Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Good Wife

The Good Wife
Episode 14: Red Team/Blue Team
By: Carlos Uribe

The Good Wife is a show about Alicia Florrick and her career and scandalous personal life.

Spoilers Ahoy!

I loved every minute of this episode. It was simply a fantastic episode where the show did everything right. The weekly case was strong and the serialized aspects were fantastic. This was overall a grand episode where the status quo is slightly changed and a major sub-plot seems to be over. Red Team/Blue Team is one of my new favorite episodes of this show and without a doubt the best one of the season. The Good Wife simply delivers a superb episode that blows every other week this season out of the water. It helps that this season hasn't been the strongest one that the show has had but at least this episode is a sign that the writers can still knock the ball out of the park. I don't think I can sing enough praises but let's get on with the actual review.

The weekly case isn't an actual law suit. It's a mock trial between the name partners of the law firm and Cary and Alicia. Will and Diane are hoping to prove to a client that they can win a lawsuit in court. The whole idea being the mock trial is to prove that they can win the case so that they don't have to settle. Both sides of the mock trial take this fake case very seriously as they give it all that they got. There's no question that Alicia and Cary are basically able to win the case despite a hostile judge. This convinces the client to settle. What's fun about this mock trial isn't necessarily the conceit behind it but because it allows Alicia and Cary to face Will and Diane in court. This is possibly one of the most entertaining ideas that the show has had and it's executed just about perfectly. It helps that the case is influenced by outside events. When they begin with their opening statements, Alicia and Cary give it their all because they feel like they have job security as partners. When they find out their promotion has been delayed by a year, the two take their problems with the name partners to court. This all leads to a scene where there's chaos as the conflict explodes in the court room. The office drama was able to influence the weekly case in a way that made it feel more significant and helped give it some actual stakes. Alicia and Cary aren't just going to try and win because it's their job but because they're angry at Will and Diane.

The firm is out of debt at the beginning of the episode. They didn't just manage to get out of it but they have received record profits. It turns out that cutting overlays and their hard work ethic really paid off. This changes the mood with the equity partners as they realize that the five new partners will be sharing the wealth. They don't want to do this because they want to have a greater share of that wealth so they decide to postpone the partnership for a whole year. It's pretty easy to imagine that the five four-year associates don't take this news lightly. They decide that they're going to attract the attention of the partners by basically going to the top clients and asking if they're happy. This is a subtle message that seems to hint that they're going to jump ship or leave while taking the clients with them without actually doing anything wrong. It's not a real attempt for them to leave but a bluff intended to stop having the partners take them for advantage. Their move basically leads to two things. The first is where Alicia takes this so personally that it leads to an intense scene where Will kisses her. It's pretty much executed perfectly-especially as Alicia flees from the scene right afterward. By the end of the episode, the partners decide that the only way to break up this rebellion by the associates is to break them up by offering one of them the partnership. Who gets it? Alicia. It's a nice change in the status quo that should create drama. After all, she's going to conflict with the other partners and it's obvious that Cary is jealous. The way the show got around to promoting Alicia (taking it away but then giving it only to her) was a stroke of brilliance.

The whole Eli being investigated arc hasn't been that interesting and it's hopefully resolved after tonight. Elsbeth is able to get the evidence that's being used against Eli. It's a wiretap of Eli basically breaking the law for his wife. The Department of Justice would be satisfied to have Eli turn on his employer but this doesn't fly with his lawyer or himself. Elsbeth is able to figure out that the wiretap was obtained illegally but she quickly finds that the Justice lawyers are willing to do anything to cover up their mistake. When Eli realizes that this whole investigation is taking him away from the campaign, Elsbeth and him trick the Department of Justice. Eli wears a wire with the pretense that he'll catch his younger rival confessing to accepting bribes but he's really using it to get another Justice attorney to admit the truth. It's a really clever way to hopefully close the plot that proved to be entertaining. This is a plot that hasn't always worked but it's nice to see that it's at least able to close the door on it in a memorable fashion that doesn't drag down the rest of the episode. This is really the first time in a while where I found myself caring about what was going to happen to Eli and his job. That's pretty impressive.

Red Team/Blue Team is an example of why the Good Wife is considered one of the best shows on broadcast television. It's not because the show is able to get away with showing some racy content but because it's writing can be top-notch. The characters are all great here and putting some of them at odds helped generate a conflict that was only taken out of control by the overall office drama. When even a struggling sub-plot manages to have a really sharp plot point then you know that this episode is simply magnificent. Overall, one of the best episodes this show has done and a reminder that this series isn't done presenting top-notch drama.

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