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Heroes and Villains on The Good Wife: Alicia’s Game Face is On

6 Oct

Alicia has spent the first three episodes of The Good Wife’s sixth season insisting to everyone who dare mention the State’s Attorney election how she is definitely not running and it’s been pretty clear that something or someone would eventually persuade her to join the race. After a series of conversations including Eli’s sometimes subtle and often obvious attempts to get her on board, Alicia comes to Eli at the end of “Dear God” asking what the plan would be if she ran. This is as close to saying “Yes I am running” as Alicia has entertained so far and in this episode we see Alicia make several compromises; moving position on whether she will enter the race and indulging in conversations about the Bible to help her win a case. Alicia might be referred to as Saint Alicia, but she definitely has none of the religious beliefs to back up a nickname like that.

What it takes to get Alicia to this point is an array of persuasive tactics and even if Alicia knows Eli is saying Peter will endorse Castro just so she puts herself forward, when Castro sinks to an abhorrent level even for him, she can’t ignore how terrible Castro winning would be. Castro is the villain of The Good Wife even when there are drug dealers/murders like Lemond Bishop; Castro is so much worse because he’s the guy who is meant to be good. Alicia also gets a push from another source as guest star and feminist icon Gloria Steinem acts as both an imaginary and real motivational coach.

The Good Wife 6.03 AliciaAlicia’s feelings regarding Castro are pretty straight forward as she tells Eli “Castro is a bad man” even before he reaches a new despicable low by daring to bring up Will and their rumored relationship – there’s something supremely icky in the way Castro accusingly says ‘lover’ – which sparks her final visit to Eli’s office. Words like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are both definitive and abstract; one is included in the title of the show and represents a certain image and perception of our protagonist. ‘Saint’ takes this even further and it’s a word that Castro invokes earlier in the episode as he tells Alicia “Very few saints survive oppo research.” This is something I discussed a few weeks ago here on TV Ate My Wardrobe and on Twitter in a conversation with Kristen Warner we speculated about how Alicia’s secrets could be the perfect setup for a ‘ripped from the headlines’ story involving the recent iCloud hacking. What better way to ruin a reputation that plays up on someone’s virtue than by shattering this perception with photos revealing an affair.

Hats off to Michael Cerveris as he is doing a fantastic job of making Castro so villainous without any metaphorical moustache twirling. Castro can’t quite let things go and plays into Alicia’s “Men always have something to say” challenge, which in turn works in Eli’s favor. Between Castro’s vile words and Gloria Steinem’s encouragement, Eli couldn’t have primed Alicia any better to say yes.

The Gloria Steinem moment is amusing (and amazing) for a number of reasons. First up is this facial expression:

The Good Wife 6.03 AliciaIn an episode where Alicia is at her most unflappable, she has a moment where she almost loses it in a bumbling and very human way as Gloria Steinem encourages her to run and she effectively tells her to get out of her own way by asking the simple question “Would you do a good job?” and reinforcing the notion that “We need more good women to run.” There’s that word again. Twice.

Alicia also allows herself to daydream for a moment extending the conversation with Steinem in her mind as she briefly succumbs to the power of compliments from a woman she looks up to and respects. The eye rolls at herself and later a quick look around to make sure no one knows what she has been thinking can be added to the list of amazing facial expressions Julianna Margulies delivers in “Dear God.” In fact Steinem first ‘appears’ to Alicia while she is absentmindedly playing with her wedding ring in a church as a deity like presence, bathed in the same blue light from the stage that now appears to be other worldly. Blue is a repeated color throughout the episode with both Diane and Cary wearing this color throughout signifying a unity that might not be so obvious considering how combative the brief flashbacks to the office are.

The Good Wife 6.03 Gloria SteinemIn a conversation with Dean about religion, Alicia explains that she isn’t “genetically built” to believe and while she might not be open to a traditional form of worship she does have idols/heroes who help guide her in this episode, no matter how silly Alicia thinks she is for indulging in these moments.

Is it kismet or Eli manipulation that leads to Alicia’s bumping into Gloria Steinem and thereby adding another voice to the get Alicia to run campaign? It’s not as clear cut as the Valerie Jarrett phone call last week and I think Eli was hoping this encounter could happen. What he couldn’t necessarily predict is how well Castro would play up to his villain role and thereby aiding Eli’s master plan.

Alicia delivers the best ‘go fuck yourself’ face I’ve seen in a long time and coupled with her steely “Anything else?” I think we’re going to have quite the messy race on our hands. Alicia has come far since standing by Peter’s side in the pilot all meek and with little media awareness; I cannot wait to see her enter the fray and come out blazing even with all the oppo research threats Castro suggests will ruin her reputation. I say bring it.

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7 Responses to “Heroes and Villains on The Good Wife: Alicia’s Game Face is On”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

    […] herself, despite her numerous attempts over the past few episodes to claim otherwise. The final push coming courtesy of a flattered ego (word up real and imaginary Gloria Steinem) and a not so veiled […]

  2. Sucking it Up on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - October 20, 2014

    […] is a big part of her decision and who wouldn’t want to run after multiple people (including personal heroes) have said how good she would be. On this stage Alicia is the shiny object and Peter is the one […]

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

    […] I can’t help but wonder when the other accusations of infidelity are going to be unleashed. My money is still on some kind of iCloud hacking ‘ripped from the headlines’ […]

  4. Who is the Hypocrite on The Good Wife? | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 3, 2014

    […] knows if he is) is they both only entered after someone came after them with a personal attack as Alicia was tipped by Castro taunting her regarding Will’s death (and with Gloria Steinem’s encouragement) and an essay leak […]

  5. The Good Wife and Entitlement: “I’m Marie Antoinette” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 10, 2014

    […] A few weeks ago Alicia was getting nothing but praise as Eli was trying to convince her to run and this wasn’t just from a regular Sally, nope this was Valerie Jarrett and Gloria Steinem who were telling her she would make an excellent State’s Attorney. With Steinem it went a step further as she saw flashes of her bathed in a god like glow (mirroring the blue stage lights) telling her how amazing she is. This week they played with this notion of inner voice in a different way with an imagined version of Sally who made the initial entitled comment. In these scenarios she is both favorable and even more negative towards Alicia and while Alicia eye rolls at herself for this inner dialogue she still indulges in this behavior. […]

  6. Divided Attention on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - January 13, 2015

    […] Attorney candidate. A few things pushed Alicia into this campaign with Castro provoking her and Gloria Steinem’s words of encouragement hitting the ego sweet spot. Now we are fully into the campaign and Alicia […]

  7. Going Back to Basics on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 4, 2015

    […] essentially pushes Alicia into taking the case with these suggestive taunts. Much in the same way Castro needled Alicia enough into starting the whole SA race in the first place and this is pretty much the equivalent of […]

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