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The Good Wife Review: Are You Serious?

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"A Defense of Marriage" was about more than just the rights of same-sex spouses. The episode was an opportunity to look at the institution of marriage through the character's distinct relationships.

Before we get into the case, let's talk about Cary. After the brutal beating he got at the end of last Sunday's episode, there wasn't much follow-up. He showed up to work with a black eye and lied about how he got it. Plus, he had a confrontation with Nick about the city contract case, which ended with Nick threatening Cary.

Given the intensity of the situation, it was disappointing that it was barely addressed. I hope this gets resolved in the winter finale.

Alicia and Her Mother

This week's case was an intriguing one, especially when it came to the evidence. The CEO and his wife's wiretapped conversations were protected by the spousal privilege. The firm's defendant, who was in a same-sex marriage, was not afforded the same protection due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which states that same-sex marriages are not recognized by the federal government. No legal marriage means no spousal privilege.

Since the evidence was kicked out, the CEO walked and testified against his collegue. At that point, the case became about much more than a criminal case. It became a fight against the constitutionality of DOMA and taking the case to the Supreme Court. 

The firm brought in a proven Supreme Court lawyer, Jeremy Breslow, to fight the case, which created conflicting goals. The firm wanted to win for their client, while it was in Breslow's interest to lose, so he could appeal. 

The defendant and his husband decided not to take the offer and continue the fight. They were willing to take the court's punishment, if it meant they could appeal the decision and potentially get to the Supreme Court. Alicia and Diane still needed to make sure their client was properly defended, went against Breslow to make sure it happened, and won the case.

Breslow was upset and claimed their actions meant DOMA would be around for at least 10 more years. Should they have lost the case for the greater good? Or, would that have been malpractice? It was hilarious to see Breslow on TV proclaiming victory after all that happened.

I appreciate when The Good Wife addresses some of the major legal questions of the day and this case handled it well. When the couple had to decide whether to settle or not, there was no right or wrong answer, just a difficult decision based on personal convictions. 

The legal case set the stage for the underlying theme of the episode: What is a marriage? During the court case, we had a CEO married to a woman, who had numerous affairs. The defendant and his husband had a limited open marriage with Free Fridays. And, outside of the case there were marital woes as well. 

Peter and Veronica

Alicia's mother, Veronica, arrived in Chicago for Thanksgiving and brought with her probate issues with her deceased husband. Did Veronica cheat? Was the step-son right in telling his father and getting the will changed? Or, did it even matter? 

For the story, it mattered because Veronica's marital history provided insight into Alicia's marriage. Veronica had a point when she said that Alicia was afraid of being with Will because that would be like following in her mother's footsteps. With rare exceptions, Alicia has always done the "right" thing, not necessarily what would make her happy. Is that an admirable trait to have? Or, is it a sad one? The look on Alicia's face showed the sacrifices that she has made.

Then, Veronica overstepped by confronting Peter. Everything she said to him was spot on, but it wasn't her place to say it. Ultimately, it had the opposite result from what she wanted. Instead of pulling Peter and Alicia apart, she pushed them together ... at least for the moment.

Alicia's reaction stunned me as much as it did Peter. What the heck was she doing? Peter nailed it though, "Is this about your mother?" And, her quick response, "Yes," said it all. This wasn't about Peter or her marriage at all. It was about control, defying her mother, and even about Will.

Alicia seems to hit a certain threshold of restraint and then in a split second releases it in a moment of passion. She's done it before with Peter and with Will. Does this mean Alicia and Peter will get back together? No, because the sex wasn't even about Peter. And, it definitely wasn't about their relationship or marriage.

Throughout the season, a few readers have commented that Alicia is the "good wife" and since Peter's reformed, she should reconcile with him. At this point, I don't agree. If he wants her back then he should woo her and he hasn't done that. He's been almost all business with her about his campaign, her career, or the kids. 

