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Review #3031: The Good Wife 3.1: “The New Day”

Posted on the 28 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Story by Meredith Averill
Teleplay by Robert and Michelle King
Directed by Brooke Kennedy

I saw this episode of “The Good Wife” as a sign of things to come for this season. This is going to be the season that further explores the fallout of Alicia’s divorce from Peter. The main battle seems to be waged on the work front, as Lockhart-Gardner will face off with the State’s Attorney’s Office on a regular basis. Not only that, but Peter has designs on the Illinois governor’s office, bringing the show deeper into the political landscape. There is also understated drama in the personal lives of the characters involved. I think the show handled the big shift from one state to the next of the threads presented last season very well. They are carrying the stories set up last year and incorporating any changes they see fit into the narrative.

Review #3031: The Good Wife 3.1: “The New Day”

Watching this series for a long time now, I’ve learned to completely ignore the details of the Case of The Week. More often than not, confusion will reign with regards to the various suspects in the crime being tackled in a particular episode. This was true of the premiere’s case, where Israel-Palestinian relations and religious issues were involved. A tactic by Cary and the State’s Attorney’s Office puts Alicia’s Muslim client to plead out of a hate crime, but then cop to the murder of a Jewish student. It’s posturing to make Alicia look like a first-year associate lawyer. The confusion comes when both sides are trying to find out who the real killer is, whether it’s the Muslim client or one of his roommates. What drew my interest is the battle of wits being engaged between the SAO and Lockhart-Gardner. Peter is having his underlings go right at Alicia, almost as a counter to the punishment she gave him last season when she banished him from their home. This was always going to happen and it’s all the more interesting because the Florricks aren’t together. Peter is familiar with many of Alicia’s tactics in court and this constant tug-o-war seems like something that will continue as the season goes along. In the end, it’s less about the resolution of the case, and more showing how the characters operate in this new situation. That’s the kind of stuff I want to see on this show. The various machinations the characters are willing to engage in to hurt or help others. Alicia will have to be on the lookout in the future for anything Peter does to undermine the cases she takes on.

The Florrick divorce has the added effect of damaging Peter’s burgeoning political ambitions. His overly ambitious nature caused him to be blind to his womanizing ways and it feels like that’s going to cost him in the long run. Certainly I think Eli feels that way. I do like that Peter plays it off as nothing, that he’ll recover in some yet unseen way. After all, he miraculously got back into the SAO after being jailed for an illicit affair. How big an obstacle is a little divorce? Peter gives off an air of cold, calculating, cutthroat sort of mentality that belies his public message of “running a clean office.” It’s only running a clean office if it can get him to the state capital. He’s already shown that he’s willing to play down and dirty with legal and political tactics.

There is such focus on the political and legal ramifications of the Florricks’ affairs that the episode shortchanges the personal elements. Will and Alicia spend very little time together in the episode, but their affair is being casually observed by others around the office. This is already a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in both of their faces. A senior partner and an associate in a romantic relationship compromises what the firm is trying to do as they take on the SAO. What will happen if they are assigned to the same case? It does have a positive emotional effect on Alicia, so much so that her daughter notices. I preferred seeing Grace spend time with her mother rather than the odd subplot with the new tutor. Once again, the writers have demonstrated a lack of ability in handling the teenage characters in contrast to the adult characters. The scene on the el train felt like something out of a completely different show. Sadly, the writers will probably expand on this as the season progresses.

I’m glad this series is back. It’s adult, smart television now moved in a timeslot that caters to that kind of audience. The writers have an idea as the grand purpose of the series and is running with it. This is the proper setup for many of the themes and threads that will be explored in future episodes of the season. Small flaws still exist, but I think the writers have very much recognized what works and what doesn’t so they minimize the mistakes. “The Good Wife” is still one of the best dramas on television (the questionable series title aside).

Grade: 8/10


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