The Good Wife Review by Henry Tran

The Good Wife 6.10: The Trial

The Good Wife 6.10: The Trial

Written By:
Robert and Michelle King
Directed By:
Frederick E.O. Toye



Episodes like this one are the reason why The Good Wife is such an engrossing series. It's made with seemingly little effort that the hour seems to fly by. The trial in question is one that the series has dedicated ten episodes in building, and so we see this as the culmination of everything that had to do with Cary being arrested. So the ending to this saga isn't really a shock.




Everyone and everything has been pointing to a bad outcome for Cary. He faces some serious jail time; The worst sentence we get to hear being discussed is fifteen years if the trial went to jury. And Cary's prospects of getting exonerated didn't look that good. The current SAO bargains it down to four years, which is really two years with good behavior and an excellent chance at parole. That is the plea Cary takes at the end of the episode, when it's absolutely clear that he had no other choice.


While we don't get to see the trial take place (because it doesn't get to that point), the show deliberately changed the episode's structure so that the odds are stacked against Cary at nearly every turn. For once, our protagonists are not in the position to control the situation or dictate terms. I have made it no secret in the past that the show (probably intentionally) made Alicia and her cohorts winners in nearly every one of their cases. It looks ridiculous from the outside, but then this is the one time where it is crucial that they do not lose. And it doesn't look good right from the start. Here, the episode's varied points of view call to mind the fact that what happens in a courtroom depends on a myriad of factors. The judge may be distracted or rushed by outside things and that affects their adjudication process.



The show revels in these details. It makes them human instead of stock characters who operate at the whim of a particular plot. Judge Cuesta wants to celebrate his wedding anniversary by getting tickets to a Neil Diamond show. So since he rushes through the voir dire process, he and the lawyers miss a crucial fact about one of the last jurors picked for the trial. That juror has a disorder that prevents him from putting together words that make sense. It would be comical in another setting. The stakes are such that this is Cary's very livelihood being discussed. So missing something like that so early in the running is the kind of thing that would severely damage Diane's case. The kind of thing that leads to Cary pleading guilty to something he did not do.





We see that the prosecutor, Geneva Pine, is invested in this case. It's the kind of case that would make her career, if she gets the conviction. She is so determined to win it that the whole thing about her possibly being in league with or subtly influencing the cop is virtually ignored by all involved. The episode is giving viewers a glimpse into how everyone outside of the main players views such a case. The intensity is ramped up because this is not a generic Case of the Week. This isn't a guest character who will pop up from time to time throughout the season. Cary is going to prison, and there seems to be little that anyone can do to prevent that. Cary realizes that as the episode goes along. 



You can see it from his face, or hear it in his voice. Whatever hope he had of getting out of the predicament slowly fades away. Even when Kalinda gets him a temporary reprieve by producing a key witness who can say that Cary didn't tell Bishop's crew how to subvert the law, it backfires on all of them. This is what happens when the firm is knee-deep in business with a hardened criminal like Lemond Bishop. He was always kept at a distance, but when dealt with directly, the wreckage will follow in his wake. Kalinda tells Bishop that the feds will try to take his son away, a weakness that hasn't been explored much. I was thinking that Kalinda would not be long for this world right there, in Bishop's kitchen.



With so much fear and apprehension present in Cary's story, everything that Alicia goes through here feels light in comparison. She doesn't have such a great time of it either, though. A rather macabre joke about killing one of Grace's teachers doesn't paint her in such a great light. Indeed, "Saint Alicia" is anything but when the issue of school violence is involved. There's no room for humor in politics. A simple note at school is blown up to a bigger proportion than it needs to be.






There's a little bit of insidiousness that plays out in the subplot. Peter is practically forced to allow a form of patronage to get the story to go away. He does this without ever consulting Alicia, which doesn't make her happy since it's the type of action that she doesn't want to be doing if she takes office. It could look in some circles like Alicia is exerting subtle influence on her husband, the governor, and vice-versa for their collective benefit. This wouldn't be the first time this has happened (see: Neil Gross and the taxation on internet media from last season). The connection shouldn't be ignored.


Her conversations with Finn also somehow get subverted. They both seem aware of this sexual tension between each other and their first effort at keeping things from descending to romantic levels goes completely awry. The ugly diner with pancakes instead of a bar with drinks somehow becomes a candlelit meal in a completely dark room with rain and romantic music playing in the background. So much for nipping that in the bud. But again, these issues are lightweight compared to Cary consigning four years of his life to prison.



I feel that I haven't been able to fully articulate how big this development was portrayed. It plays as if the show earned this result, with the very real notion that we're saying goodbye to Cary for a long time. There is bound to be consequences that are far-reaching for the future of the series. Things that haven't been seen yet. It's a dark road ahead, and the writers have no problem getting their hands dirty while putting these characters in such difficult and untenable positions.


Our Grade:
A
The Good:
  • Cary's slow realization of his situation
  • Alicia's crisis with the ill-conceived "death threat"
The Bad:
  • Alicia and Finn's subplot feels lightweight comparatively

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

The Good Wife by - 11/26/2014 6:22 AM160 views

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