26 November, 2012

The Good Wife: "A Defense of Marriage" and Giraffes

Episode Title: "A Defense of Marriage”
Season 4, Episode 9 | Original Air Date: Sunday, November 25, 2012

A life-sized giraffe, five bottles of wine, two mothers, one brother, one Cuban (caregiver, not cigar) and a giant turkey (and I don’t mean Peter… but yes, I sort of do).  It’s just another Florrick family Thanksgiving!

I’ve been waiting for a family gathering like this since season one, so to say I was excited is an understatement.  What I’m most grateful for?  This episode lived up to my very high expectations and in some regards, exceeded them.  Whenever The Good Wife throws family into the mix (flashback to Will’s amazing sisters and the always entertaining Owen), everything gets better and at least 85% more embarrassing.  It’s the perfect equation and a most delicious mid-season treat.

This week, I’m taking a festive spin on things: Thanksgiving at the Florricks = A multi-course meal.  Let’s dig in!

A Chocolate Appetizer
David Lee + Veronica Lloyd (aka, Alicia’s Mom, aka Stockard Channing) = Pure intrigue covered in a candy-coated shell.  Why is Veronica talking to David?  Well, she’s being accused of having an affair with Henry, an oil man from Alaska, by the son of Malcolm (who had the soul of a vagabond), who is now dead.  Clear. As. Mud.  Off the top, it’s easy to see where Alicia gets her messy life genes from. 

Flash forward.

As Veronica tried to quasi-seduce the sly and oddly captivated (and dare I say interested?) David Lee, we learned a few important things: 1) She likes M&Ms (of which David always seems to have an ample supply) 2) She likes Jewish men (further elaboration not required) and 3) She has yet to find someone to satisfy her (Veronica: “They either bore me or die.” David: “I could see us becoming best friends.  Here, have more chocolate.”  Okay, that last part didn’t really happen, but David sat there and laughed in a way that both scared and intrigued me, so I’m convinced this is what he was thinking). 

What’s interesting is Alicia’s Mom is a complete mystery to us, except we know she’s had many husbands and Alicia will do almost anything to not be like her.  As far as I can tell, the only thing these two have in common (aside from both liking Owen) is affection for red wine.  Veronica is whimsical in ways Alicia isn’t; She is spontaneous and little irresponsible and we’ve been painted a picture where we can imagine her sneaking out under the cover of darkness for her next big adventure.  While I’m moderately hoping she slips away with David Lee as her rebound fling (stop for a second and picture it – funny, right?), it’s the unease she’s brought to Alicia’s life that drives a deeper understanding of the foundation on which this show is built.

Everything Veronica is, Alicia is not.  That’s our basic understanding.  However, when talk of Will surfaced, something interesting happened.  Alicia got emotional.  Of course, as an avid Team Gardner fan, I did, too.  Alicia’s relationship with Will was the closest she’s ever been to acting like her Mom though, and that, without question, is a scary place to be.   “The older you get, the more you realize there’s only one thing: Happiness” said Veronica.  And it’s true.  Alicia knows it.  Unfortunately, her dedication to Peter continues despite the fact Will has her heart. 

My greatest frustration with Alicia is that whenever there’s a burst of emotion in her life – no matter what that seems to be – she winds up having sex with Peter in a bathroom.  Okay, it’s not always a bathroom, but there is precedent for that statement.  Tonight, I wish she had simply taken her Mom’s gift of Vagina: A New Biography (which is apparently, “very powerful”) and stayed cooped up in her room, using Will’s ‘most eligible bachelor’ magazine spread as a bookmark.   

A Handful of Nuts
A large group of random characters thrown together in the offices of Lockhart Gardner? Talk about being thankful - I love these scenes!  The Good Wife writers know a thing or two about creating awkward gatherings and they continue to do so with extraordinary success.  As if the chat between Will and Owen wasn’t blowing my mind enough, they had to throw in Veronica.  I *may* have screamed a little and exclaimed something about Will meeting the parents.  When David Lee entered the picture and the conversation took a turn towards Alicia as an eight-year-old swimmer, my evening was made.  And then it got better.  Alicia surfaced.   Seriously.  I was jumping on my couch.  The only thing that topped this scene was Veronica talking to Will about her new must-read book, Vagina, and having her get a few details on his love life (which resulted in two jazz hands and a shriek from me – he’s not seeing anyone… and Alicia overhear it!). 

