"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.
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.
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.