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The Good Wife S05E10: "The Decision Tree"


I mentioned in the sidebar section last week that I had been re-watching Season 1 of this show, and was fascinated at how through this season, The Good Wife has been echoing itself. I'm now just starting Season 3, and they're still creating echoes. For instance, I'm rather surprised we never really discussed Diane's covert attempt to split off from the firm with David Lee and Julius Cain in Season 2 and how that weighed in Alicia and Cary's departure, both in terms of character and narrative parallels (I admit that I had forgotten about this subplot). With the formation of Florrick/Agos, the show shifted its focus and premise, and granted the show the ability to interrogate its own past.

It has also allowed the characters to interrogate their own pasts, their own feelings. We saw it a bit last week as Diane and Will made their first visit to the Florrick/Agos offices, and we saw it again this week as Matthew Ashbaugh (John Noble) returned in flashbacks after the discovery of a will in which he left $12 million to Alicia. Unsurprisingly, L.G. is contesting this will on the behalf of Ashbaugh's widow, turning this into yet another skirmish in the War Between the Firms.

It's been a point of contention in the comments, this focus on a near-constant battle between F/A and L.G., and it's a point of contention that I share. Not every case involved Jonas Stern after he departed the firm, and not every case involves Louis Canning or Patti Nyholm or Nancy Crozier. Yes, all the characters I just mentioned were guest stars to the shows compared to Will and Diane being regular characters, but a break is welcomed every now and then. The threat starts to mean less and less if we're always exposed to it all the time. It's why Canning's tricks, Nyholm's games, and Crozier's pseudo-ditziness still thrill us after five seasons: They haven't overstayed their welcomes as the opposition.

Of course, this critique of the two firms always at one another's throats is a slippery one when we're given an episode like "The Decision Tree." It's not only the show's 100th episode -- a very nice milestone marked by Kalinda's speedometer right at the start of the episode -- but it's probably the best episode of the season since "Hitting the Fan" in no small part because this battle over Ashbaugh's will is explicitly about more than just the will. It's about what Alicia's departure meant to Will, and why Will isn't letting it go. The critiques don't mean less, but they're adjusted when they've given significant emotional intensity. It's not just business; it's personal.

I had no idea how prescient I would end up being when I wrote in the "Hitting the Fan" review about Will turning to the law to get satisfaction because it's the only way he knows ho to get satisfaction. Certainly his wartime mentality is an aspect of this, but watching him breakdown how to question Alicia on the stand, watching as his imaginary questioning stops becoming about her undue influence on Ashbaugh and becoming about her influence on him was emotionally charged and totally engrossing. Peppering in the flashbacks to their time in New York City -- "This is crazy romantic." "This is the happiest I've ever been." -- only strengthened the notion that Will's using business as a distraction, a coping mechanism from his pain (the bracketed descriptions are my own): 

Alicia: No. I cared for him [Ashbaugh]. I liked him. 

Will: So it was all right to use him? 

Alicia: You make things sound so simple. [holding back tears] I'm married. 

Will: You always use that, don't you? Married. [Will now in his imagination proper, in a suit, arguing with her on the stand] You're conveniently married when you want to be. 

Alicia: That's not fair. I love you. 

Will: You made me believe that so you could steal my clients.

Alicia: No...Will... [all but crying at this point]

Will: Stop it. I don't like it when you're weak.

It's a masterfully put together sequence by director Rosemary Rodriguez and editor David Dworetzky that exploits the show's fondness for point-of-view shots for all their intensity, from the normal close-up of Alicia in Will's mind and the occasional tight close-up on Will in his home office. It's not a huge change of style for the show, but it's a shift in it use. So many of these close-ups tend to focus on documents (still used here as we look at Will's notes), photographs, and computer screens, often with cuts and/or movement within the shot, so to have them put on people, and often in such a static way sold the sequence's emotional intensity. We're invited to study every bit of Alicia and Will's facial expressions, and while it's emotionally showy, it's not in an extraneous one; it helps, it doesn't hinder.

There's other small touches, like Will imagining Alicia in a snow white jacket -- which ended up being nicely juxtaposed against the black embroidered lace top she actually wore to court -- but at its core, we're seeing Will grappling with his feelings, unable to express them beyond hostility and hooking up with Isabel. He has no outs, just "a whole lot of of anger."