These flash gatherings are turning into some of the best scenes on The Good Wife.  You never know when they’re going to happen, but you can always guarantee they’re going to be great.

The Horn of Plenty
Speaking of people being thrown together in awkward and embarrassing situations…. Thanksgiving at the Florricks was more like a jungle-inspired war zone (with the bathroom being an unfortunate bomb shelter).   Jackie brought Cristian, her Cuban caregiver (and dare I suspect, ummm, something more?),  Cristian brought a drink to poor over ice, Veronica brought a giant giraffe for Grace and a skateboard for Zach, Owen brought wine: three bottles of white and two bottles of red (which should have held this group until appetizers were served) and Peter brought liquor and his A-game.  Grace didn't bring her new boyfriend, but I’m sure that was just an oversight. 

Watching Jackie and Veronica throw banter back and forth was as entertaining as any tennis match I’ve ever seen.  Three points for Jackie who blamed her stroke on the fact she had to help with the kids without Veronica’s help, and three points for Veronica who said Jackie should know a thing or two about paying for companionship by the hour.  Pa chow!  The piece de resistance?  Peter’s conversation with Cristian:

Cristian : “She’s a funny lady… we laugh… She has extended my hours”
Peter: “Really?  Is that necessary?”
Cristian: “No.”

Soooo… that just happened.   

On the one hand I’m glad Jackie has found someone to help balance things (I’m pretty sure Cristian wouldn’t have approved of Jackie riffling through Alicia’s lingerie last season), but on the other hand I wonder if he’s working his way into her life for ulterior motives.  I could just be questioning his actions because I clearly missed the boat on the whole ‘Maddie’s a lesbian and out to take Peter out at the knees’ thing, so on this story line, I’m trying to be proactive.

A Side of Frozen Peas, Please
Stop the presses: Cary Agos is alive.  ALIVE! Whew!  I thought about this all week, and while I’ll admit to being a little disappointed when we didn’t get any follow-up on how Cary got home that night, the absence of commentary on the matter has led me to believe he crawled to his car and put some frozen peas on his rib cage when he got home.  Using the guise of a ‘basketball injury’ to explain his bruised face (something I’m pretty sure Will was skeptical of, because, let’s face it: he knows what a parking lot brawl injury looks like), everyone bought into the lie. 

Everyone but Nick.  Awful, deceitful, sleazy, Nick. 

Cary, boldly, headed to see Nick on the job and pulled out all the stops when explaining his connection to the State’s Attorney’s Office.  As it turns out, Cary has spent a lot of his time (now that he has a desk, an office and some pens) investigating Nick and the world of tow truck businesses.  He has found out about broken-handed Bill and his drug (heroin to be exact) smuggling ways and, is if it were possible, Nick hates Cary more than before.  Where does this leave us?  Well, there’s still no sign of Nick departing and Kalinda doesn’t appear to suspect anything suspicious about Cary’s injuries.  Urgh.  Getting rid of Nick seems like trying to rid your house of a pesky rabies-infested racoon that has nested in your attic.  I’m beginning to think it might end up being Cary who drives Nick out of town – one tip of the drug smuggling accusations into the ear of Peter Florrick could prove to be a very interesting turn of events.  And I won’t object.  No one arranges to have Cary beaten up and gets away with it. No one.

All that Cherry Pie Crust
There was a case of the week – of that I can be certain – but with all of the family drama it was hard to keep track.  Owen was in the courtroom one minute, talking to Will another and before long he was greeting Alicia at her door with a monstrous stuffed giraffe lurking like his partner in crime.  Bebe Neuworth was back as Judge Claudia Friend (a surprisingly normal character in contrast to others on the bench) and Brian Delaney reprised his role of “Bucky” for a second episode.  In my opinion, despite the relevant commentary on the defense of marriage, the question of attorney ethics was the most relevant outcome of this case.  Can you sacrifice a client for a cause?   We’ve seen this theme a number of times, most frequently when it comes to healthcare cases, however, this week, it became about one lawyer on a mission to fight for the memory of his brother who died of AIDS, at the expense of his client. 

