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The Good Wife S05E14: "A Few Words"

I have... reservations about where The Good Wife is potentially going with all this, and I'll tell you exactly where those reservations are coming from:

"Alicia, when I'm broke and lying in an alley somewhere, do something nice for me." "Okay. Promise."

That was too significant of a line to just rattle off after Alicia and Will had seemingly achieved a détente of sorts in the diner/coffee shop that serves beer to have it NOT come back and influence Alicia's behavior in some way, though I currently have no idea how it will. Does Florrick/Agos take Will in if he's pushed out from L.G.? Does Alicia hand over the tape and say she had it all along to spare Will from Dubeck's assault on Peter? 

Of course, I could be reading too much into this and projecting significance; but I could also be veering toward the worst possible situation, one that would undo or undermine a lot of the show's progress over the course of Season 5. It's something I don't want to see happen, even if I have been half-expecting Diane to end up at Florrick/Agos by the time the season finale rolls around.

I suppose it's an issue of the degree to which I think Will and Alicia can/should re-establish a relationship. I do think they can settle into a quasi-friendly rivalry, along the lines of Alicia's interactions with Louis Canning—though with more history, obviously. That's the sort of thing that their magnificent conversation at the dinner hinted at. My worry, then, is rooted in whether or not this hypothetical good deed that Alicia would do for Will would draw the narrative back into the two of them being romantic partners, thus re-starting the "Peter versus Will" thread that I don't think The Good Wife can revisit without also repeating itself in uninteresting ways. But this may all be unnecessary handwringing; it's too soon to tell. There's still one episode left in this so-called "event" arc, so we'll see if it all wraps up in a productive manner.

Putting all that aside, "A Few Words" was a low-key hour of The Good Wife. Sure, we had some Elsbeth goodness with her recording Dubeck and then feeling hurt and offended by an anti-Semitic bear in Times Square. And I enjoyed watching Clarke deal with a never-ending video of Mayor Bill deBlasio telling him how wonderful New York City is in a taxi cab video. But those moments were just little asides from the flashbacks—or as the producers of the show call them, "memory-pops," a term I rather like given how The Good Wife presents the past—that Alicia, and later Will, experienced throughout the episode.

The decision to focus on that particular time in Alicia's life at this point in the story initially felt odd to me. We've gleaned little details from it throughout the series, most noticeably that Will owed David Lee for getting Alicia her job (a fact that Will's flashbacks ignored), but never anything as expansive as this. Plopping it here, in the middle of a big investigation into the voting-fraud plot, felt like a distraction. But the more I mulled it over, the more its timing seemed appropriate.

Prior to now, Alicia's life was consumed with competing with Cary, dealing with Peter's ups and downs, having a tryst with Will, becoming a partner, making sure Grace didn't accidentally destroy her life (because Grace would totally do that), and then leaving to start her own firm. She's currently at a turning point with just about everything in her life, and in the flashbacks, we saw her at different turning point, complete with upper-class suburban Chicago mom clothes (present-day Alicia would not be caught dead in that baby-blue jacket). Alicia's speech and her role as a keynote speaker at the American Bar Association's convention signified that she's arrived and that she has the time and luxury to reflect on where her life is now. 

Alicia realized those two things by the end of the episode, when Rayna asked her what she wanted and Alicia's reply was, "I want a happy life. And I want to control my own fate." This might as well be Alicia's mantra, as many of her actions since Peter's incarceration have been about achieving these things, however many stumbling blocks and obstacles have gotten in her way. Now she finds herself in a position where both the happy life and the control over her own fate are possible in very real ways, and yet the two main men in her life are constantly putting her goals at risk.


– Hello, TV Crush Jill Hennessy! You were always my favorite ADA on Law & Order, and I probably watched more episodes of Crossing Jordan than was healthy. And now you'll have to excuse me while I begin working on my Rayna and Elsbeth spin-off spec script. Spoiler alert: It's the best show ever.

– "I'm trying, but the mayor won’t stop talking!"

– "The problem you have, Mr. Gardner, is that voter fraud is an ongoing crime, a conspiracy. If you’re protecting the governor, you're just as guilty. That's why you’ll talk. The governor is not your friend. No one, no judge or disciplinary body, will blame you for breaking attorney-client privilege." "I'm sorry. I can't hear you." Heehee.

– "Just write anything down." [Alicia types 'Anything.'] How many times have I done that?

– Wine bottle but no corkscrew: Truly, it is a circle of hell that Dante neglected to mention. 

– That memory-pop back to Cary and Alicia meeting for the first time? Terrific. Also: I just adore how much their relationship has changed and how different both of them are as individuals and as a pair. There's so much respect and trust between the two them that it's nice to be reminded they weren't always like that with each other.

– Choice Elsbeth stuff this week: "I want everybody to close their eyes and picture a pillow. A big pillow, the size of this room, and you're lying in the middle of it. Now, take off your shoes." And "Did you hear that? That bear just called me a dirty Jew." To Dubeck: "Oh, by the way, you should look into an anti-Semitic costumed furry bear in Times Square." And, then finally, Elsbeth singing "High Hopes" without caring that she has, to quote Clarke, "an awful voice."

– And since Elsbeth brought it up: How do you pronounce .GIF? With a hard G, or do you go with Steve Wilhite's proclamation that it's "JIF"? I still go use the hard G myself.

The Good Wife hasn't engaged in an overt discussion of feminism for a while now (I think the last time the show dealt with it in any explicit fashion was with Caitlin), so it was nice to see it make some gestures via the idea of opt-outs/opt-ins and Cary and Clarke encouraging Alicia to up-sell the feminine empowerment aspect of her personal narrative to lure Rayna to the firm. I'm curious to know how that played for all of you.

What did you think of "A Few Words"?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/10/2015

Season 6 : Episode 22

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