The Good Wife, “Two Courts”

When you binge on a full series in a very short timespan, a few things can happen. On one hand, seeing so many episodes in such a short time makes all the problems become much more obvious than they would be if there was weeks, months or even years between them. But on the other hand, that sort of viewing process only allows you to skirt over the smaller problems and really hook in to the strong points of a program. I feel like my viewing experience of The Good Wife falls in line more with the latter than the former. It wasn’t as if I found the CBS series to be error-free or anything of that nature, but I was willing to overlook certain issues so that I could move on to the next episode.

In only my second “live” episode last night, it was definitely much easier to hold on tighter to my complains and issues that I had with “Two Courts.” This is certainly not a bad episode by any means, and in fact there are some really fantastic moments here. But as a whole, “Two Courts” is a bit messy and relies too much on a certain plot point or two that don’t really hold up in the way the writers think they do.

I talked a bit last week about how The Good Wife is great at making sure the cases feel fresh and new each week even though a lot of times the series is covering the same type of territory across episodes. This week sees the series try something fairly new in that there is actually little focus on the defendant and the case itself. Instead so much of “Two Courts” relies on a ridiculously amateurish beef between Will and the judge and unfortunately also includes a goofy plot about a jury whisperer.

Again, this is the sort of approach I truly love about The Good Wife. When you’re telling the same kinds of stories over and over (on the most abstract level), there has to be a way to mix up the framework, the perspective, etc. Forgoing a lot of interpersonal drama for a unique look at this weird thing known as jury analysis feels right in concept. Moreover, creating drama between the judges and the legal team has worked well for the program in the past, so it’s an approach I can also sign off on a general sense.

But as both plot points are executed here, the legal side of “Two Courts” is sloppy and a bit dumb to be honest. The writers aren’t afraid to have the judges or opposing lawyers act a bit odd or goofy, but having this judge’s bias against Will and Alicia stem from Will’s hard foul on the basketball court is just silly in all the wrong ways. It starts off okay because it leads to some interesting Will Gardner plotting that always seems to work, but the judge’s continued behavior simply makes him look petty, stupid and unfit for the job. I assume that the intention was to show us that judges aren’t always at the top of their games and most certainly aren’t always correct, but it just doesn’t work here.

Similarly, the Lie to Me-riffing story with the jury whisperer never caught my attention. The actor was charmless and the character had little definition to begin with. Kalinda’s distrust of him was somewhat compelling just because she ended up being right in her assertion that this drone only picked easy cases as to make his numbers look better, but apart from that, it all felt a bit too sterile and impersonal. The Good Wife‘s best cases generally hit you in the testicle s and then sit on your chest. By the end, you’re emotionally drained, intellectually stimulated and a bit winded. Here, I was just bored and detached.

And finally on that note, the case ended way too abruptly. Yet again, I see the intent — showing that sometimes jury’s decide quickly and all the pre-planning and additional spending can’t stop that — but when the plot itself didn’t really come together, the script needed to stick the landing and it felt as if it ended because the writers were as over the whole thing as I was at home. This was just not a good night for the series as comes to the case.

On a more positive note, the interpersonal drama between the partners and Blake and Kalinda reached new, awesome heights. Diane and Will start the episode the same way they ended it last week: ready to rip one another’s head off. Bond presents Will with a promising offer that will blind-side Diane in a few months and it looks as though Diane can’t wait to bring people like Cary on board to smack the guys’ firm around. Mid-way through the episode, Diane and Will agree to a truce — but they don’t mean it. Will’s still with Bond and Diane still wants to get out ASAP.

But despite all his desires of power and things like that, Will apparently won’t stand for Kalinda being abused and certainly won’t stand for Alicia being spied on, both of which are happening thanks to a newly-empowered Blake. Will presses Bond for details and he continues to be shadowy and secretive and gosh darnit, Will Gardner is the only one who gets to get secrets around here. He protects Kalinda with a raise and then goes to Diane with a legitimate truce. So now, there’s all sorts of subterfuge going on and it’s just awesome. Bond has been trying to play all sides and at this point, his modern, progressive lingo isn’t going to get him very far with some old-school litigators like Diane and Will. It’s going to be awesome to watch unfold. Let’s just hope the cases come back up to that level of quality as well.

 

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