Up Next: “Battle of the Proxies”

Laura is back and Will’s up against her in the courtroom defending someone who appears to be 50 shades of guilty.  Somehow this leads to drinks.  I’m a little weary of where all of this is going (and while friends have pointed out these two could end up closer than I would like), I hope this relationship stays platonic.  Alicia’s life is messy.  With Kalinda having slept with Peter and Maddie now running for Governor, Alicia only has one friend who has more than two degrees of separation from other people in her life, and that’s Laura.  On this one, I’d like to see her catch a break.

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  1. Cary's beaten up follow-up sucked. Now the only Cary's purpose is how he's going to get rid of Nick. Does someone care about the fact that he was beaten up and that writers didn't bother to do anything consistent to show what happened to him and why he decided to lie about his bruises?
    And how the hell was it possible that he just got a black eye after the beaten up?
    Are we supposed to act like idiots and consider that plot smart even if it was baddly executed?
    They're wasting again Cary's character and Matt Czuchry talent for a storyline that is not giving him material, screentime or a storyline which is barelly meaningful for the character and his relationship with Alicia and Kalinda (who didn't even give a damn about the fact he had bruises).
    As for the rest of the episode, I was too angry to care about it.

    1. I agree, Pam, the follow-up definitely left something to be desired. I liked the "I know you know I know" scene with Nick, so I still have hope the beating won't go entirely unmentioned. On the upside, Cary *is* getting more air time, even if it doesn't necessarily make sense all the time.

      Let's keep our fingers crossed for a solid mid-season when it comes to all things Cary!

    2. I think that if they didn't consider the character's worth a better storyline and screentime after a beaten up I think they'll never do.
      I don't know if Cary got more airtime. I just know that they're not doing something better with him. Indeed he didn't get a single criminal case or more than a D plot, besides that Dady thing (witch last one episode) and the beaten-up plot which could have been good if they would have devoted to it more than 2 minute screentime and a script that wasn't so full of plot holes to makes you cry. And that after 9 episodes.
      We are already in mid-season since we'll get 22 episodes this year. So it means that they've already wasted half season doing nothing special with him. And I don't think they'll make up for it in the second part of the season. They should have make up for season 3 and instead they've sidelined the character again.
      And there are plenty of new pilots every year so I think it's maybe time for Matt Czuchry to look for something else because it's clear those writers will never give him a big and well done storyline.
      Sorry, but that thing really killed most of my hopes about the things they can do with character.

  2. Hi Pink

    I am back like a guest star :-)

    Its kind of funny. The moment Veronica was talking down to Peter, I thought of you. How you would be happy that mum is "team Gardner" ! Perhaps that would have some influence on Alicia. I know Alicia is not going to listen to her mum but maybe she will consider it. I was really surprised that she immediately went to do it with Peter with the door unlocked ! I guess Peter now must be wishing more of mum visits !

    I agree that Cary role better starting getting better ! The actor playing Owen is good and he is also on The Walking Dead - my other favorite show. I know Zombies not really the same as lawyers but both shows are really exciting!

    1. Whoop! So glad to see you back like a treasured guest star :)

      Despite the level of insanity Alicia's Mom possesses, her Team Gardner sensibilities won me over. Beyond being purely entertaining, all of the Will/Owen/Veronica/Alicia scenes were rooted in the show's rich history. Every comment was a reference pointing to a different time. Owen telling Veronica about Alicia's crush on Will; Veronica asking Will about his relationship status and Veronica asking Alicia if she's happy, saying that's the only thing that matters. It was brilliantly scripted and everything I had hoped it would be. Well, everything minus the whole bathroom situation (aka, "the scene I never want to talk about again").

      As always, Owen was brilliant. He's never on enough, in my opinion. I thoroughly enjoy each and every minute he gets on screen... double points when he and Alicia are drinking and talking about Will ;)

      Thanks for writing in, TGW Fan. Your comments make me as happy as scenes with Alicia's extended family!

  3. My first thought after seeing the episode was that a lot of the characters on this show seem to be Team Gardner: first Kalinda, then Owen and now Alicia's mother. I wish she would just listen to them.
    I love family moments on the show (Owen and Will's sisters) and also the awkward gatherings... when you combine them, you get me laughing, screaming and squeeing non-stop.
    I liked that at first Veronica thought Will was interested in Owen, then to discover which one of her children he's really into.
    I also loved the passive(not so much)-agressive comments between Jackie and Veronica (especially the one about how paying seems to run in the family). Speaking of which, I hope Cristian doesn't have ulterior motives, I like him uneasying Peter.
    As for Cary, I thought they should have delved more into it, although they did it more than I was expecting them to (based on the promo and how underused Cary has been this season).
    As a Team Gardner shipper, I loved the talk between Alicia and her mom in the end (not the outcome of that, of course) and how emotional Alicia became (and could not say she was happy)- Julianna was great! I just hope the end scene was about her mother as in Alicia rebelling against her, not listening to her 'being happy' talk.