There was nothing "good wife" about Alicia's actions. They are two consenting adults and married, but they both used poor judgement given their relationship and especially since their kids were right outside. I've never had much respect for Peter, but if he would have stopped Alicia's advance that would have changed.

It will be intriguing to see what happens next. Will either Alicia or Peter take Veronica's words to heart? Will Alicia decide to find happiness? Or, will Peter let Alicia go? Before the bathroom escapade, their marriage was in a stalemate. It wasn't moving in any direction. I'd love to see them both take Veronica's words to heart. 

If Peter moved forward and let Alicia go, then perhaps they could actually find their way back to each other. She could choose him. Love him. And, be happy.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (118 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I never thought I'd be so attracted to the idea of Peter and Alicia considering I was such a big fan of Will and Alicia from the get-go. She and Peter have a more raw connection to me and as long as peter remains reformed and awesome, I can enjoy them.

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Throughout the season, a few readers have commented that Alicia is the "good wife" and since Peter's reformed, she should reconcile with him. At this point, I do agree. If he wants her back then he should woo her and he hasn't done that and the same has been for her, you can't keep up the cold attitude all the time when he is around with a little perky smile. When a spouse puts their carreer before family no marriages will work, today most age groups mostly female between 35 to 45 ages marriages fall apart because to much time is spent away from the home. This starts a whole new story as to why it happened, OT a lot has a very big part in it for both spouses. After work drinks with co-workers is a very big NO-NO, this usually heads to infidelity and divorce.
Take it to someone who knows I screw up big time and can't bring myself to forgive my indiscrections and my husband who I really love has moved on and was crushed by this. My two kids are very upset and will not let me forget it.

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It took the scandal to force her to re-evaluate her life and in doing so she got intimately involved with the tricky - and seductive - side of the legal and political world. That has done much to change her character. She is more similar to Peter than people want to admit. If nothing else, she definitely has the potential to be. Every time she asked Peter for help with a case or used a connection to get something she wanted, she chipped away at the ethical code she adhered to. Her and Peter wouldn't have worked in the first season, even the second, but now in the fourth, they could. I don't think she's demeaning herself and she's not allowing herself to be used anymore. I think the two of them make a fascinating pair and I'm interested to see how they'd work together again.

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I didn't like Alicia with Peter in the first season because I didn't understand how they could work. Will made sense then, not as a long-term partner but as a fling. But now the idea of her with Peter makes sense because the relationship is not so one-sided anymore, they are more equals now. I have no problem with the Alicia/Peter sex. Yes, it's raw and dominating but she's taking control in a way she didn't before the scandal wreaked havoc on her "perfect" life. Peter has been shocked both times she's initiated because the wife he knew for 15 years prior to the scandal didn't do this kind of thing.

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she wants to or needs to. She uses Peter's contacts, knowledge, position, and influence to get what she wants. She accepts Peter's help, asks for it even, with legal cases, she uses her connection to Eli to beat out Cary for the position at Lockhart/Gardner, she and Peter use his position as State's Attorney to get their children back into private school. It was difficult for her at the beginning of the show to do these kinds of things but she doesn't fight herself so much anymore over it. Ryan Alprin nailed Alicia's character when he said she's a rule follower who likes people who scare her. Look at her life - she's best friends with Kalinda and married to Peter. Maybe those life decisions are a kind of rebellion but I think it's probably more about being attracted to what's different. They push her out of her comfort zone and, ultimately, make her stronger.

