Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Reaction Post - Why does everybody always think that I want something?

The Good Wife: 3x08 Death Row Trip. 

I have been conflicted about the balance that The Good Wife strikes between the week-by-week casework as seen by the different involved parties (now that Cary's point of view is becoming more central to the show) and the evolving relationships between the characters. Obviously, the two things are connected insofar as none of these characters seem to have much of a life outside their job, with the exception of Alicia's family - but in the past few episodes, the focus on the cases (and the strange shift towards portraying the investigative work more than what happens in the courtroom, which requires some level of suspension of disbelief) took too much attention away from the relationships that make this show work. Maybe this is all part of the build-up towards the inevitable 'boom' that will happen once all those collected secrets are revealed and things start falling apart (or in the case of Kalinda-Alicia, come together again?), but this has made some of these episodes frustrating. I get that this is a point that the show is trying to make: that Alicia lacks a person in her life to talk about her feelings, that even when characters connect, they still try hard to not appear too vulnerable because in the world of The Good Wife, remaining guarded is always part of the job description - but it also makes me not care about all those scenes in which nothing happens except case-of-the-week-solving, even more so now that we don't just get the Lockhart/Gardner cases (as viewed by both the firm and the State's Attorney office), but also Eli's work for the firm that isn't always about Peter and Alicia and apparently mostly there to make light of an episode that asked whether opposing the death penalty becomes more difficult when you're faced with a guy that doesn't inspire sympathy (a priest and Diane Lockhart think yes, but Alicia isn't so sure - "they were my daughter's age" is her gut-reaction and understandable, but I would have liked to see the question explored a bit more thoroughly, considering it was the one interesting aspect of the case). 
I appreciated that Kalinda finally met Dana. Sometimes The Good Wife introduces characters and you kind of know that they would have pretty awesome chemistry with another character even before they are introduces to each other - Kalinda and Eli are a good example - but even though we've seen this dynamic before (because seriously, Dana isn't the first person in Kalinda's life to figure out that Kalinda can be elusive when it comes to sharing information), Monica Raymund and Archie Panjabi played off each other well enough to still make it seem fresh. Dana's strategy of doing exactly the same thing Kalinda does and not fooling herself into mistaking flirting for helpfulness ("Okay, Kalinda, I know how you work. You get what you want without giving back, and that's just not gonna happen here. You want your back scratched, I have an itch.") might have even succeeded if she hadn't asked for incriminating intel on Will, who is among the very, very few people Kalinda feels protective about. 
The theme of the season, apart from the "secrets hurt" thing, is "are these feelings we're feeling real", I guess. Will is a new man, Alicia admits that they probably wouldn't even end their affair if it was the responsible, rational thing to do (now that Diane is glaring at them angrily whenever she sees them together through the many glass walls), and Kalinda... well, Kalinda is still a black box, really, but it's safe to assume that she isn't just using Cary any more and that things are complicated enough to have her be walked out on, which must be an entirely new experience. 
  • Alicia finds out that Will is in trouble from Eli's fellow campaign manager guy or whatever he is, who tells both of them that the firm is under investigation (Eli, once again flabbergasted because he isn't on top of things!)
  • Will lies to her about talking to Peter. That'll end well. 
  • I really liked Eli's daughter last season and she made a return this week, asking him to talk Parker Posey out of running and bonding with Zach ("I'll give you all the tips on how to use it. Parents going through divorce are so guilty), the only technologically apt person on The Good Wife now that Kalinda isn't the person to call when a problem appears. 
  • "Why is it that every other kid in the universe knows about computers but not you?"
  • Joining the ranks of the technologically challenged: Jackie Florrick, desperately searching but failing to find the magic button to start Alicia's computer (after presumably looking for suspicious spots on her laundry, oh dear). 
  • Grace's tutor appeared in full war paint at the door. 