The downside to the terrific part of the episode was that it only highlighted how hollow the Kalinda and Damian stuff was. If you've been longing for Kalinda to do something badass again -- like engage in a high speed chase with Damian while listening to high-octane covers of Christmas songs -- then I imagine you were pretty happy. Me, I was just shrugging my shoulders at the spectacle. Yeah, it was action spectacle as a replacement for foreplay and sexy times -- fast moving cars in lieu of fast-moving dialog you'd find in a screwball comedy doing the same thing -- between the two characters, but I have no idea why I should even care.

Last week I argued that Damian fit snugly into the same vein as Blake and Nick. I can't believe I'm going to write this, but I think I did a disservice to Blake and Nick by doing that. While I'm not a fan of either character -- and their plots with Kalinda -- they at least felt motivated by character. Blake kept dropping hints about Kalinda's previous identity as Leela Tahiri and his shady connections to a Baltimore gang created understandable tension between the two. Nick, for all the ridiculous posturing he did, at least seemed to have some hold over Kalinda as her ex-husband, a hold that she struggled to break. There was a history there, one the show might've explored had they not so poorly conceived of and executed the character 

Damian is missing the character aspect. He and Kalinda are both having fun with their little game of cat and mouse, but Kalinda's putting a lot of work and risk into vetting a guy who is an acknowledged mob lawyer. His mystery (likely) doesn't tie back to Kalinda in some way, and I'm not all that interested in finding out what Damian's big secret is. It's a plot for the sake of a plot, and while I don't mind that sort of thing, I need a reason to care, and that hasn't happened yet. If it's that Kalinda could find a new relationship in Jenna (Jordana Spiro), then maybe I'll pay a bit more attention, but until then, I'm not all that interested.

Which left us with the holiday party. I was expecting this to be a much bigger aspect of the episode, but, hey, it was still fun. Until Marilyn had to go and ruin it. I'm going to pretend that she's yanking Eli's chain -- such a great spit take! -- and leave it at that for the moment. However, I really have no sense of Marilyn as a character. She's got the pouty lips and breathy voice that made her an obvious lure for Peter, but as they've unspooled her character, what with the vomiting and the pop tarts and the baby sound system, I'm not getting the sense of her as an antagonistic force for Eli that she originally seemed to be. Character course corrections happen, but this feels like an entirely different journey now from where Marilyn was at the start of the season. 

The rest of the holiday party-related stuff was a series of nice pressure relief valves from the court case. Veronica's always good for an excellent overreaction, and her suggestion that Jackie drink more to kill the bug up her ass was worth the price of admission. Smaller bits of business, like "Lemond freakin' Bishop" showing up -- AND WANTING TO DISCUSS CHARITY PLANS WITH PETER -- or Eli's happiness at Colin Sweeney not being there -- is Sweeney actually a client? -- were likewise chuckle-inducing.

What I did like about the holiday party guest list concerns was that it still tied into this sense of the show's past. Sweeney being there would have been a pain for Peter, and Bishop being there was a surprise for everyone, but it showed how no one's fully able to escape the past, even at a business level. 



SIDEBAR


– I like it when Ashbaugh appears. It makes the use of my Bach playlist when I write these reviews feel even more purposeful.

– Lots of TV shows feature sex; very few of those shows are actually sexy. The Good Wife is sexy. It always has been, and when this episode intercut Will's decision tree-ing with steamy, broadcast-friendly chair sex, it was a nice reminder of how limitations on content can be more of a boon than having no limitations at all. It joins "All Things Considered" in the bathroom and "Am I? Going too hard?" as some of the show's hottest moments.

– So here's a potential idea about the firm's expansion plans, another bone of contention for a lot of you, though it's one I don't have a problem with: There's a production reason for it that I suspect is due to Josh Charles' contract. Unlike The Good Wife's other series regulars, Charles only signed on for four seasons while everyone else signed on for six. He agreed to do one more season—this one—earlier this year, after which his contract must be negotiated again. I suspect that the New York expansion is way to allow Josh Charles to exit the show gracefully should he choose not to re-up for a hypothetical Season 6. While it may not work for some folks narratively, we may end up being thankful for it in the long term.


– Man oh man, was I laughing like a loon when Clarke questioned Ashbaugh's 9-to-9er. So much lovely, pitch-perfect consternation from Nathan Lane.

– I had forgotten how horrible of an actor Donna Brazile is. Oy. Sometimes The Good Wife's love of incorporating real-life political figures really just kills a scene.

– "I have a Hanukkah, too."

– Jason O'Mara did have some killer deliveries with "Ergo ergo this will is invalid." and "Oh no, he ruined my presentation." I think I'd like Damian more if he was just another quirky opposing lawyer who cropped up occasionally during the season, instead of a Kalinda mystery.

