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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

The Good Wife – “Pants On Fire”

“It’s the big leagues You foul a few off.”

The Good Wife Title Card s3Oh, it is on.

I talked with Cory Barker over at his blog about the season so far a couple of weeks or so ago, and one of the things we discussed was how it seemed like the show didn’t have much to tie up as it moved into its final three hours. Yeah, there’s the Kalinda/FBI/financial thing, but does anyone really really care about it? (No.) There was only the result of the infighting of Lochart /Gardner & Associates hanging over the show, and whether or not Peter would run for governor.

I don’t know about Cory, but I’m feeling really stupid for not seeing this coming a mile away. And, really, I don’t think I’ve been happier to feel this sandbagged by, well, everything.

This may be a gushy piece, largely empty of more the analytical  approach I sometimes take, but I kind of don’t care today because “Pants On Fire” was just a treat of an episode. And it wasn’t an empty calories treat. This was something substantial and delicious that doesn’t have a false step in the mix.

No, it doesn’t have a false step! Shut up part of me that is kind of annoyed at what could be seen the show scrambling to up the stakes at the last minute to avoid the things Cory and I discussed. NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU THINK RIGHT NOW.

Ahem.

So, where do we start? Let’s start with the beginning! Let’s start with Jackie’s re-emergence. She had barely been around this season, and while swooping in and putting a down payment on the house was just so Jackie, having a stroke and then using it to shore up her influence, with an amazing and perfectly timed “I forgive you” followed up a knowing and victorious eyebrow arch, we’re reminded of what a complete and utter master of control she is. Hell, I’m not convinced she didn’t somehow induce the stroke herself. I would not put it past her. At all.

At the same time, I’ve never been crazy about Jackie as a character, and I’ve gone back and forth about Mary Beth Peil’s performance, but she’s completely on fire here, digging into the episode with relish. Her scene with Noth (and he’s really good in this episode, too) is Master’s seminar on recurring guest star TV acting: Everything we know about Jackie comes through her, from her puckered face to her wounded pride and rage, and Peil hits all of these notes without over-playing it.

Speaking of guest stars…Matthew Perry seems to have decided to stick around for a bit. I’ve always enjoyed Perry in dramas (he’s great on The West Wing if you’ve never seen him there), but I think Mike Kresteva is a role that, more than I realized with “Blue Ribbon Panel”, is a role that feels more fully separated from Perry’s earlier roles (Chandler Bing). Take the scene where he repeats his lie over and over again to Alicia’s face. There’s no winking or gleam of irony in his eyes, no playful acknowledgment that he is lying. He is just stating facts.

He’s scary here. He’s vicious. He’s a threat. So when he tells Peter that he will hammer his family, and that Alicia will regret Peter running, you believe it. In two episodes, the show has created a believable and threatening antagonist for both Alicia and Peter. It’s so damn good.

Those are the episode’s highlights. But the rest of the episode offers smaller pleasures. The case of the week affords Kalinda to do some investigating, which I feel like the show hasn’t done much of lately, at least to this extent, and it’s nice to see her in the field again, finding information that reverses the case and frees them to win. Again. (At least no one can say it was because the judge was bribed.)

Eli’s time with Vanessa was also a welcomed, and while I think this is an easy-ish out for the show to have the Democratic party force Eli away from the campaign and thus cut down on expectations for Parker Posey to continue to recur (which makes me sad, because I love her), but it does make sense within the political machinations of the show. I love the little push as Vanessa storms out. It’s not so much angry as it is disappointed, and it fits within the idea that Eli’s so work-centric that he can’t even do this. I just wish he had said it was because the party was forcing him to pick. Not sure why he lied.

Guys. We still have two more hours of this. And I read the episode description for the finale. Won’t say here, but please strap yourselves in. We’re in it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • I know he’s playing a different character, but in my brain, Dennis Boutsikaris will always be Al Archer, and thus Al Archer moved to Chicago.
  • More post-coital hair Eli. Squee!
  • I feel really bad for that weepy disbarred lawyer. Poor guy.
  • Forgot to mention this: I love how Jackie’s stroke undercuts the obvious victory Alicia is feeling about discovering how Jackie got the money. Gawd. So great.
  • If there is one little note that didn’t ring true, it’s only because it’s happening a bit late (DAMN YOU OTHER SIDE OF ME, SHUT UP!), but the appearance of Callie is a little much so late, but since it’s Julianne Nicholson, I’m going to let it go.
  • Final note of the show is the final note of this post: How perfect is that last shot?

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