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[TV Show Review] The Good Wife (Season 5: 2013-2014)

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Plot Summary: Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state's attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm.

Created by: Robert King, Michelle King

Original Channel: CBS

Runtime: 43 mins per episode

Main Cast:

  • Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick
  • Matt Czuchry as Cary Agos
  • Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma
  • Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart
  • Josh Charles as Will Gardner
  • Alan Cumming as Eli Gold
  • Chris North as Peter Florick

Review: by The Superior Spider-Sam

As what I have continuously proclaimed “the best show on network TV”, The Good Wife's fifth season had a certain standard to live up to and boy, did it exceed my wildest dreams!

We left off season 4 with the wife of the new governor of Illinois, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguilles) deciding to leave the law firm she works for along with her right hand man, Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry), and a handful of other disgruntled associates. It would have been easy to have Alicia mulligan the decision (which I began to suspect she might) in order to stick with the same formula and keep us entertained with exciting cases and wonderful guest stars. However, the show was determined to give us more by shattering the mold. It was a season of backstabbing, betrayals, tests of loyalty, and heartbreak.

Note SPOILERS will follow..

What I Liked:

Alicia Florrick and Cary Agos

What a team these two made this season! Fed up with the marginalization and under-appreciation shown to him and his peers at Lockhart/Gardner, Cary Agos decided it was time to move on by starting his own firm, and he really wanted his former rival turned friend Alicia to come along. While she had her own reasons for doing so, she accepted and Florrick/Agos became a reality.

I am a big fan of these two on the same side. The time when they worked together against Lockhart/Gardner last season in “Red vs Blue” was a true showcase of how well these two actually mesh. I recently went back to season 1 and was reminded that Cary is actually a “better” lawyer than Alicia in that he gets the results much more efficiently. However, he does his best work outside of the courtroom across from the other lawyer in negotiations. In the courtroom, he needs the assertive Alicia to take center stage because she will fight like no other with an attitude that will make men cry. She’ll even talk back to a judge if she feels it’s necessary.  Cary was a scalpel, but Alicia was a hammer.

Seeing these two complement one another so well was a treat in itself, and the chemistry that developed between Marguilles and Czuchry propelled the on-screen partnership further.

The Guest Stars

One of the best things about The Good Wife has been its robust showing of guest stars. The trend continued into this season.

While sadly, there was no Matthew Perry, Michael J. Fox returned in grand fashion along with Nathan Lane, Carrie Preston, and America Ferrera, just to name a few. New this year was Jason O’Mara, who played a Lockhart/Garder partner. While his role could have been better served, the character was an utter delight.

In fact, the guest stars on this show have become so entertaining that the show can lay a massive amount of its success on it. I mean, come on, who doesn’t get excited when an episode opens showing the sleazy Louis Canning (played by Fox) plotting something new?

“Darkness at Noon” and other comedic beats

We’ve had Gorilla Boy, Moo Cow, and the ever-so-idiotic Howard Lyman. This season, The Good Wife added to the laughs by introducing a new favorite show of Alicia’s titled “Darkness at Noon”. This show was so over-dramatically dark in tone that it was hilarious. There were actually moments where I was hoping Alicia would be going home to watch so I could be treated to more of it. And, of course, Howard Lyman was…well, Howard Lyman.

Season 5 Episode 5 – “Hitting the Fan”

The episode when they plan to leave Lockhart/Gardner exposed was not only the best episode of the season, it was the best episode of the series. It seriously may have been the best single episode to air in the 2013-2014 TV season. I am so serious. From the minute Will Gardner found out that Alicia was leaving the firm- leaving him– it was war time. The hunting and culling of all the would-be deserters was particularly fun. Will and Co. were on a mission finding anyone associated with what they felt was a coup d’ etat. They fired so many people that it felt like an episode of the “The Apprentice” on steroids. Lockhart/Gardner also succeeded in twisting Cary’s relationship with the investigator Kalinda to their advantage, which resulted in Alicia, Cary, and their “co-conspirators” on the street without an office.

But that didn’t stop them! After a brief moment of crying, the hardcore Alicia came out and went to war herself. Along with Cary, she took all their followers and re-grouped in her home to plan their retaliation.

