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Tag Archives: 7.13

Alicia Florrick’s Funk and Friendships on The Good Wife: How One Can Stop the Other and Save the Season

1 Feb

The reason why I haven’t written about the last couple of episodes of The Good Wife is in part to do with the award shows which have aired against it and the subsequent red carpet posts which have followed. The other part is because this season has been such a bizarrely paced and plotted mess that it has felt like I have been repeating myself on a weekly basis as Alicia grapples with her firm and the election. Thankfully Peter’s bid for president has been put to bed as he crashed and burned in Iowa; this went on for far too long and I think the writers think we care much more about election storylines than we do (see also Alicia’s bid for SA last season).

The Good Wife is about the education of Alicia Florrick and season 7 has been about an unmoored Alicia. In season 1 Alicia was entering a world she had been absent from for a substantial amount of time with her husband’s discretions hanging over her. Cut to the present and she has her own election scandal to add to this list and she’s out on her own again floundering. This is no longer to do with lack of experience and her stubbornness is standing in the way of her going back to the firm that kickstarted her legal career.

The Good Wife 7.13 AliciaThere are two episodes “Judged” draws from in terms of Alicia’s journey and they happen to come from The Good Wife’s best season with “The Last Call” and “All Tapped Out.” Alicia wants to know exactly what Will’s deleted voicemail said and Eli provides the answer remembering certain parts exactly while getting the general gist of the rest – Will had loved her since Georgetown – and this clarity is what was missing from Will’s final voicemail that he left just before he was killed. Alicia will never know exactly why he was calling that morning and plenty of scenarios played in her mind, including one which sounded a whole lot like the message he sent years before.

There is of course the notion of the road not traveled or fig tree element with finding out something this vital years after the fact, particularly when the other person is no longer around. The ‘what ifs’ are endless and after moving on from this idea of her grand romance with Will everything is brought to the surface and it has sent Alicia spiraling. What Alicia does is push people away when there is a whiff of betrayal and her list of meaningful relationships has decreased throughout the seasons. Kalinda was first to go after the Peter reveal and this friendship never recovered (off screen and green screen shenanigans did not help either), things have always been pretty patchy with Diane no matter how much I long for them to be martini drinking buddies, Cary has been both confidant and rival, there was flirtation with Finn, but he was too close to what happened to Will (and Matthew Goode left for Lady Mary) and Eli is the most recent person to feel her wrath and cold shoulder.

Basically Alicia has always needed more friends (her brother does not count) and for every potential there has been a reason – sometimes work, sometimes romantic – that these haven’t panned out. Also guest stars can only hang around for a finite amount of time. Enter Lucca Quinn and Cush Jumbo has been this season’s shining star. Okay, her character is underwritten and everything we do know about her is pretty surface level and yet Cush Jumbo is selling it and making Lucca vital. And not just for fabulous outfit reasons. *Cue screenshots from this episode*
The Good Wife 7.13 LuccaThe Good Wife 7.13 Lucca QuinnThe Good Wife 7.13 Alicia and LuccaLucca is the one who is putting up with all of Alicia’s shit; her terrible moods and refusal to consider the Lockhart, Agos offer from the previous episode. After pulling a lot of concerned faces and a drink with Jason (because why not) Lucca calls Alicia on her DGAF attitude asking “Seriously, are you gonna hate the whole world right now?” Instead of giving Lucca the same throwing plates treatment she gave Eli or simply telling her that she is fine, Alicia lays it all out and I mean all of it. Lucca doesn’t know the Will story so Alicia gives the super abridged version – “I was in love. He died” – and then everything else comes pouring out. The message she didn’t get, how she hates everything, her increased drinking habits and out of nowhere her not too positive feelings about her kids. Now come on Alicia, Zach I get but Grace has been nothing but amazing this season.

This is the same Alicia we got a glimpse of after Will died; the person who stayed in her sweats and did pull the covers over her head. But she got fired up and went back to work after initially wondering whether she had made the right choices with her life.

Those same questions plague her once again and this time she has someone to tell her that she is needed. Not Peter wanting her to snap out of it so she can attend a function, but a true partner and friend. This is the relationship I have been waiting to see Alicia have ever since the very bad Kalinda break up and it has been a bumpy road getting to this point. Both Julianna Margulies and Cush Jumbo crush this scene and me in the process and I just hope this is a sign that this season is headed in a stronger direction.

Alicia is now in a position financially and legally where Lockhart, Agos is the best option and if this means Diane gets to come play rather than being out on some random case then I am so here for it.

An accurate representation of my reaction to the B plot this week. #SaveDianeThe Good Wife 7.13 DianePart of the problem this year is how fractured everything has been, which I guess has been the point in having Alicia out on her own but it doesn’t make for the best structure or strong storytelling overall. Team Everyone at Lockhart, Agos.

Forgiveness doesn’t come easily to Alicia (just ask Kalinda) and last week she told Marissa there was no way she could forgive Eli. Luckily for Eli he comes to say his piece after Alicia has had her breakdown and elevator smooch (finally!) and he tells her that he didn’t prevent Alicia getting together with Will; it happened anyway. Fate is not something they can control and deleting the voicemail didn’t have an impact on what eventually happened to Will. All very logical and Alan Cumming nails the emotion when he tells her that he never apologizes or confesses to anyone. And with that Alicia gives him the thing he came for, but probably didn’t expect.

