OK, folks. It’s a dark dark day in the world of Pajiba The Good Wife Recaps because remember when I said a few weeks back that the show gave us everything we never asked for? I thought that was the basement. I thought the elevator-inspired insta-serendipity between two of the least likable and least interesting characters on the show was rock bottom. I thought several weeks of weight-tallying plastic box trash-people was merely the puddle we were wading through. I didn’t realize that puddle got deeper and significantly less interesting.
I originally felt the show was completely lost at sea. When a show goes adrift like this they’re sometimes able to run back and put their arms around something. It’s like a couples retreat where you’re in something so long and the love is just gone and you decide to take stock of the relationship and try to reconnect with what you loved about your partner in the first place. Well, that actually seems to be what show creators Michelle and Robert King did on hiatus. They said: what are the things that people used to love about this show?
And I think it was a combination of three things:
1) What does it mean to be a ‘good wife’ in these modern times, and with a husband who’s infidelity was front page news?
2) How would Alicia handle “starting over.” Not just being in Peter’s shadow. Branching out and building a bigger life for herself, building her own independent identity, and making a place in the world for herself.
3) How would Alicia navigate the real, honest-to-god love she has for Will Gardner against/in the vicinity of the love she has for her husband?
And instead of being lost, I think the Kings are trying to get back to zero. But they’re just failing miserably at it. You can’t go home again. We’re not really exploring what her role as wife is because she really isn’t one anymore. The kids are grown, and Peter is never going to change. Why not just leave him? What on earth is keeping her there? There’s simply no earthly reason any of it makes sense, certainly none that we’ve been made aware of. And on top of that, we’re supposed to believe that Peter is the possible front runner for the most important job in the world and not a single shutterbug would have picked up on the fact that he and his wife don’t live together? PFFFFFFF. Come the fuck on.
As far as starting over: in the beginning, Alicia was innocent. They’re trying to send her back to the beginning of sorts (a la bond court) but she’s not that sweet, impressionable girl. She’s made all her mistakes. She knows all the tricks now. She rose to the very top of the Chicago lawyer food chain and she didn’t get there by selling girl scout cookies. She’s a goddamn shark and we’re supposed to find it charming that she’s now in bond court? That doesn’t endear her to us. That makes us angry with her and the choices she made. I don’t like Alicia anymore. Not even a little. There used to be kind of a governor on her (pardon the pun) with Will Gardner where he would keep her in check. That’s gone.
And it’s not just Will. When he died many of us were like “This show is done. They’ll never come back from this.” And right now it looks like we were right. It’s not just Will being a pillar that held up Diane and everyone else at Lockhart Gardner. It was a level of quality that the show had. There was someone holding the fort at all times and we knew and understood and liked what the fort was. There was also a love triangle that we could really get behind because it highlighted the conflicting roles that Alicia in specific and women in general are often forced to navigate. Her inner Alicia is what Will brought out. We saw what was inside. When he died, she hardened up on the outside, iced up on the inside and all we ever get to see is the exterior. We’re not privy to her inner thoughts anymore and maybe that’s because they’re not all that interesting.
Alicia trying to be a mom and still build a career was great. Alicia finding a powerful, earth shattering love affair in the middle of it was complicated and dangerous and interesting. Once Alicia made it to the top of the food chain, that bubble really burst. Alicia’s just not a great boss. She’s not Will Gardner. She hasn’t built anything because she’s inherently unlikeable. Isn’t that awful? She made this grand plan to rebuild herself and come out of Peter’s shadow and seven years later she’s in it more than ever and she just mixes a drink and goes along with it? UGH. Diane and Cary should be the people who know all her good deeds and have her back more than anyone and they can’t stand her or don’t trust her or don’t believe her. The one guy who seems to think she has value is her nemesis in court, Louis Canning. She met Cush Jumbo like nine minutes ago and the first thing she did was question her integrity. She has no relationship with her son, mother or brother anymore. She is unhireable to any firm. I still don’t know why she ran for office and why she took her banishment and disgrace with such a shoulder shrug. Is that what the old Alicia, the ‘good’ Alicia would have done? Just get railroaded and taken it? Oh well, guess I’ll just be Rod Blagojevich. Ho hum. Oh well. I won a huge election and leveraged all my money and relationships to do it and was framed and disgraced in a way that had nothing to do with me. Oh poo! Guess I’ll go fight for the rights of shoplifters in a pisshole somewhere.
Peter’s bubble has burst as well. He used to be so mysterious and complex. Now we know he’s just a self-serving fraud. He’s a liar and a cheat and a political animal as grotesque as has ever been portrayed on television. All his redeeming qualities are gone. Right now, as I type this, we all know that the Peter character is either scheming, lying, cheating or all of the above. He has become thoroughly unreliable and uninteresting. He could tell you 1000 times that he didn’t do something and only a fool would believe him. That mystique is gone. Vanished. And what we learned this week is that he was behind the voting machine scandal that cost Alicia the election. What a shocker. Many of us had guessed at that. But they want us to believe that he rigged them to help Alicia win rather than to A) use it as blackmail leverage against her when she won or B) make sure he could personally engineer her downfall if he so chose. Which he ultimately did, anyway. What a cad. What a nauseating, soulless dick.
This episode showed us that the main plotline of the season is the Eli revenge story and it’s just so trite I don’t care. Once we were in the NSA cubicle farm again I totally checked out. As much as I like me some Jeffrey Dean Morgan - and I love me some Jeffrey Dean Morgan- I just can’t see anything interesting left about this mess. We saw last episode end with a possble hookup between Alicia and Jason Crouse and then nothing this episode. We spent like six weeks building the Howard Lyman Cary Agos fued and then nothing this week. I don’t want to see Howard Lyman anymore. I cannot stand David Lee. I don’t even care about Diane anymore. I don’t want Eli’s overblown borderline mentally ill revenge toxicity in my life anymore. They want us to believe that Jason Crouse is possibly a sociopath, but I’m thinking he’s not the only one.
God! What a shame! This used to be such a good show! But it can’t go back. We can’t go back and have no Peter and no Will and no learning about the law and being schooled & fooled as you go. We don’t think of her as a wife at all and certainly not as a good wife. Sadly, she’s not really a ‘good’ anything. Alicia has done something to herself, something hard and sad, to be able to contend in the courtrooms of this world and it’s worn her out and chewed her up before our very eyes so that we’re not really able to see much more than a shell of what she used to be. We thought this show was a chance to ride shotgun on a Kate Chopin-esque Awakening and while it felt for a long time that we were watching some sort of ascent, ultimately we were watching a demise. The loss of innocence. The loss of identity. The loss of a true and loving soulmate. The loss of a marriage and of a real human connection, and in a way, we rode shotgun on an unintentional roller coaster through the dark underside of what we think of as The American Dream.
It may be time to make like Zach and decide not to have Alicia in my life anymore. It’s probably for the best.