Alicia just realized splurging when she's about to have to cough up $600,000 was a bad idea.

Alicia just realized splurging when she’s about to have to cough up $600,000 was a bad idea.

Up until now season 4 of The Good Wife has been a bit of a snooze. They put all their eggs in the guest star basket and expected repeat appearances from some of the most compelling actors on television to do all the work. And it kind of failed. The Good Wife hasn’t been bad per se, but keeping the cast split apart with everyone doing their own story and focusing on big cases or the murkiness of Kalinda’s past has left little to keep the audience really invested.

Yet the worst sin committed was the happiness of one Alicia Florrick. As Joss Whedon has said and proven time and time again, a happy character is a boring show. It’s fluff. Fluff is called that because it’s cotton candy. It’s ephermeral but potent all at once and too much of it too quickly makes you sick…or very, very bored.

So the Kings decided to do away with the fluff and make Alicia miserable and they don’t do it in a traditional way. She’s not grieving a lost loved one or nursing the wounds of a ruined love affair or friendship. No, they’ve wounded her pride and drug her right back to episode one where she was the woman who lost her husband to prison and a hooker. Will gave her an escape all the way back then. He offered her the chance to build a reputation professionally and to find herself in her work, but with an offer for equity partner he and Diane have ruined all that work–ruined Alicia in many ways.

And it was one of the best hours the show’s done since they broke up Alicia and Kalinda back in season two.

That makes me sound a bit like a sadist. Watching a character you love go through something awful shouldn’t be so pleasant, but the drama it creates is why we watch shows like this. When Alicia doesn’t dance around insinuation but fully understands that her promotion to equity partner is nothing more than a cash grab by Diane and Will she’s devastated. It’s worse than being hired because she’s the State’s Attorney’s wife or put on cases because she’s “the good wife.” It boils her down to nothing but money. Those other things–she sort of earned them…but to be nothing but cash? To be the same as Cary–who didn’t even work there the entire time! It drives Alicia to a place we’ve only barely glimpsed.

Angry and sassy drunk Alicia is my new favorite.

Angry and sassy drunk Alicia is my new favorite.

And it turns her into a vicious drunk. Alicia’s scene at Peter and Maddie’s function feels almost voyueristic. We’re watching Alicia self-destruct after taking a very hefty professional knock and we’re enjoying ourselves. She cuts Maddie down with no more than a mention of “friends.” That’s all she says. Just asks after Maddie’s friends, but there’s such condemnation in her tone and anger in her eyes that the insult is unmistakable and even the generally unflappable Maddie blinks.

Then she lets loose with both cannons. Not because she’s so mad she wants to hurt her husband’s campaign. But because she’s upset and wounded and needs control of something. She’s realized that at work she’s just the 4th year who can probably buy in as an equity partner. She’s valued for the checks she can write and little more, and she’s had much of her autonomy removed. She’s become Will and Diane’s puppet in court, parroting their words so she can hold onto that worthless job and keep making money. Eli asked her to do the same thing at Peter’s function, the only difference is she can ignore his request if she wants. She can maintain the control. So she raises her glass and with a wink and a smile declares she’s an athiest.

But that’s not the furtherest the Kings tear her down this episode. Declaring her atheism was Alicia trying to scramble for some purchase in life, and the episode can’t end with her pulling herself back up again, because a one hour story of triumph isn’t fun. No she really and trully needs to be brought down.

Diane is so "pro" Diane in this moment that i was actually a little scared.

Diane is so “pro” Diane in this moment that i was actually a little scared.

So there’s another callback to the very first episode. Back then Diane wasn’t a friend or ally. She was just Alicia’s hard ass and distant boss. Remember that lady? She’s been puppified over the years. Who knew that all it took was one episode–not even one episode! Diane had the good grace to look ashamed over what she and Will had done to Alicia through most of the episode. All it really took was one scene. That final scene.

No one, in all the seasons of the show, had quite shamed Alicia like Diane did then. Oh sure, she’s been ashamed, she’s been embarassed and humiliated before, but something about Diane calling her a big baby just resonated, because Alicia’s private life has always been her problem, and now here’s a woman she’s often respected calling her out professionally.

And saying some things that are controversially true. Diane urges her not to question why she was promoted, but to just accept it with a smile. She urges her to put aside her pride–the very thing Alicia has worn like a protective cloak from day one–and thank her bosses.

Alicia does. She doesn’t have to. We know she’s got options. She could work for Canning or go back to being a political wife. She can preserve her last shreds of dignity and simply walk away. She doesn’t. She collects herself and puts on a smile and walks into that room.

She’s at her lowest. I wouldn’t want to be the person between her and her path back up.

Notes

  • Very little Kalinda this week. Hey writers, you were the ones that saddled her with that awful story. Maybe let her out of writer jail already?
  • Cary is under no illusions as to why he’s being offered equity.
  • Will was kind of a massive chicken this week. Using Alicia and then leaving Diane to handle the fallout.
  • I have never loved Diane more than during her almost villainous lecture to Alicia.
  • T.R. Knight is really, really good at being charming and awkward. I didn’t even realized I’d missed George on Grey’s Anatomy until he was trying to talk with Alicia and she was having no time for him.
  • Peter can afford to just write out a $600,000 loan for Alicia….I thought he was broke after he went to jail?
  • While Alicia was learning to put aside her pride Nathan Lane was busy clinging to his and helping the firm out. And bonding with Cary some more. They’re adorable together.
  • Next Week: We’ve got a three week hiatus! The Good Wife will be back February 17th.
  • Kiki

    I look forward to this review every week! An oh boy do you ALWAYS get it right! Please keep posting, cause I love reading! It is a bit sadist of me too, to enjoy Alicia get knocked down like that, but boy it was entertaining!

    • http://fempop.com/ Alex Cranz

      It was so very VERY entertaining!