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…
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?
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: “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.
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
*Josh Charles and Tim Guinee have fun on set, tricycle style
*Preview for next week's episode, "What Went Wrong?"