The Good Wife, Season 5, Episode 22, “A Weird Year”
Written by Robert King and Michelle King
Directed by Robert KIng
Airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS
The Good Wife is a show that exists constantly with about a dozen different balls in the air, seemingly figuring out midstream which will work and which are better discarded. The show’s fifth season is among its best in part because it quickly figured out which stories to discard (Marilyn and her baby, Damian and his crime ties, etc.) and because it started to more regularly work that juggling into Alicia’s life, as she struggled to keep control of work, her personal life, and all of the political machinations she gets caught up in. She never lost control, because Alicia Florrick never loses control, but season five danced her closer to the edge than ever before. And in the process, she learned to like, at least a little bit, the idea of letting go. More than that, though, she liked feeling like she was finally, at least a little bit, in control.
At the end of a year with a subplot about NSA surveillance (one the show tied up a bit messily, a ball it decided to drop perhaps an episode or two too early or too late), “A Weird Year” finds Florrick Agos eavesdropping on the inner workings at Lockhart Gardner when they leave their camera and microphone on after a conference call (despite Clark’s constant insistence that doing so would be wrong. Clark is right on the ethics of this, by the way, in case you had any doubts). It begins as fun bickering and a question of legal ethics, but it becomes something that threatens to tear both Florrick Agos and Lockhart Gardner apart as schemes, betrayals, and bad blood pile up around the idea of a potential merger between the two firms.
The fight between Cary and Alicia over the merger has been brewing for a long time, though aspects of it feel a bit rushed here. Cary knows the stakes and understands that if they merge Alicia’s name will be on the door, much of the Florrick Agos staff will be let go, and he will end up marginalized and back in the same office he fled just a year ago (in advertising, they call this one the “Peggy Olson”). Yet his turn to the dark side, meeting with Louis Canning (who appropriately can’t even remember his name) to ensure the merger is stopped by any means, felt a little bit false. Maybe Matt Czuchry doesn’t wear desperation particularly well, but Cary’s quick descent into treachery and betrayal rang a little bit false.
And yet, the emotions between Cary and Alicia felt very real, and watching them break down was painful and fascinating. These two have talked of being the “new Will and Diane,” but they have never been as close as those two were, nor, it appears, will they be as able to paper over various grudges, missteps, and small duplicities. Cary has seen that Alicia is willing to play the other partners against him, and Alicia has seen that Cary will stoop low enough to go to Louis Canning if he thinks he’s outplayed. The two of them will have to work to rebuild anything like a functional relationship, and a power player like Diane Lockhart at the firm is unlikely to make that easier to do. Cary may find that he’s shut down a plan that would make him a partner at the biggest firm in Chicago in favor of becoming marginalized at the place with his name on the door.
In its fifth season, The Good Wife has revealed itself to be a show that is willing to throw everything out the window and establish a new status quo at the drop of a hat. Peter in the governor’s office, the formation of Florrick Agos, the death of Will Gardner—these are all moves that fundamentally alter the DNA of the show we are watching. But The Good Wife, like its central characters, is a shark, always moving, always ready to reinvent itself at the drop of a hat. By the end of “A Weird Year,” Diane may be parting ways with Lockhart Gardner, and Alicia Florrick may be running for state’s attorney. At this point, neither of these things would surprise me as plot points for the show’s sixth season. We’ve seen Alicia Florrick weather change before. We’ve seen her face down crises both personal and professional. She lost her husband (to prison, and then to her own curdling feelings for him), she lost the life she knew, and this year she lost the man she thought she could love some day, and maybe already did. But Alicia Florrick doesn’t go down without a fight. Alicia Florrick weathers every storm that hits her, juggles every ball thrown her way, sees a problem and handles it. Alicia Florrick has control over her fate, more now than ever before. But the question still lingers: is she happy?
-“Eli, what’s up?” “Disaster!”
-“Its not slimy, its self-defense.”
-“What is this?” “A Xerox of a take-out menu.”
-“I see where Alicia’s drinking comes from.” “And Peter’s rudeness.”
-“Can I just say this was a stupid design choice? We need some place with walls, and doors.”
-Seriously, has anyone involved with the making of this show ever had sex? Every sex scene on this show is shot with the characters hanging out under the covers like they just made a particularly sick pillow fort together. Is that what Robert and Michelle King are doing in the privacy of their own home? If so, somebody should let them know that isn’t how the rest of us do the horizontal hustle.
-“You should cool down.” “No, you should take this more seriously!”
-“You want some whiskey?” “Sure, my meds are just kicking in, this could be interesting.”
-Thank you all for reading this season!