The Good Wife Review by Henry Tran

The Good Wife 5.17: A Material World

The Good Wife 5.17: A Material World

Written By:
Craig Turk
Directed By:
Griffin Dunne

I wonder if Alicia is still going through Denial, which is the first Stage of Grief. "The Last Call" did an excellent job of showing the devastation that she is going through in the wake of Will's death. The fact that she didn't really break down seems to have been forgotten or ignored for the most part. The breakdown occurs here, and it's not a pretty one.

She's always had to be the one who holds everything together. Peter cheats on her and goes to prison and she somehow is expected to be a working mother who brings home a wage with all of that scandal and notoriety acting as a noose around her neck. Even when she had a love affair with Will, it never really felt like she was totally invested. There was always this expectation of appearing to be "the good wife" to everyone who was looking. Alicia certainly wouldn't be blamed if she just had enough, reached her breaking point, and procceded to shut out the world.

The episode crams so much plot into it that it becomes difficult to track what's going on. Diane and Alicia commiserate after Will's funeral, which leads to floating the idea of a merger between the two firms. It's mostly beneficial to Diane since LG gets their major clients back and she has a backer to fend off the wolves for a little while. That little subplot could have fueled the whole episode. David Lee has been plotting with Damian to oust Diane as name partner since Will is out of the picture permanently. Why not go all the way with it?

Instead the episode stops short of doing just that when the divorce case being litigated by the two parties becomes contentious. Kalinda offers to help Diane with the coup attempt. The current State's Attorney vows to fight a coming suit from the parents of Jeffrey Grant, which necessitates Finn Polmar's involvement. Peter tries to get through to his wife, yet somehow comes off even smarmier than he was before. It isn't focused on any one particular plot so as to reflect Alicia's currently fractured state of mind. It's a bit bewildering to put it mildly.

I guess the one true arc of the episode surrounds the possible merger of the two firms. It's introduced at the beginning of the episode, then slowly breaks down over time to the point where it's probably not going to happen. The possibility looked good in the beginning, though. It's amusing to see how Diane and Alicia are both so cordial that it goes against what Lee and Cary are doing in the divorce litigation. Lee's tactics are so ruthless that Alicia comes back to her default position of distrusting Diane and LG. She can only maintain that position for so long, though.

That goes double for Diane. I think this is the first time she's actually admitted that she can't fight the crowd of partners who want her gone. Without Will to back her up or make the power plays to keep the other partners in line, it gives the sharks reason to smell blood in the water. Will's spot is ripe for the picking, and while it would be good for Diane if Alicia took it, her unexpected breakdown put Louis Canning in the lead. Who knows what kind of chaos Canning will bring to the firm?

I rather enjoyed Alicia's growing cold shoulder to Peter more than anything else in the episode. That fight at the end of the episode was a long time coming. There is a sense that things had been building to the point where her sadness over what could have been with Will trumps whatever love she felt for her husband. For the first time, she is free to mourn Will in the correct manner. It drives her to literally dive under the covers and stay in bed, which is unsettling for everyone involved. She keeps saying she's "okay" but her actions indicate otherwise. Will's death rocked her to her core, though it forces her to see how little she really loves Peter.

Her decision to kick him to the proverbial curb is driven by emotion, but actually seems to be the clearest action she takes in the whole episode. She'll be a "good wife" in public, mostly to serve his political ambitions for however long it's going to last, but they are done in private. She loved Will most of her life. That's something she denied herself from fully acknowledging. It's only when he's dead that she is free. I don't think even she saw that coming.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Alicia's grief process continues realistically
  • Alicia's attitude towards Peter
The Bad:
  • Episode feels over-stuffed and fractured

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 - 4/15/2014 7:39 AM579 views

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