This is very much a step in the right direction for Alicia and The Good Wife getting her out of her apartment and back to her former workplace and hopefully this last season for the Kings (and maybe Julianna Margulies) will end on a triumphant note. The first step has happened, the rest needs to follow.

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How Betty Took Control Back on Mad Men

11 May

When Betty Draper visited a psychiatrist back in season one of Mad Men her doctor reported back to Don. When she gave birth in season three she was so out of it thanks to the cocktail of drugs her dreams were more vivid than the actual labor. Now in the penultimate episode Betty receives some devastating health related news and her doctor will only tell her what is wrong when her husband gets there. When Henry doesn’t trust this first diagnosis (he trusts it enough to snatch Betty’s cigarettes from her hands that once trembled long ago) and when they visit another doctor the men talk about her diagnosis and options as if she isn’t in the room.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty DraperThe camera stays on Betty with the men out of focus in the background; she is the object being discussed and while they do so without acknowledging her we cannot escape her face of concern. We linger with her as she registers the only real fear we see from her over the episode as she moves through the stages pretty quickly only briefly resting on denial and ending up with acceptance by the time we hear her sob inducing letter to Sally. I thought the Peggy/Stan chat was bad enough on tear stained cheek scale and yet this hits the upper echelon of crying; the heave sob.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty diagnosisHenry is proactive and he’s always been one for finding a solution or a better way; he offered her an escape from her awful marriage playing the role of savior, but this is one thing he can’t save her from no matter how many connections he has with the Rockefellers. The cancer is aggressive and has spread so the treatments will only prolong her life for nine months to a year. Betty’s refusal to embrace this chance baffles Henry so he breaks her confidence and goes to the one person he think can sway.

Now to a devastating scene in a string of devastating scenes and one which hit me in a personal way that I was not expecting; some backstory and when I was 15 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, thankfully they caught it early and she made a full recovery. There was something so familiar about the way Sally was told and her reaction, from the covering of the ears to not fully grasping the severity of the diagnosis while totally understanding it all at once.

Mad Men 7.13 Sally earsKiernan Shipka knocks it out of the park as she quickly moves between extreme emotions and I also want to single out Christopher Stanley’s performance particularly when Henry can’t hold in the tears any longer. The level of vulnerability from Henry is brand new and her eyes do this thing where she isn’t quite sure how to respond so she does the only thing she can and puts a reassuring hand on his back. My dad was torn to pieces in the same way and it’s hard to put into words quite how much this scene resonates with me. It also doesn’t help that my screen is pretty blurry as I type this and it is something I haven’t thought about in a long time.

Mad Men 7.13 Sally and HenryWhen Betty sees Sally as part of a surprise visit (she tells her brothers the very believable story that she did something bad at school again) the look she gives her is of pure disgust. Once again her choice has been taken away from her as Henry has gone against her wishes. Betty wrestles her control back by choosing to do nothing except carry on as if everything is fine.

A late night conversation with Sally underlines why Betty is behaving like this and it is tied to how she watched her own mother die – Betty’s relationship with her mother and the pressure she was put under goes a long way to explain why Betty is the way she is – and the last thing Betty wants is to see her daughter to go through the same life altering experience. Of course this is going to impact Sally in ways Betty can’t control; there’s no easy fix for pain like this, but she can have some influence on how this ends. Sally gets one final moment of snark in telling her mother that she is refusing treatment because she loves the tragedy and while this is far from a warm and fuzzy conversation it is as close to mother/daughter bonding as we’re going to get. Betty has offered advice to Sally on makeup and boys in fleeting moments but here she is passing on real words of wisdom telling her that she has fought for plenty in her life and how it is not a weakness to know when to move on. In fact this could be considered the least selfish thing Betty has done. She already looks like a ghostly vision in this nightdress.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty nightdressOne of the thematic threads running through “The Milk and Honey Route” is all about instincts and “how do you know when…?” Pete is all about looking at opportunity and ignoring his desire to always look for something better, Don uses his experience of forever running from who he is to pass on knowledge to someone he sees a lot of himself in and Betty knows when it is time to stop and live the rest of however short her life is the way she wants to.

Mad Men 7.13 Betty collegeThis means continuing with college (I am so bummed out that my potential Betty Draper therapist spinoff is even more unlikely now) and Henry’s initial question of why is met with “Why was I ever doing it?” And that’s all Henry needs to know that his wife is right; it’s going to be horrible but right here, right now this decision makes sense. When Betty looks at you like that you know she’s going to do what she wants.

It now feels very apparent that last week’s kitchen shoulder rub is the last Don and Betty scene and I am so glad it was one with such strong affection giving Jon Hamm and January Jones one last hurrah with each other. Betty and Don were terrible together, but like Pete, I find myself nostalgic and sentimental for how it was.

Mad Men 7.13 letterAnd now to the episode kicker and Betty’s final act of control and the letter she has given Sally includes all the instructions regarding her funeral details down to her outfit and hair (when brushing her hair earlier in the episode this felt like focusing on part of her body she can stop from breaking). Sally is not meant to open it until after she dies but I don’t think Betty expected her to pay attention to this wish. It is a mostly practical letter, but it is the closing sentiment which shows a final understanding of who her daughter is and shatters me into a million pieces.

“Sally, I always worried about you because you march to the beat of your own drum, but now I know that’s good. I know your life will be an adventure.”

Mad Men 7.13 Don DraperOne episode to go. Hold me.

 

Julie Hammerle

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