swatkat: (the good wife: kalinda wins)
[personal profile] swatkat
I love The Good Wife's unshaking commitment to making the audience flinch by gleefully representing a lot of INCREDIBLY iffy things being done by everyone involved. Very often it comes with the bonus of a bewildered Alicia in the middle, stung again and again by a world that she never seems to stop hoping for better things from - a world that always seems to surprise her by its sheer unpleasantness. The episode had Alicia go from delighted and pleased to increasingly concerned, withdrawn and then downright heartbroken, and finally brittle and a little rebellious - it was great to see JM nail the performance (when does she not, though?) and tug at my heartstrings so effectively, because all throughout I was mostly stuck at oh! oh Alicia!

The episode had a lot to say about success and Alicia's brand of earnest optimism about success and hard work (somewhat hypocritical, perhaps, given her own occasional lack of qualms about using Peter as a connection as in here, and an interesting continuation of last week's theme about appointments and 'merit'); about success and men and women, and the various ways it can be earned. I loved the contrast between Cary's muted disappointment turned to a gentle, "oh well" acceptance (with some friendly nudging from Kalinda) and Alicia's heartbreak and anger (who could have used some friendly Kalinda too; I'm just saying, show) - they both feel let down in some way, but for Alicia it's a personal betrayal of sorts, a cheapening of her worth and her effort. The contrast with Kalinda and Diane is equally startling: Kalinda, as always (this is what, the fourth time we see her quietly negotiate a raise for herself in four seasons?), bargains for what she thinks she deserves and gets it; Diane dishes out a double dose of manipulation/heartfelt advice - her first too-good-to-be-true story and the second earnest, almost brutally honest one. I'm not entirely sure what her loss of smile in the end meant. Disappointment, perhaps, recognizing Alicia's barely concealed anger, and perhaps a hint of apprehension because a righteously angry Alicia is a formidable opponent indeed, and Diane of all people knows it (Louis Canning with his get out of jail free card, echoing last season's affair with the raise no doubt). She herself is an odd mix of ruthless pragmatism and an inexplicable sort of idealism, and I wonder at times if that's what leads her to initiating these occasional moments of candidness with Alicia.

Alicia's own heartbreak has a lot to do with her perception about herself - that is to say, her absolute confidence in her capability ("I'm good") and her utter surprise every time that capability is recognized, as though she doesn't quite know what to do with it. It what makes her Alicia, a part of her charm for me; as I wrote earlier while talking about 4.04:
She is so absolutely utterly brilliant in court, so utterly confident about her lawyerly skills ('I'm good'), and yet always so surprised when people find her interesting or likeable. It's a part of her irresistible Alicia charm - how unassuming she is - and it's what draws people like Will, or Kalinda, and now Maddie to her, even if she doesn't quite understand it herself.

It's why she couldn't fathom why Maddie would want to make friends with her - and her later 'betrayal' only added to that feeling, I suppose, as did the certain knowledge that she got her job because of her prior connection with Will. The partnership offer is an opportunity to free herself from the taint of that dubious appointment, and that's why it stings, to be so close to something she wants so much, only to be granted the same in a way that she cannot actually enjoy (I am reminded of the S2 Kalinda reveal, the triumph of Peter's victory and the horror that soon followed with knowledge).

(And in the meantime, I also think of all the ways Kalinda thinks Alicia is incredibly awesome but never quite has the words to express it or make Alicia feel better, and I just can't. *flappy hands*)

Not everything was cynical or nasty about the episode - there was a certain silver lining in the shape of Hayden's own brand of earnest optimism, and that it is rewarded in its own way in the end (he testifies for Will and Diane not because they're not nasty, but because Canning is nastier and it's the right thing to do). Equally lovely was Cary's little moment with him, amidst all his smoothtalking with Chumhum guy's wife (much to the approval of David Lee) and his pragmatic acceptance of the offer he's been made. But as always - because the show knows JM is at her best when she's portraying a brittle, barely-holding-herself-together Alicia - Alicia herself has little to cheer for, and my enduring image of the episode will be Alicia's moderately drunk and entirely candid, "I'm an atheist", while not playing particularly nice with a former friend.

Sometimes this show is on fire.
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swatkat: knight - er, morgana - in shining underwear (Default)

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