Like the conflicted new bangs she began sporting at the beginning of the season (half sly swoop, half demurely combed back), Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick is both bouncy and a little awkward on The Good Wife these days. After two seasons of righteous, wronged-woman anger and independence-seeking assertiveness, Alicia has pretty much gotten what she wanted. She’s booted her philandering husband (Chris Noth’s Peter), she’s bedding her favorite colleague (Josh Charles’ Will), and she’s now a third-year associate at Lockhart & Gardner, so she wields more influence at work.
So what are her problems, where’s her drama? Ah, this is the awkwardness I referred to. Everything truly dynamic about this season is occurring around Alicia, not to her. Peter is using his current status as state’s attorney to make Lockhart & Gardner — and Will in particular — squirm. Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold has moved into the firm’s office to be closer to the action and more frequently irritating, especially to Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda, whom he tried to claim as his private employee. And Matt Czuchry’s Cary was promoted but can’t savor it because he’s been assigned to do Peter’s dirty work.
You see what I mean about Alicia being the eye of the storm — yet a still, small center? Other than fighting some good fights in the courtroom (where guest stars such as Eddie Izzard and Dylan Baker continue to make The Good Wife the best place to argue a lawsuit in prime time), Alicia is most active when slipping in and out of bed with Will. I miss her liquor-fueled chats with Kalinda when they were buddies. I miss her family power plays with her mother-in-law, Jackie (Mary Beth Peil). And sometimes I miss The Good Wife. I mean literally: CBS has frustrated fans in moving it to Sunday nights. There, The Good Wife is frequently pushed back as much as 30 minutes by football overruns. I’ve never seen a show resort to ads in which, rather than plug the week’s plot, it exhorts viewers to “record for two hours — go to cbs.com/dvr.” When you have to teach your audience how to find your show, the advantages of being an Emmy winner on a broadcast network decrease.
All that said, The Good Wife regularly snaps back into first-rate storytelling. And I trust that creators Robert and Michelle King are playing the long game, spending the first half of the season setting up all these subplots around Alicia so that she will eventually become the focus of each one. At least, that’s my fondest wish. That, and my wish that Alicia would go back to her old hairdo. B+