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Seeing into the Mind of Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife – “I Just Had a Thought”

9 Mar

The last time The Good Wife used this approach to show the inner thoughts of a character it was more contained focusing on Will (*sob*) and his preparation for cross examining Alicia showing his feelings of being betrayed by Alicia when she left the firm coupled with a memory of an intense romantic experience. By exploring one single experience in “The Decision Tree” that two people shared the Will/Alicia dynamic played on another level as Will could reveal a vulnerable side in this moment of private space. With “Mind’s Eye” they up the ante by making it about everything; the SA race, romantic feelings for loves past and not yet occurring, Peter, Kalinda, Bishop, Alicia’s kids and Louis Canning. It is all on the table and at several points throughout the episode these different concerns intersect and overlap.

The Good Wife 6.14 AliciaAlicia has a lot on her plate and she has been performing a juggling act all season with work and her campaign. Throw in family and we can ask (with an eye roll of course) can Alicia have it all? With just a week until the election this storyline is in its final stretch as John underlines the importance of this interview. There are plenty of skeletons in Alicia’s closet that could hurt her in this campaign defining interview – an interview Prady has already done and charmed his way through rather successfully – with where her PAC money comes from, Zach’s abortion and the Canning lawsuit. Alicia is left on her own to clear her mind and rest her voice; instead more gets thrown in her direction and she doesn’t take any of the remedies Marissa has bought for her. Alicia is typically a restless person when told to rest especially as there is so much going on for her at this time and for once we are allowed to venture into her thought process.

Where Marissa has no filter and will say everything that is on her mind including telling Grace that she isn’t trying to replace her (and even though Grace has lost her annoying edge I’m sure many viewers myself included would be more than happy if Marissa became a regular fixture in the Florrick family), Alicia is typically all filter. Sometimes Alicia lets her guard down and does not what she thinks she should do, but what she wants to do such as the car park kiss a few episodes ago. Generally she sticks to the ‘good girl’ Saint Alicia brand that has been crafted for her by the media with the occasional push back. Will was one of these push backs when she finally engaged in the romantic affair she had been longing for and yet the reason why this stopped was because of that one time she thought Grace had gone missing (*shakes fist retroactively at Grace*).

The moral/ethical lines are forever blurred and murky on this show and it is why there have been several debates about religion including this week’s Richard Dawkins infused one. When a credit card pop up ad sounds like Will it is like a gut punch memory for both Alicia and the audience. First because I was trying to figure out if I was also imagining that voice and second because we leap into a sex memory. Will’s face is never shown as it is either in shadow or just out of profile; it is just his voice which assures us it is him and it is a deeply affecting. The setup is the same as in Will’s memory from “The Decision Tree” with the trip to New York being a centerpiece and it is the moment they were both at their happiest mixed in with their most contentious. This is the first time this season where Alicia has explicitly dealt with Will and having him spring up when she is already juggling so much is the kind of self-sabotage you would expect Alicia.

Just look at how she is addressing her attraction to both John and Finn with the former looking more likely as she admits in her mind that she does want to sleep with him; the look she gives him at the end suggests something is going to happen sooner rather than later. Finn pops into her fantasies so randomly as he isn’t even mentioned nor does he appear in the episode aside from this moment and I think it is safe to say there are strong feelings there. While John looks like a sure thing I still think this is more fling material and Finn is for long term (this could also be shipper wishful thinking). Her marriage status complicates matters of course and the internal debate she has matches everything we have seen her say out loud about Peter, to Peter and with any other potential suitor.

Peter has of course had several lovers both when they were ‘happily’ married and since the agreement was verbally drawn up last season and the one that still gets to Alicia is Kalinda. Kalinda and Alicia have not shared any scenes that haven’t been on the phone since season 4 and “Mind’s Eye” goes some way to try and justify why this has been a thing; when Alicia thinks of Kalinda all she sees is the woman (and her friend) who slept with her husband (even though they weren’t friends when it happened). When ‘Peter’ says “We don’t talk like this and you know it” of course she knows it but that still doesn’t stop her from tormenting herself with these scenarios. Alicia’s process for working through cases and what questions she might get asked during the interview is methodical taking into account a variety of scenarios; however she can’t be all logical and her usually filtered emotional side reveals insecurities and niggles we have long suspected are there.

