My "The Good Wife" Season 2 Recap: Break-Downs, Break-Ups & Betrayals With A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

If you need to catch up you may read my overview of the CBS drama “The Good Wife” from last fall. If you follow the blog regularly you know I LOVE THIS SHOW!  I have seen many universal truths reinforced from watching this show and find it an invaluable resource to model real life. If you haven’t watched it go to Netflix and get Season One. A little birdie has told me Season Two is available as a bit torrent for the episodes that aren’t currently posted on the official network website.

Is Alicia now the “Good Wife” gone rogue? Something that has come up for conversation amongst viewers of the show is whether Alicia is “innocent” or really a “victim” because of her feelings for Will. Are you kidding me? Her feelings alone are not the determining factor whether she’s “deserving” of our sympathies as the wronged woman. Her actions, however can be evaluated. So let’s do that.

Watch the clip of their hotel adventure the last few minutes of the season finale and tell me you aren’t rooting for them! I dare you.

The question of whether she helped compromise her marriage and whether she was emotionally cheating are worthy of discussion, however it seems many people want to see her in tears, looking haggard and falling apart to determine she’s suffered [enough]. Why is that?

Why can’t Alicia be hurting on the inside, but determined to move ahead with her life? She can’t change the fact her husband not only “banged a hooker 18 times” and went to prison, but also had sex with a co-worker at least one year beforehand. Are we to believe Kalinda and the hooker were the only other women Peter’s been with during his marriage to Alicia? When does Peter have to take responsibility or is there no accountability for him? Especially after she asked him a direct question about any additional cheating after she gave him a pass for the hooker incident only to find out he’d lied about Kalinda.

Is it also her fault she totally trusted him, where her family was literally sinking in quicksand and saw their entire fortunes wiped out? Did any assumption of marital security and portion of letting life get in the way justify Peter putting her life in jeopardy and damaging their children? Was she a “bad” wife and deserving of harm?

In case you’re wondering why I don’t have an issue with Alicia being with Will sooner rather than later, it’s because she didn’t let Peter’s repeated betrayals break her. In my opinion Alicia and Will have already lost one year they could’ve been together because she did give her husband all the chances he asked for to save their marriage. Peter knew he was on borrowed time. He put a lot of effort into receiving “spiritual guidance” from Pastor Isaiah but couldn’t figure out he needed to come clean to his wife? Come on! He did what was most convenient for himself, not what was in the best interest of his family.

Alicia is looking out for her needs as a woman first. Not wife and mother. There’s a powerful distinction at play. Self-care is the #1 Rule for women and the one we most often fail to do. I’m very glad the writers showed us her evolution over the past two seasons. There was the pivotal scene where she was shown putting on her makeup, getting dressed and going to work with a determined sigh and fighting back tears after she found out Peter had betrayed her again. It isn’t that she wasn’t deeply hurt, but that she was not going to let it define her.

Going back to Friday’s post about Maria Shriver and other political wives, if we look at real-life examples of women in similar situations they often seem gutted. Far too often women in these situations are left in peril financially, emotionally and physically. Going back to the tv show, Alicia had to scramble to get a job after having been a stay-at-home mom. She has been the sole breadwinner for two years. It hasn’t been easy for her, but she has not pitted the children against their father or fallen apart even as both options were likely to be very tempting.

There’s a point where women become aware of an escalating pattern of abuse and betrayal and may be complicit in their own suffering. Like when Mary Harvey made a video and posted it to Youtube outlining her sad tale. I had considered writing about her given Steve Harvey’s seeming enduring popularity amongst a certain group of black women, but I loathe having to talk about him. I also wonder if Mary had refused good advice early on which would only fuel her anger and disappointment at how she compromised herself. Leeches and aggressors go away when we stop breathing life for them with our support or focus.

When women treat men as the prize they are primed to be run over in every way imaginable in a relationship.

Will backed off from pursuing Alicia – albeit due to Eli Gold’s outside meddling because he thought she wanted to remain married to Peter and seemed happy with the decision. Now that the audience knows Kalinda had in fact had sex with Peter before his prostitute scandal erupted, we see he has a pattern of behavior that isn’t likely to change. Alicia can’t spend extra time monitoring her husband. He has to have the mental fortitude and moral code to honor their relationship. Since he doesn’t it’s time for her to move on. There’s a lot to consider as she extricates herself as his wife and rediscovers who she is as a woman that’s separate from any future relationships she may have. Whether it’s with Will or someone else. The point is she should take a small amount of time to work through things, but not more than a few weeks. It serves no purpose for her to be alone and lonely. Her decision to not let the grass grow beneath her feet was smart.