– "Sometimes I think of you as mom, and other times just as this interesting person who lives at our house."


What'd you think of "The Decision Tree"? What are your feelings on the season thus far?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/8/2016

End

Season 7 : Episode 22

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Will's scene. One of the best in the show!
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I agree very much about Damian. Interesting only in court. And I'm really sad about Kalinda. She's not just case fodder, you know. Did I miss when she and Alicia forgot about each other? And I'd like to see her talk to Robin, have a friendship, you know. Awesome stuff.
"I have a Hanukkah too" Oh Jackie. You're the best.
This episode was mostly good for the Will/Alicia, and I don't even want them together anymore to be honest. Will is getting ugly, and it definitely doesn't work "outside the bubble." (Want to see more married/judge Diane while we're on that note.) But yes, those flashbacks were great (how do they do her bangs). When he threw the pen down and almost cried I realized how much he'd been in love with her, what he would have committed. But that Will's gone. (And I'm sure deep down--see the imagining--he knows she didn't use him.) What happened to that cute lawyer that never passed the bar but was a great guy, back in season 2 or 3? I liked him. I don't like Peter--he interferes too much. I love he's somewhat in awe of her, but he needs to not swing his weight around.
Also, have the other Florrick/Agos associates do something ,eh?
Summary: More for Kalinda, refresher of Diane, get Will a good exit, get Alicia a great man, and F/A do something (the war is getting old).
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If the writers are by any chance reading this, please do a show where Kalinda crushes the Damian character forever because he's even more obnoxious than her ex. I can only imagine that he's there to build up the suspenseful subplots before being eliminated by her.
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I really liked this episode and thought it lived up to what a milestone 100th episode should be.

The ending was classic! And i'm hoping it was just Marilyn messing with Eli because he is so wound tight about ethics. Wound tighter than the ethics person!

The scene of Will imagining his Q&A with Alicia and then how it ended up happening. That whole sequence was just so beautifully done. Both in how it was shot and Josh Charles's performance. He's been so one point this season thus far.

The only part of this episode I really didn't like was Kalinda & Damian's cat & mouse. Kind of took away from the rest of the episode. I like Jason O'Mara on the show but not really sure of Damian's purpose among the characters except to be an antagonist. And I also can't shake that whoever is responsible for creating that character is a fan of "The Omen" and Damian is an omen of something for the show. Or maybe I'm just giving it too much thought and its meer coincidence.
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By now, I'd rather have them write-off Kalinda then suffer through another of her subplots. Can't she spar with Robin or something?
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quite like the Alica/Will callbacks, because it never seems like the show is trying to make them a potential couple to really root for, instead it feels very real, they had chemistry and history, a short lived affair after which she went back to her husband who she loves, and is-in spite of everything- a good man. She has fond memories of their time together, and Will has trouble letting her go, because for him she was "the One".
I'm also tired of the Florrick/Agos vs. LG battles,(especially since LG always seem to win) but thought it was handled well this episode.
The Kalinda part was enjoyable for me, because I think she's been a bit left out of the plot this season and we haven't seen enough of her. I'm not to keen on Irish guy either, but at least it means more Kalinda screen time! It was nce to see her with another potential romance, though I can't help but wasnt Lana Delaney back! I hope she makes another appearance this season.
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This was a weak episode. After a couple of recent fabulous episodes, this one slips back into the Kalinda as tough gal and the Alicia/Will as lovers stuff, and, I don't know, but it those two storylines have become boring and trite. Whatever the writers of this show have planned for Marilyn, I hope it ends soon. If she starts to play a bigger role, I may have to drop this show. Her character of professional woman with an important job doesn't jive with her silliness about her pregnancy--who came up with this character? Hoping for better next week.
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Im sick of Marilyn too, her pregnancy crap is boring, (we already have Patty for the pregnacy stuff!) and if she's supposed to be a character who's slept with Peter then I'll be pissed off because they've done "Peters Infedelity" to death and I like his new, remorseful, good husband character a lot better than the drama that comes from another "Peter cheated on me" storyline.
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Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the very final frames of this episode where one final word of dialog made Eli _______. This is masterful, still the best show on TV bar none.
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Stellar episode once again. This show is so brilliant in so many ways and on all fronts. Any flaws I easily overlook, but this episode didn't even have any for me. Eli's final scene ending the episode was so left field I had to watch it again. And it made me laugh even more focussing on him. Love it!
I'm confused with one thing though, last I remember Lamont Bishop was arrested at his home. When did he get out? I do hope he'll get more screen time! (And please, less Marilyn...although it does give Eli more to do with her around, and that's always a plus right?)
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I know, we immediately rewound too, as soon as we could stop laughing!
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I don't see Damian as a Kalinda mystery, which maybe makes it easier to stand him. Of course most of screentime goes to playing cat and mouse with Kalinda but we've seen him interact with Alicia, in court, etc and he has the same personality. Taunting Alicia with that #1 Mom sticker was just something he does, it could've been anybody else.
As for the 100th episode, I just loved it. I read the writers call these flashbacks 'memory pops' and I like the use of the installations way better than whole flashback scenes. I just makes more sense. Also, Will remembering Alicia in a different-colored dress than Alicia herself.. Brilliant.
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The heat between Kalinda and the kop was non-existant...Good wife is to hetero to write a convincing lesbian scene
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I dunno, the scenes with her and Lana were always quite convincing
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LOOOOOVE the show but why does Damian have to exist?? Such annoying character!!! And found the sex scenes a bit artificial...
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The best show on TV as others have said. Last night's show was the best of the best. I agree, Marilyn detracts and the now with the baby stuff....BORING! I've been trying to figure out the interchange between Kalinda and the cop. I like Kalinda but agree this thing with Damian is out of place. However, last night Kalinda asks about the boomerang that doesn't come back...she says it's a stick, the cop has an immediate reaction [which by the way, I thought was a great shot in the scene] and they end up in bed.. is this code for "I like sex with women"? Or did I miss something?
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I say this again. It is great that we get a reviewer who is also a fan !

