TV Recap: The Good Wife, ‘Party’

Written by Matt Taylor

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This week’s episode of The Good Wife deviated from the series’ traditional formula, moving the drama out of the courtroom and focusing almost exclusively on Howard and Jackie’s wedding reception, held in Alicia’s apartment. The results: a breath of fresh air for the season, and a welcome chance to say goodbye to many of the series’ best supporting characters. As a result, “Party” was the strongest episode of season seven so far – and will, most likely, be remembered as one of the series’ best.

Howard and Jackie’s engagement was one of the season’s more unexpected plot developments, and the way the show allowed their reception to be an climax of sorts shows how frequently the writers’ think out-of-the-box when writing this series. Unsurprisingly, with so much of the cast getting back together, the ensuing hour was awfully dramatic: Diane prepared for starting her all-female firm, Eli struggled with finding a replacement lawyer for Peter’s upcoming trial, and Zach returned home, with an unexpected fiancé on his arm.

Despite being filled to the brim with information (I was already overwhelmed with details once the title card appeared), the episode was paced perfectly, with a number of unexpected plot developments and many of the series’ smallest subplots being tied up well. The episode also exhibited some of the series’ best direction, with the viewer constantly being aware of how tightly packed Alicia’s apartment was, with a number of impressive tracking shots and a terrific sense of space. The Good Wife was always one of the better-directed network dramas, but “Party” was probably their finest hour in that regard.

But, of course, it was the cast that really sold the material. This week, it was Stockard Channing and Mary Beth Peil who particularly stood out amongst the crowd, with Alicia and Peter’s mothers both making passive aggressive jabs at one another while also showing how much they love their respective children. This was also probably Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s best episode on the series so far, as he finally got the chance to develop Jason beyond being a hunky love interest, and, thanks in part to strong writing, he showed some surprising character traits. Best of all, “Party” worked as an appropriate send off too many characters. While seeing some of these actors is always a welcome opportunity, I’d be fine with this being their last appearance.

While it was a relatively calm hour, and one completely devoid of courtroom showdowns, “Party” implies that big things are coming for The Good Wife’s last two episodes. It’s hard to believe we’re so close to the ending, but “this episode brought the season to a level of quality which, if maintained, will be great for fans.

Overall rating: 10 out of 10