It has also already been revealed to the audience that Will is in love with Alicia, so he’s not just some random dude and their relationship is not a random hook-up. She needs a man of means and accomplishments who also respects her. Will has been the only consistent support she’s had aside from her brother. We didn’t get the backstory on whom approached whom after Peter was send to prison, but he gave her a job when the family was in a financial crisis and despite the fact she hadn’t practiced law in a decade. He’s protected her at the firm when he could. She was still expected to pull her own weight, so she has been treated as competent while being held accountable for taking charge of her career. We’ve seen her grow as an attorney and handle her cases better – or at the very least with a lot more confidence. I suspect we’re going to see more of her professional ambitions coming to the forefront in Season 3.

I’ve been very impressed and perhaps incredulous at how she and Will have navigated their personal relationship in a professional setting. Was that at all realistic? Or are these the most mature people on television? He’s been in love with her since their college days, never married and is now her boss. That’s a lot! After everything that has occurred with the law firm between the two partners, why hasn’t Diane said anything about it to Will? Their unrequited love affair was the running joke amongst several peers and rival attorneys.

So are we to believe things have been that obvious where random people could pick up on their connection? One thing I’ve enjoyed is the way Kalinda and Will relate to each other. There’s a genuine admiration between the two of them. I wonder how that’s going to play out after he finds out she slept with Peter. I think Will may be pragmatic about connecting why Kalinda was continually urging him to pursue Alicia. Now that the show has proved there are no sacred cows when it comes to relationships, whatever flaw is going to be revealed about Will may lose its impact – unless it’s something worse than what Peter did and it directly involves Alicia. I’m very curious to find out because Blake is a piece of work to say the least.

Why didn’t the writers show Bond trying a case? It really undermined his credibility as a lawyer that we never got to see him in a courtroom. Was it all show-boating on his part? He did bring in a client package worth $100M. In all seriousness, he could have remained a solo practitioner. Is this the last we’ll see of Wendy Scott-Carr? I’d love for her to mix it up at Lockhart/Gardner. Will Cary finally stop acting like a petulant child? He keeps the flames fanned with this rivalry against Alicia. She isn’t even thinking about him! He needs to move on — seriously, but it seems he’s going to assist Peter in sticking it to Will and Alicia next season. What a brat!

Peter is going to have to reign in Jackie before she does something that ultimately compromises the Florrick children. Let’s say the press catches wind of Alicia and Will as a couple [if they are in fact together]. What are they going to say? If Eli has set up an entire department and is helping Peter run for higher office, it won’t do Peter any good to be embroiled in a scandal. Not to mention the messiness of this going down at Will’s law firm. Talk about D.R.A.M.A.

How much money is Alicia actually making? There was a scene early in the season that showed her looking a bit stressed when writing a check to cover a utility bill. Then by the end of the season she was able to pay Peter’s rent for 3 months upfront. That certainly wasn’t in her budget. Did she get a salary bump? Oh and I loved, the way she let Will problem-solve their hotel dilemma. In fact, she didn’t say a word. She didn’t offer to chip in or “help out” either. Nor should she have!  Will wanted to spend the night with her, there was only one room available $7800 per night. With tax that would make it more than $8000 in fact and he whipped out his black American Express and whisked her to their room. Unlike her broke, serial cheating husband, here’s a man who can and will take care of business I am certain. LOVE IT!!! This is why Alicia made a good choice. Peter may be [temporarily] committed in marriage [nothing to take lightly], but Will is clearly devoted to Alicia. There’s a huge difference.

Now that Season 2 is over, I can firmly ask: WTF did they do to my favorite show? There’s either been too many cooks in the kitchen or an untenable switch in tone for the show. If they come back with Season 3 and we find Alicia back at their suburban house, before Peter was busted for “banging a prostitute 18 times” I would not be in the least surprised. Like when Pam woke up with Bobby in the shower on Dallas. It was all a dream!

Things I’d like to see for Season Three:

I want the back story on Peter and Alicia’s early years. They hinted at one or two flashbacks where they looked genuinely happy. The writers were a bit vague about the timeline and circumstances, but it appeared that Peter literally swept Alicia off her feet when she was originally with Will. Was there an earlier love triangle that ‘s being  revisited again 17+  years later?