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I think the writers are going in the right direction with Alicia and Peter. At the beginning of the series, it was Saint Alicia and Bad Boy Peter. Alicia subscribed to a very strict moral and ethical code but the writers very patiently laid the groundwork for her character evolution. She judged Peter harshly at the beginning of the first season - and well she should have given the humiliating cheating scandal and abuse of office charges - but now in season four, that judgement is much more tempered. Yes he cheated on her and yes that was wrong, but she has a much better understanding of how tricky it can be to negotiate ethics in the Chicago legal/political world. When she wasn't working, she didn't ask any questions about Peter's legal/political life. Now that she is working and involved in Peter's political campaign(s) (despite not wanting to be), she has a better understanding of the ethical dilemmas that face him. And she's more willing to walk that line...and cross it when she wants to or needs to. She uses Peter's contacts, knowledge, position, and influence to get what she wants. She accepts Peter's help, asks for it even, with legal cases, she uses her connection to Eli to beat out Cary for the position at Lockhart/Gardner, she and Peter use his position as State's Attorney to get their children back into private school. It was difficult for her at the beginning of the show to do these kinds of things but she doesn't fight herself so much anymore over it. Remember Ryan Alprin? He nailed Alicia's character when he said she's a rule follower who wants to be free and likes people who scare her. Look at her life - she's best friends with Kalinda and married to Peter. Maybe those life decisions are a kind of rebellion but I think it's probably more about being attracted to what's different. They push her out of her comfort zone and, ultimately, make her stronger. I didn't like Alicia with Peter in the first season because I didn't understand how they could work. Will made sense then, not as a long-term partner but as a fling. But now the idea of her with Peter makes sense because the relationship is not so one-sided anymore, they are more equals now. I have no problem with the Alicia/Peter sex. Yes, it's raw and dominating but she's taking control in a way she didn't before the scandal wreaked havoc on her "perfect" life. Peter has been shocked both times she's initiated because the wife he knew for 15 years prior to the scandal didn't do this kind of thing. It took the scandal to force her to re-evaluate her life and in doing so she got intimately involved with the tricky - and seductive - side of the legal and political world. That has done much to change her character. She is more similar to Peter than people want to admit. If nothing else, she definitely has the potential to be. Every time she asked Peter for help with a case or used a connection to get something she wanted, she chipped away at the ethical code she adhered to. Her and Peter wouldn't have worked in the first season, even the second, but now in the fourth, they could. I don't think she's demeaning herself and she's not allowing herself to be used anymore. I think the two of them make a fascinating pair and I'm interested to see how they'd work together again.

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I'm very much in agreement with the poster who said Cary should have gone to the police. Also shouldn't Cary have said something to Will and Diane about his being attacked by a client or someone working for their client. One thing I'm little confused about did anyone besides Alicia know that Nick is Kalinda's ex? Also if Kalinda changed her name wouldn't Nick still think of her by her old name. Remember how Blake kept calling her by her real name. Why wouldn't Eli remember Kalinda working for Peter? Did Peter know her as Kalinda or as Leyla? Someone said Peter only wants Alicia because of the kids and his campaign but what about the time during his house arrest when he ran out of their house after her setting off his ankle bracelet because he knew she was going to meet Will?

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This is a tricky one. Alicia's mom was dead on on everything she said. Not only is Alicia doing what she's doing to not end up like her, but when she gets older she will remember those words her mom told her: In the end, there's only one thing and that's happiness. A lot of the commenters seem to believe that just because Alicia has kids then she's no longer a woman and that's just so wrong. She needs to do what's right for her whether that is staying with Peter o go to Will. If you stay in a marriage just because you have kids and 'that's what's right', at the end of the day you will only set yourself up for a very bitter arrangement. Your kids know when your miserable and trust me, it is better for them to see you apart but happy than together but broken. If she's still in love with Peter than she should be with him, but stop making her be with him out of spite or to prove a point or any other external factor.

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Carla, you said "I've never had much respect for Peter, but if he would have stopped Alicia's advance that would have changed." I disagree. You wanted him to stop Alicia in the middle of her "throes of passion?" She's not a person you could say no to, if you've noticed. Saying no to her then would have been a big snub for her. And she doesn't take kindly to snubs. Plus, he's not chasing other women. So I think if his "wife" wants to be with him, for whatever reason, he's right to not deny her.

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