05 December, 2011

"Parenting Made Easy"

Episode Title: "Parenting Made Easy"
Season 3, Episode 10 | Original Air Date: Sunday, December 4, 2011

As fall turns to winter in Chicago, the seasons are similarly changing over at Lockhart Gardner: Eli is no longer the “flavor of the month” (thanks to the cheese people), Will is being watched like a hawk, Alicia is being wooed by Louis Canning and Kalinda is busy dipping her toes in everyone’s water.  Somehow The Good Wife writers keep delivering quality scripts that the actors are turning into television gold.  While I will pre-confess to being heart-broken by the time the credits rolled this week, I will first celebrate another great episode and state for the record: “Forget the cheese and diary people… I think Lockhart Gardner is single-handedly supporting Chicago’s fine purveyors of Scotch.”

In my Opinion – Episode Commentary
For the first time in recent memory, Alicia found herself with a case stuck in arbitration – it’s not life and death, but rather a friendly game of newly pitted rivalries: Caitlin vs. Martha, Florrick vs. Canning.  Making a triumphant return to The Good Wife, Michael J Fox’s character, Louis Canning, picked up right where he left off in season two: trying to convince Alicia his new firm is the place she should be.  In some ways what he proposes makes a lot of sense: She could spend more time with her children, get home before dinner and Will would no longer be her boss.  Okay, maybe it was just me thinking about that last selling feature, but I’m sure it crossed her mind.  While the arbitrator stops and starts the case like he’s driving a stick shift for the first time, we’re taken on a “wrongful termination” journey featuring Pamela Raker (played by Dexter’s Jennifer Carpenter) with Caitlin and Martha jumping head-first into their first “real job” debates.

The case this week, in my opinion, is the least important part of the episode.  It was what happened behind the scenes that maked it all so interesting.  Yes, there was all of Canning’s wooing in an attempt to snatch Alicia from Lockhart Gardner, but there was so much more…

Where’s Grace?
Throughout “Parenting Made Easy,” Alicia was on edge about the well-being of Grace and Zach and this time, she had reason to be concerned.  While at lunch with Canning, Alicia noticed 12 missed calls (no more annoying “Mom pick up the phone” ring tones), all from Grace.  With no answer when she called back, Alicia jumped to action and with the help of Canning and his driver, found herself in the throngs of a personal investigation.  The details?  Grace is missing and was last seen getting into a man’s car.  Overhearing a conversation between Alicia and Zach (who was once again at the office working on the Lockhart Gardner computers – I hope he’s getting paid), Kalinda gets down to business: Project “finding Grace.”  I had two early predictions on where this was going and I’m glad one was correct: Grace met up with her YouTube Pastor.  I hadn’t guessed she was going to be found at a church getting baptized, but when it comes to Grace, I try not to think about storyline too much.  In any case, Kalinda found Grace (of course, it is Kalinda), dropped her off at home and snuck out under the cover of darkness like a stealthy superhero not looking for any glory, just a job well done.  More than anything, maybe she’s just looking to up her karma rating?

M is for Meeting
The highlight of “Parenting Made Easy” was the number of one-on-one meetings happening everywhere this episode – every storyline escalated to a new level.  We started with a great exchange between Diane and Will featuring the notorious sound bite, “I think you need to stop mothering. I can take care of my life.”  Not long after, Diane stumbled upon Eli sitting in the boardroom staring at ceiling tiles with his imaginary clients.  Clearly Diane’s instruction “well don’t get morose” from the previous episode was as futile as his new food diagram.  My opinion? Get this man a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese?” already!  Diane, always one to offer encouragement and advice, came prepared to give Eli his daily dose: “Make friends, be nice to people, don’t try to do it all yourself.”  This time, Eli listened and set out to mend fences and find allies.

Under the guise of wanting to see what people were up to, Eli stepped into Will’s office and was quickly wrapped up in a lecture on how to be a team player.  While there, Will explained that Eli’s notable lack of attendance at staff meetings (and, if I’m not mistaken, also the mandatory Sexual Harassment Seminar?) isn’t helping him within the firm.  Oh yes, and he’s bad at sharing.  Admittedly, Eli knows his short comings and owns up to his faults while simultaneously accepting the offer to chat more over Scotch. 

Will: “Why is Peter investigating me?”
Eli: Looking genuinely surprised, slowly swallows his drink “I didn’t know he was”
Will: “He is. You’re still his political strategist, right? Is this for politics or something else?
Eli: “I have no idea.  Have you asked Alicia?  I mean, because she works here she might know.”
Will “I haven’t told her. I didn’t want to make it her business”
Eli: “But it is her business… isn’t it?”

