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The Good Wife Watch: Affairs of State

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Quick spoilers for last night’s The Good Wife:

The courtroom and personal/political stories in The Good Wife sometimes intersect but they don’t always work in concert. Often, a strong case-of-the-week pulls through a slack political story, sometimes vice-versa.

In “Foreign Affairs,” it was vice-versa. The Venezuela storyline aimed at some kind of political import, but ended up as essentially comic relief. “It’s like being in a Woody Allen movie,” Will observed. (Namely, Bananas). But awareness of that situation didn’t change the fact that the story played a bit fluffy for a show that (while it always has a sense of humor) usually tries to stay conscious of the stakes when it has its fiction intersect with reality. Here, Hugo Chavez sounded like a cross between Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the Frito Bandito, while Fred Thompson—playing a lawyer/actor we are given to understand is essentially Fred Thompson—was amusing but ultimately as distracting as his presence was in the courtoom.

But what an episode for Julianna Margulies. As soon as Alicia agreed to do the interview, if not before, you could see the Kalinda reveal coming down the track like the 4:15 from Milwaukee. Would Kalinda tell Alicia?  Would Andrew? And how awkward would it be if that happened just before she went on camera?

Alicia was spared that particular trainwreck. Instead, she followed an arc that allowed her to show the strength and effort it takes for Alicia to balance her career against the campaign, her emotional state with his practical consideration of the politics of the moment. She is infuriated that Eli—and especially Diane—would conspire to manipulate her into a TV interview but, removing that offense from the equation, comes to agree on her own.

She has a remarkable scene with Alan Cumming, where she purges herself of some of the intense emotion behind her answers (while Eli both tries to support her and objectively assess the effectiveness of her display of feeling). It’s only after a considerably composed TV interview, ensuring Peter’s victory, that the overdue train finally barrels down the track on election night: and once again, we’re left with Alicia, having stood by her man, walking down a hallway and feeling the weight of a betrayal, alone.

My skepticism about the Peter-Kalinda storyline still stands—that is, I don’t want it to simply be a way to reintroduce the same tensions that the show introduced in its pilot. But so far Margulies is more than holding up her end of the story.

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