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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Good Wife Finds Out "What's in the Box?"

Article first published as The Good Wife Finds Out "What's in the Box?" on TheTVKing.

So much is happening in The Good Wife's season four finale, "What's in the Box?" which aired on CBS this week. Zach (Graham Phillips) thinks he spots voter fraud, sending Lockhardt Garner scrambling into multiple court battles to try to save the election for Peter (Chris Noth). Meanwhile, who will be splitting off to form a new firm is revealed, personal relationships are rocked, and the election results come in.

One of the things The Good Wife does well is build a stable of reliable, fantastic recurring players. Lots of them appear in "What's in the Box?" lending a bit of extra excitement and tension to the proceedings. Among those returning favorites in this episode are Patti Nyholm (Martha Plimpton), Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker), Judge Arbernathy (Denis O'Hare), Judge Lessner (Ana Gasteyer), and Jordan Karahalios (T.R. Knight).

But while all of these familiar faces are wonderful to see, none are the focus of the episode, as The Good Wife does know how that their bread and butter is the core cast, nearly all of whom get development and plot in this finale.

Zach doesn't always have a lot to do, but he is instrumental in the various legal battles that play out throughout the installment. It's nice to see him have such a vital part, not only starting the trouble, unintentionally, but also getting to share credit for his dad's victory, sort of. It's a good use for the teen, who looks to possibly have an increased role moving forward if he stays involved, maybe working for his dad?

The brilliant maneuvering, as the characters zip from courtroom to courtroom, is highly entertaining and sharpy crafted. The Good Wife has presented many interesting cases in its day, but the ones in this episode are some of the most enjoyable, especially after the flip, when our heroes must argue the opposite side of the previous debate.

I'm not so thrilled with the election outcome. Yes, I'm happy that Peter wins, but at what cost? It seems pretty obvious that his team cheats, whether Eli (Alan Cumming) is involved or not, and he very well may be. It makes the win hollow. If only the 30,000 votes are rigged, it won't change the results, but since we know that some false counts got in there, it opens up the possibility for others. Is this the arc for next year, with the mystery slowly uncovered?

Despite this scandal, Peter's reputation is not damaged in my eyes. He may not tell Will to reveal the secret (who would?), but he doesn't ask him not to, either. It seems obvious that Peter has no knowledge of the rigging, so his hands are clean there.

Of course, that means Will (Josh Charles) does something shady, again. He's been a murky character at times, and the choice to tell the court about the false votes fall to him. I feel like his decision is not an easy one, as Alicia (Julianna Margulies) could be upset at him for exposing Peter, rather than running to him for comfort, so that would shoot himself in the foot with her. Yet, by protecting Peter, Will keeps Alicia's husband looking good to her. Neither choice will get him what he wants, so should he keep Alicia happy, or do what's right? He chooses Alicia's happiness, proving his feelings for her are real, even if he doesn't get her at this juncture.

Peter's other misstep, trying to intimidate and pay off Cristian (Yul Vazquez) to leave Jackie (Mary Beth Peil) alone, can be chalked up to a son protecting his mother. What's more, as funny as Cristian's handling of Peter is, it also hints that Peter's instincts about him could very well be correct.

Alicia is the titular character for good reason, and she has a couple of decisions to make in "What's in the Box?" First, should she renew her wedding vows to Peter, or try again with Will, who shows his continuing interest with a second kiss? Peter promises not to cheat on her again, and he seems sincere. They've spent a lot of time working on their marriage, and I don't think Alicia should throw that away for a guy she hasn't been able to make it work with twice in the past. Which is why I'm glad we don't see her go for Will this hour.

Second, should she stay at Lockhardt Gardner, or split off with Cary (Matt Czuchry) to form Florrick, Agos, and Associates? I think the episode does a great job with the fake out, making us think Alicia might be calling Will in the end, when really, she is telling Cary she is in. I'm glad that is revealed, rather than just showing the cryptic phone call. Alicia needs to do what's best, and that's get away from Will. I figure that's her deciding factor, though there's also the opportunity to begin something new here. I doubt Sweeney's opinion has much weight, even though we see him encourage the move.

With two firms next season, and Diane (Christine Baranski) presumably heading for the bench, the cast is likely to be split. For this reason, I'm glad that new investigator Robin (Jess Weixler) goes with Cary and Alicia, and Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) stay. I hate to see Will left by himself, and we're surely not done with stories set within Lockhardt Gardner. When Cary was by himself, he got far less screen time. I hope to not see that happen to a lead again.

The regrettable thing, though, is that Kalinda feels betrayed by Cary. Say what you want about Cary Agos, but he has handled this whole rebellion with grace and politeness, juggling others' various interests. He doesn't stab Alicia or Kalinda in the back. He does what he can to make everyone happy, while not allowing himself to be pushed around by a firm that hasn't been fair to him. I really hope Kalinda can be made to realize this, and since he won't be her boss, maybe they can even have a romantic relationship. That would be the best case scenario.

I can't help but anticipate next year, the momentum already set for a new and different season, full of surprises and ups and downs. The Good Wife will return to CBS next fall.

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