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The Good Wife - Season 4 - Review

Hello, folks! I know I've been a bit quiet lately, (and this is a REALLY late review) but I am here with a full overall review of this past season of The Good Wife. I feel the need to opine and give thoughts on many trends in this season's events and character threads and maybe even expand onto some possible projections for season 5!

The Good Wife - Season 4 Review

This was the year that Alicia would finish her rise to the level of partner. We didn't know how or when exactly, but the timing was right. Lockheart & Gardner was sinking under the weight of the economic crisis it found itself in. For a firm that seemingly wins every single case thrown their way, they sure did lose a lot of ground this season--and that's almost literal as they lost an entire floor of the firm due to lack of funds and a need to consolidate their assets. Through this mess we get to see all of our characters in different places that show both good and bad sides (which I'll delve into later) and by the end of the trek into the land of desperation and compromise the firm "survived" the ordeal...Or so it seemed. 

I recall reading something that the Kings said about the second half of the season -- something along the lines of "be careful what you wish for" -- and we really saw that sort of situation play out. Cary got back in with L&G just as he wished...only to be treated in such a way that made him feel just as under appreciated as he had been before he left... Alicia obtained her partnership, only to find that it wasn't earned but purchased, and also the spoils of a plot by the other managing partners to prevent her efforts with the other 4th years to achieve a better workplace environment. 

As the plot continued, we could see how toxic the environment was at L&G-- underpaid resources feeling completely disrespected, characters started disparately planning for their exit from the firm--chaos all around. Once the dust had finally settled on the financial woes of L&G, the race for governor had been announced, and Alicia had made her personal decision regarding the titular love triangle, we saw that L&G was simply a sinking ship. It may have at one point served as a catalyst for characters to grow and strengthen, but by the end, the petty narrow-minded partners (the ones who followed David Lee's lead for profit at the cost of their employee's well-being), the countless assaults against the firm by local antagonists in the D.A.'s office, etc., and the hidden agendas of very important individuals (Diane's decision to pursue a seat on the Supreme Court, Cary's aspirations to start his own firm) opened up the story to weave a whole new way.

While I am overall very pleased with this season, it was certainly not without its issues. I believe this season is more uneven than the last season in regard to character development/direction and hasn't quite hit the right groove like they did in season 2, either. This was likely, at least in part, due to an issue of "too much all at once." They introduced several new characters (both one-off and recurring) that stole time that would've been much better utilized on our main cast... Several characters had most of their story taking place off screen, and as that is acceptable to an extent, given the ensemble nature of this show and its expansive and multi-layered storytelling that happens. I also quite enjoyed the bevy of top notch guest stars, (ranging from Nathan Lane to John Noble) but I believe that they may have focused a bit too much on the big guest stars and didn't focus enough on the incredible wealth of talent in the characters already established in the show.

In the most misguided storyline of the season, we met Kalinda's ex husband, Nick. Played fairly well by Marc Warren, Nick is the thread of Kalinda's life that she never wanted to resurface. His introduction was played up as the big reveal in the season 3 finale, where Kalinda sat in her apartment with a gun trained on the door, waiting for him to arrive. However, in season 4, some of that tension dulled and the rest of it turned into uncomfortable ambivalence for the whole side plot. There were things I personally liked about the storyline, where we get to see Kalinda be her badass self in dealing with him and his little henchmen, but as it kept going, the whole thing just fell apart for me. It immediately felt like a dumb and soapy trash storyline that would only dampen Kalinda's character for her having ever been with him in the first place. A lot of people had a hard time with the things Nick and Kalinda did on screen as well, since he was a pretty nasty person (recall the revolting thing he did with Kalinda's dessert in a public restaurant!). Then, at the midpoint of the season Kalinda did something that as far as we as the audience know could possibly tarnish Kalinda's character for the rest of the show: she "took care of Nick." Now, we all know Kalinda is the BAMF of The Good Wife, and in many instances, an example for Alicia to look to when she found herself unable to deal with the man-driven world around her in the past few seasons, but is it really still in-character of her to kill her ex-husband? I'm not saying he didn't deserve it, nor that I didn't see that coming...but in this show's "world" death isn't usually doled out with such remiss, and skeletons fall out of closets practically every episode. However, once they finally...um...killed this story, they replaced one problem with another: Kalinda spent the rest of the season either peeking into Will's office asking for more money (because they are perennially screwing her over paywise at L&G) or training the new L&G investigator Robin, (who I actually really liked!) or being spurned by Cary's ambitious undertaking later in the season.