We had a court battle filled with awesome quips from both sides, a fight for clients, and a major fight for the big client Chumhum. In the end (with help from her husband), Alicia and Co. prevailed. However, it was made clear that this was simply round one of the battle of firms to come.

This episode set up Florrick/Agos to go to war with Lockhart/Gardner. It was fast-paced and full of emotion that was almost tangible. It kept the show’s always excellent dialogue, music, and acting standards, and had us pumped up for the remainder of the season. I would give “Hitting the Fan” a perfect 5 out of 5 if I had to rate it. It was the episode that changed The Good Wife’s formula for the better- which I never dreamed would happen.

Season 5 Episode 15 – “Dramatics, Your Honor”

I’ve never seen two major shakeups in a season, at least not to this scale. The Good Wife already changed everything with “Hitting the Fan”, but the show runners wanted to keep raising the bar. They did again with “Dramatics, Your Honor.”

The Good Wife gave us an episode worthy of a season finale mid-season when they did the unexpected on a show like this one had become- they killed a main character. I admit, even as I saw it happening, I couldn’t believe it. It literally took me seeing the dead body on a slab to convince me. I said “Oh, my Lord” out loud…and then I was speechless. If you are on social media, you may know what happened because (as the creators wanted) the moment was discussed HEAVILY. I even got texts from people so far off my radar, their numbers weren’t even in my phone. It was an awesome twist that I commend this show for. Just to show how pivotal it was, we got a SECOND look at what was to come during the season. This is a big deal, as most shows only give one look (if any) to give fans a taste of what’s to come after a major event. We got TWO major events that shook the foundation of this series. Well done, The Good Wife, well done.

Now I could touch on the acting, the very well-written story lines involving Peter and Eli, the development of the Kalinda and Diane relationship, and even the Michael J. Fox factor, but to discuss all that went well would take as many minutes as the season ran. Just know this: what was already good continued to be good – writing, acting, plot pacing, and music stepped up and hit on ALL cylinders.

What I Didn’t Like:

Don’t think I had no problems with this season just because I praised it so highly. I surely did.

The Melancholy Mood

After the death of the character in “Dramatics, your Honor”, the remaining cast was understandably upset. The stages of grieving made their appearances (anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). The depression portion lasted WAAAAAY too long. The very next episode showed how everyone reacted.

The episode after that showed them still reacting, but moving on. After that, they had a funeral. There were still 5 episodes left at this point and while others seemed to finally reach acceptance there were some (particularly Alicia) who never quite reached that final stage.

The residual effects lasted until the very end of the season finale, and although I understand that loss is hard and the show wanted us to understand that, it is still a television show. Having that cloud hanging over our character’s heads for so long detracted a bit from what made the show great.

Unresolved Plot Lines

This is a problem the show has always had. We saw it last season with the sudden disappearance of Amanda Peet’s character after she started dating Will, and with the whole situation involving Kalinda’s husband. The show has a habit of starting some plots and never giving them closure. We had an issue arise in episode 7 which left Alicia owing $6 million. 15 episodes went by without any further mention of this issue until the season finale when it became a focal point that still was not resolved by the end of the season.

Another example is the deal with Kalinda’s sort-of girlfriend, Jenna (Jordana Spiro), who was incredibly attracted to Kalinda, but inexplicably loyal to Kalinda’s adversary Damian (Jason O’Mara). Jenna’s relationship with Damian remained unexplained and her departure from the show was abrupt, to put it lightly. It sort of feels like the creators don’t know what to do with Kalinda, thus her plotlines are cut off.

I could bring up the sudden disappearance of Peter’s aide, Marilyn, or the status of the investigation against him, but in the end, it’s all ancillary. 

Yes, this show’s bad habit is annoying, but the overall plot remains so consistently interesting and entertaining that it’s almost forgivable when the smaller plot points are glossed over.

You can watch Season 5 of The Good Wife on Amazon Prime Instant Video here:

You can pre-order Season 5 of The Good Wife on BluRay on Amazon here:

You can buy Season 4 of The Good Wife on BluRay on Amazon here:

Images Courtesy of IMDB

 

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