“If the software learns, then it must not know what it needs to learn, right?”
An argument — and a very good one at that — could be made that The Good Wife, on a macro level, is just one big story about how life beats you down. That’s why when Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) utters the above line in a deposition about the perils of trusting a smart car, it echoes with irony. She didn’t know what she needed to learn when she stepped into the offices of Lockhart/Gardner seven seasons ago.
But holy shit, if she hasn’t learned a thing or two by now… .
And those lessons were displayed brilliantly in perhaps this season’s best episode yet: “Driven”. If nothing else, Alicia’s arc in recent years has consistently been progressing toward full-on, “I don’t care anymore, and again, in case you forgot: I still don’t care anymore”. Back in the days when she didn’t know what she needed to learn in order to get to the proverbial place of not caring, she was merely the wife of yet another politician embroiled in yet another infidelity scandal.
But as we’ve seen over the course of this series, not only has she broken out of a (rightfully held) pity party shell, but she’s also taken complete control of her life, fully embracing the unpleasant underbelly that the mere act of living often unfairly provides. Who knows if she ever truly deserved the tragedies she’s seen (truth be told, does anybody?). Although what we do know now is that she’s much more inclined to lean into the punch rather than run away from it.
She’s a seasoned fighter. She’s ready to hit back.
That’s what makes “Driven” so much fun to watch. The look on Diane’s face, quietly yet fabulously played by Christine Baranski, when Alicia marches back into her old workplace and earns the ability to be viewed as a “free agent and not the enemy” is as telling a move in Alicia’s maturation as anything else that happened this week (and maybe even all season). It’s more telling than seeing how blasé she is with Peter (Chris Noth) in bed. It’s more telling than how stern she becomes with Frank Landau (Mike Pniewski) after he tries to strong-arm her into voting his way. And maybe most importantly, it’s more telling than the “oh, this could be fun” delight that she takes in seeing Jackie Florrick (Mary Beth Peil) storm into her apartment to announce her engagement to Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler).
These are actions of a woman who feels invincible, a woman who’s found the joys in having nothing to lose. Maybe that’s the common ground she continues to find with Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) on a week-to-week basis. There’s a guy who can’t stop smiling, no matter what’s thrown his way (including, clearly, the proposition of signing something). His smug-o-meter officially went to 11 this week when Alicia, having figured out what she needs to learn, confronts him about all the “buts” he loves to use. He has an all-knowing grin, that Jason, and this week, more than in previous weeks, he’s called upon to use it, especially (and perhaps foreshadowing-ly?) in the offices of Lockhart, Agos & Lee, when he helps lead Alicia down the self-driving road of deposition victory (and if you think that metaphor was lost on the person writing this, you’re as wrong as Eli [Alan Cumming] was for scheduling that fake birthday party).
Elsewhere, Vice, of all places, reports that the Florricks haven’t slept together in ages, and thus the camp has to essentially stage the perception of healthy living quarters in order to impress Courtney Paige, played by Vanessa Williams (finally!), who also happens to be a big-time donor. A comedy of errors notwithstanding, it’s always good to see Peter and Alicia on good terms (or, at least, on understood terms). It’s just too easy to have them battle one another on a regular basis, and especially after seven seasons now, there’s no harm — and in fact, it actually appears fairly realistic — in having our spurned protagonist ask her slimy husband, “Do you wanna get laid?”
But sex is most likely the least of Alicia’s worries (unless if she ends up having it with Jason; there’s no telling what that guy might do) because Landau is being all Landau-like by demanding her to vote a certain way on Chicago’s Election Board (so, this appointment does Alicia good, how, Eli?). She initially complies, but is then confronted by — shock! — a Landau rival who provides a (most likely hypocritical) sermon about how political corruption can end … but only if Alicia stands up to it! The episode ultimately concludes with the re-vote and, in true The Good Wife fashion, cuts away before we know Mrs. Florrick’s answer.
Will she side with Landau and stay on Eli’s Path Toward Rehabilitation? Or will she stand up to the guy who categorically ruined her political career? We’ll have to wait until next week to find the answer, but either way, we know this: Alicia Florrick knows by now what she’s needed to learn to get where she is, and all things considered, she’s probably learned it all two or three times over by now. She gives precisely zero of the fucks.
And armed with that information, invincibility — or perhaps more importantly, the perception of invincibility — might for once be an actual option for the Illinois state governor’s wife.
Approaching The Bench
We can all agree now that Alicia eventually goes back to Lockhart/Whatever and she takes Lucca and Jason with her, right?
And with that in mind, here’s a twist that might be worth pondering: Lucca (Cush Jumbo) and Jason end up dating and/or become lovers. You have to wonder how that might play in Alicia’s mind. The back-and-forth between her and Lucca in the lobby this week was almost uncomfortably cutting, with Alicia trying to laugh off some of the weirdly aggressive remarks her partner kept spouting off by chuckling just a little too much. The sequence left me just a very, very tiny bit queasy.
I was not — repeat, was not — expecting CBS to allow the camera to stay with Alicia as long as it did when she undressed before having sex with Peter. That was truly the most surprising moment of the episode, as far as I’m concerned. The whole thing was what? Three seconds away from going full-on HBO or Showtime? I mean, whoa, there.
So, what do we think about the prospect of this being the final season? I was having a conversation with a friend over the weekend and it dawned on me: seven episodes in, and if we follow the episode-name-arc that has been publicized and speculated about, that would mean these are, in essence, the final developments of the story. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine where they could take what they’ve set up in order to make it somewhat of a proper finale. But, with that said, I also can’t imagine there being another season after this run. Do we want to see Peter as president? Can we get a season out of him being vice-president? And what about Alicia? Would she continue her own practice? Too many things seem to be up in the air this far into the season to really get a grasp of any potential ending, season- or series-wise.
I said this when we opened the season, but seven weeks into it, and I think it deserves repeating: what happened to Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter)?
Let’s hear it for swerving (see what I did there?!) away from the NSA story this week!
Vanessa Williams as Courtney Boalt is just so great. I couldn’t have been the only one who thought, while seeing her interact with Eli, that those two might end up romantically involved, right? I just hope that this isn’t the only episode in which she’ll pop up this season. I’ll miss her the same way I miss Oliver Platt. Which is a lot. A real lot.
Alicia: “It’s always sexier not to care.” Peter: “Why is that?” Alicia: “Because sex is sexier without love.”
I am utterly convinced that these are the marching orders for Jeffrey Dean Morgan from Robert and Michelle King: no matter what, when, or how you say it, always follow every single movement and/or word with a smile. It works, though. It works.
Crazy Prediction of the Week: Alicia sleeps with Jason, who is sleeping with Lucca, who is sleeping with Peter, who is sleeping with Courtney, who is sleeping with Eli.