The Good Wife s6 ep 22

imageThe taint attached to the Florrick name has been up there at pariah-level for Alicia since the election debacle – since the beginning of the series, really – but is apparently no longer a problem for Peter: in perhaps his most selfish moment since we met him (and this is a high bar) he decides to run for President (sort of) but tries to manipulate Alicia and his children (Zach’s back! Hi Zach!) into thinking they actually have a say in it, so they can blame themselves when the media crucify them all.

Having had her fill of political machinations recently, however, Alicia has no patience left for this sort of jiggery-pokery and calls his bluff. Will Peter accept defeat gracefully and give up on the idea of running? I suppose that depends on whether the showrunners accept that this year’s election arc didn’t work and what they plan to do about it. Try yet another one with Peter? His have worked wonderfully in the past, after all – no navel-gazing, no philosophical fretting, just down-and-dirty, breathtakingly naughty politicking by people who know what they’re about and don’t apologise for it. I can see why it’d be tempting to go down that route once again.

But maybe they’ll push the politics into the background this time and focus on the cases of the week again. This week’s was intriguing and entertaining if not entirely believable – the police kidnap Alicia’s client, lie about his whereabouts for two days, pretend he wasn’t arrested, yet there’s actually a debate as to whether the “confession” obtained in these circumstances was inadmissible? Um… if he wasn’t arrested, on what basis did they have authority to hold him? If they didn’t have authority to hold him, how could they interview him? If…. Oh dear God, I’m not an Illinois lawyer so I don’t know, but I felt like the case should have been a lot easier for Florrick Polmar (?) to win. But then we would have been deprived of a fun storyline, a Finn / Alicia stakeout (squee!) and Finn being awesome so…. yeah, ok, bygones. Yay for the case of the week!

But boooo to Finn breaking up the partnership and running the Falicia ship (sigh) aground. His reasons make sense – since he’s trying to make it work with his ex (why, Finn? Why?) yet constantly on the verge of something with Alicia, staying would have meant a repeat of the Will/Alicia dance, and acting on those feelings sooner or later – but dudes. He’s so lovely and kind and good for Alicia and the show. Why does he have to gooooo?

Especially to be replaced by – for the love of God – Louis Canning. First of all, was he not on his deathbed recently? How is he suddenly alive, energised and mounting revenge missions against Lockhart Agos Lee or whatever they’re called now? (Lester pointing out the name seems to be different every time he visits made me laugh because it’s true.) And second of all, he is NOT FUNNY ANYMORE, YOU GUYS. He is flat-out annoying and if season 7 has him and Alicia partnered up and suing LAL, I am going to Lose. My. Mind. Just STOP shuffling everyone around for one second, would you, show? You wanted Alicia to develop on her own? LET. HER.

The season’s systematic dismantling of all Alicia’s working relationships so that she can be on her own concludes of course with the final goodbye to Kalinda, not that that has been a meaningful relationship since some time in season 4, the last time Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi appeared on screen together.

Thanks to Lemond Bishop’s awesome Mr Fix-it Lester, Kalinda pops back briefly to have a drink with Alicia, declare how important their friendship was and disappear into the night. Aw. It’s a nice idea in theory, and probably could have been a more meaningful farewell than the character of Kalinda (whose story arc this year has been her only one worth watching since about season two) really merits in my view, since her early potential was squandered a very long time ago, lost amidst Magic Sexpot shenanigans and Kalinda-Solves-It-All silliness. I say “could have been more meaningful” though because, rightly or wrongly, any emotional impact the scene might have had is negated by the persistent rumour that these two characters’ friendship was derailed as much by offscreen developments as onscreen ones. To say nothing of the fact that the actresses apparently (it’s not been confirmed officially, but there seems little doubt) filmed even this last farewell scene separately, causing all sorts of Internet outrage.

For what it’s worth, I watched the scene 3 times and couldn’t see the joins. It looked like they were there in that bar together to me, so I suppose, on one view – beyond my own insatiable curiosity as to what on earth could be at the root of all this – it doesn’t really matter whether they were or they weren’t. I mean, yes, maybe the two women aren’t actually in the room together, but they aren’t actually a lawyer married to the Governor and a private investigator on the run from an angry drug dealer, either, and nobody’s getting worked up over that.