I also want to address the fact that Alicia is still married to Peter and has now entered into a relationship with Will. Well…they’ve spent one night together. Who knows if they’ll actually be able to date. Their coupling might just be a revisiting of the past that they will finally resolve and they could very well move on to other people. Or Alicia could go back to Peter. Anything is possible, but I’m not feeling Peter quite frankly, though I looove the actor Chris Noth. Will has expressed his desire at having a family and reevaluated how the imbalance of solely focusing on his career success.

Perhaps a third man will be introduced as a potential love interest for Alicia so she really exercises ALL of her options. Where I feel the writers dropped the ball is in how they abruptly squashed any  exploration between Will and Alicia after Eli interfered by deleting Will’s message telling her he loved her. Will should have told Alicia in person – as Kalinda suggested. That was a rare display of fear and weakness that I didn’t appreciate. Had Eli not erased the message that they would’ve already been together.

As an aside, I’m also not feeling the writers emasculating Eli Gold. I don’t care about about his growth as a human being, haha! I don’t want to see his vulnerabilities as they try to remake him as Mr. Sensitive. He is supposed to a ruthless campaign manager with no heart. It was cut and dry and that’s the way I liked it! If they want to humanize him, then he needs to ‘fess up to Alicia.

About the Florrick marriage and infidelity. I don’t take an issue with Alicia pursuing a potential relationship with Will. Her marriage to Peter is over. Peter blew it apart. She gave him plenty of opportunities to come clean about any other women.  She would be a fool to not exercise her options. Smart women always have provisions in case their relationships implode. We’d suggest a woman never rely 100% on her husband for financial support in case of an emergency, so why not the same for emotional and physical needs?  If she has to make a withdrawal at the MAN bank for a new husband I applaud her insight. We’ve seen Alicia struggle with exploring her feelings, needs and wants for these two seasons. I wouldn’t advise a quickie divorce just to fulfill a legalistic definition of not being married before she pursued a relationship with Will either. I hate to say it, but sometimes life is messy and there’s overlap. Had she been flirting with Will or had they slept together before she’d forgiven Peter and gave their marriage one final salvage I would take issue with her choices. Not now, though.

I have a feeling Peter isn’t down for the count. He already knew he needed to win his wife back and that another man was interested – and available. In her case, there’d be plenty of men if she chose, but Alicia appears to be a serial monogamist who doesn’t venture too far socially. He knew he had to pull out all the stops to save his marriage, but oddly enough I didn’t see evidence of that. He was too busy running for office. When he asked Alicia if he should wait four years or run immediately, he’d already decided where his priorities were. If it had been his marriage, he would have been solely focused on mending his family. His ambition is his first and only love. Everything else comes second. While I understand men who understand their roles focus heavily on their careers, he needed to shift his priorities this time.

About the end of Kalicia: Kalinda + Alicia were my favorite couple and now they’ve ruined a perfectly great female friendship.

I always felt the two women rushed into their relationship, ha. Their friendship seemed improbable at best, but Alicia had literally been abandoned by everyone. I remember thinking she was being too trusting of Kalinda before she’d proven she was trustworthy and it was work-based relationship which could be problematic. Little did I know Kalicia would blow up as well.

People may have forgotten but Alicia asked Kalinda if she’d had sex with Peter (in a flippant way) at the very beginning of the series. It was when she first went to Stern, Lockhart & Gardner (back when Stern was alive) and found out Kalinda had worked for Peter. Of course why on earth would Peter have admitted to having sex with Kalinda? If he had Alicia would’ve ended the marriage a lot sooner. The only thing the writers spared us was in producing an out-of-wedlock child.

Kalinda:
Why are the women she surrounds herself with so sexually aggressive? It seems she’s always pushing people away, but everybody wants her.  Why is so she desirable? What’s the back story on her and Cary? Season One she was like Superwoman in a short skirt. Now she’s merely human with all of our failings. Sigh.

The writers are going to redeem Kalinda and Peter.  We saw it at the end of the episode that it was Peter who sent the evidence that freed an innocent man to Alicia to help Lockhart/Gardner’s case. When the nasty secret about Will is revealed (remember the Blake situation?) will it send Alicia back to Peter? Her decision to leave Peter has nothing to do with Will – or at least it shouldn’t.. I don’t know if they’ll be able to go the distance as a couple or if they’ll settle into a friendship and move on.  You can’t relive the past.

