26 March, 2012

"Blue Ribbon Panel," Gold Medal Performance

Episode Title: Blue Ribbon Panel (yields Gold Medal Performance for Julianna Margulies)
Season 3, Episode 19 | Original Air Date: March 25, 2012

Rarely am I at a loss for words.  This blog is clear proof of that fact.  There’s little I can write that would be more accurate or succinct than this: If ever there was an episode for Julianna Margulies to shine as Alicia Florrick, “Blue Ribbon Panel” would be it.

In fact, I loved Alicia *so* much in this episode, I’m going to forego a standard recap and instead take a closer look at scenes from this week that made me say, “Just when I thought I couldn’t love this show any more they went and [insert awe-inspiring moment that made me laugh, cry or cheer].”

Now, where to begin?   

The Honesty Policy 
The scene: Alicia staring at Kalinda staring at Alicia.  Silence. 

Kalinda broke the stillness by saying, “I’m not sure.”  You see, Kalinda feels she has an obligation to keep secret the names of those who employed her for freelance work.  The IRS has a different opinion on these matters and now it’s Alicia’s job to invoke the honesty policy she put in place last week and get Kalinda to disclose her income sources.  The first cheque in question came in the amount of $2,460 for three days work (which amounts to $102.50/hour for anyone who’s counting) but right off the top Kalinda was guarded.  Why?  Well, someone Alicia knows paid Kalinda for her time.  

Oh no.  

When it comes to Kalinda, the who and the why could be anything, so Alicia is left to shoot K an oh god, what did Peter pay you for now? look but before she could answer, Kalinda jumped from her chair in order to pay Diane a quick visit.  Returning with a bounce in her step, Kalinda shared with Alicia that Diane contracted her for… firearms lessons.  At this point, Alicia’s expression said, I’m simultaneously relieved, impressed and glad I asked Diane for the raise before her marksmanship skills were revealed, while Kalinda’s expression said, I could give you firearms lessons, too… and it wouldn’t cost you $102.50/hour.  This was the best three minute opening of The Good Wife maybe ever.

Side note: What is this mystery account from which Diane is writing cheques?  I have a feeling there could be a good backstory lurking in, say, season five?

Alicia Florrick's "Firearms" face
Live from the IRS
The scene: Kalinda is busy getting to know the IRS officials when Alicia rushes in. 

Alicia: I am so sorry. I was held up.  Sorry Ms. Sharma.
Kalinda: That’s quite alright, Ms. Florrick. It gave us time to get acquainted.

When it comes to Kalinda, the IRS is after one thing: getting down to the brass tacks surrounding her mysterious income… or at least that’s the fa├žade they are using.  Apparently they aren’t satisfied knowing she has been hired in the past to perform research and background checks, they also want to know who has hired her and exactly what the projects entailed.  From the perspective of the IRS, this is like catching Al Capone on tax evasion.

Unfortunately, that’s not Kalinda’s biggest problem.  It seems this IRS “negotiation session” was being secretly recorded by a laptop webcam, an observation Kalinda shared with Alicia as they were leaving.  Having had a rough day already, Alicia stormed back into the room, approached the camera and exclaimed, “If you want something from us, call my office.  Stop playing through intermediaries!”  Pa chow, Alicia Florrick!  

It wasn't long before Kalinda's old friend, Lana Delaney (Jill Flint), appeared in Alicia's office with questions surrounding not only the IRS issue but for details surrounding Kalinda's potential connection to the oft-mentioned but rarely seen, Lemond Bishop.  As far as we know, Kalinda hasn't done any work for Bishop (remember, this was Blake's beat, not hers), but, let's be honest: anything can happen on The Good Wife.

Dear Gilda
The scene:  Having had her initial offer on the Highland Park house refused, Alicia's Realtor suggests a personal note of interest might sway the sellers in their decision. 

I’m the first to admit I’m completely against Alicia moving back to Highland Park (you can check out the top reasons why I think she shouldn't go back by clicking here), but that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting rollercoaster.  Pulling out her “from the desk of Alicia Florrick” cherry blossom stationery, we watched Alicia struggle to put into words why she wanted the house again.  As an audience, we felt the exact same way.  The good memories were plentiful – Grace’s first steps, playing at bath time, installing a front yard mailbox and even playful moments with Peter; but the bad memories continue to be so haunting – news trucks parked on the driveway, Grace coming home crying, Alicia having to explain to both kids why their lives would forever be changed.  In the end I wasn’t sure Alicia would send the letter, but she did and Gilda responded.  While touched by Alicia’s words, her offer still wasn't enough.

