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Going Back to Basics on The Good Wife

4 May

Alicia returned to court in “Don’t Fail” after spending her post election scandal days sharing a whole lot of nothing to help her ghost writer with the structure of her memoir while waiting for 5 o’clock to hit so she could crack open a bottle of wine. An old case (one we have not seen before from Alicia and Cary’s first year at the firm is the shot in the arm Alicia needs to re-evaluate exactly what she wants to do with her career now that her political one is in tatters. If the election was intended to get Alicia into this position it is a shame that it took most of the season to get here and really Alicia’s doubts about her profession started just after Will died.

What the law means, whether it is good or bad are some of the preoccupations of this episode and of The Good Wife in general and “Don’t Fail” looks back to the past to inform the present. The Alicia on the tapes is different to the Alicia listening to them, but there are plenty of similarities between the person she was then and who she now is; scandal is still dominating her life.

The Good Wife 6.21On the 2009 tapes the Peter comments are still rife, but even in the present day Peter’s indiscretions get the same amount of attention as her own recent issues at the polls. Aya Cash guest stars as a new lawyer Amber (much to my delight) and not only is Amber a massive fan, but her mother loves how she stood by her husband. This echoes the Lexi tape from the investigation as she also mentions how cool it is that Alicia is standing by Peter. The past and the present are forever entwined with matching opinions. Matan even puts in a Peter reference as a dig rather than a compliment and he 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 calling Marty McFly a chicken; Alicia will not back down after a moment like this.

The Good Wife 6.21 Finn and AliciaAlicia’s scandal is very PG in comparison to her husband’s and as Finn points out in the grand scheme of things “you’re not that important.” Prostitutes and jail time is far more likely to stick in the minds of the public so just ignore the stink eye the dude in hardware store is giving you Alicia. Maybe he just doesn’t like your terrible hat. Finn is the drinking buddy everyone needs as he is the voice of reason and super dreamy to boot. He also happens to stop by court at the exact right time to realize he has the piece of information that could stop this case from going to trial. In this instance he takes on the magical case solving unicorn role Kalinda inhabited on a weekly basis so it makes complete sense that Alicia would name Kalinda as her source. And she makes the perfect patsy since she has now left the jurisdiction. For Finn, Alicia extends an offer; sadly it is only business related and that sound you hear is me yelling KISS HIM and then realizing this is going to be unlikely if they start a firm together. Finn doesn’t give an answer to Alicia’s offer and while it would put a dampener on any romantic action, they do work well together.

The Good Wife 6.21 Alicia and Cary“Don’t Fail” also reminds of us of the era in which Cary and Alicia didn’t really like each other all that much, no I’m not talking about now but when they were in competition with each other during the first season. A lot has changed since then with several different jobs and plenty of contentious moments in-between; however despite recent events their bond is still strong. Cary is at first dismissive and slightly hostile over the phone giving Alicia ample opportunity to flex her already incredible eye rolling skills, but later on things soften between the pair over wine and memories. Cary brings evidence files to Alicia’s apartment; files she hasn’t seen before as they used her line of defense the first time they tackled this case. Kalinda’s departure comes up and there is so much history here that no matter how much shit has gone on between them there is still a strong sense of compassion with an appropriate amount of arm squeezing.

Experience is one thread that binds the episode from how Alicia is a seasoned veteran of the political scandal circuit to how much better they are as lawyers. On the other end there is this idea of being completely green to a situation so while Alicia is used to scrutiny it is new for her to be the one front and center of accusations. In court Alicia is commanding and dominant; it is like she has come home and it is glorious to see her in full lawyer mode where as Amber plays the role of novice as she stammers and finds it hard to have her voice heard over Matan. At the end of the episode Amber says she wants to learn from you and Alicia is pretty friendly but firm when she tells her “no you don’t.” Alicia isn’t one for mentoring and yet I would be more than happy to see Amber return and be part of the potential new firm (as long as it doesn’t interfere with You’re the Worst).