Jackie:

Mama Florrick is going to be an issue. She’s already shown she doesn’t respect Alicia or the boundaries she’s set regarding the children. I’m thinking she’s going to over-reach and cause more problems between Peter, Zack and Grace than if she’d stayed out of it. I found it distasteful but predictable that she tried to threaten Alicia regarding custody and loved her come-back response. “They’re not YOUR children.” Exactly. Wait until they find out Peter betrayed their mother – again.

***

All in all it was a great season. they focused a lot more on trial cases towards the second half of Season 2. I appreciate the mix of interpersonal and professional relationships, but want to see more of the characters’ home lives. Especially Diane. She’s still quite the mystery and I want to see more of her internal motivations.  I could go on with this post forever, so I’m going to end here. It was a little less structured, but this is how I watch the show – with multiple scenarios running through my head. I’m looking forward to Season Three, but the writers need to remember it is not the cases that make the show the ultimate draw, it’s Alicia and her relationships.

More The Good Wife hijinks —

Carol Moseley Braun’s real life run mirroring reel life

Season One recap

6 comments to My “The Good Wife” Season 2 Recap: Break-Downs, Break-Ups & Betrayals With A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

  • Sorelle

    Hi Faith!

    I'm loving your season wrap-up. I must say though, I disagree with you when you say, "he [Eli Gold] thought she [Alicia] wanted to remain married to Peter and seemed happy with the decision." I think Eli's meddling was purely a political move to keep Alicia and Peter together during the campaign. There' no doubt that Eli admires and respects Alicia but his move was very strategic and had nothing to do with what he thought Alicia wanted. We see it again with him joining Lockhart/Gardener, I believe that Eli will again run interference on an Alicia-Will relationship. On another note this "rival" Cary has with Alicia is getting old and is totally one sided-that's a story line I'm ready to see die. I thought it was funny when he approached Peter over his "fued" with Alicia and Peter hadn't the slightest idea who he was, LOL. No doubt season 3 promises to be an interesting one (if only CBS would keep their episodes consistent though).

    • Faith

      Sorelle: Welcome and thanks for your feedback. You misunderstood the "he" in that passage. I was referring to WILL, not ELI. Eli didn't give a rat's you know what until the writers began tinkering with his character to make him more palatable. If you go back to Season One and see how he behaves now, you'd think they were two different characters. I don't consider it personal growth, either. I think they've deliberately "softened" his character for what reason I don't know. I prefer it when they let the characters stand as they are. If they mess with Jackie and make her the grandma next door type for Season 3 I am going to be seriously pissed.

  • NijaG

    Excellent analysis Faith :)

    I haven't had time to follow the show since Season 1, so this definitely helped me catch up to what's going on.

    I think "The Good Wife" is one of the best TV shows that has come along which shows the complexity and the challenges of the various roles and expectations that a woman has to face in not only her immediate family social circle, but also in the larger society.

    I think Alicia, represents the millions of women worldwide, who are socialized in one way or the other to believe that if you follow certain rules, beliefs, and behavior then you should be rewarded with a certain outcome. However, life doesn't always give the outcome that was promised.

    I think the exposure of Peter's infidelities while painful for Alicia, was also a wake-up call for her. Whether nature and/or nurture, more women when compared to men, are more willing compromise, give up, or delay essential desires that make up who they are as individuals when it comes to romantic relationships.

    Like you said, "Life can be messy." I don't have a problem with Alicia testing the waters with Will or someone better, before she makes a final decision on her marriage. Peter opened that window and from what you've written hasn't done much to close it.

    • Faith

      Nija G: Thanks so much for your feedback. You can watch much of Season 2 online directly on the CBS show page.

  • Truth P.

    I’m also not feeling the writers emasculating Eli Gold.
    Me neither.It all seemed so fake when they made him take up for Ugly Betty's daddy.(speaking about the episode with the illegal immigrant issue)

    So they ended up using the hispanic worker,can't think of her name-she played Ugly Betty, to take Wendy Scott Carr out if I'm not mistaken.Then they swooped in and saved the hispanic girls illegal immigrant daddy and she started working with them.How slick.
    That episode let me know that black people had better learn to put their own interests first and foremost like other people do and never to assume any automatic alliance based on color.

    • Faith

      I thought that was an interesting episode to be certain. There was definitely a message int heir. I was looking at an employment form today and realized it was the government that uses the term illegal (or legal alien) — plus Sting sings about being a "legal alien" in his song, "Englishman In New York" so now I've connected how slick some people are trying to be in changing the lexicon to something that sounds much less innocuous like "undocumented worker". Boy…African Americans really have been hoodwinked!!