Friday, May 28, 2010

"The Good Wife" season finale recap: "Running"

Finally caught up with the season finale of "The Good Wife" yesterday. Spoiler-y recap is below, so don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sooo...did Alicia answer the phone?
I guess that's the key question posed by "The Good Wife's" mildly cliffhanging finale, isn't it? Did Alicia continue to be the "good wife" of the show's title, ignoring Will's call and joining her husband on stage at his comeback press conference? Or did she answer the call, offering Will another chance to come up with a plan to allow her an escape from her marriage?
I tend to think it's the first option. All season, we saw Alicia working hard to preserve her family and to make some attempt to rebuild her relationship. Having her throw it away so quickly would seem like a waste. Though I doubt Peter's rebirth as a good man will last (and I think Alicia doubts it too), this is her life, and she's too practical to walk away just yet.
Of course, there's always the chance that Alicia won't get to make a choice; that Peter's slick image-maker Eli will simply snatch the phone and push Alicia out on stage.
But I am curious to see what happens -- mainly because "The Good Wife" was possibly the TV season's best new drama. I didn't write about it much, because there's not much too write about. "The Good Wife," in the spirit of nearly all CBS shows, is straight-forward, cleanly plotted and defiant of much analysis. But damn, is it fun to watch.
Julianna Margulies is a pure pleasure as the complex, full-blooded Alicia -- a woman who's been publicly humiliated by her husband, but refuses to let that define her. It's good to have Margulies back on TV in such a meaty role, and to see her backed by such an interesting cast of characters. Like nearly everyone else, my favorite of the bunch is Kalinda, the sly and mysterious investigator played by Archie Panjabi. Panjabi has, indeed, played the hell out of that role, creating a woman who seems like she could literally cut you open with a glare.
I've also grown fond of Christine Baranski's Diane, even though she was initially introduced as a grown-up mean girl cliche. She's gotten deeper over the season, and her steamy flirtation with Gary Cole's folksy ballistic expert is one of the most surprising romances on television (kudos to "The Good Wife," by the way, for showing that middle-aged passion can be just as fun and sexy as hook-ups between young folk. More so, even).
The show also has made good use of guest stars (though it did waste the excellent Amy Acker in the finale). I've loved the show's rotation of judges, particularly David Paymer's no-nonsense character. Other stand-outs include Martha Plimpton as a cut-throat (but maternal) attorney, Michael Boatman as one of Alicia's co-workers, Carrie Preston as Peter's deceptively flaky counsel, and, of course, the Man in Black himself, Titus Welliver as Peter's political enemy.
Special mention must be made however, of Alan Cumming as Eli. Cumming is a difficult actor to cast properly, but Eli fits him like a glove. His brash, but not unsympathetic, performance helped shoot life into a show that didn't seem to need it. The next season promises more tension between him and Alicia. I say, bring it on.

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