The Good Wife
Blue Ribbon Panel

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 3 USERS: A-
See Me Bare My Teeth For You

Mike: "Pastor Roc, you're black. Make him behave."
Roc: "Son, the best way you can honor your dad is by answering these desultory, snotty questions about the time a second ago when your father was gunned to death for no reason right in front of you."
Kid: "Good point."
(Roll call; all pass...)
Alicia: "Robbie..."
(Male Gaze!)
Alicia: "Ahem. The officers told us there was an express train going by, and that's why your dad didn't hear them shouting they were cops..."

She drops easily into the rhythms of her best jury work, leading-without-leading, asking yes or no questions in a soft, firm voice, and nobody can withstand Alicia's soft-firm-voice voice, so he speaks up: There was a train stopped on a closer track that blocked out the express train's noise. They would have heard the explanation just fine, if it had happened. But it didn't.

For once, I'm not confused by the episode's case, because that's a tale as old as time: Too-fast reaction from a cop, jobs on the line (and up the line), you tell a little lie to make it go away, nobody inquires further because that's the price of safe streets.

So -- this episode is full of jumps in time, it's one of the hallmarks of this show that makes it so eminently watchable is that the music and the edits keep rushing you forward, but here there's also a persistent irony every time it happens in this episode, which is really gorgeous -- from the crying son breaking down about how nobody believes him about the train noise, headlong into everybody laughing as they wrap up for the day. Entrenched patriarchy has done its job for the day! Time for some scotch! Yikes.

Dunaway: "Mrs. Florrick? You can call me Pete when I'm out of the robes. Anyway, stop trying to impress the grownups and just follow our lead, okay? You don't need to reinvent the wheel."

Like he actually says that -- although fairness demands that I mention he structures it in terms of the new kid at the table, not in gendered terms. She draws him out, in a perfectly choreographed ballet of passive aggression, to make him say it. Every word of it. Her mouth is smiling, but her eyes are knives.

"What? Little old me tryin' to be clever? Surely you don't... Why, I'm just a girl from Michigan, I don't even know what wheels are. Please, explain that shit to me in detail, motherfucker."

It's been an enduring mystery of the show, how much percentage of any given speech act -- on the occasions she deigns to speak at all -- in Alicia's intent is actual innocence and how much is an act. I can imagine seeing this scene in the first season and being like, "Oh girl, he's pulling privilege on you, don't be stupid," but now it's like she's swallowed the tactic and made it her own. You could even draw a line here from Nancy Crozier to Caitlin -- as a sort of transcendent synthesis in the ongoing education of Alicia Florrick -- but either way: She knows damn well what she's doing. It's revelatory and revolutionary and it makes me want to rewatch the entire series without giving her the benefit of the doubt: How Alicia has reinvented the wheel of Third Wave feminism for herself, learned to inhabit the face she's always presented, finally with full accountability.

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The Good Wife




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