05 November, 2012

The Good Wife: "The Art of War" and the Mambo

"The Art of War"
Season 4, Episode 6 | Original air date: November 4, 2012

Picture this:  A lobby on the 28th floor. Leather furniture.  A room full of people.  Chatter is becoming increasingly loud and sidelong glances are being exchanged from one person to another.  It’s like the waiting room in a dental office, only slightly more ominous because a sleazy tow-truck driver/potential ax murder is chatting up the clientele.  This is what happens, I can’t help but think, when you go from three floors to two.  Madness.  Remind me to never verge on the edge of bankruptcy.

Lucky for me, I revel in the understanding that The Good Wife knows how to make everyone exceptionally uncomfortable at least three times a year.  “Throw everyone together and watch what happens” is becoming a tried-and-true formula on The Good Wife, and, like Peter to a scandal, I fall for it every time.

The real beauty of this opening?  Well, I’ll get to that in a minute.  With Josh Charles making a fabulous directorial debut, this episode of The Good Wife churned up more questions than it did answers.  Who made the decision to have the Florrick campaign posters feature Peter in a casual JFK-style, ‘look at me with my coat thrown over my shoulder’ pose?  Where did Alicia get her new watch?  Is the FBI tracking Eli or Kalinda and either way, what are they after?  Will Nick Savarese ever leave Chicago? 

With so many questions and so little time, it’s best to get right down to business.  In honor of Charles’ new title of ‘director,’ this week I’m featuring the Top 5 scenes from “The Art of War.”  Let me know your favourite moments in the comments below!

The Art of War – Top Five Scenes

1) Thrown off in a Waiting Room – I couldn’t leave you hanging (what was the real beauty of the opening?!) – There’s nothing I like more than watching Will squirm.  Okay, correction.  It’s one of my favourite things about him, when he’s not trying to woo Alicia or plot world domination with Diane.  Clearly there are a few things I adore about this eligible bachelor.  For today, I’m focusing on the squirming part.

For a man who usually exudes confidence, we’ve only ever see a few situations truly rattle him.  Flash back to season three’s, ‘Feeding the Rat,’ when Celeste approached Peter with Will by her side and started probing for answers surrounding Alicia working for Lockhart Gardner.  It was one of my favourite moments of all time, maybe because I like to see Will dance to the beat of a different drum, or maybe because I’m addicted to the drama.  Either way, it was gold. 

In “The Art of War” we found Will power-walking off the elevator, only to stumble into the powder keg known as the Lockhart Gardner waiting room, where he found his arch nemesis of the judicial community waiting: Judge Lorna Kuhn (insert gasps and cheers – I love character!).  From steadfast leader to babbling mess, Will continues to be rendered virtually speechless in her presence.  It’s awkward and outstanding… and I’ll probably watch this scene another six times before the week is through.  10 times if I’m being really honest.  This is getting added to my ‘favourite openings of all time’ list.  

2) Drinks for Two – It wasn’t celebratory tequila shots circa season one, but in a way it was even more delicious because of the journey to this point.  It was the moment we’d all been waiting for: Alicia and Kalinda sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, sipping drinks and sharing stories.  After last week when Alicia told Kalinda to ‘stay safe’ before K ended up sniffing out a dead body like a crime-fighting bloodhound, the thought of a refreshing libation was clearly the next logical step.  As is usually the case with these two, the conversation turned personal, but this time, for the first time, Kalinda wasn’t the least bit dodgy about her answers.  Is it possible that for Alicia, K has turned over a new leaf?  Let’s take a quick (slightly modified) look at what went down:
Alicia: “Do you love him?” 
Kalinda: “No” 
Alicia: “Did you just say no without hesitating?  Maybe this friends-on thing really is going to work.” 
Kalinda: “It’s about the only good thing having come from Grace’s run-in with Internet Jesus.” 
Alicia: “If only you knew how right you were.  One day I’ll have to tell you about Will, because frankly, I’m dying to talk to someone about what happened [and how hot it was], but for now, because I’m feeling especially creeped out by him, I have to ask: Is Nick dangerous?” 
Kalinda: “Sometimes.” 
Alicia: “Can you be more specific, because today he threw a fit in the office of Florrick and Agos over his Bishop-style tow-truck operation and now I have to get my desk repaired.” 
Kalinda: “I have a hard time staying away from him.” 
[insert Alicia’s I really have no idea what to say right now because he’s astonishingly dodgy and I’m still wrapping my mind around you having a husband expression] 
Kalinda: “I know it doesn’t make any sense.  I’m so much more mysterious when he’s not around.  Also, he’s cramping my style and drinking all of the milk in the house.”

