Tuesday 13 March 2012

Reaction Post - It’s a bad economy for ideals.

The Good Wife: 3x17 Long Way Home. 

  • jfc this show
  • Let's start by talking about Caitlin: Caitlin, who Kalinda thinks is planning something, Caitlin, who Alicia thinks is out to undermine her, Caitlin, who fits so well into one stereotype and of course, you think the show is gonna zig and then it zags. Turns out, Caitlin is a brilliant lawyer, but she is also pregnant and decided to stop working and raise her kid; a decision that Diane and Alicia both think is ridiculous, and must be based on false assumptions, and will be remedied with a good talking to; except Caitlin is perfectly able to make her own decisions, and this is the one she's made: not because she felt pressured into it, not because life doesn't give her any other options, but because she wants THIS, more than anything. Alicia admits that she was wrong at the end of the episode (and, awesomely, even tells Diane that maybe this is also one aspect of the glass ceiling: that women are now able to make that choice without feeling bad about themselves, because it's a choice, not something that is forced on them. I don't think Diane quite understands, though, but Alicia does). Diane and Kalinda and maybe even Alicia weren't even able to consider the option that Caitlin might just be so good at this whole game without having any other motives. And then there's this other really interesting layer where Caitlin is sort of like Cary, except much better connected, so there is always this possibility looming that she may actually be able to beat Alicia at this game the same way she did Cary, except she doesn't play dirty. 
  • "I think i may have misinterpreted a few things. Office politics around here can tend to make people paranoid."
  • And it's also just beautiful to see how GOOD Caitlin is at this when she figures out how to solve the Will-conundrum: he can answer business questions, so she has to rephrase the one important question in a manner that will allow him to answer, and of course she succeeds. 
  • "Did you just lie to me?"
  • Will reads Caitlin this way too, as trying to outplay Alicia, and supports her in a meeting (and she thanks him, with a foreboding, very intimate "thank you"). Diane, meanwhile, is entirely swayed by Caitlin's abilities, so for most of the episode it seems like this is the point: the partners divided in their support of Alicia vs Caitlin, except it's never been about that, and the mere fact that WE, the audience, are only able to conceive of that one option says everything. 
  • The episode starts with Eli's "this isn't about morals, this is about money". Except it's always about morals. Always. And how they fit in, and how to HAVE IT ALL, basically. Alicia wants the apartment and she wants to walk away from a case not feeling creepy. 
  • And what a perfect opportunity to make this point in an episode that has Colin Sweeney returning, because nobody makes Alicia feel queasier about her profession than he does. He is about to regain control of his company but at the decisive moment, a woman steps forward claiming  he sexually harassed her and fathered her son. 
  • Naturally, Sweeney spends the episode telling half-truths and lies, because that's just his nature, and by the end, he recognizes that the woman is just as sociopathic as he is, so why not form a weird family and raise a future serial killer together (Julianna Margulies playing Alicia's terror at that prospect was fucking brilliant: it was like she heard the Dexter theme music playing in her head when she saw them together)? 
  • "And so it devolves from hopes, ideals, dreams, the glory of the law, to a turkey baster."
  • "Disgusted. But intrigued." Says the judge, and that's Colin Sweeney, in a nutshell. 
  • Morena Baccarin was sort of criminally under-used though: She is awesome. 
  • Alicia, meanwhile, is trying to decide on whether to buy her apartment, which she can't without a significant raise, or move, or buy the home they used to live in when times were different. The episode ends brilliantly with her walking through the old house, revisiting her past, and obviously unable to face the scars it has left: the bedroom (Peter used to have sex with prostitutes), the artefacts of their happy family life. In the end, she can only run away. 
  • The kids provide a rather beautiful metaphor when they realize that buying their old house is an option: there is an old swing, but Grace fell off it and "it almost killed her", but she also remembers her dad pushing it, and it was repainted. 
  • "Maybe we are all like salmon. Swimming upstream, trying to get home again."
  • But I think Alicia is just inherently a different person than Caitlin: She WANTS this. This entire season is about how she feels uneasy about how much she wants this, but she DOES. And she can't just go back to who she was for those fifteen happy years. 
  • Eli points out to Peter that the "blogosphere" is reporting on people having sex on his office couch, which of course ties in really great with his past as a dude who had sex with prostitutes: he tasks Cary to find the perp, and when he finds out that the guy was 1) black 2) gay and 3) superior to the dude he was having sex with, he fires him: except Cary is already feeling pretty badly about the whole thing, considering he spent months dating Dana, and also, awesomely, Geneva Pine (it's just good to know that the show didn't just forget about ASA Pine, basically), totally calls them out on it. 
Geneva Pine: Peter fired Jeremy.
Cary: I know.
Geneva: Zero tolerance is zero tolerance.
Cary: That's right
Geneva: … unless you’re white. He fires Wendy Scott-Carr. He fires Jeremy. He demotes Dana. He promotes you over Matan. He promotes you over me. Three ASAs who had double or triple your experience and seniority, and the only difference was the colour of our skin.
Cary: Go tell him. If you believe that, go tell him.
Geneva: :What, that his bias is showing?
Cary: No, that Dana and I were fratinizing. That' what you wanna say. Zero tolerance. Go.
Geneva: No.
Cary: Why not?
Geneva: Because I don't do that. You want him to know, you tell him. That's right. It’s a bad economy for ideals.
  • This is my favourite conversation in this episode: Cary WANTS to be punished. He's been feeling bad about himself for weeks now but he doesn't want to be the one who takes the responsibility, so he's begging Geneva to do it for them, to rat him out, and she tells him he has to fucking stand up for himself if that's what he wants. And during his conversation with Peter, when he admits to dating Dana after she was demoted and tells him he needs to punish him because otherwise, they would both lose respect, Peter doesn't even realize what the problem here is, because Peter doesn't think about himself as a racist; but it's indisputable that he favours Cary (to the extent that he tells him he's "brave" for admitting to the affair and to just forget about it). 
  • The final scene was just so beautiful: the way the sound of the sprinklers came in before the scene even began (it's like the ultimate sound of suburbia), the way she explored the house room-by-room, and you could just see how it brought back all these memories, and then the impossibility of going back and pretending none of the awful things had ever happened (and also the fact that she doesn't really WANT to go back because there is a part of her that likes what she has become, this fiercely independent woman, and she'd never take any of it back). This was one of my favourite episodes this season and Julianna Margulies' acting is stunning. 

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