Ken Tucker has your critical take on last night’s season 2 premiere of CBS’ The Good Wife. I would like to zero in on your emotional – and physical – responses to two key scenes: The voicemail and the sex. (Watch both below. You’re welcome! UPDATE: Co-creator Robert King talks to us about the latter after the jump.)
Now, I’d read that Eli was going to erase a “swoon-worthy” voicemail from Will on Alicia’s cell.* That little bitty spoiler meant that I was slightly confused when Will left a message saying they should just drop it – she’s married, he’s her boss. But when Will dialed again, I knew it was going to be good. It wasn’t as lengthy a speech as the one Josh Charles delivered on Sports Night when Dan finally got Rebecca (Teri Polo) to go out with him, but that’s what was so disarming. He came right out and said, “I love you.” He admitted he’s probably loved her since Georgetown(!). With that confidence and conviction that was sexy on Dan and sexier on Will, he told her to call him and he’d meet her anywhere to make a plan. Then – and this is when that spoiler had me literally kicking the blanket I was laying under on the couch three times – Will told her to ignore this message if she didn’t feel the same way. They’d pretend it never happened. They’d go back to the way things were. Eli heard the voicemail while Alicia was onstage at the press conference with Peter and deleted it. So all Alicia heard was Will backing down. When I watched that scene again after the episode, I did another three kicks.
You want to hate the writers for having Will give Alicia that out, but you know what? You can’t blame them. It’s too soon in the series for Alicia and Will to get together, and they have set a precedent for Will thinking they could back-burner their feelings and go about business as usual. They did it after the kiss. Of course, a kiss is different from saying “I love you.” We’d all like to think we could profess our to love a friend and continue the friendship if he or she doesn’t want something more. But having tried it once myself, I know it’s tough. You’re frustrated with that person, and yourself because it does bother you that he or she is getting all he or she wants out of the relationship and you’re not. Whenever you have a good time with that person, you’re reminded of what could’ve been and resent that it meant more to you than to him or her. You get angry at yourself for not being able to get past it, because it means you’re both losing a good friend, but eventually, you might have to pull away. Which is what Will is doing.
Having seen the “S” in the episode rating, I almost thought that Alicia would take Kalinda’s advice to talk to Will about the kiss-off voicemail, and they would have a heated argument that one of them would end by grabbing the other. But that’s too cheap for this classy series. Plus, those damn office walls are glass, and Alicia is too smart to get that carried away there. So, when Peter got turned on watching Alicia stand her ground against a judge in court, I got worried. As he walked purposefully toward Alicia’s bathroom, I warned Peter through the TV, “Do not have sex. DO NOT have sex.” But I’m glad he didn’t listen to me. That scene was as hot as anything I’ve ever seen on broadcast TV. I wonder if the CBS censors told them not to show what Peter’s hands were doing below frame, or if creators Robert and Michelle King, the king and queen of subtext, knew it would be even better that way. This morning, I asked them to describe the process of getting that scene to air. Here’s what Robert King had to say: “We had a… shall we say ‘delicate’ collaboration with Standards & Practices. We went to them early to describe the scene, and why it was important for character development that Alicia be the more passive sexual participant. To our mind, it was never going to be a gratuitous scene. It was about how desire is ignited through Peter’s observation of his wife asserting power. And it had to be a scene of Peter being the active participant because it had to demonstrate his desire and not necessarily hers. We like the scene. We especially like how the scene slingshots you from court to marital life so quickly.”
For me, knowing that Peter got turned on by watching Alicia work makes me like him a little bit more. We’ve heard from Peter’s mistress Amber Madison that he’s a very giving lover, and he proved it. Alicia told him she had to study, so he said, “Let me,” and sank below frame. When that scene ended, I had to laugh. At myself. I felt a bit spent.
Your turn. What ridiculous behavior will you cop to during last night’s premiere? Are any of you now Team Peter? The promo for next week’s episode shows that Will has definitely ended the “sexual sabbatical” he took when Alicia joined the firm. I’m curious how far the writers will go to balance the scale. What do you hope happens next?
* I’d hate Eli for that if I didn’t like Alan Cumming so much and wasn’t looking forward to watching Eli “keep in touch” with Peter’s mother. Karma?