Monday, 30 April 2012

Reaction Post - Get out while you can.

The Good Wife: 3x21 The Penalty Box. 

Cary: You are running with the pack these days.
Alicia: What?
Cary: You're doing well. You're liked.
Alicia: I don't know, Cary. Sometimes I get it, I get the law, I get what I'm doing here. And then there are  moments where I think what the... what am I doing?
Cary: You're helping people?
Alicia: A judge like today?
Cary: Wasn't he innocent?
Alicia: Does it matter?
Cary: Alicia... I went away for two yeras, now I'm back. And I haven't learned a thing. Two years of my life gone and I'm just as stupid as I was when I left law school.
Alicia: It's okay. What is there to learn?
Cary: That people lie. And the people who judge, they lie the most. 
This HAS been Alicia's arc these seasons: the moments of "what am I doing?", not just when the conflict is most obvious, as it was with Colin Sweeney, but the smaller ones as well, like when you win your case by convincing someone to implicate a friend, to cross a line in the sand, which is how this week's case is solved. The case itself wasn't very interesting - a judge, justifying something he did fifteen years ago - but it served as a reminder for Alicia of what she's been through this year. It's interesting that she has this conversation with Cary, who has sort of gotten to the very same point but from the opposite direction - the clarity of being on the other side getting murkier by the day, until finally, he found himself in a room with Peter Florrick and the gross fact that his privilege of being a peer of the State's Attorney alone gets him preferential treatment (and Cary was disgusted, and paid the price for it). It's also a cool conversation because LYING has been at the centre these past episodes - with the stunt Kresteva pulled off in the last episode - and Cary himself reveals a lie he told earlier, because he claimed in the interview with Diane that he "Learned a lot about myself and the law". I learned that I like Cary way better now than I did last year, maybe because he is way more enjoyable when paired up with Alicia than he is with Kalinda. 
My favourite scene of the episode, however, was the conversation between Bishop and Kalinda. It's not really a conversation between Bishop, Kalinda and Alicia, since Alicia's presence in the room mostly served as a reminder that the other two exist outside the realm she stands for. It was terrifying, because the moment Bishop mentions that the FBI has contacted him about Kalinda, EVERYONE knows this isn't about the law anymore. This isn't about lawsuits and money, not about clients and lawyers, it's about life or death. After all, Kalinda got rid of Blake via Bishop, so she's well aware what the stakes are. Awesomely, and I think it's safe to say that a year ago, she wouldn't have, Alicia is now able to read the game as well - "Your FBI friend is going to get you killed", she says, and it isn't a joke. With Kalinda, there always seems to be this parallel universe, as if the civilized crap she pulls off every day, this way in which the law negotiates the primal urges and instincts and conflicts, is only paint that could come off any moment (and it finally does, in the season finale). Kalinda and Bishop (and Kalinda's husband, apparently) exist in a different world than Alicia does. 
The interesting thing, or question, rather, is - does Lana understand? Kalinda visits her and plays her usual game, getting to the point of where she can make demands, except now it's not about "winning" or "getting information", it's about survival, but Kalinda has so many masks that it's almost impossible to tell when she is being earnest, when her performance matches her actual emotions (except with Alicia, of course. Alicia is always the exception to that rule). She breaks down, and almost begs for her life, but Lana claims that she is only turning up the heat, not posing an existential threat. And I think it's hard to believe that Lana Delaney, who supposedly inhabits a similar universe to Kalinda's, wouldn't GET THIS. Alicia does. I think the "it's my job" excuse is another lie she tells herself in order to function, because just like Judge Cuesta, who ends up betraying his friend to make his problems go away, she makes that choice, and also chooses not to see the inevitable consequences ("You talk to Lemond Bishop, you get me killed. He's gonna kill me, Lana. Stop it.").  The question is, is all of this part of the game, or does the game end when it's suddenly about life and death rather than having an edge over the competition?
  • "Is he gay?"
  • Cary is hired against Will's preference, but at least Will gets a bit of revenge: saddling him with the task of handling Howard, who thinks the safest way out of the recession is getting their clients laid. 
  • Lana Delaney is hard to like at this point, but Jill Flint is fucking amazing. The episode aired the same day as Roger Sterling's LSD trip, and both the scenes seemed so... unexpected, in terms of what you'd think a show was able to pull off within its respective artificial network-related set of rules. 
  • Peter figures out that Cary is about to leave and fires him after giving exactly the kind of "loyalty" speech that Louis Canning ridiculed a couple of episodes ago. You're meant to be loyal to your friends and good at your job, not the other way around, right?
  • "I pay you not to be surprised". JFC Bishop's command of the room, and the way he conveyed his threats mostly by looking at Kalinda (and completely dismissing Alicia), was fucking terrifying. 
  • Something that has happened before, and will happen again: awkward elevator situations. Good thing that everybody has Blackberries to keep them company when the person standing next to you is Chicago's most notorious drug dealer who happens to employ the same lawyers as you do.
  • I like how the episode subtly brought up many themes that were important this season, and not always in the most serious manner. Diane welcomes Cary "home" - which feels weird in light of Alicia's recent struggle with "coming home", in the most literal sense. What is "home" in the context of The Good Wife? A job? A house? The place that best fits your moral convictions? The place you feel safe? The place that has the one person you care for in this world, as Kalinda will figure out in the next episode?
  • Cary invites Kalinda to have a drink with him now that he's back, but she turns him down - except when she realizes that Alicia will probably also be there, so she happens to show up the moment Cary leaves the bar, looking anywhere BUT at Alicia, and Alicia does the same, but then she has this moment of realization, of "this is the one person I actually do want to talk to", and invites Kalinda to have a drink with her. This fucking show is going to be the end of me. 

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