‘The Good Wife’ 6×14 Recap: An Acid Trip Through Alicia’s Mind

Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florick on The Good Wife.

Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florick on The Good Wife.

[First things first: a note from the Corrections Department. As a commenter pointed out last week, it was, of course, Frank Prady, and not Alicia, who called Guy Redmayne “disgusting” in last week’s episode. Chalk that up to me filing my recaps bleary-eyed at 4am Pacific time. Now on to this week’s episode.]

“Your voice sounds better.”

“I’m finding it.”

This exchange ends (or effectively ends) this week’s installment of The Good Wife, and we can only assume that these lines are also intended to have a deeper meaning. They were an interesting way to end one of the strangest and, inevitably, most polarizing episodes this show has ever put on air.

I’ll start by saying that churning out 22 episodes of television in a single season is insane, especially on a one-hour drama, especially on a one-hour drama in today’s new Golden Age of TV, and especially on a one-hour drama of The Good Wife’s caliber. A show just can’t pull off that many high-quality hours of television on that kind of schedule without most people involved going out of their minds. Eventually, with an order that huge, you’re going to see one or two (or more) episodes that don’t move stories forward in any appreciable way, but instead tread water and (hopefully) lay groundwork for some of the bigger moves coming toward the end of the season. I’m going to generously assume that “Mind’s Eye,” written by show creators Robert and Michelle King and directed by Mr. King himself, was such an episode. The two big story threads this season have been Cary’s prosecution and the State’s Attorney’s election. It’s clear that one thread has been totally wrapped up and the Kings & Co. aren’t ready to finish up with the other one yet, and so we get “Mind’s Eye.”

“Mind’s Eye” takes a slightly more, shall we say, introspective tack, bringing us into the complicated universe unspooling between Alicia’s ears. As Alicia fights off what she swears up and down is not a cold, her mind and her iTunes are on constant shuffle. It’s a week before election day, and our favorite TV lawyer is once again multitasking. She’s preparing to do an interview with a conservative editorial board, one with whom Frank Prady has already sat down. She watches his taped interview and takes notes while simultaneously honing her defense against Louis Canning’s wrongful eviction lawsuit.

Left alone in her apartment, her mind starts to wander in all different directions. She imagines Lemond Bishop, the sugar daddy for her PAC, and crafts answers to anticipated questions about his involvement with her campaign. She imagines Kalinda and Peter together. Most jarringly, she imagines Will, but it’s all mixed in with images of her getting it on with a variety of men. There’s the shadowy Will-Not Will. There’s Finn Polmar. There’s the square-jawed guy from the Internet commercial. There’s Jonny Elfman. Now, if you’ve been reading any of my recaps this season, you know that I have been wanting Alicia’s sex life to dramatically improve. This isn’t what I had in mind, but I’ll take it. At least now we know for sure that Alicia has the hots for Jonny, and that that kiss between them in the parking garage several episodes ago has left some embers still smoldering (and if the promo is any indication, fantasy may just become reality, thank God).

Perhaps the most interesting thing we learn about Alicia in this episode is her taste in music. From Ray Barnette and Thomas Woodard’s “Show Me the Light” to Tally Hall’s “Mucka Blucka” to Bajofondo’s “Pa’Bailar (Siempre Quiero Mas),” whose subtitle perhaps tellingly translates to “I Always Want More,” Alicia’s music is random, y’all. Not entirely uncool, mainly because Julieta Venegas has a great voice, but still random as hell.

On her walkabout, one of the conclusions Alicia draws is that paying Canning off is the best thing to do, but before she can get a chance to make that offer, Diane and Cary inform her that he’s in the hospital. His condition has worsened quite dramatically since that doctor was taking his blood pressure in the backseat of a car, and Alicia gets to the hospital in time for Canning’s wife (played by Susan Misner, aka Sandra Beeman from The Americans) to tell her that Louis is not long for this world. She asks Alicia to pray for her husband, but Alicia doesn’t feel right doing that, because she knows deep down she’s not a person of faith. But that doesn’t stop her from promising Simone that she’ll pray.

I’m going to make a confession now: I no longer know what the show is trying to say to me about Alicia vis à vis faith. Alicia learns by accidentally receiving one of Grace’s text messages (this is a thing that can happen, I’m told) that Grace is having a crisis of faith, but it’s never really discussed in a meaningful way. This could have been an opportunity to flesh out Grace’s character and strengthen Alicia’s relationship to her, but the “mind’s eye” conceit of the show meant that couldn’t happen. Instead, because there’s only room for one POV this week, Alicia imagines Grace pregnant and sniffing glue, and then there are some religious discussions with a minister and Richard Dawkins. As far as her other child is concerned, Zach is apparently, in Alicia’s imagination, homeless on a park bench. This speaks volumes about Alicia’s assessment of her own parenting.

All told, “Mind’s Eye” is a considered, stylistic way to approach the “water-treading” episode, but the results are mixed. The attempt to create a distinct visual style for Alicia’s brainscape (the grayed-out bookshelves, the face of Will-Not Will obscured by shadow against city lights) was much appreciated by this viewer. And it’s always welcome to watch Alicia grapple with whether or not she’s become a person she can still stand to look at in the mirror. But by episode 14, it’s become apparent that there’s just not enough story to keep this campaign alive for this long. Let’s just vote, dammit, and get this over with, so we can deal with more pressing concerns. Case in point: Kalinda. Will anyone ever find out what she did to save Cary? And what will be the consequences?

P.S. I will confess that my heart caught in my throat a little when Daydream Alicia said “goodbye” to Will-Not Will. That seemed like a huge moment for Alicia’s character that the episode just sort of skimmed over.

‘The Good Wife’ 6×14 Recap: An Acid Trip Through Alicia’s Mind