Entertainment Magazine

Review #2498: The Good Wife 2.21: “In Sickness”

Posted on the 05 May 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Story by Steve Lichtman
Teleplay by Robert and Michelle King
Directed by Felix Alcala

The fallout had to occur some time. The swiftness by which Alicia dealt with another of Peter’s indiscretions was, I admit, a little shocking. Here the guy is, he’s won a hard-earned victory to get the State’s Attorney position back, and his wife summarily kicks him out of the nice apartment they and their kids shared within hours post-victory. Everything in the episode had this sense of “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” to it, even in the Case of The Week Lockhart-Gardner is dealing with here. Alicia’s actions had a sort of mirror effect on what occurred to begin the season and to wit, what had begun the series even. There, she stood by her man. That was her choice, and this has become her choice, painful as it may be since she and Kalinda had become so close over the course of the series. It is betrayal of the worst kind, and I suspect it isn’t over yet. They haven’t even covered the complications between Kalinda and Alicia yet, though that is coming soon.

Review #2498: The Good Wife 2.21: “In Sickness”

I would just as soon dispense with what happened in the Case of The Week because that was not the part of the episode I had the most investment in. There is the crucial ticking clock element that the show does very well at times (see “Nine Hours” or “VIP Treatment”), but then the writers had to go and overcomplicate things. Patti Nyholm worked the case, then she didn’t, sued her firm for damages, then went back to their side when she got her job back. It was the kind of thing that felt more like a one-off sequence just to fill space in the episode. What I did enjoy was Alicia’s role in the case. Workaholic that she is, she deals with Peter’s infidelity by pouring herself into the case with renewed vigor, a kind of fire that the people at Lockhart-Gardner have never seen. Indeed, we as an audience have never seen this kind of lashing out from the normally buttoned-up, emotionally controlled Alicia before. It’s a neat and surprising piece of character development because it allows the audience to get into the lead character’s head space. She has spent so long staying in the background that she wanted to step up. She had that air of “don’t mess with me today, hell hath no fury” that was, frankly, quite welcome. I particularly liked the little detail that she dabbed on a little more makeup than usual (while cranking rock music loudly from one of her kids’ iPods), yet it didn’t really change her look too much. Her demeanor certainly took a turn into “dragon lady” territory in contrast to her outward appearance.

I have to give a great amount of praise to Julianna Marguiles’ performance in this episode. It could have easily escalated into histrionic territory, but it didn’t because of her. It’s just not how the character would ever act. Alicia hurts Peter where it counts, moving all of his stuff into a small apartment, and effectively isolating him from his family. It was as if he had gone to prison again. Her reveal to him was just a brilliant scene. She’s devastated, he’s devastated, though he tries desperately to rationalize what he has done. It was a preview of things to come later in the episode, where they have an out-and-out fight and we see that he’s become totally petty and defensive.

Alicia owns him, he knows it, and there can be no recourse to this. That Peter refuses to own up to his actions speaks volumes about how shady he is and where their relationship stands. He even attacks her with the baseless argument that she’s sleeping with Will! At that moment, I flashed back to the middle of the season where Peter heard one of the voicemails Will left for Alicia on her phone. Peter might be saving that to use later, should Alicia actually begin a romantic relationship with Will. It might have been possible for her to forgive him (maybe Kalinda was, as very much suggested so far, a one-night stand), but it’s compounded by the fact that Peter has done this before. All of his explanations here just furthers the grave he’s digging for himself. Alicia cannot bring herself to forgive him for another transgression. I believe she is completely in the right here, even if it causes her so much pain and heartache.

That was clearly evident when she tenatively broke the news of their separation to her kids. I thought it was unfair for her to spring this on them and I had a feeling that Grace may resent her for it, but it had to be done. Alicia skirts around the real reason why their marriage is broken, which is the correct path at this point. Her kids need to be shielded from this as long as possible. I have to wonder how long that might be, though.

I was glad the show touched on how the affair affected everyone involved. Alicia, Peter, the kids, Jackie, even Eli. I actually liked the polite, but firm way Alicia dealt with her mother-in-law, who was never going to side with her. It’s the kind of thing where ripples have a very far and deep reach. A lot of them don’t have all of the facts and I think that’s the brilliance of the series. I mentioned in a review of an earlier episode that the show revels in moments of silence and stillness. This episode brought that in spades.

Alicia is by her lonesome most times, thinking to herself, and assessing what options she has in any situation. She’s holding back the big ammunition to use on Peter and Kalinda. It was ugly with Peter and I sense it will be the same or even uglier with Kalinda. She works with Kalinda and sees her on a regular basis. This is going to affect their work. It has already begun with the cold and irregular greeting they had at the firm. Kalinda, who is an excellent judge of character, could sense something was a little off. Alicia can excuse it as work-related, but that isn’t going to fly for very long. They’re going to have it out, and soon. How it all shakes out in the end is the ultimate question.

Grade: 9/10

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