This review needs someone who watches the show and understand the emotional complexity. This is especially true regarding Will imaginary questioning scene with him drawing the decision tree. It was the first time we actually get a scene between both of them to discuss what they have been through (though imaginary) but nonetheless very powerful ! It was the best scene of the episode.

I am still happy with the scenes between Damien and Kalinda but I do now find Melissa George character a bit of a bore especially since I liked Melissa George very much as an actress. I really hope they will find more interesting things for her to do. If her baby really does belong to Peter would be a shock and very fun:-) I doubt that though.

AND I am very HAPPY that Jordana Spiro the mob doctor is guest starring. I liked the Mob Doctor and I liked her in the show. I did not see her name in the guest starring credits or maybe I missed it. I hope they will also make her character interesting.

The party scene was only the last 5 minutes, I was actually hoping for more !

I too loved Kalinda's speedometer and the way the show celebrated its 100 episodes ! Happy 100 birthday TGW !

Here is to 100 more ! That would end the show wonderfully :-)

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Overall, this episode was a slow burn, it took a really long time to get away from the bad taste that Damian left with both Kalinda and Alicia, but it also was just a plodding path to the meat of the episode. Once it got going about 2/3rds in, it finally built to a very interesting and compelling episode.

You're not the only one who forgot about that Diane leaving plotline from season 2, it's a good parallel. It also though exposes the oddity of Diane putting up with Will's go-for-Alicia's-jugular approach to the law though, Diane wouldn't really put up with this nonsense for long, and that David Lee exposure would have doubled down on her disgust.

You make an excellent point regarding FA v LG being all the time, and even though it makes sense here since LG was retained by Mrs. Ashbaugh's husband, it still felt like an eye-roller to not even talk about other cases outside of LG. And having Robyn screw up the evidence they could have taken to the judge about LG trying to use contract trickery to get around the case was a flat note as well.

And while we're at it, another down note would be constantly having Damian at the forefront since we met him, he's too much too soon and too big across too many fronts.

Ugh, that 100 on the speedo was embarrassing, they didn't even try to make that shot look like 100mph, the other cars moving in relation suggested that chase was at best 30mph, it was a silly little trifle.

Will imagining Alicia's testimony was interesting, but also remarkably predictable. It led where it seemed like it had to. It transitioned from an imagination shot to a real-world shot seamlessly. Alicia zigged where Will thought he could predict everything she was going to say.

Yeah, Marilyn really isn't much of a character and doesn't seem fully gelled.

Interesting on Will leaving, I also am not sure I have a problem with it, he's becoming less believable as a character the more he spins out of control. Having been censured by the bar and then going into bankruptcy and hiring an untested mob lawyer without consultation, it's hard to view him as a bigshot super-lawyer when he keeps making mistakes and coming away clean.

That spit take was gorgeous, easily the perfect editing to go out on that. And so will I.
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You weren't the only one who wondered about the episode's focus at the start. I was following along on Twitter as the episode aired, and a few folks just weren't engaged by the episode until Will started decision-treeing. Front-loading the episode with Damian likely influenced the reception, but I think it finishes up very nicely.

I'm hoping, now that we're at what the show considers the halfway point of their narrative, that the focus is going to shift away from a FA v. LG. Moderation in all things.
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Now that you mention it, it was a little offputting that the 100th episode should focus so heavily on a character who has been in only 2 episodes.
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Totally. We should've given Nick some time in the spotlight on this very special occasion.

OR JULIUS CAIN. FREE JULIUS!
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Aw crap, I can't just let it go at that. Another thing that bugged me a little about this episode was that the courtroom process didn't really affect anything, and I mean that before we got to the final ruling or the dubiously-accepted twist ending to that tale. Usually there's more reaction to the way the day's court goes, but here the judge didn't make any big rulings and there weren't any big reactions for the most part.
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Most of the court cases on this show have no significant impact on any of the characters. I would say that this one did, at least on Will. Those were some great scenes. They were a great way to show us how Alicia has made Will feel.
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Doesn't it appear that Will is going to dial it down a little with Alicia, after speaking civilly with her (and after stirring up all those "highlight reel" scenes in his own mind)? The writing is too good to stall on stuff like this and the constant battle every week with between the two firms.
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I didn't think Will meant it, he said it cooly like it was rote.
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It's funny you mention Will dialing it down. The Kings disagree (potential for spoilers) about whether or not Will actually meant it when he said "Happy Holidays." Michelle King thinks he doesn't mean it, Robert King thinks he does, and says that Josh Charles played it as if Will meant it.

The fact that the Kings disagree with one another about their own show thrills me to no end.
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Great episode!And i loved the fact that how Will and Alicia remembers the same moments a little differently with Alicia's she is wearing a blue suit and Will remembering it as being red, which also maybe reflecting on Will's passion of that moment.And again incredible episode:)
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When I started out watching The Good Wife it was when I was looking for something to kill time, little did I know I'd find a show which would start to almost top the list of my favourite shows! I love the well rounded characters and the amazing plot lines that just seem to get better and better... this show is FEARLESS without killing off half of its' cast (ala Game of thrones which also is a favourite of mine).

The episodes this season get better and better. However, I do agree that the Damian - Kalinda plot line is a little tedious and it feels like it was put in there as an afterthought because the writers missed a Kalinda centric plot.

Anyway, this show keeps surprising me so here's to hoping it surprises me again and makes me love the Damian - Kalinda subplot.

Can't wait for another 100... :)
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Also, please please please keep Will.
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Great episode (it helps that I always love Will and Alicia): I don't care so much whether the flashbacks were sexy but they were so emotional and meaningful and THIS is something apparently difficult to do with sex scenes on TV.
Also, I loved how Will misremembered Alicia's dress in his flashback, such a good little observation.
The only thing I didn't like was how Kalinda was again used for fan service, with jumping into bed with that cop lady. Wish they had a better idea of what to do with Kalinda.
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I don't know about you, but after what just happened with Paul Walker, those racing scenes between Kalinda and Damian made me cringe.
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Scenes like that always make me think about how stupid and irresponsible it is to drive that fast, but I found it more disturbing than usual this time.
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As someone who lives in Los Angeles, those scenes are always so ridiculous that they may as well be driving in Narnia for how fictional they are. Traffic makes chases like that impossible in cities.
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Paul Walker made many Fast and Furious movies and owned a car performance shop, street racing was how he made his living. He wasn't driving when he died, so to me it didn't really feel like something related to his death, his death was someone else screwing around in a machine they couldn't control.
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If this season doesn't end up with Will and Alicia is some tight closet getting it on, I'm not sure why they keep building up the sexual tension between these two!!

Am I the only one who is happy that David Lee did not make an appearance this episode??? Man, Mr. Grenier does an impeccable job at getting in my nerves!

One of the best episodes of this great show.
Hope, Josh Charles renews his contract.
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Will is a full-on douche!!! Hope he does leave after this season. Move on stupid, she don't love you no mo'!!!
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Uh what?
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Wow! I really loved this episode. I was actually not looking forward to it, because it sounded kind of silly (or something, IDK), but it was so good! They haven't really shown Will's emotional connection to Alicia before, at least not as strongly, as they did last night. They really drove home the idea that Will loves Alicia, and he is heartbroken, and angry. I don't know if I actually cared about Will's feelings before last night.

Noel, I am with you on the Kalinda stuff. I love Kalinda, but I have a hard time feeling interested in a battle of wills between her and Damien. I miss Kalinda's friendship with Alicia and really wish they'd find a way to put her back in Alicia's life.
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(So glad you said 'battle of wills' there. I wanted to use the phrase in the review, but between Will and wills, I was worried it'd be overkill; it was certainly in my mind with the review's title, however.)
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Other than Kalinda's plot line, I dont have any complaints about this episode - even the family stuff was handled well.

My only question - the previous episode ended with a phone call from the judge, so was it a call about a date or something else?
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The show seems to have become (overly?) fond of setting up little dangling threads for later: Will's murder case, the NSA, Alicia on the hook for $6 million, and now the judge.

I'm okay with the murder case and the NSA hiding in the background, but the other two seem like fairly immediate concerns that warrant mentioning, or at the very least, the $6 million for sure? In a lesser show, I'd be worried about it to a much greater degree, but the show's doing so many things right that I'm willing to cut it a significant amount of slack.
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Perhaps the show only flaw is sometimes I think they forget or still have not gone back to hanging threads. However when I watch the next episode, it is all so exciting that I actually forgot about those hanging stories. If I were to re-watch again, I will probably see them more clearly. One of the reasons that stop me from re-watching again. some earlier seasons.
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Yes, I was wondering what happened with the $6 million as well. Any other show would have made that the plot of 2-3 really good episodes.
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Maybe the Judge wanted to talk about Grace's website stuff....he has a video opportunity for her, with a $6 million dollar contract = 2 birds, one stone.

And as a bonus, we get more of the "Grace is a hottie" storyline we all love!
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Nice review, Noel. You gave a lot of attention to details. Like the colour of Alicia's clothes, the close-up shots etc. And you mentioned each and every point. *bows head*
Brilliant episode. Its a wonder that a serious drama incorporates the funny aspect too like the FART noises. And the SPIT take was hilarious.
And I think it had the best opening for any shows' 100 episode. The usage of the speedometer was a great tool.
Alicia's mom is a badass. Her line 'it might kill the bug up your ass' was great.
Also Damian's line 'me mom loves the Indians' and Kalinda's subsequent smile was awesome.
Great directing by the director. The MVPs of the episode were 1-Eli, 2-Will, 3-Clarke, 4-Alicia's mom.
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Matthew Ashbaugh damn you and your half a dozen wills!


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Damian is Kalinda's case of the week(s) now and I really don't mind a litte car chasing action, as long as Kalinda is involved. I am sure they will find a way to connect it to the whole story or make it a bit more relevant to the bigger picture. Although I can relate to Noel's well reasoned opinion, I do enjoy seeing Kalinda having an antagonist.

To Noel: Your reviews are observant, eloquent and well analysed - in my opinion you are truly the best reviewer on this site. It is awesome to have you review the show, as you understand the nuanced subtext and complexity of this show, sometimes even more that we readers do. Thank you for sticking around!
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hanks for the kind words. I only get to stick around discussing a show because you all keep coming back week after week, reading the review and commenting on it. So, really, you all deserve my thanks for maintaining the opportunity to keep writing about it. So, thanks!

I don't mind Kalinda having an antagonist, but it's still sort of the same kind of antagonist we've gotten before, hence my ambivalence. Damian is certainly a different sort of jerk to deal with, but right now it feels very much "Been there, done that." And that could change. I want it to change! :)
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Oh and what happened with the judge's date request last week? I was eager to see him and Alicia romantically sipping coffee in a Starbucks.
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"Do you have a name yet?" "I do. Peter." *sputter*
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Excellent review to an excellent episode. One of the best ever in showcasing two of the main characters, Will & Alicia, in a battle of wills (double pun!) but seriously, it was heartbreaking... I think the fact that Will used a conversation he had with Alicia in such an intimate moment foreshadows he will stop at nothing in his covert revenge, including the use of the video that incriminates Peter in vote rigging.

But also some of the support characters got to shine from Ashbaugh... to Nathan Lane's nervous performance at court to Eli's VERY challenging job between managing Peter, surviving Jackie and dealing with the weird thing that is Marilyn... Even Veronica vs. Jackie was fun and thankfully short (the least Jackie the better).

I enjoyed the car chase as inconsequential fun (loved the 100 insert!) - I do not see it as foreplay but as Kalinda encountering (for once) a challenge... most lawyers she deals with are straight laced and Boyle is a challenge cause he is also streetsmart / badass like she is...
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This show!
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This show has to be in the running for best improved series.. Last episode, epic again!
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Yeesh, you guys don't think Peter's the father, do you?? O.o
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Oh god, the ending when Eli spat out his drink! Hilarious.
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Clarke Hayden cross-examining is the best thing ever.

Marilyn Garbanza's quirks? Bleeeaah.. over it. Leave the quirks to the judges, please.

Mob Doctor Jordana Spiro, being friends with the mob lawyer here? That made me chuckle.

If the producers are going for a 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 structure with regards to the number of words in episode titles in each season, (as they've mentioned in an interview), I wonder if that will also reflect the progression of the storyline over the remaining seasons.. i.e. are we coming back full circle in some way?
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Whereas I went, "Jordana Spiro?! From My Boys?!"
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This is probably the best season yet. I didn't think this show could get any better, and it did. I know it's your job as a reviewer Noel to be critical, but I think this is the best ongoing mystery that Kalinda has had to solve/deal with it. I love how it's not all dark and borderline creepy, like the Nick/Blake story lines were. I love how Damian's character is lighthearted in his tricks with her. Like "Hitting the Fan" another all around perfect episode for season 5.
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Love this show so so much, don't care what u say Noel but dat spit take was LMFAO funny... Who will not love a show dat can bring back a dead twice in dis way, John Noble is always awesome
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Tonight's episode answered a question for me. Although, I'm not sure that I had actually asked it yet. While, I understand the upset behind Cary and Alicia's decision to break away from LG, I never truly understood Will's anger. And anger is putting it lightly. He has been mad - burning, fighting mad - at Alicia, and I never got why. I got that the underhandedness of it all stirred his ire. I got that he and Alicia shared this history, and he never expected that she, of all people, would do such a thing. However, his anger came from somewhere much deeper that I just did not fathom. But tonight, I got it. He loved/loves her. I always saw their time together as just a fling, nothing more. She released and also paid Peter back for his affairs. He...had fun. But that's not accurate. Will's feelings go much deeper and, probably, back farther in time than Peter's. He is genuinely hurt by her actions. And because he seems to be perfectly inept at expressing his feelings, Will is acting out and soothing that hurt in the only way he knows how, through meaningless kinky sex and attempting to conquer the world of law firms. Also, he's trying to hurt Alicia in any way he can, which is about as grade school as one can get outside of yanking her pony tail. This realization has mellowed my growing disgust of Will. However, that's it. He's still a huge jackwang.

A wrong turn was taken with Kalinda's character some time ago, and the writer's are somewhere lost on the south side of Chicago trying to get her back to a good place.

Jason O'Mara creeps me out, not his character, but him. He has crazy eyes that freak me out. That's why he plays sociopaths so well. Anyone else remember him in The Closer?

Lemond Bishop usually votes republican, but something drew him to Peter this last election. Teehee!

Seriously, what's the deal with Marilyn. I'm completely lost on what she's supposed to be bringing to the show. Clearly, that baby can't belong to Peter, but it's existence is as annoying as she is at this point. I'm assuming there will be a payoff sometime in the spring, but the storyline is not compelling enough for me to wait for it, even if she does name the baby Peter.
More+
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I adored that little detail about Bishop's voting habits.

And, yeah, I think it was really important that this episode get us into Will's head (and so wonderfully elegant, too). We've been, largely, in Alicia's, and this was a very pivotal moment for us as an audience in getting a real grasp on Will's mentality, jackwang (lovely phrase) or not. :)
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K guys I'm a bit confused - we all knew Will was in love with her from episode 1 right? And same for her. This shouldn't come as shocking news to anyone?

Agree about Marilyn - she is just annoying and I am not only fed up with her baby crap, I also hope that thing comes out backwards and has very long fingernails.
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I'd say it was obvious from day 1 Will had a crush on Alicia. I am still not sure what her feelings for Will were / are... She is so uptight sometimes...

I didn't remember Alicia & Will's fling very well but as I was watching this ep, I started to remember more details about how he was pushing for more (like meeting her kids) and she resisted it and eventually ended it all. I think with this episode TGW reminded us of the unrequited feelings Will has suffered from and not confronted, and did so more explicitly than while the affair took place.
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It's not shocking in the slightest. It's the need for that injured love to be dramatized and brought to the forefront that mattered. It gives more context for his "whole lot of anger."
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I am a couple episodes behind, and I only do this because of the stupid holiday break so I don't have to wait six weeks for a new episode. This is my favorite network show in a long time, except for Fringe, which was only just a little better. Too bad all TV can't be this good as we watch Patrick Jane chase Red John and it isn't all that great. But, when you're retired there is more time than there is great TV to watch, and thank god for the NFL. What I like most about The Good Wife is that it never gets stupid and the writing seems to always shine. The cast is superb and the guest stars are always good--more Mamie Gummer, please. Oh, and America Ferrera!
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The episodes preceding this one were fine, so I'm glad you were willing to skip ahead to watch this week's. :)

CBS did advertise that the entire series on demand now, so it shouldn't be hard to find the episodes you missed somewhere. With the show's off-network (Hulu, Amazon) syndication deal, CBS is serious about getting the show some more eyeballs it seems.
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You misunderstand, Noel. I haven't watched this episode yet, although I did read your fine review. I'm a few episodes behind because I like to savor this show, and it's all I can bear not to watch this and POI when they are aired. The reviews don't ruin anything for me and I'm glad the best network show gets reviewed weekly, as it should. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is pretty dead, so I sandbag the good stuff a bit so I'm not stuck with watching Hawaii 5-Oh and The Mentalist every night during the lull. I think everyone should be watching TGW and POI, but alas, not everyone does...
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I really wanna like Kalinda. I do. But ending up in bed with the cop? Really? So disappointed.

I really wanna like Robyn too. So give her more to do, please, then manage the holiday party list.

On the plus side, seeing Alicia demolish Will in the courtroom despite all his preparation...priceless.

And congrats to Clarke for his debut in court: awkward, but well played.
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Kalinda started as such a nuanced character with real showings of depth, and has been made more and more shallow as the series has gone on. It's like she's the portrait of Dorian Gray that the rest of the series is stealing its charisma from. We know almost nothing about her, and that's fine, but she's not growing and she's not doing new things of note and she's not uncovering her past, and her personal relationships are all terrible (Nick) or broken (Alicia, I guess? That's kinda been left by the wayside). All she's got right now is her attitude, she doesn't even seem as sharp as she used to, and her sexuality which is fairly dull.
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Whats wrong with Kalinda being in bed with a cop? In season 1, her fling was with a cop. And how about her FBI girlfriend? I guess it is disappointing that most of the time, she ends up with a cop.
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She has a thing for authoritative ladies. [insert psychoanalytic explanation here]
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No, it's just disappointing that she ends up in bed with anything that has two legs. Can we please have a storyline with Kalinda that doesn't revolve around her naughty bits?
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I really hope that josh charles renews his contract and although i think the will and alicia fueding would get old after awhile i can't imagine the show without him.
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What the heck is up with these abrupt endings? Its two episodes in a row. The ending really ruined the episode for me. I thought the party was going to be the highlight of the episode but we only saw barely 5 minutes of it.

I hope the people crying for Kalinda to have a storyline are done crying. She is getting attention and I love the fact that they played on her cold and sometimes dry personality. "What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back? A Stick". Lol!

I wouldn't ask much from Donna Brazile. She is after all surrounded by actors with top caliber acting skills. I kinda like how they incorporate real political figures. If The Good Wife lasts until 2016, which I doubt, its going to be interesting if Peter will indeed make it to DC.
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I've read elsewhere that the producers confirmed that episode 101 picks up right the second after the spit.... I can't wait for Eli's outburst....
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That is good to know. I was looking forward for this episode because I thought it was only going to be about the office party. But at the same time, I'm glad for John Noble story line.

Does anyone know if this episode was the winter finale? If so, I'm sad because I don't want to wait until next year for the next episode. :(
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Yep - it was the winter finale and we do not get TGW until January 5th (I think) so only a month...
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I'm treating the ending as the show trolling audiences, but I imagine Eli's still going to do the timeline legwork and see if it's possible. (I wasn't unaware until late last night that Melissa George is pregnant, so this could explain how the show is shifting her character to work in her actual pregnancy as opposed to having her carry huge bags all the time.)
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I actually liked the abrupt ending. Eli spitting out his drink and then the scene got cut was great.
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Always nice watching Mr. John Noble ! Can't wait for an episode with Elsbeth Tascioni, she would be great for the Florrick&Agos team.
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Carrie Preston is wrapped up in True Blood, and since that show's final season is slated for the next summer it means they'll be shooting soon, if they haven't already started. She's said that she's not allowed to do other shows during True Blood shooting, but if she wraps early enough, it could work? At least we got one episode with her this season, if we don't get another.
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Exactly! And I missed Colin Sweeney too... Some great visiting characters TGW has...
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I am loving this season and agree with your review. This episode felt short or maybe I was so wrapped up in it that time flew by. Powerful scene--Will's imagined questioning of Alicia.
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It always goes by too fast for me...
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Part of the "problem" with the show is that it normally does more in its first 10-12 minutes than most shows do in 30 minutes, and so it always feels like it zooms by.
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