Friday 1 November 2013

Reaction Post - You're leaving?

The Good Wife: 5x05 Hitting the Fan.

In the beginning of the episode, right before Diane walks into his office and to introduce the game-changing moment of the show's fifth season, he is interviewing a potential new publicist for the firm that he is considering in the aftermath of Diane's revelations about him:  she goes on to praise how stable the firm is, how there's no constant shouting and backstabbing, how it all feels like one big family. And a moment later, that family falls apart for good (little does she know how much it already did, now that Diane and Will are no longer united) - and the shouting starts. The episode is aptly named, even if none of it is a surprise. The writing has been on the walls for episodes now, the unlikely part is that Alicia actually made it so far in hiding her true intentions (up to that nice moment last episode, with Will and her reminiscing) - and that the whole process of her making that choice was completely about her, rather than any considerations about loyalty. Not that she is as pragmatic as Cary has always been (to him, this is a game about young people taking the place of the old people that must inevitably play out, personal relationships have nothing to do with it, and Will and Diane should know that they are on the other side of that wall now). 
As much as none of it comes as a surprise, the elegant structure of it still makes for a compelling hour of television. Will is certainly completely surprised, because if anything, in his mind, he's brought Alicia closer in professional terms to the firm, to the point where he essentially offered her to become the new Diane (with maybe the implication, which Cary brought up, that she would never be the new Diane because Will doesn't truly consider Alicia his equal). To him, it's a personal betrayal because it's a professional one, because the lines between the two were never drawn clearly. It's of a different nature than Diane telling the press about her concerns regarding his past, if only because his relationship to Alicia is different. In both cases, Diane and Alicia made choices to put their own careers over whatever allegiance they felt to him. Will doesn't care if it was a business decision for Alicia, because he thinks she owes him something. 
Will: You're awful. And you don't even know how awful you are. 
Every time Alicia's been told to finally want something to herself, and she never quite took the advice exactly the way it was given, or she didn't apply it the way it was expected, except now she's carved out something for herself away from L/G, finally. That's the juxtaposition of "the good wife" and "awful". She wasn't shaped by anyone else into who she is now, but she shaped herself around everyone else, taking bits and pieces where they were useful and made sense, and the result has been pretty glorious, except from Will's perceptive, he's just lost the last thing he took for granted, in addition to everything else. Depending on how emotionally invested the respective viewer is in Will Gardner or Will and Alicia as more than just people who bring out the best in each other when they are lawyering, Will's side of things will either be compelling or not quite hit the emotional mark it's supposed to (afraid I'm in the latter category), but what follows is pretty amazing, as the parental units fight against the children so eager to prove themselves and both sides pull all the tricks that they know (the interesting bit is of course, that most of what Alicia and Cary and the other associates banned from the floors of L/G know they learned from Will and Diane, one way or another, and it's a question of speed more than anything else). 
Cary and Alicia, prematurely expelled, lack information more than anything. The files are still behind a firewall on the servers and out of reach, even with Robyn remaining undercover as long as she does. David Lee's instincts, honed by paranoia, kick in quicker than anybody else's (this is what he's BEST at, after all), and he pretty much manages to destroy F/A's vital client base in the first few minutes of the war. But it's always mostly been about ChumHum anyway (Alicia ends up being the one to suggest they could try and get Bishop, ironically, considering how many hours of headache that has cost her in the past, and to prove how far she's come and how much she wants this to work out). 
Significantly, Kalinda enters the battlefield a moment to late to witness the beginning of it all, and as per usual, her emotional process throughout all of it remains secret. She knows Robyn is still passing as loyal, she only found out Alicia was leaving recently, and at some point she makes a choice. Cary is still (and probably will never not be, just that's it's so much less annoying now) too enamoured to read her well, so he doesn't realize that she made the choice to play him, rather than Will, and by extension, that as another person left behind, she is now beyond protecting Alicia as well. Pointedly, Will asks Kalinda if she is "leaving with her", not if she's leaving with "them". 
Will: You're friends with Alicia and she didn't tell you about leaving?
Kalinda: No. Clearly I wasn't friend enough. 
Like, I think anyone who claims that something was "purely professional" or "not personal" is lying, because how would they ever know, as entangled as everything is? The epitome of personal and political entanglements himself ends up personally threatening Will and professionally threatening ChumHum to bring them back into line behind Florrick/Agos, and he asks Eli to draw up a new list of candidates for the Illinois Supreme Court. Good thing that ethics department didn't move too far away from Peter's Chicago offices. 
  • The music though. 
  • "Document everything", Diane tells Will, right into his unfolding emotional torment of remembering Alicia Florrick as he thought she was. 
  • I think secretly, I prefer the emotional moment between Diane and Cary, because Cary's been carrying his resentment over being fired in the first place around for years, and he is eager to remind her of why they are doing this. He stupidly reveals that ChumHum is in play in the course of it, but it doesn't change the fact that he is right (that Will and Diane, in a way, by mostly being managers of their own self-fabricated crisis, have ceased the right to call the clients that the associates work for their own). 
  • The whole episode is also a good reminder how much the legal language (even if it's the legal language of corporate war) helps to articulate emotions in a different manner. 
  • For now, it looks like F/A will be operating from Alicia's apartment. The upside, as always, is the endless supply of wine. 
  • Looks like Will Gardner is going to try and build himself an empire. That always works well for morally ambiguous male characters in drama shows (I mean gee, good thing Diane's not going anywhere and can rein that weirdness in, right?)

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