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The Good Wife S05E17: "A Material World"


Getting over the loss of Will was never going to be easy for the three women in his life that The Good Wife actually cares about (poor Isabel). They each face their own challenges in dealing with the vacuum that Will's death created: Diane's is the loss of a partner and the professional complications it creates. Kalinda's is the loss of a friend in a world where she has no other friends who don't also carry the rider of "with benefits." Alicia's is the loss of a man she loved—a man for whom she changed her professional life as a means of avoiding her feelings for him. Their attempts to cope didn't go all that well for any them.

But they didn't go well in such an elegantly structured way! "A Material World" had The Good Wife's standard formula of multiple plots running at once, but they were all influenced by the actions taken by Alicia, Diane, and Kalinda. It wasn't like "The Last Call," where we had three separate, if thematically unified, stories. Instead, a post-funeral, day-drinking-fueled discussion of a merger between Lockhart/Gardner and Florrick/Agos set off a chain of events that were all connected while still highlighting the challenges I mentioned above. It wasn't the most exciting episode—up until the emotional shoot-out at the very end of the hour—but I love a sense of unity in my drama, and "A Material World" certainly had that.


Will's death made Diane vulnerable as the firm's sole managing partner, so while David Lee has had his time to almost-cry, it was time for him to put on his "David Lee is a power-hungry and money-grubbing jerk" hat and return to being himself. Never mind that Diane was probably correct about how the other partners would greet the return of Chumhum; it was the principle of taking those traitorous fourth-years back that likely rankled David and had him doing his damnedest to upset the feelings of goodwill between the two overextended leaders by playing as dirty as possible in the Mercer family case. David's actions there led to Alicia to reciprocate, and that helped to set off her emotional spiral and a marathon of Darkness At Noon.

While I've pitched the theory of Diane ending up at F/A—something I think could still happen by the end of the season—I'm not sure how I would feel about the firms actually merging back. Part of me would be dismayed at seeing much of the show's dramatic boldness undone in an effort to return to an earlier status quo, but another part of me would wonder—now that Will's gone, and with him the feud—whether the L/G side of the equation could stand on its own week in and week out. The politics of who controls L/G are something we're very familiar with at this point, and I'm not sure we need to see Diane fighting those fights, just with Kalinda at her side. It's organic that it's happening now, but it can't stay that way forever, so the show has a big decision to make.


Kalinda's issues this week focused on figuring out how to fill the void of Will's friendship in her life. One way was to shift her loyalties from Will to Diane, leaving Diane looking slightly confused as Kalinda volunteered to help stop David and Damian's machinations. Sure, she wanted to take out Damian, but given that the show has provided us with absolutely no reason to care about them as rivals, I'm just chucking that aside, and instead choosing to concentrate on Kalinda being a good ally to Diane. Kalinda and Diane have always had more of a business relationship than anything else, even if it was Kalinda doing non-law-firm work for Diane, so this should hopefully create a new and interesting dynamic between the two of them, especially as they have to deal with Louis's arrival next week.

After granting us access to Will's mind and memories earlier this season, The Good Wife provided us with some access to Kalinda's in this episode, which was interesting as she went to Cary's for sex and left as his presence triggered flashes of the corpse-Will from "The Last Call." That led her to Jenna, who only triggered blood splatter-y mess images in her mind. Kalinda's never been great with feelings, and seeing her turn to both of these people for sex wasn't surprising, but the fact that the sex didn't completely work wasn't surprising either. Will was her friend, full stop. It may be why Kalinda looked genuinely sad after Jenna slugged her: one less person to be a friend, let alone a sex buddy. Since she's not too interested in sharing her feelings with Cary, there's only one person left in her life who she can turn to, but I think Alicia's going to be a little busy.


So. Yeah. The Good Wife's just going to keep putting Alicia through the wringer, it seems, and that's a good thing. Will's death was obviously going to impact Alicia the most, and I don't suspect that she'll fully recover from it before the season's out, if at all. His death has raised all sorts of existential questions for her—including "What's the point of loving people if they're just going to die/are simply made of atoms?" and whether she even wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. If the sudden reappearance of Jennifer, Grace's ex-tutor/YouTube dancing sensation/the show's only legitimate free spirit, didn't signify that Alicia was about to make a big change, I don't think anything would have.

I know a few of you weren't on the "Peter was being insincere" train with me in "The Last Call," but can we all agree that he was a colossally insensitive jerk this week? Because, boy howdy, it's pretty awful when you know your wife is in mourning yet she's still showing up for some of your campaign events and you're all, "Yeah, I know, sad face about that guy that I hated dying. But you can speed things up and get to the 'acceptance' stage of the five stages of grief already?" I mean, telling your grieving spouse, "If this is your best, then we need to talk," well, that's pretty damn cold.

Peter's right that he can't compete with a ghost, but without this conversation, it's possible that Alicia might've compartmentalized things enough to sincerely continue playing the role that gave this show its name. Even as she's drawing up the new boundaries of their now strictly professional relationship, she's going to continue in that role, to continue to wear that mask—but the difference now is that she suddenly seems fully aware that that mask benefits her, and she's prepared to exploit it.



SIDEBAR

– Will someone with a law degree please assure me that the ridiculousness of that custody case would've been shut down at some point? Because oy with the empirical materialism already.

– Finn Polmar is so getting fired. 

– I feel like Alicia and Peter always have big moments in the kitchen, but I could be just singling out a Season 1 moment that's lodged in my brain.

Darkness At Noon on morality: "People just think there are black hats and white hats, but there are black hats with white linings and white hats with black linings. And there are hats that change back and forth, between white and black. And there are striped hats. Evil rests in the soul of all men. It haunts them like ghosts haunt a graveyard, and there is nothing you can do but curse God." On human beings: "Pigs in mud, that's all we are. God looks down on us and all he sees is mud and more mud." While this episode felt like a real jab at it already, I swear, if Darkness at Noon doesn't utter some variation of the "Time is a flat circle." speech from True Detective in Season 6, this is all for nothing. (Slight update: The whole discussion of black hats and white hats feels like a Scandal jab as well, but such a weird target for this show, and in the context of Darkness at Noon.)

– TODDLER JOSH CHARLES PHOTOS. TODDLER. JOSH. CHARLES. PHOTOS.


What did you think of "A Material World"?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 10/19/2014

Season 6 : Episode 5

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