    P.S.: I'm sorry for another such long comment. I tried keeping it short, but once again couldn't. You're reviews are too great not to comment on them.

    1. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments, Jule!

      First things first: Everyone *does* seem to be on the side of Team Gardner, don't they? At least, everyone close to Alicia. Kalinda, Owen, Veronica and dare I say Cary? I think everyone just wants Alicia to be happy and it seems to be a general consensus this can't happen while she's still with Peter.

      Now, let's talk about the family moments. Whenever the The Good Wife writes in extended family, it's simply brilliant. I, too, can't help but laugh, scream and squee when family collides with our full-time characters. Now, if only we could see someone wacky from Diane's past...

      As for Cristian, I'm just not sure. He couldn't possibly have a thing for Jackie, could he? The fact he told Peter he thinks Jackie is funny makes me wonder. Could he be Peter's new Dad?! Bwhaha! I think we all noticed Peter seems concerned...

      Re: Cary. All of this needs to lead to a bigger role for Cary. I think the writers know the audience is craving more Matt Czuchry time, but they are uncertain how to weave him into the show in a meaningful way. What would his own story line look like? How can they develop his character without falling back into old habits? I think a change is coming, I just don't know what it's going to look like. Where do you think they should go with Cary? What kind of story line would you like to see him have going forward?

      Oh for the love of shipping Team Gardner. The talk between Alicia and her Mom was a profound statement about Alicia's status for the past four years - I think that's why she got so emotional. Will has her heart, but, Veronica is right - Alicia can't ever be with him as long as she's holding onto the fact she doesn't want to be like her Mother. Unfortunately, her Mother is happy, so if Alicia is anti-Mom, in some ways, she's cutting herself off from a certain happiness.

      When it comes to the end of the show, all I have to say is "bathrooms aren't as good as elevators." Enough said. :)

    2. OMG...I such LOVE THIS REPLY and all the wonderful comments your recaps provoke! :)

      I'm really at a loss for words when it comes to Alicia this season. I talked her cockiness before but this year in particular she has...something of a coldness about her. So when I read your comments you remind me to reconsider my thoughts regarding her and to root for her again, like I used to in season 1&2.

      Owen stated it once before and point blank asked her "If she is holding on to this marriage (Peter) because of her Mom...divorce being her thing it seems...and she denied it. Now when her Mom confronts her and tells her that "HER HAPPINESS" is important she can't deal with it. She had that with Will last year in the beginning of season3 and then she somehow convinced herself she DIDN'T deserve it or she couldn't be happy and be a GOOD Mom or sumtin...hell I still don't know why she did it. It's kinda sad when you think about it. BUT that crazy azz action she took with Peter in the bathroom...DEFY MY MOM SEX....WTH was that!!!!(It has taken me 3 days to even talk bout it....I really am the biggest Will/Alicia fan I know!!! :) Take my word for it...ELEVATOR are better!!!! (hahaha)

      Veronica and Will discussing the Vagina book...PRICELESS! Will trying to keep a straight face too cute.

      I'm with you Veronica, Owen, Kalinda TEAM GARDNER all the way!

      It seemed that EVERYONE in the episode wanted to define marriage on their own terms in their DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE! I find that very interesting because they all wanted to "judge" everybody else harshly. The gay couple with their open marriage...date night Friday! :) The upstanding businessman who admitted to at least 5 affairs during his marriage. Alicia and whatever you call the mess she is in with Peter passing judgement on her Mother because she cheated and divorces alot...while she cheated with Will, if you want to be technical bout it. BOTH Owen and their Mom can't stand "her silent disdain" in judging others.

      Poor Cary having to deal with the one character on the show I refuse to acknowledge anymore....whats-her-face husband...Is that how the kids say it now. Bring him to L/G has been worst than being at the SA office.

