The Good Wife Recap: Integrity Check

Parallel Construction, BitchesIs there anything more fun than seeing the fire ignite behind Alicia Florrick’s eyes when she’s being underestimated by an opponent?

The midseason premiere of The Good Wife gives us one such “she is woman, hear her almost imperceptably growl” moment plus SO. MUCH. CRAZY. ACTION. (No, I’m not just talking about Kalinda and Cary dancing in the sheets, although yes, there is that.)

There’s no way I can even begin to recap every twist, turn, countermove and subtext contained in “Parallel Construction, Bitches,” but here are just a few of the highlights:

SOMETIMES, THE CASE OF THE WEEK IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG | We kick off the episode with Alicia getting a visit at home from Charles Lester (Wallace Shawn), the outwardly bumbling but ultimately scary personal attorney for Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter), Chicago drug kingpin and one of Florrick-Agos’ top clients. Bishop’s facing jail time thanks to a realtor who spotted him making a special “delivery.” But upon closer examination — and with an assist from outwardly and inwardly bumbling Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler) of Lockhart-Gardner (which reps Bishop’s legit businesses) — the witness’s timeline crumbles.

IS THERE A MOLE AT FLORRICK-AGOS? | Alicia, Lester and Bishop all wonder if the DEA is using a confidential informant’s testimony and funneling it through the realtor. But Alicia’s the only one who totally discounts that someone from her firm — more specifically, herself, Cary, Robin or Clarke Hayden — played a role in the leak. In a comically frightful scene, Lester stands in the firm’s open elevator and tries scoring last names and personal info off his list of suspects, while Alicia scrambles to thwart him. And thus, Bishop and Lester perform a test: Slipping false info about a drug drop but giving four different times to Alicia, Cary, Clarke and Robin. Alicia’s the one who fails, though, and suddenly everyone realizes the firm and/or Bishop are under wiretap surveillance. Burner phones for everyone! Oh, if only the situation was so simple…

OHHH, SO THAT’S WHAT THE EPISODE TITLE REFERS TO… |  Jack Davenport (aka the Best Thing About Smash Except for Megan Hilty and a half-dozen incredible songs) winds up resigning from his post as an assistant US attorney in the midst of arguing the Bishop case, leading the Florrick-Agos folks to realize their probe of the wiretap is striking a nerve. As viewers, we know it’s the NSA who’s in charge of the bugs — the seeds having been sown many episodes ago — but it’s Cary who figures it out for Florrick-Agos. With the NSA’s wiretapping powers expanded, he explains, they sometimes share intel with other agencies (like the DEA) ; alas, though, since said intel is inadmissable, the other agencies must create “parallel construction” (i.e. finding a realtor who can say she saw Bishop delivering drugs, as opposed to the U.S. attorney admitting the info was gleaned from an unrelated tap.)  And thus, because the DEA accidentally tipped off Alicia to the fact that her firm’s phones are being surveiled, our merry band of information gatherers at the NSA cut ’em off. No more intel on Bishop! And no more case against him. But that doesn’t mean their work is over. (And here’s where, once again, you realize The Good Wife’s writers’ room has a carefully laid-out plan for every move it makes.) In fact…

…OVER AT THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE | Eli and Marilyn’s ongoing iciness continues. Which makes her an easy target when, walking down the boulevard, she’s ambushed by Nelson Dubeck (Eric Bogosian) from the Office of Public Integrity — who lures her into his spacious van, pumps her for info on rumors of election fraud, and reminds her that as one of the few players on the chess board without attorney-client privilege, she’s most likely to do a stint in the state pen. Plus, “It’s the right thing to do,” the scary dude adds, making the play that more than any other appeals to Marilyn’s black-and-white ethical outlook. Later, when Eli insists that Marilyn issue a report supporting the governor — even though she still has no freakin’ clue what exactly his role was in those stuffed ballot boxes from election night — she stands her ground. “You have a great talent for turning friends into enemies,” she says, ominously, and Eli underestimates the threat from within. Marilyn heads to a meeting with Dubeck — and hands him a memory stick with video of the ballot-stuffing baddies.

THAT DON’T IMPRESS ALICIA MUCH | Dubeck and his cronies sweep into Florrick-Agos with the video and play it for Alicia. “You look like you’ve seen this before, Mrs. Florrick,” Dubeck huffs, noting her non-reaction. “Really? What would I look like if I hadn’t seen it?” she purrs, so coolly you can practically see her breath in the air. And then, to add a twist of lemon in the verbal glass of vodka, she asks about the box-lifting heavies: “Which one’s my husband?” Dubeck is clealy taken aback by Alicia’s blasé attitude, but she breaks it down in terms he can understand. “I used to be like you,” she notes with condescension. “Certain, deferential to authority, thinking everyone being investigated is obviously guilty — it’s just a matter of time.” And then she tells him he ought to be investigated for something, that it might change him. For Dubeck, battle lines have been drawn, and he reminds her of her obligations to law firm and family before he goes back to his bunker to gather ammo for another attack. That magic bullet seems to appear when the NSA tips him off to a phone conversation in which Eli reveals to Alicia that Will Gardner is the one person who can truly hurt Peter.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A HEART THAT BEATS FOR ALICIA? | Dubeck pays a visit to Will’s office, offers him immunity for information that might expose the governor’s hand in a case of election fraud and coverup. (And no, attorney-client privilege doesn’t bind him in the case of “an ongoing conspiracy.”) But the big fish does not even sniff the bait. “If any of your questions touch upon Governor Florrick or the time I represented…” Will begins, before a flummoxed Dubeck cuts him off.  Has pleading the fifth, so to speak, ever seemed so ridiculously romantic and sexy? OK, maybe Will has other reasons for not being a witness for the prosecution, but my mushy inner core says it’s a deep, burning and yet-to-be-requited love for our titular heroine. Let’s see how your resolve holds up in front of a grand jury, Dubeck grumbles before stoming out. Maybe he shoulda rolled up next to Will on the street in his big, scary van, too.

