"The Good Wife" has such a fantastic ensemble cast that it can be easy to forget the show is actually supposed to be about Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), i.e. said good wife. Last season, when the show had exhausted the interest of Will and Alicia's affair (which had to end at some point, otherwise it would be called "The Good Ex-Wife, Now Remarried") it branched out to other arcs, with varying degrees of success. The Kalinda and Blake story from Season Two was a big misstep, but forays into other characters' lives and much more about politics (Peter's campaign along with Eli joining the firm briefly and even more briefly running his ex-wife's campaign), not to mention the politics within Lockhart Gardner kept the series fresh while gently pushing Alicia to the side.
It was something I didn't mind because, personally, I've never found Alicia particularly interesting. She has her moments, but she borders on being a Mary Sue. Too many of her storylines seem to boil down to "because everybody loves Alicia!" Still, reducing Alicia's presence somewhat made "The Good Wife" start to lose its way — what kind of a show was it? What did it want to be? It was something I hoped would be remedied in this current season, and it certainly seems to have started. For more on the rebirth of the show and why it's ok to have Alicia front and center again, hit the jump.
One of "The Good Wife's" biggest strengths is that it has much more to offer than just the Case of the Week. It handles politics with exceptional adroitness, but even within its legal storylines it brings something special to the table. This year we have kicked off with the financial woes of Lockhart Gardner ($60 million in debt!) which is difficult to fathom since the firm seems to win an extraordinary amount of cases (which the series turned into its own meta story last year with Will's relationship with judges and ultimately his censure). Still, it grounds things by putting real-world limitations on the firm and their operations.
As for Alicia, the bit where Hayden (Nathan Lane) trusts her so implicitly because she replied to the "why should we keep you" question with "I'm good" smacked a little too much of Mary Sue Alicia, as did her strange relationship with Mattie Heyward (Maura Tierney), though the later was far more interesting than whether characters we had never met were ultimately fired or not.
So was Mattie hitting on Alicia? She certainly has an intense fascination with her that seems to go beyond wanting to suddenly be friends after almost no interaction at all. Mattie surely has something up her sleeve since she's practically stalking Alicia (and by extension Peter) because of her interest in her. Peter doesn't seem to mind, of course, since she's giving him money. That final scene in the campaign bus between Peter and Alicia was a long time in coming, too — she's happy, finally, or at least content. Their interaction felt normal and sincere (though I believe Chris Noth could easily create chemistry between himself and anyone ... or anything!)
In fact, it was in that moment that I realized Alicia showed a lot more personality in "And the Law Won" than she has in a long time, starting with her reaction to Kalinda's reveal about Nick being her husband. She was still a little too poker-faced with Hayden and with Mattie, but her interaction with Kalinda and then with Peter showed a much more real side to her. Alicia has transformed a lot as a character, and it's hard to keep her dynamic through so many seasons with so many episodes without getting bizarrely dramatic with her story, but she has started out Season Four on a high note.
Elsewhere, we got a little more of Kalinda and her "dangerous" husband breaking up and making up, wash, rinse, repeat. Too much Kalinda is not a good thing — she works better when she's actually mysterious, not just someone who can't ever make up her mind about her private life unless it involves cartoonish drama. It also leaves less time for developing characters that seem to have lots of unexplored depth, namely Diane, whose personal life has been touched on in the past, but never explored as deeply as Will's or Eli's. Cary, too, isn't ever used in seemingly quite the right way, but perhaps getting to know him better would help (or, admittedly, perhaps not).
Overall, it was a decent episode with plenty of fun. "The Good Wife" is setting up some interesting building blocks for the upcoming season, with an entertaining enough but borderline perplexing Case of the Week involving a protestor, his fickle fiancee and a Harvard-obsessed judge. So, yeah, just when you start to forget the show is indeed a legal drama, it reminds you it has another 20 episodes to fill, and the meaty personal stuff is going to be dragged out. It's the price paid for a broadcast drama, but for the last three years it's been worth it, and lately it just seems to be getting better and better.
Next Week: Le Affair comes to light, and could ruin Peter's campaign (and his relationship with Alicia).
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Is what Nick did to Kalinda and the ice cream allowed on broadcast TV? Damn! Why ruin ice cream like that? #justsayin
— Loved Alicia referencing Thunderdome.
— Mattie: "I don't believe people change." Peter: "See, I didn't either. Then I went to prison."
— "I was gone, now I'm back" - Kalinda's explanation for her whereabouts. Or in the words of my watch-partner Martha, "more like she was on her back!"
— I had no idea about that jury rule but I kind of love it.
— Nice trick Mattie pulled making her driver pretend to be the buyer so she doesn't have to sit through the tedium.
— "King Lear's fool, that's me" - Eli
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