Thursday 1 May 2014

Reaction Post - We'll figure out how to make this work.

The Good Wife: 5x17 A Material World.

There's something magnetic about a show that is as unpredictable as The Good Wife has been throughout its seasons, even when some of the twists and turns didn't always work in its favour. It's about the potential that the show has, and the constant uncertainty about which path it will take, and the ability to surprise the viewers even after five seasons, and without straining the characters to an extent that makes them unbelievable. 
A Material World is about death in many different ways. Alicia struggles with the reality of death - of funerals, of realizing that Will's family didn't know him as well as she and Diane did (it seems natural this would happen with someone so driven by his profession), and of the question of what lies beyond - the bits and pieces that stay behind, a box of memories that Kalinda collects that maybe reveals a side to Will she or neither of them ever saw, or a more fundamental question about the meaning of life in light of death if there is nothing beyond. The show tackles that question incredibly intelligently, both in Alicia's furious cross-examination of a man (a LG client, naturally) trying to obtain full custody of his son, about his materialistic view that humans are only made up of atoms and that death is the ultimate end (which, he argues, only means that he will cherish the time with his son more, maybe the only genuine moment in a nasty divorce-and-custody fight both in terms of LG vs F/A and the clients themselves) - and her later feverish viewing of The Good Wife's version of True Detective, which is so spot-on that it's hard to consider it a parody. The question of what remains after death leads to re-considerations about the paths she has chosen - her career (weirdly and weirdly perfectly, in a discussion with Grace's whacky dance friend from seasons past), her marriage to Peter, her position within F/A, a firm almost as overextended as LG. There are many ways to go from here: one of the tempting choices would be a merger with Diane (who is fighting and winning her own fights, more later), who has a similar understanding of things as Alicia - but the massive, long-time-in-the-making step Alicia does make in this episode is about Peter: outraged after weeks and weeks of being asked about how she feels and cuddled by everyone without anyone ever finding the right words to help her, and outraged over the recent relevations about Peter that really put into question what she thinks is true about him as a man and a partner, she tells him that from now on their marriage will be nothing but professional, since they both need it for their job. It's a fight filled with the anger of five years, all the things they never really talked about - and Peter tries to get out of it with the most ridiculous argument of all, that his affairs didn't mean anything to him (while it meant the world to her). Alicia wants so much more, and she has so much more, at this point. 
Meanwhile, Diane fends off David Lee's attempt of a mutiny with Kalinda's help - and Kalinda is surprisingly forthcoming, apparently one of the side effects of her dealing with grief and loss. As much as Alicia is haunted by questions of death, she, with all the knowledge she has, thinks about the process of dying itself, the reality of gunshots and blood. She helps Diane because it's what Will would have done (and presumably, out of a dislike for everyone else at the firm at this point, because how could she like them). Since sleeping with Cary and sleeping with Jenna doesn't help, she falls back into her old pattern of using her relationships for her job, and gets rid of Damian - even though there seems to be a moment where she at least ponders if it was worth Jenna's quite finite outrage over being betrayed (or maybe it was just that at that moment she finally did feel something other than grief for Will). It's maybe the best thing the show has found for her to struggle with since the departure from her and Alicia as the central relationship and conflict of the show. 
  • Brilliant Diane moments all around, including getting drunk with Alicia (and the way both of them are then perfectly able to sober up to talk work), and her laughing at David for suggesting she's in any way inferior to Will. 
  • Not sure how much more we will see of Matthew Goode's character but his understated way of dealing with  Will's death and how it puts him in a position to relate to Alicia's pain is wonderfully written and acted. 
  • With a possible FA/LG merger in the air, David Lee brings Louis Canning back into the game. 

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