Law & Order" style, so that we could spend less time on the particulars of the case (which was an interesting one nonetheless) and more on some of the machinations within Lockhart Gardner. As I mentioned, the love triangle does very little for me, and aside from the COTW (case of the week), the best parts of "The Good Wife" usually come from the inner workings of the law firm, or in how and why they make the choices they do with and for their clients. The show has always been politically savvy, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at how campaigns work (through Eli Gold, Peter Florrick and Glenn Childs), but also in regards to spin tactics (such as Eli's dealings with the cheese lobby). I'm not sure there's another show on TV today that understands so thoroughly the significance and control of "the back room." Moreover, "The Good Wife" likes to embrace technology - last night Kalinda downloaded the police sketch and looked at crime scene photos via her iPad (or tablet, the brand was never shown) - and, rightfully, makes it a big part of how the characters do business.

But the show is not without its pet projects and recurring motifs, some of which work better than others. During the COTW we had our typically eccentric judge, Flamm, but several interesting comments on race relations. "The Good Wife" loves to play with race and bias. In the season opener we learned that the supposed hate crime perpetrated by a Muslim student to a Jewish one was in fact a crime of passion - the two were gay lovers. Last night, the AUSA assigned to prevent racial injustice in plea bargaining ends up pulling a race card of her own to win Judge Flamm over to the prosecution's side. Alicia also brought up in court one of the show's most often stated issues: racial misidentification. Over and over again we have been shown, sometimes through example and mention of scientific study, that people cannot easily identify distinguishing features of other races. It's an interesting discussion point, and another one of the things that makes "The Good Wife" such an intellectually engaging show.

Still, there are missteps like the entirety of the Celeste subplot, where Will is ~tempted to the dark side. The only interesting thing to come out of this entire folly is that Celeste may be setting up a firm that will rival Lockhart Gardner. I presume, unfortunately, we have not seen the last of her. On the flip side, the show needs a regular villain, and now that Glenn Childs seems to be neutralized, Celeste would make a worthy candidate (even though I'd love to see more Eddie Izzard). In the end, "Feed the Rat" was about moving around the pieces of Lockhart Gardner, and introducing a newer and higher moral code for Will and Diane, both who made conscious decisions this week to do the right thing (it's not easy for them!)

Next Week: A wife killer looks for a deal, and presumably challenges everyone's moral code.

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Like a lot of fans, Eli Gold is my favorite character. I like him teaming up with Kalinda because I'm pretty sure they could rule the world. Also, I am a much bigger fan of Kalinda when we see less of her personal life. I prefer her to be a badass, if robotic, woman of mystery.

— Where was security camera footage from the convenience store? Even if the killer couldn't be seen, surely the innocent man would have been?

— How nightmarish would it be to be arrested for a first degree murder you didn't commit?

— "[While you're looking around], an espresso machine would be nice" - Eli to Diane.

— I really liked the Legal Aid storyline this week. Diane is another Top 3 character to me, and I love seeing these nuances. Can't wait to see how the chaos of Legal Aid will work within Lockhart Gardner, and how Eli will handle it. I think it will bring some much-needed spark to that office!

— Peter and Will together with someone who knows Will's secret? Yeesh. In a way I've been disappointed by the lack of development with Peter's character. In Season One, Chris Noth was in a Broadway production that left filming for "The Good Wife" as a side-project he sometimes showed up on set for. As such, I think he's kind of unfairly portrayed. Team Peter! (hah)

— So per usual I'm ignoring the love triangle - Will said "I love you" distractedly. But he does love her, doesn't he? But does she love him back? Is Alicia pleased because for once she has the upper hand?

Tags: , ,


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

Latest in Fresh Loaf

More by Allison Keene

The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown
The Ultimate Doughnut Smackdown

Search Events

Search Fresh Loaf

Recent Comments

© 2016 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation