New Show Recap

The Good Wife: 5×06, “The Next Day”

After the Emmy reel powerhouse of last week, I went into this week expecting a letdown. I shouldn’t doubt The Good Wife

Alicia Florrick is good at picking up pieces, she’s had some practice. Alicia’s been here before, and she knows the way out. Compartmentalizing. Alicia can shut out anything that distracts her from the immediate goal in front of her, which is now “make this shit work.” Picking up pieces is a skill no one knows they have until the shit has well and truly hit the fan, so it’s a mixed blessing.

Will’s been here before, too, but his strategy is… different. While Alicia’s looking for clarity and strength by working hard, Will’s wallowing in his hubris, accompanied by a lithe blonde woman who I’m not entirely sure actually exists.

Diane is lost, and she’s misplaced her compass.

If there’s any truth to the Internet speculation that all television happens in the same universe, I like to believe Alicia Florrick and Olivia Pope are friends. Perhaps it was Olivia who told Alicia the secret for surviving when your world falls apart. Get up, get dressed, keep going. It’s advice Alicia’s passed on to countless clients whose hands she held during her tenure as Soothing Lady Lawyer at L&G. Maybe they get together a few times per year, sipping really good wine out of comically over-sized glasses, and shooting the shit about kicking ass on the job while loving men who are terrible for them. Who can either of these women really talk to? Alicia has her sporadically guest-starring brother, Owen, but otherwise, there’s not a single character on The Good Wife she can drop her guard around. That’s gotta be lonely.

Loneliness seems to be the theme of this episode. Mixed with betrayal, it’s what’s keeping the path in the wake of his dick-slingy quest for power and winning on fire. Loneliness is why Diane is crying alone in the bathroom, instead of on her husband’s shoulder. It’s why Alicia can only see one compartment at a time. It’s why Peter can forgive himself for hurting Alicia while he destroys anyone else who tries to hurt her, as Will adeptly points out.

The case of the week is almost inconsequential. A L&G client wants to be represented by Alicia, who did all of the heavy lifting in prep, at trial. The case itself is interesting, as it involves the culpability of gun manufacturers when guns fire when they shouldn’t. Resident gun expert and Mr. Diane Lockhart, Kurt McVeigh, is put in a sticky position when he’s hired by Florrick Agos and forced to testify against Diane’s side, in what she thinks was going to be her last court case as a lawyer.

Speaking of Peter, I love how this show has given this character so much depth, Chris Noth barely has to show up. I laughed at the huge portrait of Governor Florrick standing in for Noth a few episodes back, but a full third of tonight’s episode dealt out the consequences of his actions, without the actor (or even Noth’s voice) appearing on screen. That’s bold, and I can’t think of another show off the top of my head that could pull it off. Tywin Lannister has that same effect on GOT, maybe The Smoking Man from The X-Files or Linus on LOST, but it’s certainly uncommon to see done so well. We don’t learn, definitively, that Peter has bumped Diane from the list of potential new Supreme Court judges, but our dread and realization builds right alongside hers. I take back all the good will I had for him a few recaps ago, when he was so supportive of Alicia starting her own firm. By being a petty jackass who, for the love of holy things, should know to let Alicia lead her own war, Peter is still a brick around Alicia’s neck. And she doesn’t even see it yet, because she’s got her get up, get dressed, keep going plan in place, so she’s not looking.

About the mystery blonde. I am confused. At first, I assumed Will was trying to fuck the pain away, as some do, with a leggy woman bursting with youth. He’s hurt, I think, while being equal parts wealthy and attractive, and that’s gonna open some doors. But then it gets weird, including Blonde repeatedly asking Will to put a baby in her, and popping by the office to make out with him without anyone seeming to care. So I’m pretty sure the blonde is the Number Six in Will’s head. Do you agree?

In the battle of best guest stars, Scandal is this week’s clear winner, but The Good Wife scored underdog points for bringing back Mamie Gunnar as Nancy Crozier and Richard Kind as Oh! That Guy is Playing the Judge! It makes sense that we’re pulling in on the core cast members while we watch the ugly fallout from TV’s ugliest divorce, and peripheral cast members like The Other Fourth Years and Breathy Ethics Lady are already taking focus away from the primary plot.

The show is trying to find a place for Kalinda, which I’m all for, but they seem to be doing a clumsy job of it. In a show that doesn’t make a lot of missteps, it’s going to take some serious effort to redeem the terrible plot with her ex husband last season. I know this team of writers and creators is more than capable of creating a satisfying and interesting storyline for Kalinda, so I’m reserving the right to bitch about this in the future now.

I didn’t expect to swoon over this episode like last week, but I was still very pleasantly surprised at how well the story is moving forward post-bombshell. The story slowed down just enough to let us catch our breath, without letting us off the hook. What could have easily been a burn-off episode ended up being a challenging, smart, and effective hour of TV.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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