The Good Wife Review by Henry Tran

The Good Wife 5.21: The One Percent

The Good Wife 5.21: The One Percent

Written By:
Ted Humphrey
Directed By:
Rosemary Rodriguez

I don't think I've really noticed this until watching this episode, but this show goes out of its way to primarily portray Alicia's relationship to the men around her. She's practically surrounded by men. The partner in her law firm is a man, not only that but he was a former competitor in the workplace. She is married to the governor of Illinois who was also the State's Attorney, suggesting that she is always drawn to men with power. She is defined by them. Male clients have had an unusual attachment or obsession with her (Lemond Bishop, Colin Sweeney, Matthew Ashbaugh, and James Paisley here, to name a few), not only because she is attractive, but that her job often becomes an aphrodisiac for these men to be around her.

The central female figures in her life are practically non-existent now. Diane used to be a mentor, but is now her primary competition. She had a falling out with Kalinda over the adulterous transgressions with Peter. She has never been all that close with her mother. The kind of power she has as an attorney has unwittingly put her in the "one percent" that she is representing here in this episode. It has isolated her to the point where it would invite some kind of backlash. What that will be, I do not know, but this episode has made clear that it's coming soon.

At the near close of this episode, I really thought that Alicia might lose the case for the first time in what feels like a long time. It comes down to a client settlement once it's clear to the Florrick-Agos that they won't get the necessary jurors to win, but it plays largely like a debacle. Alicia is assaulted on all sides by instances where she's unlikely to win. The case isn't helped by CEO Paisley spouting off invective and overt allusions to Jews, Nazis, and World War II. Or the unfortunate camera interview that has Alicia coming off as an ignorant racist, which unexpectedly continues such implication made in "Tying The Knot."

It's really sensationalism run amok, yet it's proven effective in advancing Canning's opposition in the case. The back-and-forth between Canning and Alicia is delightful, culminating in a sort of detente when the settlement is finally agreed upon to take the case out of court. The only issue I had with the whole thing is that the conclusion proved to be too pat. The show wants to say something meaningful about how false it looks for the one percent to be the disenfranchised party, but fails in doing so. Paisley and Alicia get into a brief discussion on Ayn Rand as it relates to their current shared plight, and yet it somehow comes off as slight and lost in the shuffle.

That's largely because Alicia dismisses his viewpoint with some valid criticisms of Rand's work. She wants to be seen as the advocate for the underdog. If we look closer at the relationships she holds at work, then that argument doesn't really hold water. She likes being a part of the one percent. It seems that she doesn't want to like being a part of that one percent. Perhaps that's the root of her disillusionment with her lawyer position.

Diane, on the other hand, relishes being at the front of the pack. She is doing everything she can to keep that position. I found it rather pointed that she was courting Rayna Hecht, who was apparently finding a partnership with Elsbeth Tascioni to be "too restrictive." It's a clear power move, designed to get around Canning's seizure of the name partner designation. By now, there is a clear pattern to the interactions between Diane and Canning. She doesn't trust any move that he makes, and sends Kalinda in to be her spy on such matters.

Her moves don't quite work as it should, with Rayna rejecting her partnership offer before she even presents it to her. Diane thinks it's the work of the competition, and was well prepared to go to war with Florrick-Agos over this slight, only to find that Rayna had rejected them as well. Both parties seem bereft of crucial information and were prone to misinterpretation of the facts.

They weren't the only ones. Peter gets a sole photograph from James Castro that gives the appearance of Finn having an affair with Alicia. The show has been down this road before. The difference here is that Will was actually having an affair with Alicia. Finn is not. The audience knows this. Peter does not. It's certainly a good thing that he has Eli to advise him on these matters. Like David Lee in the aftermath of Will's death, Eli doesn't want to do things like ask Alicia if she's having an affair. That's a very sensitive subject with her. He may be slimy and motivated only by politics, but he gets an honest answer out of Alicia because he cares about her. He's doing everything he can to protect Peter.

The onus is on Peter to accept that his wife is telling him the truth (which she is). The nature of their relationship is that they're married in name only. It would be political suicide to have another affair with a young, attractive woman in his employ. It's also repetitive storytelling, but that would indicate that Peter has not really changed in all this time. Alicia is at least making some kind of effort to change. The writers may not advance the Alicia-Finn romantic pairing because it would be the expected move. It's left up to question whether Peter will go ahead with the intern or with another attractive woman in his circle. It will be another wedge that drives both of them further and further apart.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Alicia's isolation is well presented
  • Canning and Alicia's war of words
The Bad:
  • Conclusion of case was too convenient
  • The Ayn Rand discussion was overdone

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 - 5/13/2014 6:32 AM190 views

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