The Good Wife: “What's In The Box?”
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The Good Wife: “What's In The Box?”

Look. I like Will. I like Alicia. I want everyone to be happy and making out as much as possible, but I had to admit being a little bored by what I thought was the big plot development of The Good Wife’s excellent season four finale. So they’re making out again! So Diane is maybe catching them in the act again! So Alicia’s got doubts about Peter again, and Peter’s crossing swords with Will! It’s not that it’s completely unexciting, but it’s well-trod ground, and I don’t know that it has anywhere interesting to go. Alicia and Will are a couple that thrive on their tension; her sexual liberation during their affair was interesting to see, but they had nowhere to go from there.

Anyway, if you watched the whole episode (and if you didn’t STOP READING THIS REVIEW RIGHT NOW), you’ll know that wasn’t the big twist. Oh, they sure had us going until the final seconds, to the extent that I even got a little excited as Alicia poured a glass of wine and waited in her apartment, even though all I thought she was waiting for were some Will smooches. But just as I started to realize that the show was pulling a fast one, there was Cary, whose scheming had been revealed to Alicia via this show’s Mister Mxyzptlk, Colin Sweeney, and Alicia’s telling him, “I’m in.” WHAAAA!

Let’s evaluate the season five landscape for a second, if everything shakes out as it’s supposed to. Peter is now Governor of Illinois. The episode briefly had me convinced that he would lose, and that Matthew Perry would become the latest in a long line of corrupt Governors for the state, and Peter would return to the State’s Attorney’s Office with renewed vigor. But no, he wins, by more than expected, enough to render the actual case of the week (a mysterious ballot box that turns up at a polling station with a broken seal) somewhat meaningless.

Peter’s the Governor, and that makes Diane a State Supreme Court judge, if she still wants the gig. Alicia jumps ship with Cary and a bunch of other fourth-year associates, taking some big-ticket clients like Colin with them. Kalinda doesn’t go, but maybe Robin does (Jess Weixler would be a fine cast addition if you ask me). So Will is left with Kalinda, and with David Lee, and, yeah, pretty much with his dick in his hands. 

It’s a fun landscape to contemplate, and I hope the show follows through on it. Alicia’s decision is incredibly logical and arrived at in her typically thoughtful, analytical style. She’s attracted to Will, no question, and as she tells him, there’s something that’s opened up there that she doesn’t know how to close. As long as they’re in proximity to each other, it’s always going to be an issue. She’s been brimming with disappointment about Lockhart/Gardner’s practices all year, and maybe the shoddy treatment of the assistants last week was the final straw. And with Peter secure in the governor’s office, she doesn’t really have to worry so much about her job. She can take the risk.

The show can take the risk, too. This has been a strong season that was almost hobbled beyond repair by Kalinda’s ridiculous marriage subplot and a campaign plotline that never really got off the ground. Alan Cumming is always a joy to watch onscreen, but Eli felt especially wasted this year; with Matthew Perry gone, Maura Tierney never rose to his level of villainy and was not a compelling rival. Largely, this season has been very fun with several standout episodes, more often because of interesting cases of the week (more so than in past seasons, I’d say). But it’s time for a change, and if the writers really go for this shakeup, it’ll be a blast to watch.

What actually happened in this episode? The case of the ballot box was alternately cute and very serious. The courtroom stuff, late at night in front of Judge Abernathy (Denis O’Hare, cementing his status as the best celebrity judge), with the return of Martha Plimpton as Patti Nyholm, was almost high comedy. At first, Alicia is demanding the ballot box be unsealed and counted, while Patti, representing the other side, argues for the sanctity of the voter’s rights. 

Then, when it turns out the box is stuffed with votes for Peter, they abruptly switch sides and re-examine each witness with the opposite approach. It was broad stuff, but a nice commentary on how much lawyering can be about presentation. It does drag on a bit, though, to the extent that the final revelation gets a little buried. This is certainly dirty tricks from the Florrick campaign, as Will and Kalinda discover; they tell only Peter, who seems disgusted, but also tells them to deal with the information as they see fit (probably valuing him as a future client, Will does nothing). 

Peter’s reaction is hard to gauge, because he’s also disgusted with Will for sleeping with his wife, a fact he knows in his bones even if he’s never totally confirmed it. So we barely get the reaction to the other stuff. I can assume this isn’t coming from him or Eli, but from the even less palatable wings of the state party. Will this be addressed further in the fifth season? I hope so. The Good Wife can be cynical and still take on an issue like that.

Another thing I’m bummed about? Kalinda and Cary, nipped in the bud before they could even get started. Considering that Kalinda never really fired her friendship up with Alicia again (too awkward to get as close as they once were), I was enjoying watching her spark with Cary again. But she’s all peeved that he went to Robin because her ask was too high. Relax, Kalinda! It’s called negotiating! Can’t you give a guy a break?

I’m now unreasonably excited for Good Wife season five. It’s going to be phenomenal, as long as they stick with the crazy setup they’re pitching here. Alicia and Cary in charge of a young-gun firm? Will trying to pick up the pieces while David Lee tries to decapitate him? I’m salivating at the prospect. Until the fall.

Stray observations:

  • Loved Abernathy pacing around the courtroom, gavel in hand.
  • Will admires Patti’s baby. “Is this a new one?” “I don't know. I've lost track.”
  • Colin toasts Cary’s rebellion. “It's in the air, like Les Miserables!”
  • Oh God, I don’t know what to make of Peter paying Jackie’s nurse $25,000 to fuck off and him just cashing the check. That’s some chutzpah, I’ll say that, especially how he calmly applies his lip balm.
  • Alicia wakes up on campaign day to Eli watching the imaginary Hostel 3. “I love horror movies. Do you know why I love horror movies?” “Why?” “Because they’re awesome.”
  • Was Alicia listening to Walter Bishop’s music from that earlier episode? On her Jambox? I want to know!
Filed Under: TV, The Good Wife

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