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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

The Good Wife – “Parenting Made Easy”

The Good Wife Title Card s3So, heh, been away for a long while. Combination of factors  over the past two months has made blogging a bit of challenge. I freely admit that it boiled down to personal issues, professional issues, writer’s block, and, really, being a burnt out on the week-to-week reviewing process. Sometimes you just run out of things to say, and it gets monotonous to write (not sure how it feels to read).  In any case, I’m back for at least this week (yes, of course, the week that lots of stuff hits winter hiatus, but there you go).

But I feel good about coming back to The Good Wife with this episode as it is one that seemingly acknowledges criticisms (“Eli feels like he’s not a part of the show now.” or “How the hell do LG win so many damn cases?” (am I right, Karen?)) while also shaking a few things up while providing us a couple of avenues for plot development.

That being said, how well does the episode do these things? While I’m overall fine with the outcome, the way the episode gets there is kind of, well, ham-fisted and wrapped in a chain of bad melodrama cliches that are are still (for the most part) effective, because that’s how good the show is.

The arbitration process was already the best thing to happen to the show in, well, forever, due to the simple presence of John Michael Higgins, but the episode did a nice job of still making it a little bit meaty by bring Louis into it. The politics of this particular firing are, frankly, rather frightening (I say this as a wannabe-academic), and I was a smidge disappointed the plot didn’t follow through with this, or the implications of it.

But the escalating proxy war of egos between Alicia and Louis helped make up for it this elision, and is kind of the first instance of the show addressing of the criticisms: There have to be more lawyers in Chicago than this! And while the show doesn’t address this by saying there’s a shortage of lawyers, but instead allows a long-standing battle of wills, wits, and egos play out, often through the increasingly marginalized Caitlin and Martha (who popped up a little too soon, I think, with a little too much expo-speak).

Eli’s plot, of him wandering around the firm bored and, well, lonely, probably could have had more going on, but served its obvious purpose of giving him something to do in relation to the season’s big on-going plot of the corruption investigation (more on that in a second). While I’ve generally enjoyed the levity Eli’s plots this season (cheese and quasi-scandalous politicians), they feel decidedly like the spin-off we all wanted Eli to have. And as much as they make gestures to Eli having an impact on the firm’s finances, I’m not seeing it in the plots, so it feels all very half-baked.

The investigation: Dana talks about sex some more with Kalinda. She’s kind of an over-sharer. Peter limits the gas on the investigation car that he gave Wendy the keys to. Basically these scenes might as well just be an intertitle card that reads, “See y’all during February sweeps!”

Which leads us all to the “Grace is [potentially] in peril!” stuff. This kind of child abduction stuff is always a difficult thing to pull off, especially when, after being asked if Grace talks to any boys online, her friend goes all, “Well……..” and you know it’s the New Age-y Christian dude from the YouTube videos. (Likewise, the notion that the show would do anything truly horrible to Grace or Zack would just be way outside the show’s general zone of drama (unless CBS mandated a crossover with Criminal Minds.))

All of this leads up to Alicia taking stock of where her life is. Louis chirping (rather incessantly) about how awesome his firm is to parents (but still a bunch of cutthroats who take peeks into opposing counsel’s bags) drives home the guilt she’s feeling about her life (not enough attention to her kids, I guess). And while Grace’s conversation about distractions sets this up, I’m not sure it completely works as a enough of a motivation for her to end things with Will. Things seemed to be cooling down anyway. Just the straw that breaks her back?

And, honestly, the episode gives her all the outs she needs to be happy: Quit LG, join Louis (are his clients that much worse than LG’s? Really?), get home by 5, divorce Peter, and go public with Will. So why doesn’t she take any of them? Damned if I know, because the show doesn’t seem to give me a reason at all. Perhaps this gets addressed next week. I hope it does.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • The show’s use of cutaway shots to documents, books, or (as in this episode) a crack in the ceiling has been giving the show a decided visual flare that I am really grooving on. And unlike Breaking Bad‘s POV-cam, I am nowhere near tired of it.
  • Don’t mention the possibility of Eli and David Lee having a chat and then not have it happen. I mean, really. That’s just not cool, show.
  • Whatever happened to the legal aid offices setting up in LG? Did that just not happen? I want more Romany Malco, dammit. (Yes, I know he was in “Death Row Trip.”)
  • The silver lining to the Alicia rattling is the Will stuff, which I think is some of the strongest stuff in the episode. I like him stepping off the elevator, and then knowing he can’t enter. And I like it even more that, as a result, the show gives him the space to realize that he may want different things, and struggling with that. It’s a refreshing change of pace to watch these beats of work and family play out for a man, with genuine believablility.

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