Thank you, Eli, for pointing out something I’ve been thinking for weeks.  This investigation is going to become public sooner rather than later, and once again, Alicia is going to feel like she has been hit by a proverbial bus.  It will be 100 times worse than seeing Jackie’s face unexpectedly on a computer screen… and that takes something.

Flash forward a few scenes and we’re given yet another glimpse into the world of Dana Lodge, the sly and sassy ASA working with Cary.  As Dana and Kalinda sit and sip drinks at a local bar, I find myself missing Alicia and K’s random chats about love and life over tequila shooters.  For now, Dana will have to do, but not because of friendship, because of convenience.  I feel like Dana’s motives are all over the map – she wants to make an impression at the State’s Attorney’s Office and elevate her career, she wants to pursue a relationship with Cary and she wants to take Kalinda along for both rides.  Kalinda, the last person in the world I would try to double-cross, is wise to her ways but still finds herself playing along. Like Kalinda says, “When I flirt, I follow through.”  That’s what I love about her.  Keep on keepin’ on, Kalinda.

Then of course, there was my favourite conversationalist duo in Will and Kalinda.  Sometimes they don’t need to say anything, sometimes they hover of the verge of impropriety and sometimes they tell it like it is.  No matter what, there’s never any confusion though.  This week we got two stellar conversations: one about the investigation and one about commitment.   “I’ve spent my whole life getting ahead,” says Will, “Sometimes I can’t figure out why.”  Thinking about what the next steps with Alicia could look like, Will decides he needs to ask some important questions: What’s next?

Heart Break
The moment I’ve feared finally came to fruition: the gut-wrenching breakdown of Team Gardner.  Alicia has had points of reflection over the last few episodes – times when we’ve seen her think about the bigger picture and with the drama of Grace missing, she made a difficult decision.  No more Will, at least for now. 

Alicia: “Will…”
Will: “Yes.”
Alicia: “I can’t.  It’s too much.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I’m going to miss you.”
If you haven't seen the scene, please do.  The dialogue doesn't do it nearly enough justice. In any case, after one of the longest, most heart-felt hugs I’ve ever seen, Alicia walks out of Will’s office, tears pooling in her eyes and running down her face.  My heart broke for both of them.

What’s next?
Next week in “What When Wrong?” Cary has Kalinda arrested.  All I can think is “big mistake.”  Kalinda is sure to befriend some other recent law breakers and only increase her network.  Okay, that’s probably not the first thing that will happen, but still.  Bad move, Cary – I think this is plot is going to backfire into a hot mess.  Just wait.

Meanwhile, I think we all know the Alicia/Will relationship is far from over.  Although Diane thinks Will broke things off, that’s her misguided impression and one Will is surely not going to change.  He has done the right thing in her eyes and now he can focus on 1) the investigation (that darn Andrew Wiley finally surfaced!) and 2) consider his next move where Alicia is concerned.  I’d like to see him start crafting plan “win her back” but that might take until season four.  The fact is, he hasn't truly lost her, she's just overwhelmed with life. Why did I say I love the drama?  Pass the Scotch. 

Related to this Post
*Food Inspired by The Good Wife's "Parenting Made Easy:" Vanilla ice cream with black pepper and the Lockhart Gardner staple, Scotch!
*Josh Charles and Tim Guinee have fun on set, tricycle style
*Preview for next week's episode, "What Went Wrong?"


  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!
    First thing monday morning (as I am living in Germany) is watching the latest epidsode of "The Good Wife". Directly followed by checking this site for a new blog entry.

  2. I love, love, love you for saying this and writing in! Thank you SO much. Clearly I adore the show and I'm thrilled to know there are others out there enjoying it as much as I do. Cheers!

  3. Another stellar post. They get better week after week. Love it!
    Thanks for sharing my food inspired GW posts with your fans. What will next week hold?

  4. Thanks, JS! My posts seem to be getting longer... I just can't contain my enthusiasm! I am thrilled with the response to our little collaboration in "Food Inspired by The Good Wife" - it's a great addition. Next week... maybe prison food?

  5. Do you know which NYC locations were used in this episode? I was curious about the church in the run down neighborhood and the gray stone walls that Alicia walks by at one time. I thought of City College but perhaps Lehman also has stone buildings like that.

  6. Hi Lora: I don't know what NYC locations were used in this episode - I was wondering the same thing when Kalinda was driving around that run-down neighborhood. I know they do a lot of filming in Brooklyn where they have built a studio but I can't place that specific area. I'll do a little digging and see what I can find out!

  7. Hi again, Lora: After a bit of sleuthing (and based on what I know about timing surrounding when this episode taped), I want to say at least some of that scene was shot around Berry and S 3rd St in Brooklyn. I haven't been able to track down the church yet, but that would be my best overall prediction so far. I'll keep investigating!

  8. Now you've got me going. I've looked at more photos of churches in the area around there in Brooklyn. Here is one I found
    It's the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Holy Ghost.

