The Good Wife Recap: 'Time to Play Hardball'
“We’re coming after you — all your clients — every single one we worked to make happy while you swept in at the last minute to take credit. We’re taking them. And then you know what you’ll have? A very nice suite of offices.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of epic, threatening response you get when you poke the designer suit-ed, meticulously coiffed she-bear known as Alicia Florrick. And if you’re anything like me, that flawlessly written and brilliantly delivered declaration of war left you with your jaw on your coffee table, your hands literally shaking and a little voice in your head saying, “oh, you just try to deny Julianna Margulies a Best Actress in a Drama nomination again next year, Emmy!”
But how, exactly, did The Good Wife‘s aptly titled “Hitting the Fan” — hands-down the most tension-filled hour of network television in 2013 — wind up with Alicia staring down Lockhart Gardner’s power trio of Will, Diane and David Lee and threatening to cripple their firm? Let’s recap:
Things pick up right where last Sunday’s episode left off — with Diane spilling the beans to Will that Alicia is leaving with Cary to start their own firm, and taking Lockhart-Gardner’s top clients with ‘em. Oh, and she’s been planning it for at least three weeks. Will, dazed and confused, gets up and heads to Alicia’s office — his mind flooded with flashbacks of their sexytimes beneath the white sheets (Alicia’s had a similar waking fantasy, if you’ll recall), of Alicia’s private smile lighting up the office. And in that moment, we realize he’s viewing this as a personal betrayal just as much as a professional one.
“You’re leaving,” he says, as he enters the door. “No, I just got here,” Alicia responds, looking up, then realizing that indeed, the s*** and the fan are shaking hands. As teased in the previews, Will explodes, and sweeps the contents of Alicia’s desk to the floor, while Lockhart-Gardner minions stare incredulously through the glass walls. Yeah, we knew it was coming, but it’s insanely shocking nevertheless. “I took you in. No one wanted you,” Will seethes. “You were poison. This firm got you back on your feet.” And then, as Alicia tries meekly to explain herself, he hisses, “You don’t even know how awful you are.”
Will, however, doesn’t realize how resolute Alicia is. When he confiscates her cellphone and tells her to exit the office, that she’s fired, Alicia stands proudly and tells him “No.” She’s a partner, after all, and Will will need to get the majority vote of the executive board — followed by the vote of the full partnership — to force her out. In doing so, Alicia buys herself some time, while Will foolishly asks Robin — who, unbeknownst to him is on #TeamAlicia — to stand guard and report any of her activities. But Will does make one smart move, asking the IT department to inform him of any associate trying to access client files, which is how he identifies and fires New Carey (Ben Rappaport) and has him escorted from the building. The ensuing volley of moves and countermoves comes fast and furious:
* Alicia gets Zach on the line and asks if he can press pause on getting ready for school to move her files from the company cloud to her personal cloud. (“You don’t have any idea what any of those words mean, do you?” asks Zach, in one of many comical moments that help cut the unbearable tension.)
* Diane awaits Cary Agos in his office, where her speech about how she’d personally mentored him, about her distaste for betrayal, leaves the much-maligned associate practically guffawing with memories of how he’d already been booted from the firm once before. “You brought this on yourself,” he retorts, dismantling Diane’s foundation of self-righteousness. “Cary, you’re fired,” Diane informs him, but not before he accidentally spills the name Chum Hum — the multi-million dollar client Florrick-Agos needs to succeed with their succession plan. (Whoops! Sometimes keeping your trap shut is the best idea, kiddo.) “For a second time?” asks Cary, unable to resist one last dig.
* Having secured the needed votes, Will and a team of security guards forcibly march Alicia to the elevator. “This was never meant personally,” she tells him. And then Will, channeling Rhett Butler, snaps back, “I don’t give a damn.” As the elevator descends, Alicia — perhaps releasing all the stresses of the last hour, perhaps reeling from the humiliation of her exit from the firm, perhaps on some level mourning the end of her illicit love with Will — breaks down in tears.
And that — at the 14-minute mark — is when we cut to the Good Wife title card. Anyone need a moment to inhale into a paper bag? Go right ahead. I’ll give you a sec, then we can get back to the recap.
With Alicia, Cary, Carey and several other castoffs banished to a nearby coffee shop, the war between #TeamLockhartGardner and #TeamFlorrickAgos heats up — and I’m gonna try to break it down as succinctly as possible:
* Will gets Kalinda to pledge her loyalty; gets the partners to call all their major clients and cast doubt on Alicia and Cary’s new firm; and brainstorms the idea that a court injunction could stall Florrick-Agos’ ability to sit down with (and finish poaching) Chum Hum.
* Kalinda promptly goes to Cary and asks him to hire her — at the salary she rejected toward the end of Season 4. Lockhart-Gardner without Diane is a sinking ship, she tells him, and Will is in a tailspin. He asks her for another show of loyalty. Can she get the Chum Hum files and meet him at the new Florrick-Agos offices? Just as you’re wondering if Kalinda is joining the newbies, she returns to Will and reports back everything she’s learned about the rival firm, along with the fact that Robin is part of the mutiny. And thus, our chipper blonde investigator is led out of the building, too. David Lee, meanwhile, uses Kalinda’s intel about the Florrick-Agos office location and gets the Department of Health to close the building for a lengthy fumigation. Which means the new firm has to set up shop in Alicia’s living room.
* Given all the toxicity in the water, Diane pays a visit to Eli, clearly worried about the future of her nomination for judgeship, but the chief of staff assures her there’s no reason to worry. ”We’re not in the business of letting personal concerns affect professional decisions,” says Eli, so sincere-sounding that I almost believe him. Diane’s uncertain expression, though, says might see it a different way.