Alicia misses “looking at the law as something good” as now she sees it as being neutral. Her idealism has been tainted along the way as she pretty much lives in the murky grey; has she compromised herself too much? Can a new firm reignite her passion as it does in this episode? I am pretty excited to find out and hopefully The Good Wife can get over this messy bump of a season to deliver an excellent and quite possibly final outing next year.

The Good Wife 6.21 Alicia and KalindaLet’s talk about the leather clad elephant in the room and the way this episode meshes memory pops with flashbacks using the taped conversations is the usual high standard when playing with narrative devices. Until we get to Kalinda and as with most things Kalinda related this season it has been effected by whatever is going on behind the scenes. First of all the flash of Alicia and Kalinda drinking and in the same shot is not a new scene filmed for this episode. Instead it comes from “Hybristophilia” and Alicia’s celebration drinks with Kalinda after she won the competition against Cary in season 1. This scene is pretty much burned into my brain so when that brief shot flashed up it was instantly recognizable. Later on we do get a brand new Kalinda and Alicia scene where they are in the same room, but not really as their coverage could have been filmed at different times and I wouldn’t bring up the behind the scenes ‘whatever’ except it is incredibly distracting. And this certainly doesn’t make up for Kalinda’s departure last week, but there is still one more outing and one more chance for satisfying closure. Don’t fuck this up show.

That’s the meat of the episode as we see Alicia regaining her confidence after such a huge professional setback by taking on a case which reminds her why she loves this job and at the same time it gives us the chance to bask in nostalgia with both the flashbacks and seeing Alicia in court. Last week I offered up a Diane Lockhart jacket picture parade as a way to make up for the sadness; this week’s general picture offerings are here so we can soak up the joy of this episode. And it is only appropriate that I start with Diane.

The Good Wife 6.21 DianeDiane only shows up via 2009 and her brooch collection was just as strong back then.

The Good Wife 6.21 Cary and Alicia flashbackFlashing back to 2009 means revisiting this Cary haircut or at least the approximation of this haircut. Their coat game is excellent.

The Good Wife 6.21 AmberSpeaking of fantastic outerwear as Amber’s blue coat is both striking and matches Alicia’s scarf (this is me taking it as a sign that they should definitely work together again). In the present day this is one of the only instances where Alicia wears bold color as she is in mostly black and dark purple in court in an attempt to blend in rather opting for the red which symbolizes her confidence.

The Good Wife 6.21Most accurate representation of what I would look like in this moment. Also in terms of Amber’s court costuming all of her outfits look slightly off with either jackets that age her up far too much or polka dots which are too distracting. It makes sense that a novice lawyer would not necessarily have it all put together in this department yet and Alicia’s s style has definitely evolved over the last six years.

The Good Wife 6.21 hoodieThe hoodie of sudden crying makes an appearance as part of Alicia’s restless wardrobe. This gets ditched for a nice cream sweater later on when she is more settled with her career plan.

The Good Wife 6.21 new officeA plan which involves a new home office. Hope you like a door for a bed, Zach.

The Good Wife 6.21 ZachSpeaking of Zach and some costume continuity as this striped top is also what he is wearing in “Hybristophilia” so this is a pretty good memory of what Zach wore around that time (he has a different color long sleeve tee underneath in that episode).

Next week is the season finale and if it manages to deliver the same quality and narrative development then maybe the election storyline will have served some purpose.  Oh and hopefully Kalinda will make one final appearance.

 

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2 Responses to “Going Back to Basics on The Good Wife”

  1. Fiona S May 4, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    THANK GOD FOR THIS EPISODE. I thought it was never coming.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Letting it Go on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 11, 2015

    […] not caring about what other people think. The latter is not so set in stone as she spent part of the last episode wearing a hat as a way to go incognito and there are several things this week that point very much […]

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