Entertainment Magazine

Review #3047: The Good Wife 3.2: “The Death Zone”

Posted on the 05 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Story by Leonard Dick
Teleplay by Robert and Michelle King
Directed by Jim McKay

I cringe whenever “The Good Wife” does a case like this, almost ripping headlines from the real world. I get that the writers and creators of the series want to stay current and fresh and want to keep up with current events. Shoe-horning it into the Case of The Week narrative is beneath a show of this caliber. They are capable of so much better, and it shows in the storylines outside of what’s happening with whatever defendant Alicia has to protect this week. Even then, the political story with Eli, one of my favorite characters on the series, doesn’t fully work so I’m left to invest in the workplace drama that is brewing from the possible “blowback” (as Diane eloquently puts it) of Will and Alicia’s affair. All of it feels like blatant setup for events coming down the line, which I felt ultimately weakened the episode.

Review #3047: The Good Wife 3.2: “The Death Zone”

The case Alicia deals with is that of a libel dispute between two mountain climbers. A book portrays one of the climbers as a perpetual thief who steals equipment from dead climbers. It immediately reminded me of a book I read in high school called “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, and the events in that book were disputed and disliked within the climbing community. The case’s minutiae is folded into the recent Rupert Murdoch tabloid scandal from this past summer. I could sense that the creators were grasping for their usual “current-events-slash-ripped-from-the-headlines” story style once the British lawyers invoked that particular reference. They even manage to get a mention of Twitter into the storyline’s details. How modern of them. Like the season premiere, this is when I started to tune out whatever was going on with the case. Again, “The Good Wife” doesn’t do very well when it strays into this arena (witness last season’s aping of “The Social Network”‘s storyline, one of the worst episodes of the series) and it’s mere routine that Alicia’s side ends up winning. They really need to give Alicia and Lockhart-Gardner more challenges because the constant winning is getting a little tired.

The political machinations from Eli and involving Kalinda were very light in this episode. Eli is hired by a friend of his to investigate and manage a political scandal before it happens. The guy is vague with details so Eli sends Kalinda to investigate what exactly the friend is fretting about. The whole thing felt like a setup from the start so it didn’t surprise me much when Eli’s friend revealed the fake-out for Kalinda. Now, how Kalinda and Eli figured out the actual ruse involved vetting for a Republican candidate came out of nowhere. It was as if they were both tuned to the guy once they had eliminated the first incorrect possibility. It wasn’t exactly plausible, either.

The fact that they don’t reveal the Republican’s face on the photo (it’s shot from behind intentionally) means that the writers are saving it up for a later episode in the season. They have to give Eli something to do now that he got Peter elected to the SAO and into his new crisis management position so it’s probably going to be this. I share in the characters’ mutual surprise that neither of them had met each other before now, and spent most of the time during the subplot trying to remember scenes from the series’ past where it might have happened in order to refute it. Nevertheless, they might be a fun combination to come back to at a later date.

The real juice of the episode comes from the love triangle between Peter, Will, and Alicia. It’s not a triangle in the traditional television sense, but more a power struggle between the three characters. Peter wants a law firm to handle the smaller cases that the SAO usually won’t take and Lockhart-Gardner is one of the candidates. Only, Peter orders an internal audit of every piece of paper Lockhart-Gardner has. It’s a smart move for Peter because he gets to keep an eye on what Alicia and Will are doing while backed behind a legal shield of sorts. It is, in effect, very good subterfuge by Peter.

How Alicia and Will respond will likely come in the future. If the illicit affair is exposed publicly, it will ruin Lockhart-Gardner and mire them in scandal, which might be what Peter wants after Alicia has humiliated him so far. This rightfully worries Diane, who subtly interrogates both Alicia and Will at various points in the episode. She knows something is up when Alicia is at home with her kids sans Peter. I enjoyed the thoughtful looks each of them gave Diane as she was asking them pointed questions and they proceeded to lie straight to her face. It’s never a good idea to mix your personal and professional life, and here, they are starting to blend together.

I knew this was coming when the affair came out in last season’s finale. No matter how careful either of them are, the affair will eventually come out. That would leave Alicia in a precarious perch, as the final scene of this episode would indicate. Will has always been about the bottom line and always out for self-preservation so he might just throw Alicia under the proverbial bus when push comes to shove. Fireworks are assured for later in the season. They just need to come up with better material around what’s happening with Will and the Florricks.

Grade: 6/10

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