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The Good Wife Review: “Don't Fail”

Episode 6.21

TV Reviews The Good Wife
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<i>The Good Wife</i> Review: &#8220;Don't Fail&#8221;

Last night when the name “Aya Cash” popped up during the opening credits of “Don’t Fail,” I immediately shouted for joy. The Aya Cash?! The You’re the Worst fan in me was overcome with glee, but as things progressed I began to worry that we wouldn’t see much of the bumbly, fumbling new lawyer. But it turned out that Amber Audrey played a huge role in the episode—not so much as Alicia Florrick’s biggest fan, but more so as Alicia Florrick’s younger consciousness. There was a time long before the State’s Attorney run, long before the loss of Will Gardner, and before she’d gone from being a good lawyer to one of the best, when Alicia wanted to be an honest lawyer who won her cases fairly. When Alicia had to step down two episodes back, I declared that they had killed her—she would never be the same. And I think we saw some of that last night when Alicia stood in front of a judge and told a bold-faced lie. She’s all grown up now, and she knows that “fairness” is often a myth. And sometimes, the right thing to do is tell a lie.

She tells Cary as much when she says “We’re better lawyers now.” But it’s significant that she adds that she misses seeing the law as something good. Now, in her mind, it’s just “neutral.” Like everyone in this episode, she’s changed and I like that the theme carries throughout. When Brett confesses to Alicia that he lied about his alibi (but is still innocent), he stresses that he’s “not the same person anymore.” He’s a father of three and a husband—and since Alicia got him off all those years ago, he got away from that strip club bouncer/drug dealer life. Dakota the stripper is now Danny the designer. Hell, even the strip club became a charter school! And as for Alicia, she went from being opposed to Cary’s approach all those years ago, to taking the exact same approach here. She urges Dakota-turned-Danny to stick with her story, and she explains to Amber that they don’t have to tell the truth about Brett’s alibi. It’s not right, but all that matters is that it’s not illegal.

Still, it was surprising to hear her lie to Judge Dunaway (who I love), and name Kalinda as her source. I was relieved that she did it, but still surprised. Will we see more of this in upcoming seasons? Just how much has Alicia changed, and is it all for the best?

If there was a B-plot this week, I suppose it was the focus on the beginning stages of her memoir. Do any of us really think this is going to happen? Sure, Alicia’s changed, but she’s still not one for exploiting her own experiences, which is essentially what she’ll have to do. Should she open with Will’s murder? Or with the new case she’s working on—which looks pretty sensational too? Alicia’s not comfortable doing any of this, so it’s hard to believe she’ll open up enough for this. Besides that, if she does go through with starting her own firm, she can probably ditch this move altogether.

And she should! In spite of all these changes, Alicia still loves the law and loves practicing. There was a great shot of her unpacking Brett’s files and covering all of the artwork on the wall with the photos from the evidence boxes. It’s not just her work—these are the images she most enjoys looking at, because she doesn’t just see evidence. She sees a puzzle with missing pieces, or a Picasso. Nothing pleases her more than craning her neck and trying to make sense of things.

But there’s something else that hasn’t changed. “Don’t Fail” closes with Alicia proposing to Finn that they go into business together. Sigh. Alicia. Business and pleasure? Haven’t you learned yet that you can’t have it all (at least not at the same time, in the same space)?

In spite of some really great moments, and the common thread of change/sameness moving through this episode, it wasn’t an especially thrilling Good Wife. From the beginning, I never really believed that Brett was going back to jail, and it didn’t seem like there was much on the line. Even now, with this question posed to Finn, I don’t have anything that I’m worried about heading into the season finale. But every episode can’t be explosive, and maybe we all needed a cool down after all that heavy stuff with the State’s Attorney race. And who knows if the finale won’t throw us a huge curveball? Whatever happens, it’s been a great season of TV.

Stray Observations:

I like how the people around Alicia wouldn’t let her wallow. Finn encourages her to take on the case, and to win it: “Don’t fail.” And Grace is relieved to see her mom working again.

Props to Alicia for waiting till exactly 5PM for that glass of wine. It was hilarious, but also another great look into her mind—her ability to exercise control when it suits her.

“Objection!”
“On what grounds?”
“On the… gimme a sec grounds.”— Amber was such a hot mess in that courtroom.

Loved that scene with Zach and his grandmother. This was also an episode about the way the memory works—what we choose to remember, what we choose to forget, and these odd little happenings that we didn’t even know about, which also change the past a little.

Poor Zach is about to get the surprise of his life. No way she’s putting his room back together in time.

Best Quote of the Episode:

“I’m having a crisis of confidence and it’s taking up all my time.” (Alicia)


Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor & a film critic at Paste, and a writer for Pink is the New Blog and Heart&Soul. This New York-based freelancer probably has more babies than you, but that’s okay; you can still be friends. She welcomes all follows (and un-follows) on Twitter.