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Monday, March 12, 2012

The Televangelist: 'The Good Wife' Season 3, Ep 17

Hes baaaaaaaaaaack!

Racism! Feminism! Contraceptive Fraud! "Long Way Home" was a thoughtful episode of "The Good Wife" that set up some big things to come. And, quietly, it kept up the level of quality established last week, though it took a totally different direction (see what I did?) to get there.

I have said in the past that the best episodes of the show, especially lately, are when Alicia is in the background. Here I have to make an exception, because we were set up last night with a few good bait and switches with her character. Most interestingly, Alicia and Kalinda were both very wary of Caitlin, who appeared to be hiding something while throwing her mentor under the bus. Since Caitlin's arrival, Alicia has been cold and a little jealous of the young, beautiful star who quickly gained not only Will's attention but also Diane's. Worse, she's earned it, because she's smart and dynamic in the courtroom. What Alicia and Kalinda don't understand about Caitlin is that the girl is very simply genuinely nice. In the end, she leaves the firm for good because she wants to be a mother - not a career woman, not juggling dual lives. Diane says that she'll come to regret it, but Alicia corrects her. I believe Alicia, I don't think Caitlin will reappear after fifteen years wanting to get her career back, but then again, that's her choice.

It was a very interesting statement, and one that Alicia and Diane touched on briefly. Caitlin says that, for her generation (which is also mine), she doesn't feel the need, as a woman, to prove anything. Diane later laments this fact as "I'm not sure this is why the glass ceiling was broken," but Alicia counters "perhaps that's exactly why it was." Not so that all women should be career mothers, but that is merely one choice. The important thing, in the end, is that we have a choice. There in that room sat a spectrum - Diane, whose life is her work and her firm, Alicia who has (recently) wanted to have both, and Caitlin who only wants to focus on family. Are any of these wrong? Of course not. The success of the Women's Movement is in the freedom it achieved for women to decide their fates.

Caitlin's story was just a footnote in Alicia's continual struggle to decide what it is she truly wants to do with her future. She closed the book on Will, at least for now, so what does that mean? The issue was forced when the stunning apartment building where the family has been living turned co-op, and therefore out of the family's financial range. Late in the episode, Alicia's kids (who have been absent for quite awhile from the main story) very excitedly present to her their old house, which is back on the market. Alicia clearly wonders if she's slipping slowly and unwillingly back into her old life, but the look on Zach and Grace's faces when they spoke about the house made her at least want to investigate it further. As the memories flooded back, Alicia seemed deeply moved but also conflicted. My interpretation was that Caitlin's speech reminded her of her younger self - in love with Peter, looking forward to a future as a home maker. And by all accounts it looked like they had a pretty wonderful life ... until Pete's very public and very unfortunate string of affairs. I think Alicia mourned the loss of her innocence and her unblemished past, even though I think she has loved her job at Lockhart Gardner. The question remains: what now?

Peter has been one of the most uneven characters to appear on the show. Should we like him? Dislike him? Most fans of the show have always been Team Will, but Will has a dark side the same way that Peter does. The other problem has been his absence from the show. "The Good Wife" wanted Chris Noth to play Peter, but had to compromise his number of cameos because of his other acting commitments (on Broadway at the time and possibly still today). Because of this, Peter and Alicia have never really gained much ground emotionally, and so for many, the thought of Alicia getting back together with this man seems a horrid prospect. Reading between the lines, I haven't thought (besides the cartoonish appearance of Jackie in the wings) that it would be. Peter has certainly repented and still loves Alicia, and clearly yearns for that stability to return. After all, if Colin Sweeney can get another chance ...

Then we get a strange turn like Geneva's accusations of racism against Peter. Again, my interpretation of the situation is such: Cary is a crony of Peter's. He's someone that Peter trusts, and he someone with whom he has bonded over wanting to take down Lockhart Gardner. Cary's race has nothing to do with it, though as Geneva put it, from the outside it does certainly look that way. To me this still has less to do about Peter (I hope) and everything to do with Cary. Fans of "Downton Abbey" often joke about "character assassination" in Season Two, where so many favorites were subjected to terrible storylines that put them out of favor unfairly. Cary, I fear, has had that same fate on this show. The biggest misstep this season of "The Good Wife" has absolutely been Cary's arc. Before this, Cary was, sure, a little arrogant, smarmy and bitter, but he was also terribly smart and loved exacting revenge which made for some great TV. This year, Cary has been whiney, petulant, conflicted to the point of inert, and unable to see the forrest for the trees. He's been thwarted at almost every turn in court, and his on and off again Gigli thing with Kalinda and the affair with Dana were both ill conceived and ill advised. In the remaining episodes of the season, I'm hoping he sees some kind of redemption. I'm not sure a return to Lockhart Gardner is the answer, though. Truly, wouldn't a Peter-Cary power team be more fun?

I didn't even mention the Case of the Week because, let's be honest, what is there really to say? Sweeney is a creep, no one seemed surprised that everyone was lying on the stand, the case itself played out like an episode of "Judge Judy," and Bebe Neuworth was totally and completely wasted in her role. Still, "Long Way Home" made up for much of that nonsense by setting up the next stage of Alicia's journey, meaning that the show seems back on its way to finding focus.

Next Week: Michael J. Fox's character returns as the firm takes on the NHL. In the drama department, Will's ex returns to confront Alicia over the affair (finally answering the question about what happen to that relationship which Will appeared to drop like a hot potato ... and did!)

Musings and Miscellanea:

— $2k/mo HOA fees? Dang, Chicago!

— It was interesting to think that Alicia and Peter couldn't afford their current abode but remember that Alicia is still a lower-level associate, Peter is on a government salary and their children are in private school. It's not too far fetched, even though they are always seen to be living in considerably comfy means.

— So why was David Lee so pissed at Alicia? Was Caitlin too afraid to tell him that she was pregnant and getting married so he made his own assumptions? I don't think Alicia ever had the greatest attitude towards Caitlin, so some of his criticism is fair. But at the same time he is right ... you don't want to get on his bad side!

— "And so it devolves ..." - Diane's comments about the COTW and with which I heartily agree!

— The reference to "abandoned property" and whoever finds it claims it for their own use ... I give up!

— I know Geneva is angry, but having her character so aggressively attack Cary is like someone kicking a puppy. Or a really emo twenty-something.

— Hey! That's Morena Baccarin from "V"! And the opposing council was Meredith's late mother from "Grey's Anatomy."

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