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TV Review: The Good Wife – “What’s in the Box?”

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Season 4 of The Good Wife wrapped up with a satisfying mix of conclusions, surprises, shakeups, and setups for the next round, including a new swoop on the emotional roller coaster of Alicia’s love life.

Last week, as Peter’s gubernatorial campaign rushed towards its close, his “good wife” signaled her commitment to both him and his career by accepting his renewal-of-vows proposal and giving Charlie Rose a politically helpful interview.

(There are spoilers below.)

This week, on the even of the election, dragging through an all-nighter in a special elections court – that’s right, another unorthodox courtroom setting with a wacky judge – Alicia and Will are trying to combat what looks like vote tampering by the opposing campaign, aided by a witness (“Nana Jo”) played with comedy and pathos by Estelle Parsons. The pair find themselves holed up in Will’s car in the middle of a muddled night, shrouded in the gloom of their illicit feelings for one another, fighting to overcome animal urges. Another scene, much briefer but just as elegantly written and played, displays another side of the same animalistic drama in the form of a confrontation – albeit a subtle and indecisive one – between Will and Peter. (“Don’t punch me,” Will quips, referring to the more violent St. Patrick’s Day encounter between Peter and Kristeva).

It’s down to the wire for the campaign, with polls showing the election may be very close. And it’s down to the wire too, sort of, for Cary and the fourth-years as they scout out office space for their new firm, flirt with Lockhart Gardner clients, and squabble over Cary’s distorted perspective on Kalinda’s importance to the new venture. And of course there’s the question of whether Alicia herself will yet decide to jump ship. Regarding the preternaturally smart and almost omniscient Kalinda, Cary makes a major misstep.

But there are no miscalculations in how the final scenes are shot. One captivating long shot follows Alicia striding through the celebrating crowd at the election party, headed for home and what we are led to believe will be a fateful rendezvous with Will. In the very last sequence, as she waits in a flurry of anxiety for that knock on the door, at one point we see her through the open round glass door of the clothes dryer; then she’s reflected in a round mirror. Are things really just going to keep running in circles for our wronged and compromised heroine? Or are we in for something unexpected?

I won’t give away the twist at the end. I’ll say this, though, about how well the show pulls me into its web: Even after we learn who wins the election, and that it wasn’t very close after all (making the court battle over the questionable ballots moot), I leaned in anxiously to try to see the percentages in the one quick shot that showed them, surprising myself by feeling the exact same feelings I have looking at those numbers in a real election.

I do have quibbles. Why, other than for artificially enhanced dramatic purposes, did Alicia’s fateful meeting at the end have to happen right then, instead of waiting for – oh, I don’t know – the next workday? And on a completely different note, wouldn’t Eli, if he’s really a horror movie aficionado, know that an aficionado wouldn’t call Hostel 3 a horror flick, but torture porn? Fortunately, things like this can’t spoil a top-notch episode of The Good Wife. Here’s hoping for continued grungy delights of ambiguous morality and conflicted romance in Season 5.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.