* Diane goes to court with Will and David in their attempt to seek an injunction against Florrick-Agos for tortious interference, but she refuses to take the stand as a witness. Turns out, though, Will and David don’t need her, as they’ve recruited to their team Beth — a fourth-year who’d planned to jump ship — by offering her a partnership. Her testimony is damning enough that the judge grants the injunction, but Alicia at least scores a victory in the zinger category by commenting on Lockhart-Gardner’s bribery tactics: ”Not exactly 30 pieces of silver.” Oh snap. But it’s David Lee’s Biblical reference – ”That’s right, walk away, Judas!” — that incites Alicia’s brutal salvo. I think it’s worth repeating, no? “We’re coming after you — all your clients — every single one we worked to make happy while you swept in at the last minute to take credit. We’re taking them. And then you know what you’ll have? A very nice suite of offices.” Angry Alicia FTW!
* As Alicia exits the courtroom, she decides it’s time for some hardball of her own — and heads directly to the chambers of one of the judges who got caught up in Will’s bribery scandal to seek a counter injunction. When Will and David Lee get served right in the Chum Hum lobby, Will declares that it’s “time to play hardball.” Um, didn’t sweeping Alicia’s desk qualify under that heading already?
* When Peter arrives home to find Alicia in celebratory mode with her new partners, not looking at all shellshocked from her firing — “We were too busy kicking ass,” she giggles — the adrenaline rush and good vibes prove rather, um, stimulating. The giddy duo retires to the bedroom for a quickie — with a definitive deadline: “We’ve got 10 minutes: Otherwise they’re gonna start making some bad decisions,” Alicia declares. “Is this what they mean by leaning in,” asks Peter, naughtily, as their bodies make contact — to the strains of Gin Wigmore’s shoulda-been-a-big-hit “Black Sheep.“
* Exiting the bedroom, Alicia finds Diane in her living room — proposing a truce. Both firms will drop their injunctions, then make separate pitches to Chum Hum. The next day, though, Neil Gross comes out of his meeting with Lockhart-Gardner and tells Cary, Carey and Alicia that he’s already made up his mind: With Peter having promised to run the most ethical administration in Illinois history, he doesn’t want the kind of scrutinty that will inevitably spill over onto the first lady’s firm, and so he’s sticking with Lockhart-Gardner. To the contrary, though, Peter ends a subsequent press conference by airing his concerns about the lack of taxation on internet commerce. “I can’t say my position won’t change on this matter, and of course, I’m always open to dialogue,” Peter says, practically wink-winking his threat through the TV screen to Neil. “Peter, you can’t be doing that!” says Eli (who might, for once, be on the same page as ethics-minded Marilyn). And yet that’s exactly what he did — leading Chum Hum back to Florrick-Agos, and saving the fledgling firm from disaster (since they’d already lost more than half their clients thanks to Lockhart-Gardner’s underhanded lobbying).
* Kalinda and Will have a heart-to-heart, too, where she confesses she knew about Cary’s mutiny three months prior, and Alicia’s for a full week. But Will can trust her now, she says. “Are you sure? Becaue I’m gonna destroy the competition. Can you do that?” he asks. “Yeah,” she responds, pretty much dashing any viewer hopes of a Cary-Kalinda romance, or the reboot of Kalinda and Alicia’s friendship.
The episosde ends with yet another “Whoa!” moment, but before we get to it, two conversations we’ve got to discuss:
* As Will holds Alicia’s phone hostage, he fields a call from Grace, who needs a permission slip signed for her campus-faith field trip. Later, when Alicia and Will are squabbling over a client — and telling each other to go to hell — Will suddenly shifts gears to relay Grace’s message to her mom. It’s an utterly daffy moment — one of those cheeky bits of Good Wife humor that I love — but also a tiny bit of foreshadowing that maybe Will and Alicia can at least be civil to one another, even if it’s in the distant future. (Did you think that, too, or am I misguidedly optimistic?)
* Crazier still, Will fields a call from PETER…and let’s just say things get as heated as an electric kettle. Let’s also say that were this a prize fight, Peter would definitely be declared the winner. When Will tells Peter not to get involved — that there’ll definitely be blowback if the governor-elect wades into a dispute with a private citizen — Peter becomes incredulous: “Thanks for the advice, jackass.” He also reminds Will he’s not just an elected official, he’s a husband, too. “You sleep with my wife, you fire her…” Peter starts, before Will cuts him off, “Excuse me, nobody said anything about sleeping…” To which Peter responds, “Oh gosh! I’m sorry! Have I offended you?” Will wonders if he should tape the call, if he’s going to get audited or some other kind of payback from the governor’s office, but Peter doesn’t back away. “Try this on for size: You don’t want to make me your enemy. And you certainly don’t want Alicia and me together.” Could this show get any more tense? Well, actually…
In the final scene of the episode, it’s Peter and Eli in the governor-elect’s office. “Put together a list of other Supreme Court justices,” Peter asks. “Instead of Diane? Are you sure?” Eli asks. “Yeah,” says Peter, likely setting in motion Diane’s unhappy return to the firm that just tried to unceremoniously dump her. That’s gonna be an awkward reunion, but then again, with a common enemy to unite them, perhaps Will and Diane’s feud doesn’t seem so serious after all.
OK, now I turn it over to you. What did you think of “Hitting the Fan”? What line or moment made you gasp hardest? Was this the finest hour of television in 2013? (I’d say “Yes!”) And what do you think will happen next? Sound off below, and then go read Vlada Gelman’s post-mortem interview with plenty of inside scoop and upcoming teases!Follow @MichaelSlezakTV