Distraction and Memory on The Good Wife

28 Apr

Alicia is keeping busy on The Good Wife and the opening sequence in “Tying the Knot” shows her juggling work, family and Finn continuing scapegoat status. The work aspect includes one the most tricksy clients, Colin Sweeney and in true Sweeney fashion death is not far behind him. Memory and perception has been a repeated theme this season with memory being used in multiple ways to dictate the emotions of an episode.

This began with memory-pops (what the writers call flashbacks, thanks Noel for pointing this out) as Alicia and Will both recalled a time when their relationship was more in tune, followed by Alicia’s choice of suit when she was trying to distract Will with memories of sex. Continuing with Alicia’s keynote speech and how she came to be at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner and the first flutters of those elevator encounters. Since Will’s death the use of memory became imagined encounters thanks to the voicemail Will left moments before he was shot and in “Tying the Knot” there’s yet another type of memory on display as Alicia’s short term recollections are picked over.

The Good Wife 5.19 AliciaFirst of all I love this shot of Alicia as she contemplates her options and James Castro’s insinuations, weighing up factors from both this case and Castro’s less than subtle play to get rid of Finn from the SA office. Josh Charles does an incredible job directing an episode with so many moving parts and one that uses memory-pops throughout as Alicia’s experience at the party is the vital piece of testimony. While at the party Alicia receives and makes phone calls to Cary, Eli, Zach, Zach’s friend Shauna and Finn. All while dealing with Colin Sweeney and his demands regarding his new fiancee Renata. The engagement party feels chaotic and disorientating at the time and this is repeated in the memory-pops with the same piece of music playing in the background, the identical looking brunette bobbed waitstaff and the case of Sweeney mistaken identity. On one occasion Eli makes an appearance repeating the words he said on the phone and Alicia chats with an imagined Sweeney about his decision to take off his tux jacket.

Memory is unreliable and when there is this many distractions it gets even more convoluted. There are certain aspects that never change with how Alicia recalls her time at the Sweeney house and Alicia is being manipulated, not in her memory but in the staging of events so she can produce the perfect alibi for Sweeney as he’s only out of her eye line for the briefest time. Once again they help Sweeney get away with his murderous deeds and this time it wasn’t at the hands of Sweeney, instead it was part of his twisted couple’s therapy to give balance to his relationship with Renata. There are a couple of cases of mistaken identity first at the actual party when Alicia is on her brief Sweeney hunt, followed by Alicia misidentifying who she saw going up the stairs that adds credibility worries to the rest of her testimony. As Alicia reinforces, it is better that she owned up to her error than perpetuate a lie even if it adds doubt to her reliability.

The Good Wife 5.19 FinnMemory comes into play in the courtroom not just in the form of testimony as Finn enters a courtroom as prosecutor for the first time since he was shot. Gone are the bandage and sling; the only physical sign we can see is the scar on his hand he is absentmindedly touching. Upon standing up Finn sees a pool of blood forming at his feet and as the camera goes in for a tight close up we are with Finn back in that courtroom as he sees flashes of both his hand getting shot and what appears to be Will going down (Updated to add this second shot could be the other one Finn was hit by, not Will). These flashes are so brief and this adds to the jarring nature and the sound of the gunfire that isn’t really there causes Finn to noticeably flinch. Instead of breaking down or exiting the court Finn pulls it together and while James Castro’s assertions that Finn needs some time to deal is perhaps correct, he’s not going to let his super smug former BFF get the better of him by using his vulnerability as a way to dismiss him. Nope, instead Alicia has a plan.

Finn’s running for State’s Attorney and what was originally going to be in name only so he couldn’t be fired for whatever BS reason Castro had come up with, has now turned into an actual campaign thanks to Peter’s endorsement. Peter’s been on fire in the past two weeks with how he is dealing with the suck ups and secret backstabbers as he decided to go with Finn after Castro attempts to sweet talk him. This is the Peter I can understand Alicia falling in love with, not that guy who called her a selfish bitch a few of weeks ago.

The Good Wife 5.19 wine cardiganOwen’s back and he’s playing his usual role of no nonsense advice giver; this time as with most times he thinks Alicia needs to get laid and perhaps he’s right. We’ve never seen Alicia indulge in any kind of no strings sex and while you could argue that sex is never just no strings, it’s always just been Will or Peter. This isn’t to diminish what she had with Will and I’m even bristling at the thought of her with someone else, but Will is gone and hey sometimes you need something beyond work, wine and making dinner for the kids. Owen is Alicia’s truth-sayer and Alicia is his favorite person in the world, so while he might come across as interfering it is all done with love and he’s happy if she’s happy; you can count on Owen to pry just that bit too far.

This scene is hard as Alicia is holding back because she doesn’t want to cry anymore and Owen’s comment about Will making him laugh is just the thing that might tip her back into tear territory. The “facade of perfection” and Zach’s assertion that his parents are Bill and Hillary is a not so off topic conversation point with Alicia giving herself a new motto to get stitched onto a cushion “It’s a decision. I like decisions.” Alicia’s wine cardigan from Vince is rivaling Olivia Pope’s in my heart for best wine consuming style. It has the perfect wraparound factor meaning it’s pretty much the clothing version of a hug and this is what she needs right now.

The Good Wife 5.19 teary eyesWhat follows is the only point where Alicia’s facade does slip as she stands alone against her bedroom door, the wounds of Will freshly opened by her chat with her brother, the red wine coursing through her veins; the chin quiver and pools of tears forming in her eyes is inevitable and something she can’t stop. This is an accumulation of everything Owen has just spoken to her about; Will, Peter and moving on. It’s also one of the only moments in “Tying in the Knot” where she isn’t focused on anyone else’s problems, just her own and it is overwhelming.

3 Responses to “Distraction and Memory on The Good Wife”


  1. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 2, 2014

    […] on Mad Men, festival style from the Parks and Recreation season finale, Alicia Florrick’s wine cardigan and Elizabeth Jennings’ shoulder pads on The Americans, so here is a quick roundup of […]

  2. The Good Wife, Identity and What it Means to be Good | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 5, 2014

    […] as she breaks down on her mother in a way she stopped herself from doing in front of Owen last week; with Owen Alicia still wants to appear as the pillar of strength she likes to project, but with […]

  3. The Struggle is Politics: The Good Wife and Compromise | TV Ate My Wardrobe - October 27, 2014

    […] answer rather than an empathetic one and Alicia tends to work at things from this angle including her reasoning last season for why she ended things with Peter aside from their marriage as a political tool […]

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