The Good Wife

Distractions abound on The Good Wife with “Shiny Objects”

Elsbeth Tascioni’s brain is a very interesting place to be. It’s a weird place, filled with Wicked Witches, Beethoven, pastries and cracked iPhones. Her weirdness fits so seamlessly into The Good Wife, and naturally any episode that features her is bound to be a great one. This one has something else going for it in that Elsbeth, who’s been seen most often working on the side of one of our main characters, is in opposition to Alicia and Dean this time around. It does limit our enjoyment of her since we’re forced to watch her work from the other side. Her quirky courtroom tactics that have been so amusing and so ingenious every other time we’ve seen them are now annoying especially to Alicia who’s mastered the art of the annoyed eye roll.

Elsbeth and Rayna Hecht (Jill Hennessy) are defending a corporation accused of sexism, firing their CEO for being a woman. It’s actually an interesting side for them to be on, considering how Rayna Hecht was first presented to us, as something akin to a feminist icon, wanting hers and Elsbeth’s firm to become a huge, woman-run business. “Shiny Objects” is obviously meant as a nod to Elsbeth, who gets thrown off by distractions Alicia and Dean throw her way while Rayna looks on in concern. Then there’s ASA Perrotti (Kyle Maclachlan) who turns up to ask Elsbeth out on a date and throw off the entire case by bringing up federal charges that demand that the two teams pair up.

Though it’s Elsbeth who has trouble looking away from cruise brochures, “Shiny Objects” is full of distractions for everyone. Everyone thinks they know where they’re going and what they’re doing, but there are things happening in the wings that keep making them falter. Florrick/Agos/Lockhart gets hit with a ransom for their files, a hilariously awful turn of events for the perpetually struggling firm that has them reeling while trying to keep up with their cases. Diane on hold with the helpline and finding out that their salvation lies in the hands of David Lee is the kind of tragedy that The Good Wife specializes in. Not to mention the sheer dumb luck of Diane learning that the lease to Lockhart/Gardner’s building is in her name, and David Lee wants it. But the building they’re in is a mess, with leaky pipes and cockroaches so naturally talk turns to getting Lockhart/Gardner’s office space which would be quite an upgrade from the cockroach-infested romanticism of their current one.

Then there’s Kalinda who gets something to do in this episode though I hesitate at saying it’s anything worthy of Archie Panjabi’s talents. That’s been the issue with The Good Wife for many years now. The show’s stuck in a position of wanting Kalinda to be constantly mysterious, unattainable to everyone even to the audience, and after five years their techniques are getting old. The return of FBI agent Lana (Jill Flint) doesn’t do anything other than give us a repeat of everything we’ve already gotten with Kalinda. She doesn’t take her relationships all that seriously, and she prefers good sex to good conversation. Kalinda’s moral greyness could be something for the show to play with, like her telling Lemond Bishop who the informant was and then getting him out of town, but since the show failed spectacularly in introducing a bit of Kalinda’s past in her former husband, they’ve given up on developing her completely. Which is why I’m glad Archie Panjabi’s leaving to headline her own show. 

It’s probably nowhere on the list of things the Kings intended for this week’s episode, but most of Kalinda’s storylines are made up of shiny objects. There’s sex and violence, and it’s all fun yes, but that’s all it is now. Archie Panjabi’s always sold Kalinda, no matter what she’s been given. But where there was nuance and depth, the promise of something lingering beneath the surface with Kalinda that she wasn’t ready to share yet, there’s nothing there but the equivalent to glossy penguin brochures.  And I regret that The Good Wife may end its sixth season, and Panjabi’s run on the show, not having done anything more with her than repeating itself every year.

In the ongoing saga of Alicia’s running for SA, her announcement is threatened by issues with her endorsements. She plans on letting Finn and Peter do it, but Peter refuses to share the stage with Finn (for reasons related to his suspicion that Alicia’s sleeping with him). When Alicia brings it to Peter, she demands he let Finn introduce her because Peter’s always needed Alicia. From the show’s start, up until now, Peter’s image has been linked to how his and Alicia’s marriage is going. If Alicia’s unhappy then that reflects badly upon Peter, whose tenuous hold on the public’s trust has often been helped by Alicia’s own silent endorsement of him.

Alicia throws this knowledge in his face in the hallway, (a hallway very similar to one in which they stood at the show’s beginning, after Peter’s speech addressing the claims and where Alicia slapped him) and demands he reciprocate. Alicia may need Peter, at least politically, but Peter’s always going to need Alicia. He’s messed too much up to be able to maintain a political career without her at his side, a fact Alicia is well aware of as she notes that Peter skipping her announcement is only going to draw probing questions for him that are going to undermine whatever actual politics he’s trying to take part in.

Alicia and Peter’s marriage has become a convenient partnership. There’s little affection to be seen from either of them anymore. They’re polite when around others but take off the gloves when they’re alone, and Peter chalks Alicia’s request up to a “favor” she’s asking of the Governor, a transaction between two political figureheads that has nothing to do with anything other than what they can do for each other. Which is why Alicia pointing out the damage that would be done to Peter’s political standing is what actually gets him to her speech. If there’s anything “Shiny Objects” proves, it’s how easily distracted everyone is, particularly the voting public. And Peter’s learned this lesson several times already.

Peter shows up right before she goes on stage and has nothing but kind things to say about her. They’re both politicians at this point. Alicia’s always been adept at putting on a happy face in front of cameras for Peter’s benefit, and Peter’s doing the same thing here. He stands in the “weaker” spousal position, a position held by Alicia when she accompanied him on a stage many years ago, and photos run everywhere pointing out how much things have changed and how they’re so similar.

Stray Observations

  • Well the news is out: Archie Panjabi is leaving the show at the end of the season. She’s undoubtedly onto better things since TGW hasn’t done right by her in a very long time. I’ll still really miss her and treasure the remainder of the season with her.
  • Lana tells Kalinda that she finally told her mom she was a lesbian, and then her mom died. She asks Kalinda if she ever told her parents, a conversation topic Kalinda shuts down because she can’t talk about it for whatever reason.
  • The other Cary is really starting to grow on me. Question: Where is Clar
  • Diane: No. Cockroaches are not romantic.”
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