Almost all of it takes place in Alicia’s head as she tries (not all that hard) to prepare for an important interview while getting distracted by Louis Canning’s nuisance lawsuit, questions of faith and religion and oddly faceless memories of – *braces self* – lost love Will.
On the one hand, it reminds me of The Decision Tree which mostly took place in Will’s head and had him trying to prepare for cross-examination of Alicia while getting distracted by his heartbreak and memories of her. But “Mind’s Eye” doesn’t work as well as The Decision Tree, for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which being that, while we hear his voice, Josh Charles never actually appears on screen.
We see bittersweet heart-stopping flashbacks of a loving Alicia and Will in bed; her face, not his, elegantly, tenderly shot so that we can let ourselves believe it’s him, even if it isn’t and those shots work, but the imaginary reunion on the balcony doesn’t quite – while we only see a dark figure with an extremely dubious haircut, it’s so blatantly not Will that it threatens to suck all the emotional power out of the scene. I say “threatens” because even while my brain was shouting “That’s not Will! Is he a zombie or something? What is up with that dude’s hair?”, my eyes were still welling up as she said she missed him and then told him goodbye.
Still, that scene would have had me wailing out loud rather than discreetly wiping away a couple of tears, if it hadn’t been so obviously NotWill sitting there. Maybe it’s deliberate; maybe keeping those scenes murky and “Will’s” face dark, out of shot and not quite right is intended as a comment on the vagueness of dreams and memories – a common theme on TGW – and how the clarity of faces can fade with time and healing, while the shadows and feelings are left behind. Or maybe Josh Charles couldn’t make it. Either way, Alicia finally saying goodbye to Will is still cathartic for her and heartbreaking for us (and by us, I mean me) but could have been even more so, if Will had actually been there. Even if it was just in her head.
On the plus side, however, unlike The Decision Tree, this ep uses Kalinda the Magic Sexpot in service of the story rather than to detract from it. And Alicia pitting Eli, Marissa and Jonny against each other in her head, and sorting out the Canning lawsuit too, while also working through her feelings about Peter (“We don’t talk this way and you know it” – HEE) and providing manna for both Jonny/Alicia and Finn/Alicia shippers everywhere is often sharp and funny. All that and some quippy discussion on religion (although the guest appearance in that thread is just bizarre), a poignant return to the Zach storyline and a fantastic soundtrack…. “Mind’s Eye” is an exceptionally strange episode and not always a successful one, but, on balance, it’s also intriguing, sometimes moving and never less than interesting.