Tuesday, March 31, 2015

THE GOOD WIFE Fans "Recipients" of Another Great Installment

Article originally written for Seat42F.

Thank you for your advice. All options are open to me, and I’ll make a decision within 48 hours.
That’s the repeated refrain on this week’s installment of THE GOOD WIFE on CBS, “Undisclosed Recipients.” Alicia (Julianna Margulies) has won the State’s Attorney election, but that is just the beginning of her problems. She tries to play open and honest with everyone, donors and her partners at the law firm alike, but it doesn’t work too well. It’s time for her to start being a politician, and Eli (Alan Cumming) makes that very clear to her.

As much as one roots for Alicia to stand up to influence and do the right thing, it’s easy to see why Lemond (Mike Colter) and Redmayne (Ed Asner) think they should have influence over her. They did pour a lot of support into her campaign with the expectation of getting something in return. Alicia may not have agreed to terms, but she did take the money. She could have refused or made a stink about it, but she wouldn’t have won. Perhaps THE GOOD WIFE goes too easy on politicians and the influence of money, or perhaps they are just showing that even the best person is put in a difficult position within this broken system.

Eli provides a way out, backing up the stereotype that politicians are slimy liars. He tells her to deflect and appear to appreciate advice she won’t seriously consider. This works on Redmayne, and it works on Castro (Michael Cerveris), who is looking for professional respect. A variation of this also works on Alicia’s partners, whom are trying to lowball her in buying her out of the firm. But I don’t think it will work on Bishop.

Bishop isn’t a part of that world. He isn’t a public figure in the same way the rest are, preferring to dwell in the shadows. He also uses violence to fight, not words, giving him a different set of tools. Redmayne may forget that Alicia doesn’t choose who he wants, but Bishop won’t overlook Alicia refusing to call of an investigation on him. She could wind up hurt, or worse.

Alicia needs assistance in dealing with Bishop. I think it’s time she brings Eli and Marissa (Sarah Steele) fully into the loop here. Perhaps she puts them at risk by coming clean, but both have been very valuable advisors, different sides of the same coin with varying opinions. If the brain trust of these three can’t figure a way out of this, I’m not sure no one can.

The other thing that happens in “Undisclosed Recipients” is that a hacker leaks the firm’s emails because they are representing a client suing a file sharing site. Because these people let off steam, and also because they work with people they don’t always like, there are many damaging comments made that now come to light. Cary (Matt Czuchry), Diane (Christine Baranski), David Lee (Zach Grenier), Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), Lyman (Jerry Adler), and just-returned-from-New York Julius (Michael Boatman) all succumb to infighting over this. Alicia is spared only because the released emails are from the time of her campaign.

It’s interesting to see dirty laundry brought to light in this particular environment. The type of job and the sort of people who do this work create a much more tumultuous atmosphere than in most offices. Not everything said is what the authors are really thinking, though some of it is. I think it reminds us that we all find ways to work with people we don’t agree with or like, and we can’t condemn others for being no better than ourselves. It’s quite a thought-provoking story, as much as it is a juicy, dramatic one.

That Finn (Matthew Goode) lets comments Alicia pre-emptively admits to making about him roll off his back shows that he’s a different type of person that the rest of the cast. Or he just trusts Alicia more than he would most people, her actions speaking louder than words. He would be a great ally for her to have, a reasonable, logical individual who cares about her. I hope he takes the job as her deputy. Marissa, too, shows no judgment as she reads Alicia’s messages, so she also needs to stick around, given her considered take on the world (though it’s worth noting none are about her).

I also don’t think THE GOOD WIFE has seen the last of these emails. Alicia’s are not released, but they could be, as the hacker says they have two years’ worth of stuff. Given Alicia’s new job and how much more damaging this could be to her in the high-morality role, it seems too tantalizing a bait to not toss in the water. Expect this to come back up at some point, whether it’s sooner or later.

Once more, THE GOOD WIFE gives us excellent, engaging plot with authentic, layered characters in a very real situation. It rips from the headlines, but also stays true to the individuals created. I can find no flaw with “Undisclosed Recipients,” another excellent hour from the stellar series.

THE GOOD WIFE airs Sundays on CBS.

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