The Good Wife, Season 6, Episode 16: “Red Meat”
Written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman
Directed by Michael Zinberg
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on CBS
After sixteen episodes of build, the day has finally come, and the fictional voters of The Good Wife’s bizarro Illinois have spoken. It’s a foregone conclusion the moment that Alicia says that she’s “relieved” to be behind in the first exit polls: Alicia wins, aided by some last-minute dirty manoeuvring by Peter. While the State’s Attorney run hasn’t made for the most riveting stretch of the series by any means, its conclusion at least underlines that Alicia will no longer be able to rationalize herself as “the good guy,” and perhaps in the letting go, she can find an acceptable way forward. She’ll never be Frank Prady – a man so principled that he can’t even bring himself to work for Alicia, the pessimist, who has repeatedly acknowledged that he’s the better person – but that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily doomed to be Peter, either.
The fact that the election is finally over – and doesn’t it feel like the sort of plotline the Good Wife of olde would have wrapped up in 9-10 episodes at most? – means that we may finally get to see Alicia take on some legitimately new challenges in her new post, which is very good news indeed. In the meantime, “Red Meat” reminds us that the series occasionally likes to showcase other characters. Last week’s “Open Source” finally gave Diane a little to do, and “Red Meat” thankfully maintains the trend, following Diane and husband Kurt on a hunting retreat, where they’re surrounded by “the 1% of the 1%,” some of the Republican Party’s biggest backers. Actually, this turns out to be a bit of a mixed blessing. As grateful as I am that Christine Baranski is finally getting a prolonged chance to once again strut her considerable stuff, the caricatured red state / blue state shenanigans that pepper her subplot this week are more than a little rote. Moreover, debating abortion rights with an entitled megatillionaire (Oliver Platt, who has somehow not already been on The Good Wife) should be a slam dunk for Diane, but instead she lets him get the last word in with some dopey nonsense about how he opposes abortion rights because he “likes people.” And this is before she knows he’s going to be their next superstar client, which means she really has no excuse to not go rhetorically nuclear on him. (Better: the insistent use by both Diane and Cary of “anti-choice.”)
Over in Kalinda’s weird corner of the show, meanwhile, things with Lemond Bishop have taken a turn. In a clever twist, the folks tailing her and young Dylan to school turn out to be keeping tabs on Kalinda, not Dylan or Lemond. That means Lemond has to give her a new assignment: to liaison with Alicia in her new position, so that she may better facilitate his evil bidding. (He says he’s “getting out,” but c’mon.) Does this mean we’ll finally get some genuine Alicia-Kalinda scenes, just in time for the latter’s long-foretold exit? That remains to be seen, but the series better integrating Kalinda has been a long time coming, so here’s hoping they hop to it before it’s too late.
For some of us (me), “Red Meat” is most notable for the fact that it properly reintroduces Finn Polmar. Oh, sure, he turned up in imaginary form in “Mind’s Eye,” and in court in “Open Source,” but it’s here that we finally get him back in a room with Alicia for the first time in ages. Of course, he Finn Polmars the hell out of it, getting Alicia a great election-day gift (Halo!) and then sweeping in and saving her ass in online play, before blatantly lying about having a date so that he can keep the feels at bay. As a wise woman once said, handsome men are indeed so very weak.
In truth, while a lot happens in “Red Meat,” It still winds up feeling like yet another transitional episode, signposting potential futures without shedding much light on where we’ve been or fresh insight of any kind, really. With Alicia’s race finally run, there would seem to be a million fascinating ways the series can constrict or expand –if the writers are canny enough at this stage to choose wisely.
It is not out of the question that my own politics coloured my perception of the Diane subplot.
“Because of Obamacare!” OK, despite the caricaturing, some of the Republicanspeak was funny.
This episode and tonight’s Madam Secretary both featured adult women being really into first-person shooters. Suck on that, #GamerGate!
Because an episode of The Good Wife can’t go by without an overt TV reference of some kind, Melissa Fitzgerald turns up in an amusing cameo as herself, a.k.a. not the one who played “Miss” Landingham.
“It’s scaring me. I’m on his wavelength now.” Marissa has spent too long on the campaign. Alicia is going to hire her, yes? Please?
Diane finds out she likes to shoot and kill things, which should really only come as a surprise to Diane.