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Alicia Florrick and Lucca Quinn become friends in a tumultuous episode of The Good Wife

Illustration for article titled Alicia Florrick and Lucca Quinn become friends in a tumultuous episode of The Good Wife
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Nothing is official yet, but all signs are pointing toward this being the final season of The Good Wife. Creators and showrunners Robert and Michelle King announced that they will be stepping down after this season. And then Julianna Margulies joked that she’ll be unemployed in April, suggesting that a hypothetical eighth season of The Good Wife would be down two Kings and its queen. So what is the truth? CBS hasn’t made any official announcements regarding the show’s renewal status, but I’ll be shocked if The Good Wife doesn’t end after this season. Tonight’s episode certainly makes it seem like we are barreling toward an ending. But “Judged” doesn’t just signal conclusion. It’s a rollercoaster of an episode that tries to accomplish a bit too much all at once. A lot happens, and not all of it makes sense, but even when the writing is shaky, tight direction and powerful performances elevate each scene. Margulies and Cush Jumbo deliver masterful performances. Diane is stuck in a lifeless storyline. The series pulls off its second-best elevator kiss to date. It’s a manic episode. I’ve said since the season premiere that The Good Wife has morphed into a completely different show than what it used to be. “Judged” confirms that definitively.

“Judged” does, at times, seem to be a weird meta-meditation on the show’s fate. Alicia has reached a breaking point. She doesn’t see the point in existing anymore. “Now I’m sick to death of everything—this apartment, this laundry, the fact that things get dirty, the law, just standing here,” she says to Lucca. Is The Good Wife making a case for its own demise? Maybe that’s a stretch. But there is a weird sense of closure that comes with “Judged.” Alicia learns the specifics of Will’s voicemail but then ultimately is able to push through the sense of dread and helplessness she feels over Will’s death. She forgives Eli. She indulges her personal desires for the first time in forever, spontaneously kissing Jason in an elevator. And she’s probably heading home to Lockhart, Agos & Lee. All of that screams “final season” to me. Perhaps the strangest moment of the episode is when Alicia admits, through tears, that she doesn’t even know if she really likes her two children all that much. But even that seems like a little wink to the audience. After over six years of watching The Good Wife, I’ve never really figured out exactly how I feel about Grace and Zach. I feel you, Alicia! Your children are just okay!

The whole laundry room scene is truly representative of the episode as a whole. It’s so over-the-top and kind of insane, but it also made me cry a lot and immediately accept that Lucca and Alicia are friends now, even though it all came out of nowhere. Again, I think a lot of this has to do with Jumbo and Margulies, because they sell the hell out of the scene. Between their captivating performances and the visceral dialogue, it wasn’t until well after I watched the scene that I even stopped to think about how random it was for Jumbo to fill that role for Alicia. I guess, technically, Alicia doesn’t really have anyone else. But Lucca so adamantly insisting that she wants to be Alicia’s friend doesn’t really come from an emotional place that we’ve seen develop over time. Lucca, like so many other characters on the show right now, only exists in Alicia’s bubble. In fact, her confession that she doesn’t have any friends and that she cares about Alicia is the most we’ve ever really learned about the psychological underpinnings to the character. So I’m having difficulty parsing out exactly what the laundry room scene represents. Part of me feels totally ready to jump on board with the newly established relationship between Alicia and Lucca that extends much deeper than just “partners.” In fact, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my shipping senses tingled a bit during the scene (okay, so I may have been shouting “kiss!” at my television). But in all seriousness, while Jason and Alicia are the ones who smooch in the elevator, “Judged” is really a love story about Alicia and Lucca, and a moving one at that. I just really hope that we’re going to continue to see this friendship grow and that the emotions uncovered in Lucca’s talk with Alicia will have real, lasting consequences for both characters and their relationship to one another.

Because there’s another part of me that just felt like the whole laundry room scene was some sort of calculated bid at awards attention for Margulies. Yes, it makes sense that Alicia finally reaches a boiling point about the voicemail, but the way it’s executed in this episode feels almost too surgical. Alicia is a sobbing mess, but the meltdown unfolds rather neatly, with Lucca sweeping in to say exactly the right things and then Alicia finding her laugh again by episode’s end. “Judged” would be a much stronger episode if he episodes leading up to it were more connected and had a stronger sense of the characters—especially Lucca. But it’s also possible that “Judged” will mean even more once we have more pieces of the season in place. So much of season six, after all, worked better when I rewatched the season as a whole than when I was looking at the show week-to-week.

Even more so than a self-reflexive commentary on the show’s fate, “Judged” acts almost as a thesis statement for the season so far. Ever since Alicia exited the world of Lockhart, Agos & Lee for good, she has been so isolated from the rest of the show. That creative choice has, at times, been very limiting. In particular, the writers haven’t really justified why Cary and Diane should still be around this season. There isn’t an ensemble feel to the show at all anymore. It’s very much so a one-woman show. And that can be hard to sustain, especially because it makes other characters seem so underdeveloped (Who is Lucca Quinn, really?). But “Judged,” at least, acknowledges Alicia’s loneliness head-on. The episode about her relationships—or lack thereof—with others. The most effective transition in the episode is the cut from Lucca and Jason sharing shots to Alicia drinking alone at home. Even the camera keeps its distance. Alicia has almost always been friendless. She had Kalinda once upon a time, but that didn’t end so well. She had Will, and then he died. She had Cary, and then he was replaced with a cyborg or something. “Judged” finally shows the emotional consequences of Alicia’s inability to connect with others. Lucca spells it out very clearly. And despite my shipper feels, I do think it’s important that we see Alicia at least attempt to sustain a friendship. Previous seasons have focused on tumultuous changes to Alicia’s relationships with people. This season seems to be an even closer examination of how Alicia connects with others. And right now, her relationship with Lucca presents much richer storytelling possibilities than her flirtations with Jason.

I almost don’t even want to address it because it is so disparate from the rest of the episode, but what the hell was that Diane plot? The case at hand seems to be a take on the real-life events at Wesleyan University, where the student government threatened to defund the school paper after an op-ed was published criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement. The Good Wife doesn’t impart particularly insightful commentary on the issue at hand, nor does the case really unearth anything interesting at all. Especially everything else in the episode is so heightened and frenetic, there just isn’t any life to the arbitration scenes. Diane is quite literally stuck sitting in a hollow room. The story lacks movement, and the camerawork does, too. Cut the plot out entirely, and nothing is really lost.


Stray observations

  • The reveal that Cary would be representing Alicia, while predictable, is framed in a way that makes it exciting. I just wish Cary was more connected to the emotional framework as the show instead of just being some prop that’s rolled out when needed.
  • Save Diane From Aimless Plots 2016
  • Schakowsky is not a very compelling villain, unfortunately. His whole schtick is that he doesn’t like Alicia—just because.
  • “Seriously, are you going to hate the whole world right now?” I do like that Lucca has everyone’s number. She calls both Alicia and Jason out in this episode, and it’s great.