Ask and you shall receive: I wanted more Finn (Matthew Goode) and The Good Wife delivers.
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Message Discipline’ is all about going on the offensive. It’s easily one of the most thematic episodes of the sixth season so far as nearly every storyline is in service of characters’ agency. Unfortunately the attempt to take the reins of destiny fail in nearly every instance as most of our characters suffer set-backs.
Alicia’s (Julianna Margulies) campaign takes a nasty turn after Peter’s (Chris Noth) visit to Frank Prady’s (David Hyde Pierce) popular CBS show (corporate synergy to the rescue!). Eli (Alan Cumming) notices a rival campaign manager lurking behind the scenes and he and Elfman (Steven Pasquale) immediately go on the offensive prepping Alicia in anticipation of Prady entering the States Attorney race. After she completely bombs the one-on-one with an horribly awkward attempt seeking his endorsement, Alicia ends up in the hot seat on Prady’s show. Unfortunately all of the “hard-ball” prep by Elfman makes her come off stiff and combative when Prady “Katie Couric”s her with soft-ball questions and things escalate when a controversial early article by Prady hits the popular press.
There’s an aura of inevitability when Prady makes the announcement, which can be interpreted in two ways: he was, as everyone assumes, playing a long-con and planned to run the whole time. Or he really was legitimately disgusted at the state of politics after his reputation is dragged through the mud, prompting his entry into the race. Either way there’s now a third contender for the throne and suddenly things are a whole lot murkier (much the same way things became more difficult for Peter when Matthew Perry’s Mike Kristeva suddenly jumped into the fray). Despite the forthcoming challenges, it’s good to see Alicia’s game face firmly back in place by episode’s end, even if it may come at the cost of her potential victory.
Thankfully the set-back has a silver lining – if only because Alicia’s odd days offer her talking points for her meet-cute drink dates with Finn. The increasingly troubled ASA owns several key scenes of ‘Message Discipline’, including the opening sequence when he goes hunting to find incriminating evidence against Cary (Matt Czuchry). There’s a sad satisfaction that Finn’s agency is directly correlated to bad news for Cary and it appears that the case of the missing $1.3 million in cocaine will wind up being the nail in Cary’s coffin.
Despite Diane’s (Christine Baranski) best efforts, Cary’s defense starts to fall apart under Finn’s new charges, prompting Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) to step in – from 30 ft away, of course. Kalinda is the one who discovers that the missing cocaine is tied to the woman at the crime lab who just happens to be the cousin of Trey Wagner, Bishop’s “on the lam” operative. Unfortunately the discovery doesn’t yield the positive results it should: instead of Castro (Michael Cerveris) protecting Trey, he elects to stay the course and pursue Cary, which leads to Trey’s death and Finn’s resignation. Although all of the events are bad, at least Finn seems destined to accept Alicia’s offer to start his own firm in leased Florrick / Agos / Lockhart space. Let’s hope that sexy elevators rides between the 26th and 27th floors are in Finn and Alicia’s futures.
- Alicia suggests that she’s really not good at asking for things or pulling the usual political shenanigans and she’s right on the money. Man is that conversation with Prady in his dressing room uncomfortable to watch. It’s rare to see Alicia fall to pieces so spectacularly. Good thing it happens so infrequently.
- One of the most engaging aspects of the episode is Elfman’s prep for the interview, which addresses interviewing basics such as camera positions, how to cross your ankles, returning to pivot points and maintaining an emotional, albeit controlled response. How awesome is Alicia’s response when Elfman brings Zach and Nyssa’s abortion into the debate? It would be amazing to see a politician actually respond in such a fashion.
- The writers lean a little too heavily on the “early Alicia” comparisons as Ramona (Connie Nielsen) starts working as Peter’s legal counsel. Her sudden shift from fumbling, nervous newbie to calm and collected professional in court felt a little too artificial to me, particularly since she had already outlined the details of her motion earlier in order to win over Peter and Eli.
- It’s been a while since The Good Wife used its signature match-on editing to link opening scenes for a fast-paced, West Wing effect. I like it because it creates a sense of urgency, which in an episode where things seem to be unraveling quickly, really helps to set the tone.
- Finally, welcome back Geneva Pine (Renée Elise Goldsberry)! While I’ve never felt that The Good Wife used her in particularly effective ways, I always wanted to see more of Pine. Maybe this is a sign of things to come now that Finn has moved on ?
- Eli (interrogating Warren’s attendance at the show taping): “Balloo? Like in the Jungle Book?”
- Alicia (when Ramona suggests she’s modelling her career on Alicia): “Oh, don’t do that.”
- Alicia (firmly, after Eli offers history quotes to use on Prady): “No.”
- Finn (after Alicia offers him space on the 27th floor): “It’s a little bit incestuous.” Alicia (correcting him): “If we were siblings!” They are definitely not siblings.
Your turn: are things taking a turn for the worse for our characters? Is Alicia’s campaign doomed? Was Prady planning on running the whole time? Is Cary destined to go to jail? Is his mild sexting with Kalinda cute or just dumb considering he’s not paying attention to his own trial? Are you excited to see more Finn? And is Ramona too similar to early Alicia? Sound off below.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm EST on CBS. Looks like things don’t get much better next week: