The Good Wife: Alicia Florrick vs. the World

By Louis Peitzman

Mar 26, 2012

The Good Wife S03E19: "Blue Ribbon Panel"

You could argue that every episode of The Good Wife is a showcase for Julianna Margulies’ talents, and you wouldn’t be wrong. In the role of Alicia Florrick, the series has given her so much range to explore—she remains one of the most well-drawn characters on television, particularly on a non-cable network.

But Sunday’s episode was an especially good one for Margulies, in that it forced Alicia to confront the perfect storm of family and career. It also highlighted her outsider status: No matter how many steps forward feminism takes, Alicia is still regarded as a “token female.” She may be on equal footing at Lockhart-Gardner, but in many ways, the law is still a boys’ club. That much was clear when the blue-ribbon panel used Alicia’s husband against her: She is an accomplished lawyer in her own right, but she’s still Peter Florrick’s wife in so many people’s eyes.

No matter how hard Alicia pushes, she’s repeatedly undermined. In the blue-ribbon panel, she butted heads with Mike Kresteva, played by Matthew Perry working extra hard to be unlikeable. The more Alicia dug into the case they were reviewing—going above and beyond what she should be doing as a member of the panel—the more Mike worked against her. The Good Wife is adept at pitting characters in conflict with one another, because these are all very intelligent, cunning people. They’re intellectual equals, and that makes the fight far more exciting to watch.

Moving on from Alicia for a moment, the case itself was fascinating: an officer being investigated for shooting a (possibly unarmed) black man. The timing is uncanny, as the country continues to respond to the recent killing of Trayvon Martin. Even more uncanny: The officer accused of planting a gun on the victim was named Zimmerman, just like Martin’s killer. Eerie coincidences aside, this was a depressing but likely accurate perspective on the bureaucracy behind crimes like this. There’s more to the law than simple justice—a sobering point The Good Wife continues to integrate into its storylines.

But back to Alicia: The episode also found a way to integrate her family life into the plot, as Alicia moved forward with her attempt to purchase her old house. I loved the conflict within her flashbacks—a mix of fond memories and memories she’d rather repress. Like the court case, but with admittedly lower stakes, the moral here also seemed to be that sometimes life isn’t fair. Alicia’s emotional plea to the current owners was a step toward ownership, but in the end, money made all the difference. And now Alicia will be forced to wrestle control from a mother-in-law who doesn’t care for her much.

“Nothing’s simple, is it?” Alicia asked Mike. It might seem like an obvious point, but it’s one The Good Wife makes so well week after week. We’re used to legal procedurals where the story gets wrapped up within the hour—and more often than not, the good guys win. Sunday’s episode challenged us beyond that: Can Alicia continue to ignore her morals for the sake of Peter’s eventual run for governor? At some point soon, the “good wife” might need to rid herself of her husband entirely. That pesky conflict of interest is costing her too much.


– What did you think of Matthew Perry’s debut as Mike Kresteva?

– How would you have ruled if you were on the blue-ribbon panel?

– Will Jackie turn the house over to Alicia?

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  • joelawawaw Mar 29, 2012

    Does anyone know when this episode's production wrapped up? When I was watching I didn't actually think it was a coincidence the cop perp was called Zimmerman.

  • bluemystique Mar 28, 2012

    I thought Matthew Perry's debut was fine. Unfortunately I thin Michael J. Fox came on as a guest star and not too many have been able to top his performance! He will forever and always be Chandler Bing to me.

    It's a touchy issue and it's complicated even further by politics. Sometimes politics and other factors interfere with Justice. I think it did in that case.

    Ha ha..heck no!

    I thought it was soo unquestionably uncanny that the case was a reflection of what's currently going on and the coincidental name thing just made both the episode and the current situation in Florida all the more powerful and disheartening and a myriad of other emotions that situations like that invoke.

    I loved Kalinda in this. Her mending the friendship with Alicia...also that scene with the Agent. It was once again her usuing her sexuality in this really intelligent way and I laughed. Served the Fed right.

  • BarryDalton Mar 29, 2012

    i didn't buy a female FBI agent acting that way, either in the lengths she went for such and inappropriate investigation or in the way she reacted to Kalinda's weird overtures in the lunch room.

    To me, it's a bad sign that the writers may be running thin on ideas

  • BarryDalton Mar 27, 2012

    Is the writer trying to impress his girlfriend or something? Enough with the psycho-babble. It's a great night-time legal soap. Can't we just leave it at that? (This is one of my favorite shows, by the way, but if I allow myself to buy into the interpretation that it's an essay on female empowerment, I'd stop watching)

  • TrevPlatt Mar 27, 2012

    Another fantastic episode from one of the best shows and certainly the best legal drama on TV. Margulies is a fantastic actress and she's thankfully got a fantasticly well written character to portray. This show is the perfect storm of brilliant drama.

    I like Perry in most things to be honest, I think he's a great actor. His performance here was good not quite to the level it was at when he guest starred on The West Wing, but still a convincing and entertaining one none-the-less.

    I don't think there is a chance in hell that Jackie will let Alicia move into the house. I think Jackie has bought it in anticipation of a custody battle for the kids.

  • ELizsabeth Mar 27, 2012

    ) Matthew Perry's debut as Mike Kresteva? : He is not the man for this show.

    2) It was interesting to understand what is a blue-ribbon panel

    3)Jackie is a manipulative mother in law, she has always controled Peter & Alicia . It is time for Alicia to take this big decision : the divorce

  • JT_Kirk Mar 27, 2012

    This was a really good episode, I didn't quite get the idea of a drop gun when the son didn't mention a planted gun, but the rest worked great. Alicia's reaction to discovering Jackie's move on the house was a great twist. Matthew Perry was convincing as the jerk character, but didn't feel rounded enough. The blue ribbon panel went down with a real bummer move and I would like to see Alicia take diane to task over that.

  • SokkaAppa Mar 27, 2012

    GREAT EPISODE.. but honestly matthew perry was UNDERWHELMING!! I rate all the guest stars to the master Michael J Fox and Perry's performance just did not match up.

  • misslee022884 Mar 27, 2012

    Darn good episode. I, too, found it interesting that the episode turned out to be so topical with the racially charged case and with the perp named Zimmerman, no less.

    - Matthew Perry did a great job as Mike Kresteva because he adequately got me to hate him, so that's pretty convincing.

    - I would've gone the route of an investigation but that's because I am a real life prosecutor so, I can't really turn that off.

    - I think Jackie is trying to get Alicia and Peter back together, and will use the house as incentive. Also, I'm glad Will and Diane found a way to stop the endless plays for Will's spot even if temporarily.

  • Merinwe Mar 27, 2012

    Outstanding episode.

    I love how The Good Wife manages to come up with fresh, interesting cases each week that are just as interesting as the characters' personal lives (well, almost). I'm usually bored to death by Castle's murder-of-the-week, but The Good Wife has never lost my interest.