  • Alicia's line (Eli proudly smiled at his creation) to make the super-awkward recent Democrat leak the incriminating picture to the press: "A rumour is often a sign of jealous competitors." Well. Managing rumours is going to become a big part of her life soon, I suspect?
  • Alicia and the lawyer heading the appeal for the death row guy set out to find "photos of sadness and squalor" from his childhood only to find a wealthy suburban neighbourhood, a supportive and grieving mother and a tightly-knit religious community. "We can always say he was too spoiled." 
  • Not sure if this was meaningful or anything, but Kalinda has a history of introducing herself just as "Kalinda" to... marks... and she told Dana her full name. 
Dana: So you and Cary...
Kalinda: Me and Cary?
Dana: You and Cary.
Kalinda: I don't think there is a me and Cary.
Dana: My mistake. 
  •  "It makes things hard when a.k.a. is their a.k.a."
  • One of the reasons why I genuinely liked the interaction between Dana and Kalinda was this impression of Dana being genuinely impressed by how good Kalinda is at this whole thing, even though they were both playing their little game and "can authentic feelings even exist when everybody is just pretending" etc. I have grown to appreciate Cary much more than I originally did in previous seasons but he regards Kalinda's job and how she does it as flawed and something that makes her inherently untrustworthy (he has reasons, of course, and probably even a point, but it also makes me less enthusiastic about their relationship). 
Cary: Is that what Kalinda said?
Dana: You mean your girlfriend Kalinda?
Cary: No, I mean yours.
Dana: No, don't stop there, you're on a roll.
Cary: I saw you two, you looked more than friendly.
Dana: Really, and what does more than friendly look like.
Cary: Like, more than friendly.
Dana: Cary, listen to my words now okay, i have never said this before, but I am now going to say it for you. I am not a lesbian.
Cary: I know a lot of people weren't anything until they met Kalinda.
Dana: Is that why you have a thing for ethnic women?
Cary: What?
Dana: You're still pining for your lesbian?
Cary: Okay, now you're turning it, this isn't about me.
Dana: Figure out what you want, Cary, then we can talk.
Cary: I don't want her.  
There would be a simple solution to this awesome triangle of mutual jealousy but something tells me that it won't happen on CBS any time soon. Cary gets extra points this episode for saying one of the truest things about Kalinda that can be said. Also there is at least one lie in this exchange, and wishing you didn't want someone doesn't make it so. 
Cary: You alright?
Kalinda: Thanks for pulling me down. For protecting me.
Cary: What do you want from me, Kalinda?
Kalinda: What do I want from you? Why does everybody always think that I want something?
Cary: Cause you do. She's not attracted to women.
Kalinda. Cary, you  make me too calculated. Look, I came here, you weren't here, she was her, so I asked her about the case.
Cary: I don't like you being in my head.
Kalinda: What?
Cary: I said I don't like you being in my head.
Kalinda: Then get me out. 
Is it significant that Kalinda changed her tone so completely from the "Go to hell Cary" only a few minutes earlier, and that between those two events, apart from a shoot-out and a surprising heroic moment of Cary, lies the conversation with Will in which she promises to help him? I don't know. Cary had enough doubts to get out of there as quickly as he could.  
  • My favourite scene of the episode was Kalinda approaching Will about his issues. Their relationship is still pretty unexplored, especially since we don't really know how well they knew each other before Alicia joined the firm, but I like the idea that they have more in common than most other people in their lives. I think partly Kalinda is still repenting for what she did to Alicia too, so looking out for Will is also a way of helping her (and then there is the telling way in which she chose to say "his wife" in the conversation instead of Alicia's name). 
Kalinda: Is this coming from Peter Florrick?
Will: I think it is.
Kalinda: So it's about his wife?
Will: I don't know. I don't know anything anymore. I used to be able to read the political tea leaves, now I can barely tell why people say hello to me in the morning.
Kalinda: Then use me.
Will: I thought you were an island these days.
Kalinda: No man is an island.
Kalinda. Ask me for help.
Will: I feel like hugging you.
Kalinda: No, just ask for my help.

Favourite bits to come out of the "scandal": 

  • This is..." / "...you fellating Santa". 
  • "Jon Stewart is gonna finish it... here comes Santa." 
  • "It ain't the real Santa. It's a statue. And there is no real Santa, so he wouldn't have a penis."
  • "Is that George Washington?"
  • "Santa's Little Helper".
  • The guy's angry wife looming in the background, reminiscent of how The Good Wife started. 

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