Welp, this will make it the 45th time I’ve referenced Virginia Woolf in a review of The Good Wife, but after an episode like “Mind’s Eye,” how can I possibly resist?
Watching Alicia’s thought processes unfold isn’t exactly like bearing witness to stream of consciousness (and not anything like one of my favorite Good Wife episodes ever, where we went into the mind of Elsbeth Tascioni), but it’s close—and also incredibly fascinating. We know she’s smart, and that she has a unique way of thinking, but now we know why. Alicia Florrick lays—and plays—it all out in her mind. All of the possible reactions to her moves (in the courtroom, in the bedroom, with her children)—she envisions them and tries to uncover the one that makes the most sense. Then, she makes her move.
Last week we saw Alicia weakened by the end of the episode, a puddle of lonely tears in front of her daughter Grace. This week it felt like we were seeing Alicia weakened again—a woman, a candidate, practically without a voice. But it would appear that Alicia’s true voice is her inner voice, her intellect. She prepares for her big editorial board interview by watching Prady’s online (naughty girl, Elfman told her not to do this), and considers how she might work against some of the messages her opponent brilliantly, craftily sends out about her.
Before she can get into a groove, Michael J. Fox returns as the incomparable Louis Canning. This. Guy. I cannot deal with him on so many, various levels. He is the little boy who cried kidney failure, and it’s always amazing to witness him at work. He’s giving Alicia and the firm a couple of hours to settle with him over the eviction suit, and Alicia has to work through how they might win. In these scenes, Alicia is more like a detective than a lawyer (or, she highlights the ways in which these two positions are very similar). What does he want, what are his motivations, and why is he so damn sure he can win? Although we watch her discover, in her mind’s eye, that David Lee is working with him, and she figures out how to win the case, it doesn’t really matter in the end. The little boy who cried kidney failure is actually unconscious in the hospital, and there will be no court day tomorrow.
But Alicia’s mind’s eye is not just an intellectual dream—it’s also filled with jealousies and insecurities, and sexual fantasies featuring her late lover Will, her almost-lover Finn, and her possible soon-to-be lover Elfman. Like all parents (seriously, all of us), she has terrifying visions of failed children—one homeless (homeless Zach was everything), and one pregnant (pregnant, glue-sniffing Grace was, also, everything).
By the end of the episode we see how these fantasies (and damn, some of these were steamy!) really make their way into reality. The look on Alicia’s face as she stared at Elfman in the car, and promised to follow his advice and steer clear of the Bishop controversy? Whew! She looked as puddle-like and vulnerable as she did, sitting on [fantasy] Will’s lap, telling him that “everything is falling apart.” And her hilarious religious fantasies featuring faux Richard Dawkins and the pastor (I loved when they both called her a hypocrite) inform her conversations about faith with Grace. There was also that “Oh my God!” that she let slip out over the phone with Elfman, when her fantasy got a little real. Awkward.
The most important connection I can make to Woolf’s work is to note how the whole episode is unconcerned with the big, final destination. It’s not about what happens at the light house/interview. It’s about everything that leads up to it, all of the in betweens and relationships, and inner dialogues before the arrival. Perhaps next week we’ll see how Alicia performed in her interview, but that’s almost not as interesting as what it took to get there—all the work put in to the measuring of the brown stocking by Mrs. Ramsay.
RE: Alicia’s awful voice—all I could think of was Catherine Moriarty in Casper.
Grace telling her mom to “just ignore that text” she saw? Bwahahaha. Kids are so cute in that they have no concept of parenthood and the inability therein to “just ignore” any and everything about your kids and their text messages.
I love that The Good Wife takes on so many issues, but the storylines concerning Alicia as an atheist—and the public and private reactions to this—are really powerful.
Marissa’s “I’m not trying to replace you,” to Grace? I think we’ll be seeing more about this later.
Ew, those Peter and Kalinda scenes made my stomach hurt. No. No, thank you. More Elfman, please.
And no, nope, nope. Still not over Will.
Also, and randomly, I miss the moms! Where are Veronica and Jackie?
Best Quote of the Episode:
“That’s Louis—always caring for other people.” (Mrs. Canning, so lovely, so delusional).
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.