Speaking of Cary, he's another favorite character of mine who is growing up so much in spite of limited screen time. We see his character get the short end of the stick quite often this season as he is back to being ignored at L&G. He plays it coy and deals with it by quietly plotting his own firm mostly in the background of various episodes. I believe this will take the forefront of season 5 and hope it promotes his character to have more time on screen next season.

Will and Diane seem to have split up in a way. It actually hasn't happened yet, but given the extenuating circumstances around L&G, soon I believe we'll see Diane in a whole new capacity in her new venture as a court justice. Will's future is more murky. His kingdom is crumbling before him and it isn't even his fault -- David Lee and his cronies are disassembling L&G through their idiotic power plays and driving everyone out of the building at the speed of light... Given that Alicia ultimately decides to stay with Peter, he doesn't "get the girl" either, so I foresee him in a darker place next season. He has a bit of a sordid past given bad situations, but he also has shown how tenacious he can be when he has nothing to lose, so hopefully he'll have a pseudo "redemption" arc (not that he himself needs redeeming at this point, but he gets back to a good place after the fall of L&G).

On the Florrick Family and campaign side of things we saw some more pretty compelling competition in the form of Mike Krestiva. Played as the "love to hate 'em" lying and sleazy politician who says what it takes to gain favor, Matthew Perry really made this character work on screen. With past antagonists like Anika Noni Rose's frighteningly tactful Wendy Scott-Carr finally dealt with, he filled the role well. Peter strayed from the "gray" area he usually stays in and was pushed more towards the "good" guy in that he didn't do anything utterly disgusting this season...He did beat Mike Krestiva at his own game, proving he's just as smart and smarmy as his opposition, but it wasn't until the end of the season when he fell back into the "gray" area when it was revealed to him that people on his team had been tampering with votes. He let it go and we all know that things like that never lie buried for long.
Alicia's children continued to grow this season, more specifically, her son Zach, who was instrumental throughout the season in different roles--ranging from helping the campaign, to personal vendettas against their family. He certainly takes after his mother in the naive-but-well-reasoned rationale, and his character growth proves that "children" (he's like... a senior in high school, right?) don't have to be portrayed as dumb on tv shows. Eli Gold was at war with a young and ambitious co-campaign manager this season, at the expense of Peter's poll numbers, and then found himself in the hot seat this season with a ridiculous investigation into his past dealings with campaigns for Peter. He dealt with it well and accordingly with Elsbeth Tascioni in a sideplot that was often hilarious.

A quick note:
There is one thing The Good Wife has that no other show is lucky to have: Elsbeth Tascioni... The enigmatic and adorably absent-minded, but brilliant lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni steals whatever scene, no,  entire episode she pops up into. Any time I see those little eyes of hers darting around in deep thought I just smile because I know what will follow--a zany and smart twist of the plot is on the way. I know she's not one of the main cast but Carrie Preston is the secret weapon for any episode of this show to be at its best, and I hope to see more of her next season!

To the Finale:

Seeing Cary and Alicia meet at the end (meaning we weren't focusing on a love triangle ending, but an ending that signalled the professional and personal advancement of the main characters out of this purgatory they'd been chained to for 4 seasons) was the high point of the second half of season 4 for me. I may be in the minority here, but I feel that this show really works its best when it incorporates all aspects of the characters' lives into the narrative...so me seeing Will and Alicia getting in an elevator presumably to go have a night out in a previous season finale was never really that big of a deal for me. In such an understated and ever so slightly twisty way, the writers just stated that L&G will be left behind by most of the main characters next season, and I legitimately can't figure out where everyone will be, what will be happening, what this means for each character next season because it finally took us out of the almost suffocating little world of L&G.

I believe in Florrick, Agos, & Associates. Do you?

What do you expect to happen next season!? I really don't know what to expect and I'm more excited for this next season than I've been for any show in a while.

Wilson Crawford
Lifelong television addict with a penchant for well-written, darker dramas and crackling, self-aware comedies.

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