The Good Wife Season 5 Review “The Next Day”

Whenever a show has a watershed moment, the question inevitably comes: What now? Fresh off of taking a flame thrower to their status quo, The Good Wife is faced with that question. If tonight’s episode is any indication, it is going to get quite testy.

I’m not certain what viewers are supposed to take from this squabble. Typically, there is a right side and a wrong side whenever conflict occurs between two groups. Either something has happened to give us a clearly delineated black hat, or the answer is so clear it’s only matter of time before everyone realizes what it is, and everyone makes up. Very rarely (especially on network television) do you see a show attempt to tackle a nuanced issue that doesn’t have a clear right side. Ultimately, viewers of the show are going to have to choose sides. It’s what everyone does when conflict arises. Unless nobody really cares, television viewers are rarely Switzerland. They join a side and ride it out until the end. Just ask all the people still riding for Walter White.

The trouble with choosing sides here is that it’s impossible to feel good about the side you have chosen. Alicia has gone cold and cutthroat. Will is bouncing off the walls like a juvenile delinquent. I suppose it’s going to depend on your level of tolerance for the antics of either of them. Still, it’s pretty remarkable to have a show present us with a problem with no clear cut solution. It will be fascinating to see what they choose to do with the remainder of the season. We know Alicia’s firm isn’t going anywhere, and it’s safe to say Lockhart/Gardner will continue to cruise right along. All that will be left is to decide who to side with in disputes. Expect your Good Wife-tweeting friends to be filling up your timeline with twitter hashtags reflecting their allegiance.

This episode also marked the return of Marilyn Garbanza, Peter’s ethics chairwoman. Aside from my usual frustration over her refusal to put her arms in her coat (Why does she even have one?), Marilyn is a character without a great deal of purpose. She basically just pops her head up to stop people from swagging out. The lingering promise of her causing problems for Peter only increases my distaste for the character. We’ve played that game before. There’s simply no need for the storyline. The show has enough on its plate with the law firm split. If the show wants to give her something worthwhile to do, I’m happy to have another pretty person to watch in a television show filled with them.

This week’s case of the week definitely got lost in the shuffle of the law firm split. They never gave us a reason to care about the actual outcome of the case. I’m not really sure it matters. After the events of last week, I can’t imagine any viewers clamoring for an exciting case of the week. Nonetheless, The Good Wife has a large procedural element to it. It will have to work to make sure the cases of the week don’t get swallowed up by all the lawyer squabbling.

There’s lots of work to do as The Good Wife works to establish a new status quo. It will be a constant work in progress. They are attempting to rebuild their show in a new image. Pardon the pun, but the jury’s still out.