The Zach question is one such niggle as she repeatedly sees him dressed as if he is destitute even though she knows he is at college in Georgetown. Why does she keep freezing up at the Zach question? It isn’t the fact that there was an abortion more that she didn’t know about it and this loss of trust is huge. It is also notable that while she eventually tries to ring Zach after making up with him in her mind she doesn’t get through and they are still left without an actual reconciliation. The Grace story this week is interesting (I know, right?!) using her beliefs or in this case wavering beliefs to prompt a frank conversation between mother and daughter while also showing a hilarious vision of Grace as Alicia’s biggest fear – pregnant, sniffing glue and wearing tons of eyeliner/lip gloss. Alicia receives a text meant for Grace (this has happened with my phone after an update linking to my fiance’s phone) and it shows Grace’s beliefs are not as certain as Alicia thought they were. This leads to Alicia’s fear spiral for what might become of her daughter.

As with last week’s interaction between mother and daughter it feels like The Good Wife has finally figured out how to utilize Grace and she might even be nearing Paige from The Americans for the teen character who doesn’t annoy (plus if these shows were set in the same decade these two would definitely be friends, see also Alicia and Elizabeth). The question of faith with Grace weaves into the Canning story as Alicia has been asked to pray for Louis to live through the night by Sandra Beeman (The Good Wife and The Americans manage to intersect here) and while she agrees, she knows it would be hypocritical to do so; Grace is her prayer proxy. It gives Alicia the chance to address what she sees as a concerning text while also following through with her promise in a roundabout way. Unlike Elizabeth Jennings, Alicia doesn’t want her daughter to lose her faith because of her influence and even though Alicia doesn’t believe in it she can also see the positive influence it has had on Grace.

The Canning lawsuit could make Alicia look bad in the press even though she is pretty sure he is spouting bs regarding his dying status, something I thought he was doing right up to Alicia’s visit to the hospital. On one notepad Alicia is working through this lawsuit and every time she comes up with a seemingly winning move something else counters and a settlement looks likely. On the other side of her laptop sits a white pad which has notes for her interview relating to Prady’s interview – does likeability matter? – what she knows about Lemond Bishop’s contributions and her family. The Bishop question is the murkiest as she knows much more than she should let on if she wants to win and at times one train of thought with Canning feeds into her Bishop notes; this is multitasking at its best.

Alicia wants to tell the truth about the Bishop money and she sees a version where she is praised for this honesty as opposed to the usual politician response; luckily for Alicia she has an imaginary Eli to tell her this is a fairy tale and instead she will lose if she comes clean like this. John to an extent also does this in a non-imagined conversation as they debate what the truth actually means with John giving her a politicians answer that lets her avoid the actual truth.

With “The Decision Tree” it played with notions of memory and perception on a singular past event feeding into current emotional conflict and “Mind’s Eye” successfully takes this even further. By giving us a glimpse into Alicia’s mind in this stylized manner it allows The Good Wife to have fun with their format while delivering an episode that is funny, heartbreaking and pushes the storyline forward. Alicia is all about control and this episode is both focused and all over the place in how she is dealing with everything in her life at the moment, while also exploring emotional turmoil from the recent and long ago past. It doesn’t matter that we don’t get to see Alicia’s interview as we have seen plenty of these this season and it is the negotiating in her own mind between these various concerns that really makes this episode a recent standout.

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One Response to “Seeing into the Mind of Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife – “I Just Had a Thought””

  1. ohhoworiginal March 9, 2015 at 11:35 pm #

    Great insights on this unique episode! I, too, read a lot into the way Finn popped up in Alicia’s thoughts, though I’m sorry to say I, too, have the bias of a part-time shipper.

    As reduced as he was in her thoughts, it’s no secret that Alicia has shied away from deeper and meaningful commitment in the past–and with substantial reason–and so I’m inclined to agree with you that what she sees in Finn has more serious implications. If Alicia’s initial shock and Finn’s close-up shot are anything to go by, he appears to stand out in intensity, if not duration.

    She’s all too willing to jump into something with Elfman, that’s for sure. Whomever she chooses (and I’m not too keen on anything happening too soon, anyway) I wish the writers themselves would choose to elevate one of the men, not necessarily as a romantic interest, but as a stronger male presence (as Will was) with whom Alicia’s character can play off of.

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