The Good Wife has spent years meticulously crafting a layered universe full of recurring players and plotlines just waiting on simmer until something turns up the heat. “Lies” is a fun episode in part because it features frequent payoffs to these plotlines, whether it’s the return of the NSA or the voter fraud scandal threatening to return to haunt the Florricks.
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“Payback” is largely about mirroring. From the early shot where Alicia’s arbitration is mirrored with the mediation going on at Lockart Agos & Lee to the way the subplots of Eli and Jason tend to run in the same basic directions, this is an episode that is structurally fascinating to behold.
Now, that’s more like it. This show has been off its game for quite some time now, to the point where I was beginning to get comfortable with the idea of it as an old war horse that would never recapture the glory days. But “Cooked” is, top to bottom, the best episode The Good Wife has done in quite some time, and one that could sit comfortably alongside any number of solid episodes from the show’s heyday, even if it never quite makes it to the highs this show can reach at its best.
At this point in its run, there’s no denying that The Good Wife is an old war horse. Seven seasons in, the show has its tricks, and they are well worn. That’s not to say the show isn’t still capable of greatness; I hope to see several great hours of television this season (and at least reasonably expect that I will).
One of the chief problems that plagued The Good Wife’s wildly uneven sixth season was its tendency to chase the highs it found during season five by blowing up the status quo and then watching the characters reconstitute.
Much of this season of The Good Wife has been about the way that Alicia’s perceptions have changed over time, the way her ideas about what is good have shifted, the ways her views on the law and how to use it have moved.
The Good Wife has always been less one show than four or five shows crammed into one. One of the most impressive things about the series is the way that, at its best, it juggles a seemingly impossible number of plotlines with ease.
Much of season six of The Good Wife has taken place within the mind of Alicia Florrick. Even discounting “Mind’s Eye,” which took this premise literally, this has been a stretch of episodes less concerned with the world in which Alicia lives, and more concerned with how she decides to live in it.
For the second time this season, The Good Wife is ripping from headlines it presciently anticipated, airing episodes shot months before events unfolded that seem to comment on these events, nearly directly.
Over the course of season six so far, Alicia Florrick was learning how to be a candidate. In “Undisclosed Recipients,” she has to begin learning how to be an incumbent.