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The Good Wife, Boundaries and Changing the Rules

12 May

Boundaries are important and these have shifted this season on The Good Wife; relationships are not what they were and the rules have been redefined. Loyalties changed, first when Alicia and Cary started their own firm and Will’s death has further altered the equilibrium. When Kalinda tells Canning “Or we could be adults, just ask questions and talk” it seems like the most simple and obvious statement, however this isn’t how things work in either the legal or political sphere and it’s all about gaining the upper hand by whatever method no matter how nefarious. Straight talking can make things even worse from hyperbolic off the cuff remarks to throwing a glass of water in someone’s face (actually that was pretty great) and there should be a certain amount of wall building, but there’s also a danger that you will cut yourself off from everyone as Diane is learning.

The Good Wife 5.21 Alicia and FinnAlicia’s arrangement with Peter is problematic for all the reasons Eli lists as someone is always going to talk, no matter how much you think they won’t. Peter might be an incredibly savvy politician, but when it comes to his emotional reasoning he runs hot. We see this in his interactions and face soaking of Castro, but Castro’s not going to yell about this from the rooftops and yet if he sleeps with this intern (with a blog) then he’s the biggest idiot there is. She will definitely talk (or blog) and yes I love that lipstick too. It also calls into mind this New York magazine Eliot Spitzer cover, after all that is who Peter is loosely based on.

The goal posts have been moved and Will’s death did act as catalyst, but it’s not just this and Alicia reiterates her feelings of being tired and done with this aspect of her life, this time to Eli. Eli tries to appeal to her from an emotional standpoint mentioning how good they have been together over the past year and while part of me knows this is part of Eli’s job, I do also think he is the only Alicia and Peter shipper out there. Enter James Castro’s smear tactic and Finn claims there is nothing hiding in his closet – as an aside it’s interesting that the word divorce pops up with his wife and why haven’t we seen Mrs Polmar yet? Is this why he moved to Chicago from New York? – Castro takes something innocent as a suggestion of something duplicitous. It’s a security photo of Finn leaving Alicia’s apartment, Castro claims it was from only two weeks ago but Finn is wearing his sling in the photo which he definitely hasn’t worn for a while now. Instead of showing the photo to Finn or Alicia, Peter barely shows it to Eli and gets in a huff about it. To Peter it’s another Will waiting to happen and he probably thinks this is partly why Alicia implemented the new rules. Peter has been given no choice in this decision and that’s compounding these bratty reactions.

Boundaries have always been important to Alicia when it comes to her relationship with Eli; she imposed them when it came to using the kids during campaigns and there’s always been frankness to their interactions. So when Eli mentions they need more walls at Florrick Agos he is talking about the physical kind and yet he needs to break down the mental ones that both Peter and Alicia have erected so he can do his job to the best of his capabilities. The reason he interferes with Peter’s interactions is because if Peter fucks up it could bring the whole thing crashing down and the way he watches the Florrick family at home shows just how vicarious his relationship with them has become. Alicia notes “we seem to share everything these days” and Eli really is the third person in this marriage and there’s this blurring of professional and personal responsibility.

Alicia and Cary’s case is all about a lack of filter and how words can be worth a whole lot of money. Diane is learning this the hard way as a smear campaign is being waged against her by Louis Canning as he’s using Will’s death to try and undermine her. This is pretty low tactic, but it is Canning after all. Diane’s only really ally at Lockhart Gardner is Kalinda and really if I had to have anyone in my corner it would be Kalinda. Kalinda unfortunately doesn’t hold much sway in the grand scheme of things and Diane realizes this is a fight she has to go at alone. Cary didn’t seem overly receptive to Diane and her problems so while I’d love to see Diane join their firm, there will be resistance.

Costuming wise there’s an interesting amount of color palette sharing between the three main women, a few weeks ago this happened with teal and once again there is a mirroring. Both Alicia and Diane wear monochrome:

The Good Wife 5.21 Diane monochrome The Good Wife 5.21 Alicia monochromeIt’s a flip reverse it take on monochrome with Diane in predominantly white and black dominates this look on Alicia. Diane’s includes a bow flourish standing in for the usual pin or statement necklace. The balance is off with both of these characters at the moment because of what happened with Will and these women are connected by their relationships with Will, as well as a professional and personal admiration for each other. It’s why Alicia doesn’t react in a hostile manner (as Cary does) to Diane’s accusations.

The Good Wife 5.21 Kalinda The Good Wife 5.21 DianeDiane and Kalinda both wear deep shades of blue in “The One Percent” and this color has featured heavily in their costuming recently. Blue means loyalty and it’s significant that despite their very different styling this is something they share. Diane is pretty exposed at Lockhart Gardner and the only thing that will ensure her position is her monetary worth to the firm. Her worth could be impacted greatly by Canning’s tactics and he is doing a very good job of making her very paranoid. Kalinda’s loyalty is vital and it’s another case of these women being tied together by their relationship with Will; he might be gone, but the bonds he formed are still very present.

Next week is the season 5 finale and there’s a fight brewing. I’m not sure it can top the dizzying heights of “Hitting the Fan” or the shock of Will’s death and yet I am also very excited to see how they are going to finish this exceptional season. Everything has dramatically changed since this time last year and I don’t even want to try to predict where these characters will end up in the aptly named “A Weird Year.”

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4 Responses to “The Good Wife, Boundaries and Changing the Rules”

  1. Shannon May 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    Really great thoughts on last night’s episode! The biggest problem that I’ve always seen with Peter and Alicia’s relationship is that we, the viewers, haven’t seen Peter ever TRULY own up to his actions from Season 1. Yes, we’ve seen him apologize. Yes, we’ve seen him express remorse. But we never got that moment of recognition from him of HOW MUCH Alicia sacrificed not only in the wake of his infidelity, but throughout the past several years. She kept their family going almost entirely on her own, while working full-time and trying to find the strength inside of herself to either forgive Peter or move on. It’s true that Will became an important part of her life during those years and took a piece of her heart with him, but she still made the choice not to leave her marriage in order to protect her family from the fallout. It’s interesting that she chose to tell Eli that she was just “tired” and “done with everything,” because she’s put up with SO much that eventually, Will’s death was the catalyst for her realizing this, but wasn’t the sole reason why she finally threw her hands up and said, “Enough!” She stood by when Peter had an affair. She stood by when others judged her for not leaving him. She stood by when it became apparent she was in a fight to secure her employment at LG. She stood by when Peter got out of prison and resumed his spot in their family. She stood by when Peter ran for office again, and has since stood by at all of the functions he’s needed her at. When have we ever had Peter asking what HE can do in support of HER?

    For the first time in forever, I’m ok if this show has a “quieter” or “less intense” season finale, because I think that moving forward, the show should continue to explore who Alicia Florrick is, deep down, and what will ultimately make her happy in her life and comfortable in her own skin. You make excellent points about her relationships with all of the key characters in the show, especially about how she and Eli have these moments where lines get crossed from professional into personal. Eli has a natural obligation to the entire Florrick family at this rate, and so as much as I love him, I really want and NEED to see Alicia building some other friendships in Season 6. She needs people who truly care about her in her corner. I hope the show doesn’t explode the Florrick-Agos dynamic, because I think that Cary has been a great asset to her in a “little brother” kind of way, as much as he has as a great business partner. I loved her interaction with Diane in the wake of Will’s death, because you can see how much respect that Diane still has for Alicia, deep down. But aside from those few, she needs to interact with some people outside of that sphere. Is Finn a good candidate to be that friend in Alicia’s life who helps her hit the reset button? I adore Finn’s role in the show so far, but we don’t know enough about him to guess where things will go from here. I just know that Alicia needs more people LIKE him in her life — people who automatically ask about her frame of mind and how she’s doing, because they genuinely care. That’s what Alicia has been missing from Peter all these years…someone who recognizes that she is still, indeed, a regular woman under that tough exterior…and that like any regular human, she should be handled with care and respect. She needs somebody to be “present” with her when they are actually with her. Even in times when she and Will fought, they were 100% in that moment with one another. This show focused on the “1%”, but Alicia needs people in her life who start recognizing that she’s always putting out 100%. I’m at a loss to guess what the finale might be like, but there are a few loose ends that were not tied up this season…and I would imagine that the voter fraud situation didn’t just conveniently die with Will. Something’s going to have to give in a big way this coming season, in order for Alicia to finally move forward with her life or make these changes she’s been thinking about.

    • Emma Fraser May 13, 2014 at 10:44 am #

      Thanks for your very thoughtful and in-depth comments and I think you’re spot on with your Peter and Alicia assessment – this really was just the final straw.

      I’m also very much with you with Alicia needing more friends as since Kalinda she hasn’t really had a solid friendship. With Finn I want to see this as a solid friendship first and I really hope Matthew Goode is also a regular next year. I’m very intrigued about his personal life now that Eli revealed he is divorced and while I think it probably will turn into something romantic eventually, I doubt they will head down this path very soon.

      I like the idea of a quieter season finale, although I am also looking forward to seeing Diane in full fight mode. If anyone can be a good friend to Alicia (and vice versa) I think it will be her.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Betrayal, Privacy and Corruption on the Season 5 Finale of The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 19, 2014

    […] as partners; there has been the odd hint at tension, including Cary’s reaction to Diane last week, but this divide has occurred without enough to back it up on […]

  2. The Good Wife and Secrets: “Were we up to Something Naughty?” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - October 13, 2014

    […] this one exists then surely there are more from their other hotel ventures. The second is another we have seen before and it was used by Castro last season to stop Finn from running as it shows him leaving […]

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