      OK, Pink I guess that's a wrap for me today...I can go on and on. So happy I found this forum. You are a great TGW re-capper!

      Pam in Dallas

    3. Pink, four seasons and are they still uncertain? Did they bring him at L&G without a plan?
      If they really know that people are craving more Czuchry, they would have given him and his character solid scripts and storylines as soon as he came back at L&G. AND cases! Instead he has been more sidelened at L&G than when he was at SA. I'm not even sure if he's still able to practicing law in court.
      Even a beaten-up wasn't enough for those writers to give Cary more than a 2 minute scene follow-up (which meant nothing, really, if not they're using him to get rid of Nick as quickly as they can) and black eye/basket injury....what a joke.
      And they could have done something BIG with him after the beaten-up, but apparently they planned that vicious Cary's beaten up and not a decent and meaty follow-up for it. Because it was time to make all about guest stars once again, not time for beaten-up Cary. That really says how much they care about the character. And next week doesn't seem like we'll get anything better, so I suppose that's it. No suprise fans are pissed off.

    4. I read this on another blogsite:

      "It seems TGW has A LOT of celebs that watch and enjoy the show and somehow the KINGS have gone overboard plugging away the GUEST STARS embedding TOO MUCH into the storylines. THEY have forgotten their talented MAIN cast ensemble, that's really a shame!

      Pam in Dallas

    5. That's hurting the show a lot. I don't think fans watch the show for guest stars. They keep watching because main characters' storylines and this year they haven't done a really good job with them.
      After a main character was beaten up they thought it was a good idea to focus on guest stars in the next episode and just forget about him...wtf? And it doesen't even sound like next episode they'll address that thing better.

    6. Hey Pink,
      i don't know what the deal with Cristian is, but I sure love your thought of him being Peter's new daddy... how awkward and uncomfortable would that be?! The thing is I like the character as it is, without dark hidden schemes, just like I liked Maddie being just Alicia's friend.
      As for Cary, I don't know what they could do with him, but I would be satisfied if they would just give him a criminal case, so that he had to be in court with his ex-collegues. That would be interesting to see.

      Bathrooms aren't even close to being as good as elevators!! =)

    7. So much great discussion this week - I love it!

      When it comes to guest stars, I don't feel as though they are taking away from the show in any way. Clarke Hayden (Nathan Lane), for example - I think he's come in as a fabulous addition The Good Wife and is proving himself to be key player with all of core cast. Laura Hellinger (Amanda Peet) is providing us with a new friendship for Alicia and with what could be a fascinating connection back to the SA's office. Maddie Hayward (Maura Tierney) has come in as a keen political nemesis for Peter. At no point have I felt as though these characters are pulling the show in a different direction. In fact, I quite enjoy seeing how the writers incorporate dynamic new characters into the story lines.

      Of course, I understand the frustration about the lack of focus when it comes to Cary, but I do feel as though he's getting more air time. I hope he ends up playing a larger role with the firm in the middle of the season, whether that has to do with Nick or not. And while I hope him getting beaten up gets acknowledged at some point, I have to confess that I'm fascinated with the way in which they had Cary manage the situation. He didn't want a big deal made of his injury. He wanted to keep things a secret. Maybe they'll come out and maybe they won't, but the choices that have been written for him speak greatly to his character. He's thoughtful and deliberate. For those reasons I respect the choices the writers have made.

      Jule - I think I just squeed a bit. "Bathrooms aren't even close to being as good as elevators." I think I might have to craft a fridge magnet with this phrase. Or design something for Pinterest :)

    8. I love the idea. If you do something with it, please send me, I'd love to see it =)

  4. Yeah. That really sucks, Cary has definitely been the odd man out this season for sure. No real followup on him getting beat up the episode before. I guess they are laying the ground work for him to get involved in the Kalinda/Nick storyline. Maybe Cary and his SA connection will bust Nick with drugs in his tow-truck...get his azz locked up and maybe killed in prison.

    Pam n Dallas

    1. Cary just needs to whisper in Peter's ear the words "heroin," "Nick" and "governor." If Peter can take drug dealers off the streets of Chicago in this, his campaign season, the ballots with 'Florrick' checked off are going to start flying in. I think Nick is going to be gone in a matter of a few short weeks - Cary has pulled out his veiled threats and isn't going to sit on things much longer.


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