Flash forward with a call from the Realtor, congratulating Alicia on figuring out a way to secure the house.  The problem?   It wasn’t Alicia.  That left two other Florricks and after a brief confrontation with Peter, the truth revealed itself: Jackie purchased the Highland Park home.

Peter: “Where are you going?”
Alicia: “To buy a gun.”

As though my love for Alicia wasn’t sealed years ago, and more recently in the opening scene of “Blue Ribbon Panel,” this quote was the icing on the cake.  First Jackie was coming to the apartment uninvited, then she was riffling through Alicia’s fine washables and now she’s buying Alicia’s old house?  I’d be enraged, too.  Also, now Alicia knows Kalinda can train her in firearm operation, the idea of purchasing a gun probably isn’t entirely unappealing.  

Now, I can’t say I didn’t see that coming, but it was surprising nonetheless.  I have a feeling Jackie bought the old Florrick homestead so Peter can move in and give off the impression that all is well in Pleasantville before election season.   Whatever the reason, Alicia tracked down Jackie in the hair salon to have a little chat.  And curtain.  All I can say?  I hope Alicia pulls out her you’re out of control face and gets her yell on.  

Blue Ribbon Panel
The scene: Diane, busy dealing with the ever-present inter-office bickering that has taken over Lockhart Gardner, asked Alicia to take her place on a Blue Ribbon Panel investigation surrounding a police shooting.  Alicia accepted and headed off to a location that can only be described as an old boy’s club.

This particular panel was made up of a few new faces paired alongside some familiar ones.  Two of the three judges in question from “Another Ham Sandwich” – Judge Winter (Peter Riegert) and Judge Dunaway (Kurt Fuller) – were both present, as were a few fresh characters, including Pastor Yarrow (Charles Dutton) and Mike Kresteva (Matthew Perry).    

Now, I don’t know much about Blue Ribbon Panels – only that they are independent investigations that can pull in field experts to analyze information and study a specific question.  In this case, that question had to do with an undercover police shooting involving a civilian and a dropped gun.   Sitting in a semi-circle, everyone on the panel had five minutes to question each of the witnesses; however, Alicia was the only person to use their time, which quickly forced her to be reprimanded by the other panelists.  After having been warned that she could be making quick enemies, Alicia never wavered in her resolve to get to the bottom of the shooting, that was, until Kresteva started to make things about Peter.

Ultimately being forced to recuse herself from the panel based on a conflict of interest, Alicia stood up to the challenge like a seasoned pro and was ultimately granted the respect she fully deserved by the likes of Winter and Yarrow.  As for Mike Kresteva?  He enjoyed putting Alicia between a rock and a hard place, making the police shooting about Peter and forcing Alicia off the panel.  For Alicia, this kind of pressure showed her strength as a lawyer and as a woman, but also highlighted her passion for justice and her desire to believe that not all verdicts in Chicago can be bought.

Bits and Bites - Flip you for it
If there’s one thing that can bring Eli, Julius and David together, it’s a good bout of verbal sparring.  Diane must be counting down the days until Will can return to work instead of throwing his baseball in the air and rearranging office supplies.  

This week, everything came to a head between the equity partners – Eli and Julius teamed up (okay, flipped a coin and Julius won) to go up against David Lee.  The only problem?  Neither David nor Julius has ultimate seniority.  No, that falls to the beloved Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler), who we last saw in season two’s “Great Firewall.”  Remember when everyone was trying to oust Bond and they had to call in all of the old equity partners (who hadn't died) to make it happen?  Yes, Lyman is the only one who seems to have survived and he’s looking for an office close to the bathroom… and Will’s inside scoop on nefarious websites.   He’s in, Julius and David are out.  Lockhart Lyman it is – let’s get some stationery ordered!

What’s next?
With just three episodes left this season, what’s in store is anyone’s guess.  While we have to endure a mini-hiatus (to ponder what will become of Jackie and her wet hair), The Good Wife will go out with a marathon of new episodes, April 15, 22 and 29. Until then, here’s something to think about: In April 15th’s “No Ordinary Lie,” Alicia finds herself working on a plea deal while juggling life back in the public spotlight thanks to Peter’s latest political rival.  Who could this adversary be?  My money is on Mike Kresteva (Matthew Perry).  With all of the mentions of Peter during the Blue Ribbon Panel and Mike fully willing to pin the whole “mishandled gun” incident on the State’s Attorney, I can’t help but think we’ve been set up. 

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1 comment:

  1. Loved this episode. Enjoyed the twist about which Florick bought the house.
    I can't understand why Alicia wants the house.


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