Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Good Wife

The Good Wife
Episode 22: What's in the Box?
The Season Fnale
By: Carlos Uribe

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

Spoilers Ahoy!

It was a pretty smart move to have this week's case involve the overall election plot. It all begins when Zach goes to vote for his dad. He shows up by himself and he's happy to support his dad when he notices poll workers bringing out a polling box. He notices that the seal is broken and that one of the ballots is for Kresteva. He tries to bring this to the attention of the polling workers but they kick him out for taking pictures. Zach calls his mom with what he believes to be fraud. Alicia brings forth a motion to court to discount the votes in the polling box while the opposing campaign tries to count them. It's a pretty good set-up that promised a great weekly case with the stakes that Peter might win or lose the election based on the court's verdict. We're going to want our lawyers to win because they're obviously fighting voting fraud since Kresteva would steep that low. Only the end of the teaser has a great twist when it's revealed that the majority of the votes are actually for Peter. This changes the motion as it goes from Alicia trying to get the votes thrown out to trying to keep them in. There's a smart scene soon after where we get to see the lawyers questioning the victims with reversed purpose. It's not only a good twist to have them reverse their position because it creates more obstacles. They not only have to argue what they have already established but they have to find more evidence to back themselves up. There is a complication near the end when we find out that one of the Democrats was actually rigging the election against Peter. The evidence finds it's way into Will's hand. Does he reveal the results to the court, knowing that they would be thrown out and Peter might lose the election? Or does he keep the video hidden and hope that the decision is favorable? It's murky ground that makes viewers question their support for Peter.

It doesn't really matter in the end that Will decides to keep the video a secret. Peter is able to actually win the election by a significant margin. They were expecting the results to come down to a thousand votes but he won by 500,000. This voter fraud case wouldn't have shifted the results in a significant direction. What's great is that this victory comes after the writers have convinced me that Peter was going to lose. That he would be forced to return to the DA's office and the status quo would be maintained in this regard. It's okay as there were other shake-ups that were being promised by the writers. Having him when came as a promising surprise. It's going to be interesting to see how he adjusts to life in the Governor's Mansion. The capitol of Illinois is in Springfield so I wonder if this will strain his renewed relationship with his wife. His position as Governor should also provide new story opportunities for Eli as they'll certainly have to overcome many obstacles to get their agenda passed. Overall, it's a nice end to an election plot that has had mixed results. It could have easily been handled better but it had outworn it's welcome as it kept lasting even as the real-life election that had made it relevant faded away into a distant memory. It doesn't help that the opponent in the general election, Mathew Perry, was largely absent except in a few episodes. This made it more difficult to root against him as he's been largely out-of-sight and therefore out-of-mind. If the writers could have made him a bigger presence within the campaign then the plot might have worked better. The primary did have a more visible opponent with Maura Tierney's character but she was written too inconsistently to really have an impact. It didn't help matters that the writers didn't allow us to forget that the real opponent, Kresteva, was the one Peter had to watch out for. There was never any doubt Peter would win the primary so it couldn't create the necessary stakes.

There is two other serialized plot at play here. The first is the love triangle that's been developing between Alicia, Peter, and Will. Alicia's marriage with Peter has been strong but the kiss with Will has opened something she simply can't ignore. She tries her best to move on but she can't help but feel attracted to Will. There's a really strong moment in the end when she's at Peter's election party but all she focuses on is what appears to be Will. He turns out to be someone different but it's obvious that Will is going to get in the way of her marriage. So she decides to push him away. There's a clever moment in the end where the writers try to lead us to believe that she called Will to her apartment. The promise is that they're going to start schmoozing. Only she doesn't do that because of the secondary plot. That's Cary trying to open his own firm. He has found the perfect office space but it's too expensive if he wants to hire Kalinda. The other associates force him to go with Robyn because she's cheaper. Ah, fun office politics and it's a nice way to keep Robyn in the show. There's a moment when Cal Sweeney, excited to move his business to Cary's firm, tries to convince Alicia to jump ship. In that moment when Alicia thought of Will at her husband's party, she decides to do just that. She's going to distance herself from Will so that she can be with her husband. She's choosing Peter over Will in that choice. Is it final? Of course not. In joining this new law firm, she's removing a major obstacle that has stopped them from truly getting together-they work together. She might try to remove herself from his sphere but her lust isn't going to away. Whatever the case-season five promises to be a complete shake-up.

Peter is going to be in the Governor's Mansion and Eli will probably join him as Chief of Staff. Alicia, Cary, and Robyn will be forming a new law firm. Diane will presumably be leaving Lockhart & Gardner to be appointed as a judge. This leaves Will, Kalinda, David Lee, and a few other lawyers at Lockart & Gardner. It's going to be a very different firm. It's a huge risk for the show-one that it might at least partly back out of. I hope not because the season that this episode sets out holds a lot of promise and might be the shake-up this show needs in order to bring it back to life. I can honestly say I'm excited for the next season...because it holds so much promise. This isn't to suggest that this season hasn't been good. It's been a relatively good one with a lot of great standout episodes but it made a lot of stumbles with Kalinda's husband and the campaign sub-plot. The narrative momentum has been a bumpy ride and this season has felt constrained compared to the previous three. There might not have been a single bad episode this season, or one that was even just average, but this season was definably a step-down from the third but it still remained leagues above most other shows. The Good Wife remains a sharp show and I have every confidence the fifth season can be just as brilliant as the first three seasons were.

What's in the Box? is an episode that shows how brilliant the Good Wife can be. The weekly case helps to create the stakes for the election sub-plot while the law firm politics intensify and love triangle really heat up. It closed out the season in a spectacular fashion while setting up a promising new one. This episode succeeded as a brilliant season finale...providing closure while making us want to come back for the next chapter in the story. The Good Wife might have stumbled a bit this season but it's looking like it'll back in top-form next season.

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