"Closing Arguments" S2 / E23
- A- Community Grade
It's been a fun ride covering this second season of The Good Wife, but usually an exhausting one because of all the narrative balls it juggles, the Chicago political/legal world it keeps expanding, the character development it spreads out over long arcs, basically all the shit Todd covered in his great article. So it was sort of a surprise, a pleasant enough one, to see them relax, take a breath, and really just focus on a case of the week for their finale, and do a good job of it, too. And then, of course, give the world WHAT IT'S BEEN WAITING FOR (or so the CBS publicity department thinks) with a soapy, shippy coda that was fine considering how lame it could have been.
That's not to imply this was like, a quiet week for the show. The case, over a judge's murder, which was teased last week, was a big one, presented from the kind of original angle this show likes to find. With arguments over and the jury in deliberations, the firm gets mailed a crucial piece of evidence that Childs (that dastardly fellow!) was holding back, because he wanted one last easy conviction before Peter rode him out of office. So, with Judge Jane Alexander implicitly on their side, they seek to find a way to stall the jury while they can connect the evidence to the case and secure a mistrial.
It's inventive stuff, and everyone's operating at such breakneck speed that the soapier stuff (Alicia and Kalinda's fallout, Peter's jealousy over Will, Cary's affection for Kalinda) gets breezed by quickly, which is nice to have after a couple of tear-heavy episodes. You'd think that Alicia and Kalinda had their big fight weeks ago from the way Alicia is frosty, but not burning with rage at her; in fact, it happened like, hours ago, but all that's forgotten for the sake of the case, and essentially, for what drives these people. We see it with Will, Alicia and Kalinda, directly or indirectly: personal matters call them away, but they resist that and find themselves back at work (or never leave, in the case of Will and Alicia). Will, apparently, has lost Tammy as a result; Alicia might be losing her kids to Jackie (although let's wait and see on that one) and Kalinda doesn't even get a kick out of casual gay sex anymore (which is the worst!). But we also get why they love it so much, because it looks like such a rush.
Of course, this case was a particularly do-gooder one for the firm, more so than usual, and we even got a couple of wayyyy-too-cloying scenes with the defendant (an underused Seth Gilliam, the four billionth Wire alum) and his cute kids and yadda blah. There was a healthy dollop of cynicism, to be sure, but that was coming from the mustache-twirler Childs, and we already know what a dastardly devil he is. Hell, even the reveal of who tipped the firm off on the bloody glove (it…wuz…PETER!) was a little eye-rolly but hopefully that is not a sign of things to come. Obviously, with Childs gone, the SAs at the other end of the courtroom are going to be more sympathetic automatically, even if the actors stay the same. But I hope we strike the right balance here. Peter and Cary should make for a hell of a team.
There was some other plot movement too for the third season -- with a Florrick for Governor campaign still not quite ready to go (the man did just get elected State's Attorney), we're gonna keep Eli Gold around by bringing him in-house and having Alicia act as his liaison (and apparently that comes with a corner office). That sounds just fine to me. Another Florrick campaign sounds like a boring redux that I hope we won't be subjected to. With Alicia definitively split from Peter (and yes, I know on this show that there's nothing definitive, but I hold out hope) his campaign would go nowhere. Eli obviously has his eye on Alicia for office, which is fine, but would be quite a shift in the status quo. So, while the writers figure out if that's the kind of long-term approach they want to take, Eli can hang around the office, get involved in the plots, bring in wacky cases and so on. Sounds good.
I think there's two reasons the end worked as well as it did when it could have been a rather boring, obvious sexy montage along the lines of Grey's Anatomy. Part one is the case, which was exhilarating enough that you were in the adrenaline rush that Will and Alicia were obviously experiencing. That makes it just about plausible that they'd be in a sexy mood, because otherwise they're just doing it cause it's the season finale.
The main reason, though, was the humor that tinged everything, which just relaxed everything a little and reminded the audience not to take anything too seriously. Yeah, there was your piano/violin intense music and that elevator doors gimmick and everything else to get the audience heated up, but the easy chemistry of their bar conversation and the just-cute-enough hotel card thing was the stuff I liked. The romance is not why I tune into this show, not even on the top 10 list of reasons I tune into this show, but Margulies and Charles make a pretty couple, even if it's just a quick bonk in a hotel room. I'm slightly dreading the third season fallout, whatever that may be, but for now, it's been a good season, this is a good show, so I'm happy.
The scene where Kalinda interviews the Italian-American construction guy and he rails against stereotyping was great. It was also shot at the site of the Atlantic Yards and you could probably see my apartment in there somewhere. VERY EXCITING!
Peter's future is not bright if he gets divorced. "Without her Peter's a john who overpaid for a prostitute. With her he's a Kennedy."
Will's quick conversation with Ellis Carver (if he had a name on the show, I didn't get it) about whether he'd have blood on the glove was priceless and perfectly-played.
As was the revelation of the mail-room worker being a sex offender. "The baritone from the Christmas party," Diane reminds Will.
Diane is cynic sensei. "The path to the corner office is always sudden, and incestuous."
Will demanding a whole 186-page document be read out to the jury "IN THE SERVICE OF JUSTICE" aka to delay the trial was great too. A lot of nice biting humor in this one.
[formerly lame joke] -- apologies guys, it was quickly pointed out to me that my final observation was not my sharpest observation as a reviewer. So I'm gonna yank that one and apologize again.
and see you next September for more Good Wife. If CBS ever makes its pickup goddamn official.