So, The Good Wife. We got off to a great start with Cary and Alicia splitting from Lockhart/Gardner to create their own firm. Things have gone decidedly downhill from there—both for our characters and for the viewers. Not everything is bad, but I, for one, am getting tired of Will vs. Alicia. I loved it at first, but it’s becoming super petty and their rivalry takes away screentime that could be devoted to interesting in-house Florrick/Agos developments (cough cough, MORE CARY TIME). Besides wonky Will and Alicia, the Marilyn pregnancy bit was weird, and Kalinda is being wasted (although I loved that Kalinda/Cary fun in this episode; much better than previous use of Matt and Archie).
All that being said, I am enjoying the overarching storyline about Peter’s ethics violations, and the murky ethical/emotional ground everyone is on at this point. I knew when we saw Melissa George that the Ethics Commissioner would play an integral role this season, and her purpose has come to the forefront with the reemergence of the stuffed ballot box.
Here’s the problem: Who to root for?
As I wrote at the beginning of the season, I find Alicia increasingly difficult to root for. Her “make it go away!” proclamation doesn’t help. As framed by the writers, Alicia went into hyper-mom mode. She was protecting the children. And I don’t doubt that—the show has always made it clear that Alicia’s kids come first. But instructing Peter to make something disappear, knowing his not-always-ethical instincts, could be a bad move. Was Alicia considering the ramifications of her statement at the time, or was she just swept up in the mommy moment? Even if it’s the latter, her willingness to take advantage of Peter’s governorship and her emotional manipulation of Will make her hard to root for this season.
Speaking of Will, he’s just as bad, if not worse. I am always inclined to root for Will, but this season has made it very tough. First, there’s the unrelenting jealousy and anger. Second, there’s the lying. Lying to the judge’s face was galling for the viewer and for Alicia, and I have to wonder what the writers were going for there. Are we seeing just how low Will will go? And how do we connect that to the later scene with Peter? I originally thought that Will was threatening to lie about his and Peter’s conversation on election day, but upon re-watching the scene I realized that Will was telling the truth. I would never expect Will to lie for Peter, but if he’s intentionally trying to ruin Alicia’s personal life by implicating Peter with his silence, that’s pretty horrible. And leveraging Diane’s loss of the judgeship for his own benefit makes him look even worse (I wish I could believe he was standing up for Diane, but that wouldn’t be consistent with his character this season). I know Will is ethically shady, and I know he’s hurt, but bring back some of the charm!
Onto Peter. Is he misremembering, or does he expect Will to lie? As I watched the scene I assumed Peter was genuinely misremembering, but would a politician really “misremember” a conversation as pivotal as the one about the fraudulent votes? Seems like it’s their job to keep tabs on those sorts of things. At this point only Kalinda, Diane and Cary are looking sympathetic, and we barely see them.
How does a show walk the line between entertainingly dark and it’s-not-fun-to-watch dark? I enjoy House of Cards not in spite of but because of its shady political machinations, which are a great deal darker than The Good Wife’s. But that’s a show that started out with an inky tone (you don’t get David Fincher unless you’re going for pitch black) and just asked viewers to buy into the moral and ethical bankruptcy. The Good Wife has a greater challenge because it’s seemingly attempting to shift tones quite dramatically; it was always concerned with grey areas, but you need some light to create grey, and we’re not getting much. Sure, the music is zippy and the judges are quippy, but our main characters seem to be headed downward, and I’m not sure if I’m stoked for the ride.