Four years ago, after a spate of increasingly ridiculous sex scandals (vacation to Argentina, anyone?), CBS asked us to consider the woman standing on the side of the stage. They sold us a bleak scenario; home in tatters, a woman past her prime is forced to start over, not only to take care of the family, but to find her misplaced self.
That woman evaporated years ago, leaving us one of the most dynamic characters this side of Walter White. From beginnings so humble, Alicia Florrick is now the most powerful actor in this fictional world; she holds the fates of the Illinois Governor, Lockhart/Gardner, and a crew of young upstarts in her manicured hands. And she knows it.
It's remarkable that she's managed this ascent without ever playing the trickster; that she's playing that role now sets us up for high comedy and (one hopes) a new ruthlessness. The first casualty appears to be any last embers of the once great friendship between Kalinda and Alicia. (I always held that friendship up as one of the things that made the show unique, but in many ways, the show's refusal to easily rekindle that friendship makes it even more so. It's how these things work in real life.)
But who will she become? By running off with Cary, she implicitly rejects Will+Diane's moral indifference. I can't be the only one who cheered when, after a momentary hesitation, Cary's simple statement that "we are the new Will+Diane" causes her to double down. (Related but not: "What's going on? West Side Story?" may be one of the greatest line deliveries in a show tripping over itself with great line deliveries).
Wild card: Alicia+Cary vs. Will+Diane may spar in the main theater, but I wouldn't bet against the impact of the looming proxy war: David Lee vs. Kalinda.
GOOD FLORRICK, BAD FLORRICK
Alicia may have changed, but her central relationship hasn't changed much since my salad days of weekly reviews:
Whenever Alicia and Peter stand in the same room, there's a massive inflow of oxygen, ready to stoke the fires of everything that lies simmering under the surface. So much hatred, and also so much love, a love that pollutes and infects and prevents them from ever having a meaningful conversation about anything.
1. The show runners have decided that esoteric baroque strings are part of the show's new DNA, and I'm ok with that. It just makes me doubly excited about the return of our favorite dead client.
2. If we see Cary and Alicia slamming tequila shots in every episode henceforth, I might (MIGHT!) almost (ALMOST!) get over the loss of my darling Kalinda/Alicia superhero friendship.
3. Love that Robin literally put a bird on it:
4. These death row cases BREAK MY HEART. STOP IT, SHOW.
5. Um, I love Melissa George and can't wait to see where this story goes. Taste the pretty:
6. Today in Kalinda Accent-Watch: "Well, aye caunt leagly access their cawls."
7. This is the only premiere that lacks a gratuitous sex scene. Did the censors finally catch on, y'all?
8. "You're right, but that doesn't mean it's his." "You're right. But it does mean there's no convincing you." Why isn't Geneva Pine a series regular? Come on now.
9. "Please don't end up hating me." AAAAAAAAGH DESK ATTACK OF UNPRECEDENTED STRESSFULNESS.
10. I actually don't even know what to say about Monica the telecommuter, because I'm too busy laughing hysterically at how Alicia's throwback do-gooderness last season has blown up in her face.
11. I enjoyed how the show's new fissures were brought to life in the filmography. There's not a single shot of Alicia and Diane together where they're not crowding each other off the screen:
12. Not to mention Alicia and Will:
Next week: DESK ATTACK OF UNPRECEDENTED STRESSFULNESS!!!