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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

The Good Wife – “Alienation of Affection”

I like anything with bears!

The Good Wife Title Card s3“Alienation of Affection” is good, but light. It’s cotton candy-y. Which sounds dismissive, but I really enjoy cotton candy (despite having made bags upon bags of cotton candy at a previous job (it’s not a fun experience, by the way)). But a more eloquent way to express the episode came from Carrie Raisler, a write for the AV Club. She tweeted: “#GoodWife is so committed to being just slightly off center; enough to be amusing, but not so far as to slip into [David E.] Kelley nonsense. It’s fab.”

Now, putting aside that I generally enjoy Kelley’s brand of nonsense (Harry’s Law notwithstanding), Carrie’s completely correct, and “Alienation of Affection” demonstrates this to a tee. The stakes of the episode, that Lockhart-Gardner is on the hook for $44 million dollars, is pretty absurd. There’s no way they’re going to pay that amount of money because it would crush the firm, totally change the dynamics of the show (as it slyly tries to make us think it will (but may still)), and everyone — the writers and the audience — know it’s absurd.

So instead of playing straight and with its normal steady hand of drama, the episode decides to have a little fun and treat the suit lightly. I mean, none of the characters ever seem all that worried about it, except for a last-minute tense-up about the rider. And, really, if you thought the episode was going to be played straight after seeing David Lee in full costume for a Gilbert and Sullivan production, you need to adjust your expectations.

At some point, I didn’t know what, exactly, was going on in the episode. It was around the time that Preston shifted gears from alienation of affection to fraud (can they just do that, by the way? Change a lawsuit like that?), that I decided to stop caring and just go with it. If anything at all, the episode demonstrates just how much of a family Lockhart-Gardner is, despite Eli’s claim that it is not a family. I mean, there’s yelling and snide comments around a big table and at the end Mom (read: Diane) sat down the two petulant kids (read: Eli and David Lee) to shake hands and make up (or, at the very least, remind them that there’s no other family that wants anything to do with them). Indeed, if anything, this was more entertaining than recent episode of Modern Family.

Even within all the silliness, the episode makes room for some nice, less confusing moments. I enjoyed Will’s completely bemused visit with Elsbeth (at this rate, the woman will meet and charm and/or befuddle every regular cast member), both between her obvious cunning (and Will realizing it) and her complete inability to answer a phone, or to get her off-screen assistant to do it. Likewise, it is followed up by Elsbeth informing Wendy, at what looks to be a local theatre’s kids’ day, that the honest judges are now aware of Wendy’s little crusade and things will get harder for her to get anything done. It’s not as ruthless as we’ve seen Elsbeth (like much of the episode, the maneuverings seem a little opaque), but it’s a nice prelude to the sparks that are sure to fly as these two throw down in future episodes.

Perhaps the real meat here, however, is that Alicia and Kalinda manage to have a conversation with one another that bears some semblance to their pre-Peter fallout. While I’m on record as not being a fan of the character, I do really love the work that Archie Panjabi is doing this season in regards to Kalinda’s relationship with Alicia. The look of “I really want to help you because I do care about you, and not just out of guilt, but I’m worried you’re going to patently reject it because of what I did, so I’m going to just hang back and give Eli insidery information until we’re cool again or you really need me” is tugging at my heartstrings something fierce.

So much so that I initially thought that Kalinda found a rider, filled it out, forged Alicia signature, and then stuck it in Cary’s old files. And despite the evidence that it appears to have been David Lee, playing some sort of a long con all along, a little bit of me still wants to believe that Kalinda did this to save her bestest gal pal.

It’s surely to their credit that the show’s writers can put an episode out like this, and people receive it well. It may have been a little muddled in its overall case, with not all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed, but it moves at such an assured and self-confidence pace, giving little bits of everything that it audiences enjoy that is just a delight.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I swear that I wrote that intro before I read David Sims’ post over at the AV Club.
  • Seriously, guys, Cary is pretty much my favorite character at this point. Watching him just completely ruin Preston’s day pretty much made my day.
  • Shocked that Elsbeth’s phones weren’t talking lions. Maybe if there were talking bear phones…
  • “I didn’t cry when the Challenger exploded.” Oh, David Lee.
  • I’m all for an extended Elsbeth presence this season, especially if it means she gets some time with Eli again.
  • I know some of you may be missing McVeigh. I understand your pain. But I like Jack a bit more. And, clearly, Diane likes it when her men demonstrate that they can handle themselves.
  • I have no idea why Jason Biggs is here next week (left over contract requirements from Mad Love?), but it seems to mean more Bob Babalan, so I won’t complain.

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