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Saturday, 19 of October of 2019

The Good Wife – “Boom”

There it is again. That poker face.”

Again with the on-the-nose episode titles. Subtly, people!

This week’s episode is the tipping point episode. It’s that episode of Lost where everyone’s getting ready to run around the Island for the next 5 hours, wondering where something is or to save someone. The big plot threads are starting to wrap together, answering my questions about how Alicia fits into Peter’s narrative, and Peter’s narrative potentially overwhelming the series.

And, you know, we find out that Kalinda is smarter than FEDERAL BOMB EXPERTS.

CBS, no doubt because they’re part of the same Viacom family, somehow knew about the South Park Muhammad dust-up in advance and had The Good Wife do an episode devoted to a trial about a political cartoon depicting Muhammad. For those interested, they never show the entire cartoon and they say ‘Muhammad’ fairly often, and the cutting of the cartoon isn’t exactly subtle either, so you can tell the network is working hard to maintain a censorship position.

Representing the widow of the man killed in the blast is none other than Jonas Stern, formerly the Stern in Stern Lockhart and Gardner. As you may recall, Stern has dementia, and Alicia, totally aware of this, pointedly asks Stern how he’s doing when he breezes into the conference room, looking for a massive payout from L&G’s client. It’s a nice moment, because Alicia, as she does for the entire episode, is stoic and stone cold in her face (Buster Keaton would be proud).

Appropriately, since Alicia can’t reveal that Stern has dementia due to privilege, Alicia continually objects to Stern in court, throwing him off his game, causing him to forget lines of questioning. The scene is wonderfully played not so much by Margulies but by Kevin Conway as Stern. Conway nicely sells not only the confusion of Stern in forgetting questions, but in the moment of recognition of what Alicia is doing: he’s trapped, unable to admit that he’s lost his place in the examination lest he admit to his condition and lose his new, rolling in the dough firm.

Dough, I might add, that he’s been getting from clients from L&G, including equity from Julius, who Diane and Will manage to keep on board by upping his salary and agreeing to more diversity hires. Their confrontation scene gets the pay off as Will asks for the names of the other lawyers planning to leave for Stern’s firm. Charles, as always terrific, makes Will’s pretty boy cutthroat persona so deliciously likable that I can almost see him stabbing Alicia in the back, as Stern has predicted will occur.

That Julius was skadaddling with 11 other lawyers is info obtained by Cary, seducing an old college flame that now works with Stern. Motivating Cary decision is the on-going competition between him and Alicia for the associate spot, a spot that means a great deal in a firm as hard-up for cash as L&G. It sets up the decision that Will has been putting off: Cary or Alicia? It’s a question that has been a subtext for much of the tail end of the season, compounded by Alicia and Will’s potential relationship. Indeed, this week’s episode manages to bring all of the law firm plots together into a coherent, satisfying whole.

But then there’s Peter. Turns out that the lawyer prosecuting him has some new dirt from an old friend of Peter’s, Gerald Kozko. Alicia gets pulled into this as Kozko comes to L&G looking for representation and asks her to pass along a cryptic, “I’m sorry” to Peter. I haven’t been a fan of how Alicia and Peter’s narrative intersect, but this episode handles it smoothly with the end result.

Peter’s confrontation with a wire-wearing Kozko allows us (or maybe just me since I came late to show) to see what kind of ruthless politician Peter really is: one not above blackmailing Kozko through some dirt on his kid.  Alicia sees the ruffled and buttonless Kozko leave the church, with Peter coming out shortly after.  Alicia, knowing what was done, is done with Peter: “Us. Me caring. Me actually thinking that you’re changing.”

It’s a finely made, beautiful scene. Even though there are no real cracks showing in Alicia’s cold, porcelain face, her attire of jeans and a clingy sweater shows them. Seeing a rumpled Kozko was one non-change too many, and she’s out the door to have a nice dinner with Will. As she exits the apartment, Peter stops at the threshold, held back by the ankle tracker. The looks between them saying everything: Peter’s desire to be better but not really knowing how and Alicia’s utter contempt and desire for a better man (though Will is not that man either).

And then Peter steps over the threshold. BOOM. Well, really, blaringly loud alarm that doesn’t get the kids running from their rooms, and heads for the elevator after her. I’m not sure what to make of Peter’s decision to go after her. I don’t know that there’s any convincing to be done.

FINAL THOUGHT

  • I tweeted that Kalinda’s ability to decipher where a bomb came from and how it was placed in the building was one step too far for me, a suspension of disbelief that I just can’t make, and that she just doesn’t fit into this show.  This elicited a number of pro-Kalinda responses from folks who follow me. Much of this for me is that her character just isn’t fleshed out enough for me to accept that she’s just this good at her job, hardcore boots and confidence aside. It makes her a deus ex machina in a show that doesn’t need deus ex machinas. I’d be all  over Kalinda in her own, Burn Notice-esque show where her skills would make sense. But I can’t accept “I looked it up.” or “I’m Kalinda.” as a reason any longer.

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