  9. That's so close to being it... and even though it's not quite right, that church is beautiful - great find!

    As I re-watch that scene, it looks as though the church and the street are actually in two different locations. The rough area of town has virtually no leaves on the trees, where the church is in a totally lush neighborhood. Together, we'll figure this out!

  10. Two very timely articles just came out in The Wall Street Journal about dressing New York as Chicago. Perhaps we should be sleuthing out churches in Long Island City? Check out http://lockhartgardner.blogspot.com/p/behind-scenes.html for links!

  11. So KPM and JS, here's my long awaited post on GW for this week:

    1)Caitlyn vs. Martha. Caitlyn is starting to win me over. Her perfect blond curls and slightly oblivious personality are deceiving which is a perfect combination for her to take on the likes of Martha. I think what I like about Caitlyn is her lack of confidence and the dynamic building between Alicia and her protege. Mentorship is something that is often lacking in today's workplace as everyone is always too busy on the phone, texting, or running to their next meeting. Here we see Alicia take the time to instill confidence and trust in her new charge, even if at the outset she was more irritated than charmed by Caitlyn. I am also glad see that Alicia's first impressions of people aren't always correct. In the episode where Alicia is forced to hire Caitlyn and rejects Martha, she is quick to dismiss the Caitlyn because she's not an "Alicia" she's her polar opposite. Working for a firm I understand the importance of mentorship to develop a craft. It is interesting to see this develop within Lockhart Gardner. In the first season you saw this mentorship between Diane and Alicia. Just one of the very innovative storylines the writers have given us.

  12. Great post, I almost feel like I should read the blog before I watch the show.

  13. Now it`s time to focus on the Peter vs. Will to win rights to Alicia`s heart. Both Peter and Will have history with Alicia, Will doesn`t have the one thing that Peter does -children. Let`s do a little policy matrix (compliments of my 30K graduate degree). May the best outcome win. I am going to compare a long term partnership with Peter, Will, and Alicia (by herself) and see which one win. The criteria are: personal happiness, family, career, reputation, money, sex, and self-growth. We`re going to double scores for personal happiness and family as I believe these categories are the most important to Alicia.

    Scoring is 1 doesn`t meet expectations 2) meets expectations 3) exceeds expectations

    Personal Happiness
    Will -3 (he makes Alicia happy)
    Peter -1 (he makes Alicia unhappy)
    Alone -2 she is content, but not entirely happy

    Will -2 (I gave Will a 2 because I think Grace and Zack given the chance would actually like Will. They are also pretty loyal to their mom is recent episodes)
    Peter -3 (Nothing like the intact family.)
    Alone -1

    Will -1 (I think Will is bad for Alicia`s career both at Lockhart Gardner and in general. What was once an asset is more of a liability).
    Peter -2 (Peter can help Alicia with his contacts, but she remains under his shadow. Nepotism becomes her middle name.)
    Alone -3 (Alicia would probably do best at Lockhart Gardner with Diane or perhaps with Louis Canning without the ghosts of Will or Peter following her around)

    Will -1 (He is bad for her reputation all around. Both within the firm and in the public. He becomes Alicia`s lover and nothing more).
    Peter -3 (Eli would approve of this choice.)
    Alone -2 maybe 3 (Considering America`s still relatively conservative in the public space, I am going to settle with a 2. A divorced Alicia gets typecast as a family failure and a divorce, not something that even Hilary would risk. Alicia seems more conservative to me than HIlary is.)

    Will -3 (Will is a partnerat a big law firm, however if Peter tried to take her in court, Will might now be such a prudent fiancial choice).
    Peter -2 (I don`t think Peter really helps or hinders Alicia financially. There was an episode that stated he earns less as state`s attorney than Alicia does. However, all the additional priveleges, potential earnings as a Governor, and political connections, might serve Alicia in the long run. Still, it`s a big political risk for her. Will is a safer choice short term).
    Alone -2 Alicia can carry herself and her family is she does well. She probably earns a decent living as an associate at a top firm, she lives in Chicago which would be less costly than Boston, DC, or NYC (I think). She likely wouldn`t have any student loans left, so if she and Peter had a reasonable separation agreement she might do just fine.

    Will -3 (No argument, just watch the season finale from last year. The elevator scene says it all.)
    Peter -1 (I think Alicia would have a hard time having a good physical relationship with Peter after his transgressions)
    Alone -1 (Could be a 2 if she found someone decent to be with.)

    Self Growth
    Will -2 (I don`t think will promotes her growth as a person as much as if she were on her own. She is too caught up in what does Will think)
    Peter -1 (Peter hinders Alicia.)
    Alone -3 (Without complications she can truly discover herself.)

    Will -20
    Peter -17
    Alone -18

    Team Gardner still wins!


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