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The Good Wife Recap-“A New Day”

So just to be clear...she's more a naughty wife now?

Where did we leave off, Wives?  Let’s see…Eli had brought his firm in-house to Lockhart Gardner and Alicia was his new liaison.  Kalinda was retreating further into herself than ever before with Cary as her only remaining connection to keep her from completely icing over.  Grace was still experimenting with a deeper religious faith, while Jackie was angling to bypass Alicia’s exile and see her grandchildren.  Peter had returned to his post as State’s Attorney and was striking a deal with Cary to take advantage of the younger man’s past relationship with Lockhart Gardner.  And finally, Alicia and Will consummated their relationship with a hotel room tryst which marks the beginning of a whole new phase of The Good Wife.

Man, I love this show. Though I hate Julianne Margulies’ bangs.  Yeah, I said it.

I’m not going to waste too much time on the specifics of the case-of-the-week for this season opener; not only because I thought it was one of the worst ones this show has ever done, but also because the conclusion of it left a horribly bad taste in my mouth and should have been beneath this show.  Essentially, we have a dead Jewish college student and the hunt is on to find the killer; the murder has sparked a great deal of Jewish/Muslim tension in the community and Peter’s office is desperate to get a big first conviction.  After a great many permutations and fake-outs it comes out that the killer is…his secret homosexual lover, a not-particularly-religious Muslim.  I don’t have an issue with the show choosing to have it’s criminal of the week being a gay man; obviously there are gay men and women who do horrible things just like there are straight men and women who do horrible things.  However, the show didn’t bother to build up any kind of believable story line behind the killing; we never meet the victim and the murderer has two short scenes in the whole episode.  Instead we get huge amounts of red herrings all of which lead exactly no where, because the person who actually committed the crime isn’t even on screen.  The case would have been far more interesting if the gay aspect of it came out after Alicia and her Scoobies had been hunting around to try to understand what happened and the revelation of the relationship made all the pieces come together in retrospect.  Instead it was a homosexual ex machina (copyright!) which made little sense, and did a disservice to the relationship that was at it’s core.

Far more interesting, as per usual, was the interpersonal dynamics between these people.  It appears that Alicia and Will have continued their affair and then some.  What exactly is up with The Good Wife’s sexy season premieres?  Last year it was Peter and Alicia in the bathroom, this year it’s Will and Alicia in the…well, I’m not exactly sure where they were.  But she wound up biting his finger to keep herself from being too loud and it was steamy.  Over at the office, they’re compensating by barely looking at each other.  Diane thinks Will is being too hard on his protege, while Eli tells Peter that he shouldn’t be worried about his wife getting together with her boss.  There’s something else there with Eli though…I wonder if he suspects something after all.

Kalinda, meanwhile, is still getting the cold shoulder from Alicia.  It’s settled into a generally glacial demeanor from both women, and while they appear to be getting on with their lives it’s disruptive enough that Diane snaps at both of them to fix whatever is happening.  Applause to the writers for continuing to keep this relationship on a slow boil; both women are too reserved and intelligent to let their personal squabbles get in the way of their jobs, but it’s clearly affecting them despite their best efforts.

In other Kalinda news, Sophia has wound up at the State’s Attorney’s office and appears to be attempting to be a general thorn in Kalinda’s side.  After allying herself with Cary, Sophia thinks that Kalinda is sleeping with him and that’s why she no longer is interested in their relationship.  I must say, I’m not sure where they’re going with this, but I assume they’re going fast because fairly soon Kelli Giddish is going to be far too busy on Law and Order: SVU to keep popping over to The Good Wife.  It’s a pity, because I actually enjoy her with Kalinda and the two of them have far more chemistry than was ever mustered up with Blake.  Maybe Lili Taylor could come back?

Let’s take a minute now to talk about some of the things that are being set up that aren’t being spelled out for us.  The Alicia Florrick we have known for two season was constantly complimented on her poker face.  She was reserved.  Her emotions were held strictly in check to satisfy her need to always be prim and proper.  When Alicia enters the office in the very first shot of this season, she’s practically skipping.  It’s very well done by Julianna Margulies and not over played at all, but there is a shift in Alicia.  She’s no longer denying herself things that make her happy, she’s trying to live her life and move on.  This lighter tone continues throughout the episode until the final moments.  Peter takes the kids and she gets ready for Will to come over.  She primps in the mirror and slowly that lightness drains out of her and her face resumes the old mask quality that defined her for two seasons.

Alicia isn’t quite consistently happy as we might think.  Sure, she’s finally with Will but it’s a secret relationship and she’s intelligent enough to know that there are huge issues in their future no matter what else happens.  She has just extricated herself from a toxic relationship and now she’s putting herself into another potentially explosive situation and when she’s not actively enjoying or distracting herself, those doubts bubble to the surface.  The tug of war between her desire for Will and her desire for her own life and how those two can come together seems like it’s going to drive a lot of this season, and that is a plot that the writers can be proud of.

And some final points to wrap this up.

-There was a quick subplot with Grace and her extremely odd tutor.  I have no idea where that’s going, but I would like to applaud the young actress who played the tutor and performed a dance solo with abandon.  She threw herself into that one.

-I hope they never change the ring from Grace on Alicia’s phone.  It’s a great character thing.

-Subtle new opening credits…Alicia’s got a secret and it’s making her smile.

-“Where are you going?” “Court.” “Why?” “I’m a lawyer.” “Glad we cleared that up.”

-Diane didn’t have much to do this time around, but that purple dress was hot.

-“I was just going over this campaign.  Arab Spring.  Sort of like Irish Spring.  But with Arabs.”

-The little scene between Kalinda and Will at the end was nicely done.  That’s not a pair we’ve seen much of outside of the workplace, and it would be interesting to continue to explore that dynamic.  Also, Kalinda totally knows doesn’t she?

-Exactly how much time passed between the season ender and this episode?  Was that made clear at some point that I missed?

-Okay, this is the last thing I’ll say about the gay killer thing.  I think there was an opportunity here to perhaps say something about his sexuality being an issue with his religion and the disharmony between the two somehow leading to his crime.  There was definitely an opportunity here to say something about something.  Unfortunately, he was presented as an entirely normal guy who just happened to wind up stabbing his boyfriend in a fit of jealousy.  And then carved a backwards swastika into his forehead to make it look like a hate crime.  Which seems to make it much less like a crime of passion and much more like pre-meditated murder.  Which makes him seem less like a normal guy, and a lot more like a freaky psycho.  So if he’s a freaky psycho, why don’t we get to see that?  Literally, the only piece of individual information we get about this character is that he’s gay and I think we should have evolved past the gay psycho killer stereotype by this time.  It was just really poorly done, and these writers are better than that.