3) Lieutenant Governor, Anyone? – Maddie Hayward, Mike Kresteva and Peter Florrick are all vying for Governor while Eli Gold is spending his time running to keep up.  If ever there was an Olympics for managing hot messes, this man would be the winner of multiple gold medals.  His office has being taken over by Lockhart Gardner associates and Clake Hayden has taken exception to Eli’s snide attitude about what’s rightfully his.  In Hayden’s defense, Eli does have a campaign bus in which to work while some people (read: Cary Agos) have been spending months working like gnomes under stairwells and behind bookshelves   If there’s one thing we know about Eli though, it’s that he doesn't like sharing… even if it is his mostly-vacant office. 
That’s what made Maddie’s offer for Peter to join her on the campaign trail that much more interesting.  While overhearing Maddie’s proposition, Eli lurked in a dark corner (where, by the way, he looked especially evil (see picture below) and almost as though he could be twirling a dirty mustache) and only surfaced when the coast was clear.  Eli isn't one to partner on a campaign and he’s keen enough to know Peter is no fool – at least when it comes to decisions surrounding a running mate.   Eli doesn't want to share Peter’s win with anyone else and with the straw poll results so strong (96% approval, let’s not forget), camp Florrick is going to be difficult to beat.  Who needs to share when you've got it all?

4) Cary Agos, at your Service – For whatever reason, Clarke Hayden has taken a liking to Cary.  It’s a bromance at its finest – the only thing missing is an after-work beer.  This love-in has not gone unnoticed and so the logical next step was for Diane to recruit Cary to investigate why Hayden couldn't find another word besides “crap” to describe the Lockhart Gardner month of September.  The answer?  Steve Jobs’ biography.  Oh sure.  Apparently crap is the new pink. 

With an ‘I owe you’ pending with Diane after his bout of sleuthing, Cary was handed two criminal cases on which to work.  For whatever reason Will has been shy in passing along work (which could be a result of Cary’s past involvement with the grand jury, or it could be because he only recently found out Cary had a desk), but as Diane has always been pro-Agos, she’s willing to play the game:  You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. 

At this rate, it’s just a matter of time before Cary gets bumped from Alicia’s office and put in Eli’s leather chair.  Granted, watching Alicia and Cary share an office and play the ‘twos a party, threes a crowd’ game is a lot of fun.  Also, I’m not ready to say goodbye to these two tag-team cases like they are with Nick and his tow-truck company.  Without saying too much, Alicia and Cary are able to read each other’s minds.  It’s fascinating and delicious.  Did I mention I want more?  Two scoops of Cary Agos, please.

5) Starting up Again – The case of the week involved Captain Laura Hellinger (Amanda Peet) who was sexually assaulted while in Afghanistan.  In a case where everyone knew the accused should have been convicted, he walked free.  Even his own lawyer, Bucky (not to be confused by the Chum-Hum mascot, Chummy), wouldn't shake his hand at the end of it all.  While the case was full of intricate details and more than a few outstanding sound bites (take Judge Abernathy’s, “global warming – one; skeptics – zero” quote as merely one example, only because I can’t do justice his commentary surrounding ‘LOL’ and ‘LMAO’), the most meaningful part of the case came not in its loss, but rather, for what was gained.  Alicia and Laura had an instant bond – a mutual respect – that could possibly turn into a friendship down the road.  Alicia was strong and yet comforting, two traits I find to be most admirable in her character.  Perhaps most significant were two lines to cap the episode:
Laura: “What do you do when it’s all over?” 
Alicia: “Start up again.”
If anyone knows anything about having to rebuild, it’s Alicia.  No two truer lines have ever been uttered on The Good Wife. 

Honorable Mentions

A) Jackie has a new man in her life.  His name is Christian, he’s Cuban and he’s going to teach her how to Mambo.   Sure, Peter is paying him $40/hour to keep an eye on her, but that’s hardly the point.  Christian could have the potential to turn into The Good Wife’s next greatest character.  The best part?  He makes Peter very uncomfortable.  I’m in complete and total love.

B) Kalinda, Eli and the Feds.  It’s anyone’s guess who Lana is really after, but based on her secret photo stash of Kalinda, my bet is that Eli might just end up being a casualty of war.  If Lana brings Kalinda down because of Lemond Bishop, that’s not going to look good on Eli, who, for the most part, enjoys the benefits of being an equity partner of Lockhart Gardner.   Working with David Lee is just a nasty irritant. Next stop: A blow-up in Peter’s campaign.  For someone who doesn't like making friends, Eli is certainly good at weaving complex relationship webs and all of his ties leading back to the firm might not end up working in his favor. 

Eli's "Kalinda, what the hell?" face
Next Up:

“Anatomy of a Joke” – The Good Wife welcomes Christina Ricci to its ever-growing slate of guest stars, in an episode that looks like it’s about to take dramatic hilarity to the next level.  With Eli fending off questions about Peter’s lower half and Alicia defending a vulgar comic, all bets are off with where the chips are going to land.   

