‘The Good Wife’ Season 6 Episode 10 Recap: “The Trial”

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What a fucking mess.

When on its game, The Good Wife is easily one of the most amusing shows on television and the same thing can be said about the show with regards to its handling of its many dramatic moments. If we’ve learned anything from “The Trial” is that where the show fails is at attempting to seamlessly blend the two elements into something akin to harmonious. So disparate are the alternate sides of this week’s episode, its nigh impossible to talk about them as a cohesive whole so let’s break them up.

This week on The Good Wife: Comedy, a hilarious misunderstanding takes place in which Alicia jokingly writes about murdering a public servant. Despite repeated warnings not to joke while running for office (and also, because she’s not particularly funny it would appear) Alicia writes Grace a (satirical?) note excusing her from gym class because she’s ill. Now, Grace has been having trouble in this particular class because the mean old gym teacher has been making her jog in slow circles around the auditorium even when she’s feeling under the weather and Alicia is fed up with it. She takes this opportunity to quote that (terrible) anti-hero show she’s forever watching to talk about stabbing the gym teacher and letting them bleed out as a way for her and her daughter to bond.

No, I mean, I get it. My mom and I bonded most significantly whenever fantasizing about the gruesome deaths of my physical education teachers, too. I just wasn’t stupid enough to take those notes to school and show them around to make sure what my mom was writing was satire. Jesus, Grace, do they not have The Onion or Clickhole at your school? Or… Clickbowl, a la ChumHum? That’s satire. Every article that shows up on your Facebook feed that people are apoplectic about that is clearly not based in fact: That’s satire. You don’t need to send your politically aspirational mother down the river because you don’t have a strong sense of genre literature.

Anyway, this foofaraw gives Eli and Josh plenty of time to squabble over strategy, ever more opportunities for Alicia and Frank to nervously size each other up, still virtually circling each other like two cats who’ve met for the first time, and another chance for Alicia to make an empty moral stand about something that doesn’t really matter. This time she’s against patronage, which means she doesn’t want to reinstate the education board in exchange for getting her hands on the note. This is resolved outside of Alicia’s purview by Peter creating a new board and assigning several of the teachers to it, but Alicia is very perturbed by it all the same. Which is all fine and good except over on…

…The Good Wife: Tragedy things are not going well for resident whipping boy Cary Agos. His trial is beset by any number of small inconveniences which one would guess are supposed to carry additional meaning but in actuality make for a muddled mess. His judge wants to speed the trial along so he can get Neil Diamond tickets. The prosecutor has been sleeping with the detective that testifies and can’t leave her husband. Arch villain James Castro reappears for roughly 30 seconds to act like Emperor Palpatine and insist the prosecuting attorney call Kalinda Sharma to the stand. A juror who was sympathetic to Cary is replaced because he has a medical disorder that causes him to have an auditory disability in times of stress. All of these are things happen but none are given anything to ground them in the reality of this trial we’ve been marching toward for over two months.

Because Cary’s prospects are so dire, everyone goes to extremes to try to save him. Alicia decides that she’s not so ethical that she won’t try to persuade Finn to give her evidence to prove where the last remaining witness to Cary’s innocence is hiding. Kalinda, in turn, takes this evidence and attempts to blackmail Lemond Bishop into telling her where the individual is. Everyone on this show apparently has a death wish. I suspect by the end of the season someone will get their wish granted. Lemond shockingly does not take well to the suggestion that child services remove his son from his care and lets Kalinda know in no uncertain terms that her behavior is unacceptable. Unacceptable or no, it gets results. Except the witness lies and doesn’t exonerate Cary and an already grim storyline gets that much grimmer.

This episode wanted to be so much more than it managed to be. By finally bringing Cary to the precipice and having him take the plea bargain in the final shot of the fall finale, the moment was filled with emotion, but not necessarily the emotion the showrunners were going for. There is sadness for the unfairness of Cary’s situation but there’s also plenty of frustration because this is surely a comma where a period should be. Because us viewers know that, save for a wacky time jump that lands us two years from now with Alicia as State’s Attorney and Cary released on good behavior, there’s no way the show is actually shipping Cary off to prison for two years. For one thing, the series isn’t going to run that long. For another, they’re already chopping another main character come season’s end. So what? What out will they find to keep Cary from the big house and how long will we have to wait to see it come to fruition? Ten episodes spent on a plot that wasn’t necessarily the strongest to begin with seems like a big investment.

As fun and often fantastic as the first half of The Good Wife’s sixth season has been, the weakness of this episode feels like a dangerous portent for potential downfall. The season has faltered in trying to blend the dual interests of the firm and Alicia’s campaign. With Cary’s guilty plea that will surely not play out as it seems, this season seems dedicated to telling these divided tales with little care for whether they can be welded together well or not. Two roads diverge into a winter break… let’s hope both shows within The Good Wife are on the same path.

Quick hits:

  • As mixed as this episode was, Matt Czuchry was flawless. Though his dialogue was limited, his facial expressions told the whole story.
  • Where the fuck is Robyn? This is ridiculous.
  • Between The Newsroom and The Good Wife BuzzFeed is having a really good promotional year.
  • I’ve evolved past Alicia and Finn shipping and now just ship Finn. On his own. Just, as a person.
  • No, seriously. Where is Robyn?
  • Opening credit appearance: 10:12