For me, it’s not geography or authenticity that’s the issue though. It’s suspension of disbelief. The deafening offscreen speculation (whatever the truth may be) and the lack of any meaningful onscreen interaction between the characters for so long rendered their goodbye scene hollow and impossible to buy into, no matter how it was filmed. How can we believe that Kalinda leaving will truly affect either her or Alicia at all, when their characters and storylines have been so entirely, obviously, determinedly separate for so long?

Having said all that, while the Kalinda question has been thrown into sharp focus in the last few episodes, I don’t think that was the main problem with this season. After the critical success of the game-changing season five, it seems like the showrunners were determined to carry on breaking Alicia and the viewers out of our comfort zone. Gleefully smashing up firms and friendships, only to stick them back together in a variety of different combinations which ultimately took us nowhere; wasting months on an election arc full of endless cod-philosophical noodling which, again, ultimately took us nowhere… overall, it’s been a frustrating season and a real disappointment after last year’s barn-stormer.

But does this mean I’m going to give up on The Good Wife? Nope. I still love this show. This season as a whole was a lot less than the sum of its parts, yes, but those parts were often terrific, nonetheless. Despite the political arc which misfired terribly, the cloud of philosophical waffling which poisoned it, and all the law firm musical chairs, there were still plenty of fantastic episodes and fantastic scenes in season six. The acting was superlative throughout and the rest of the show’s trademarks were there, too, much more often than not: riotously funny lines, fiercely intelligent ideas and superb character moments. The Good Wife may not have had a great season, but it’s still a great show and I hope next season’s story arc finds a way to remind people of that. Preferably without Louis Canning, though. I can only take so much.

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6 thoughts on “The Good Wife s6 ep 22

  1. Snoskred July 3, 2015 / 4:31 am

    Yeah I can’t with Canning anymore. I love MJF, always have done.. I cannot stand this particular character. I deeply hope Alicia will say no, and go on to do her own thing.

    I loved Archie Panjabi much more as the motorbike riding ME in The Fall. I would love to see her do that role full time in a tv show.

    I’m in for the long haul based on the first 5 seasons but this season has been Not Great, Not Enjoyable for the most part especially all the election stuff which then paid off with almost nothing in the end, and missing way too much lawyering and cases of the week. Lawyering is what this show excels at. So I hope we get back to that next season.

    Even worse, there was an overall theme of people betraying Alicia this year. I think the worst example was the guy in Winning Ugly who, If I recall correctly, was on her side to begin with but then made shiznit up to destroy her. That was deeply frustrating to watch and very annoying.

    I have some deep concerns now that Alicia has left LAL or whoever they presently are. Diane, Cary and Co are parts of the show that I enjoy and love, especially Diane. I can’t see how you can have a show with Alicia on her own that lets us go into the world of LAL very often, which means less Diane, Cary, Etc. I deeply adore Christine Baranski and I love the outfits of Diane. If those things vanish, I will have a sad.

    Season 6 will not be one I rewatch anytime soon. It is already fading to a dim memory, thank the deities. I think that says a lot about it. I’m just going to pretend like this this season 6 never happened and hope for better in next years Season 6. 🙂

  2. CJ Cregg July 4, 2015 / 9:39 pm

    Yeah, I really need Diane and Cary to be a big part of the new season too, Snoskred – I’m worried about them being marginalised as well in favour of The Alicia and Canning Show. Or them always being in a fight with Alicia on the other side. Please not 😦

    I totally agree about the need for lawyering, too – the court stuff is the good stuff! BRING BACK THE LAWYERING, TGW.

  3. Jed Bartlet July 5, 2015 / 6:04 pm

    Ooh. Three issues here: the episode, the season, and Juli/Archie.

    The episode was… OK. The case of the week was good, and the Homan Square black site in Chicago is a thing, once again demonstrating just how well the writers keep their fingers on the pulse. Disappointed that Finn and Alicia aren’t going to be any sort of partnership, although it could be argued that this is probably closer to what might happen IRL. And I always like seeing Charles Lester.

    The Canning stuff was demented, though. How in the name of God could anyone seriously expect that (fill in this week’s firm name) would knowingly take on the wife of their bitterest rival as a paralegal? And Canning’s wild overreaction merely suggests that he shouldn’t be taken remotely seriously as a business partner by Alicia or anyone else. I have considerable faith in the Kings, but I would NOT be on board with Canning Florrick.

    The season was… OK. By the standards of just about any other show on TV it would have been excellent, but TGW isn’t any other show. The election arc was a waste: ultimately I really couldn’t figure out why Alicia was running at all, and since she didn’t seem to care very much I didn’t see why I should. Like you guys, I’m fed up with everyone shuffling round from firm to firm. Put Alicia back in partnership with Diane and Cary, bygones, and let them rip in the next season.

    I’ll pick up Juli/Archie in another comment.

  4. Jed Bartlet July 5, 2015 / 6:16 pm

    Right. The Margulies/Panjabi thing. I think it matters.

    First up, I’m going to acknowledge that no-one really knows what happened, but I’m going to draw a couple of inferences from the facts we do know. It’s been years since the two of them were in the same scene. (This week’s doesn’t count. Kalinda couldn’t even manage eye contact with Alicia, presumably because there was no-one there to look at.) Panjabi’s on record as saying that she wanted more scenes between the two of them, and that the decision not to do them was for the producers.

    Even if you accept – and I’m prepared to – that Alicia wouldn’t want to talk to the woman who slept with her husband, that leaves the possibility of that being inserted into the story to provide a cover for them not sharing scenes. And, of course, even if Alicia doesn’t want to engage with Kalinda, they work IN THE SAME FIRM, for eff’s sake. The idea that they would never even be in the same room is just silly.

    So there’s been a falling out, and of the two of them it’s Margulies who’s the star and an exec producer, so there’s little doubt about the balance of power. We don’t know why, of course, but the offence would have to be grievous indeed to justify that sort of decision, given that on other shows – and, indeed, in other workplaces – people who don’t get on manage to work together. It kind of looks like petulance.

    And, yes, it matters. Firstly, for years now we’ve been lamenting the way in which a strong character has been marginalised and turned into Magic Sexpot Kalinda, capable of seducing anyone and solving any case. Now, at least, we know why.

    There’s also a fourth wall issue here as well; as you say, the suspension of disbelief. One of the things to love about TGW is the delicious knowledge that it’s a show made for, and by, adults. Except we now know (balance of probabilities) that one of the most important people on the show is prepared to sabotage it because of… whatever it was. And now I’m going to be wondering about every creative decision. Matthew Goode, for example. Did he piss Juli off?

    • CJ Cregg July 5, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      In fairness, they stopped appearing together in season 4 but Kalinda was a problem as far as rubbishy storylines are concerned long before that. That entire Blake arc kicked off at the start of season 2 for instance when Alicia and Kalinda were still buddies and appearing together all the time. The story with Kalinda’s Ex was the first half of season 4 and was Blake again but with Fifty Shades of Grey bells on. I don’t actually think the story arcs given to Kalinda in her own right have changed since whatever happened happened – right from the start of the show, she was always written as a Magic Sexpot / Ex Machina Solver of all Mysteries. Seems to me she was conceived that way by the writers/showrunners, which is hardly Julianna’s fault.

      The main change to the character since whatever happened however is obviously in the relationship with Alicia which was initially important then fractured when she found out about Peter and Kalinda, then they reconciled in that episode where Alicia was in a hotel in Vermont (?) and then… nothing. As you say, it became obvious there was some sort of issue we weren’t privy to because they worked in the same firm but never crossed paths. I don’t think it would have been as much of an issue say 15 years ago when audiences weren’t quite as sophisticated and tv shows weren’t routinely scrutinised and analysed by everyone the way they are now (like we do here!) but the Internet and Twitter and 24 hour showbiz news means these things get noticed. I obviously don’t know what happened between Julianna and Archie, much as I’d like to, but, in fairness, there are people in my non-tv workplace who refuse to work with certain other people for various reasons and those people have been accommodated. The only difference is they don’t appear on TV.

    • Snoskred July 6, 2015 / 3:57 am

      I sort of wondered if the tiff was because of Archie taking the role on The Fall and whether maybe that interfered with the schedule of TGW or something like that.. it could have been some other professional jealousy.. I’m not sure and I don’t know if we will ever find out the whys of it..

      But I do find it a little upsetting because I have always had such respect for JM.. I almost think she would be better off to come out and speak about it, if there was a good reason for it that we don’t know about.

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