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  1. Sunday's episode was pretty good but I still feel like there is something missing from this show. There seems to be much more Alicia and a lot less of the look into the other characters. The Cary/Kalinda relationship, David Lee and the other partners, Diane and her men, what happened to developing the other characters? I know Alicia is the main character but the show used to do a much better job balancing the stories. I am very disappointed. Not to mention - why has there been so little Will? Really he hasn't be featured at all and all of this is making me less excited to watch the show.

    1. I completely agree. There are 3 main plot-lines that season: Peter's campaign, the firm's bankrupt, Nick/Kalinda. But with all those new (and old) recurring characters involved in all those plots too much went lost in...translation. Cary didn't have nothing to for 4 episodes and just now he's having barelly a c-plot. Diane doesn't have a private life. Kalinda storyline was unwatchable. They've negletcted some really meaningful relationships in that show for too long: Alicia and Kalinda, Cary and Kalinda, Will and Alicia.
      And too many guest stars, really. It's like that show is not about Alicia and the other charaters we loved but it's about guest stars.
      It's still good but there's really something missing from the show.

  2. Has there been an article or something that I have missed that explains the reduced role of Will (Josh Charles)?

    1. It seems to me the characters on The Good Wife ebb and flow when it comes to level of activity. There was a lot of Will in the last half of season three and now with the campaign focus, he's taking a back seat - at least for now. With Josh Charles trying his hand at directing, it also makes sense he's not the main feature. I can't wait, however, until we get more Will again!

  3. Although I am a huge Will Gardner fan, I did miss Will but Josh did an amzing job. Made me wonder why he has not directed yet! My favourite scence was as he zoomed out of the courtroom where Alicia and Laura and we saw In God We Trust. Beautiful shot. Glad to see that Kalinda's husband is going. Very few times I have been disapointed with a story line and I think that they just got in wrong. I still have a few issues with this season so far. The best thing about the Good Wife is that the supporting cast are so funny and usually there is a nice balance of the stories. But this season there is hardly any Will or Diane or even David Lee!! Also they have no idea what to do with Cary and Yes I love Eli and Jackie but was never a fan of Peter. The fact that the start of the show was her moving away from Peter and building this new work life and the supporting cast, that I am not feeling the campaign story. It is something new but I don't think Peter was deveopled enough to suddenly be so involved.

    Hopefully the show will find its footing.

    Sarah, Ireland

  4. Next episode should have been big Cary episode...and look at that promo: it didn't have any Cary. So I've just have to conclude that Cary will get the usual sucking screentime. That he won't be even Alicia's 2nd chair and that things won't change, especially how that show have always poorly promoted Matt Czuchry. They don't care enough about the character or the actor to treat him like every main cast member and give him the right amount of screentime, storylines and exposure.

  5. Too many GUEST stars, I totally agree! :)
    ENOUGH ALREADY, FOCUS on your MAIN cast and it's a talented ensemble.

    This show feels nothing like the show I feel in love with in Season 1 & 2, the interaction between the main characters is sorely missing.

    TOO much attention to Peter and that damn campaign, and WHEN IS NICK LEAVING??? He is absolutely the WORST character written on TGW, the fact that Kalinda could be attracted to HIM and even control by such a slimy, sleazy, temper tantrum throwing juvenile of a man reducing her once badazz mysterious character to a almost idiotic one. AND that is really pathetic that took her role in that direction.

    Where is Alicia getting all this swagger all of the sudden, she comes off kinda of cocky.

    Definitely need MORE Will on the show, although he did a WONDERFUL job directing his first TGW episode...congrats, Mr. Charles! :)

    Was Jackie trying to flirt with the young Cuban caretaker...WTH, that's a hot mess! :)

    Thanks for the recap.

    Pam in Dallas

    1. I completely agree with everything you said.
      I'm not liking this new Alicia at all. Her attitude is way too superior. I know that she is more confident and experienced with the law about her overall attitude is horrible.

      This is not the show I fell in love with in seasons 1 and 2.

  6. Love Judge Kuhn and Will's reaction to finding her in the crowded LG waiting area! (they have to get out of bankruptcy soon...geez) It made me squirm that she had to have a conversation with sleazy Nick!

    Her protection of the Captain at the end was...PRICELESS. Too bad that we would have a law on the books to allow an attempted rapist to get away!

    I liked Amanda Peet, not familiar with any of her work. I can see her and Alicia being friends more so than Maddie. Maddie going against Peter, everybody saw that coming...I'm rooting for Maddie! I dislike Peter JUST that much! :)

    Part II
    Pam in Dallas

    1. I agree with you that everybody saw Maddie running against Peter. Espercially after 'Waiting for the knock'. I'm rooting for Peter if that means he will move to Springfield if he wins (I dislike him THAT much). If he is willing to stay in Chicago, let Maddie be governor.

    2. I love the idea that if Peter wins he has to move. I dislike him that much, too! Otherwise, full steam ahead for campaign Maddie.


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