KALINARY? | Sorry, nobody needs me making an attempt at a Kalninda-Cary couple name. (One may already exist somewhere in the world, but I try to avoid stamping my passport for that destination.) Anyhow, after a quiet and awkward round of cocktails in which Kalinda has the audacity to coo, “If you wanna get me to talk, just say ‘Talk.’ Don’t play games,” we finally see these hotties under the sheets together. (“Everybody on TV’s linens” > “Yours and my linens,” no?) Kalinda presses for info in the middle of the intimacy — of course! — and comes away thinking Cary was lying when he met with Diane and Will and warned them their phones might be tapped, too. Is love-lust messing with her street smarts? It’s not as steamy as the lonnnnnng wait Cary-Kalinda shippers have been waiting for, but I digress…

ALL THAT, PLUS A SUBTLE JAB AT EMMY’S PRIORITIZATION OF CABLE SHOWS OVER NETWORK FARE? | The episode begins with a jolt of “Am I on the right channel?” Yes, you are, but it’s just that The Good Wife is doing a spoof on cable’s vaunted place in the TV heirarchy, via a faux trailer for AMC’s Darkness at Noon. The dialogue here is hilariously awful.  “There are lines and then there are lines.” “You make your own lines.” “You can’t cross the line and act like you didn’t cross the line.” With Grace transfixed by what’s happening on screen, it’s no wonder Alicia needs a refill on her vino, no? 

“I think Will and Diane end up getting it on.” –One of the NSA agents listening in on our principal players’ calls, making a massive miscalculation

“That was almost Will-like.”
“Thank you, Diane.”
Alicia and Cary, discussing a vicious bit of legal strategy he concocted

With that, I pass the mic to you. What did you think of The Good Wife‘s return? Grade the hour in our poll below, then expand on your thoughts in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. wonderwall says:

    After a hiatus and this show is still on a winning streak! While I was uncomfortable with Cary and Kalinda (they seem to have a brother/sister relationship to me), the rest was really insane! I love how they’re slowly tying in the NSA story line into the plot. Can’t wait for next weeks episode!

    • abz says:

      If you watch the show from the beginning, it’s pretty obvious that their relationship is far from brother/sister-like. Cary has been into Kalinda for quite a while.

    • MC says:

      I agree that Cary and Kalinda have more a brother/sister relationship. Their sex scene felt so weird. I hope we’ll never have to see another one again. Ugh.

  2. kat says:

    So, seems Kalinda just strategically sleeps around for information instead of actually investigating? She is pretty despicable these days, nothing like her character in earlier seasons. She and Cary in bed completely lacked chemistry since she was openly just asking for information, which she of course got wrong. Awesome. The rest of the episode was good, but she is the worst.

    • Jimmy says:

      Well, Kalinda has never shied away from using sex to get what she wants, but I have to agree with your assessment. A once really great character has been ruined, and it all began with that husband plot.

    • Kim R says:

      I felt that way as well and I’ve always like Kalinda’s character. Especially using that tactic with Cary, it just seemed so “bottom of the barrel” for her.

  3. says:

    Really good episode! I just miss more scene time of the kids! They are amazing! Hope they get more screen time!

    And wow about Cary and Kalinda!!!! It’s a long time coming!!!!!

  4. Viv says:

    Ohhhh, Good Wife I missed you so very, very much! I loved everything about this episode. From Charles Lester over Jack Davenport (I needed a minute until I realized who he was without the accent) to Cary and Kalinda, the NSA storyline…! Also really glad Matt Czuchry finally gets more the two minutes per episode. Really looking forward to see how this whole election fraud thing is going down.

  5. kimpie says:

    Yet again, The Good Wife continues its run of mediocre episodes. When Episode 5 blew these two firms apart, I half expected the Kings to keep that momentum moving forward. Sure, there were bound to be a few low point episodes, but ever since the 6th episode, The Good Wife has lapsed, once again, slumped back into its chair after it got too comfortable with the ratings from the fifth episode of this season.

    I’m disappointed that the Kings have lost that momentum. What happened to the plan to every every fifth episode be an explosive cap to these five-part storyarc blocks?

    I’ll watch for another episode or two but it looks like I’ll end up dropping this series once again.

    • Diva says:

      I don’t know what your watching but I am loving this season. Seems like TGW gets better as each season passes. I agree that nothing has been as explosive as Hitting the Fan (Episode 5) but everything afterwards has been far from the low end of the scale.
      You seem like a fickle person who wants everything right away when you forget that it took the show 4 seasons to build to the epicness of Hitting the Fan.

    • Your loss. The rest of us in the audience sadly won’t miss ya.

      Plenty of other good TV shows out there. Pick one of them, and not Honey Boo-Boo.

    • abz says:

      Yeah I don’t know what show you’re watching, but TGW continues to be amazing and one of the best shows on television. Your loss.

    • Carolyn says:

      Dropping TGW would be your mistake; however, the rest of us won’t miss your negativity! On some level, you’re curious about the outcome or you would have stopped watching after the “hitting the fan” episode!

  6. Forwardad says:

    Oh how we’ve missed you TGW. So Many plot turns. Is the Judge involved in something ominous ? Why did he want to lunch with Alicia? What exactly is Marilyn’s endgame?

    • Dee says:

      I kept thinking something was up with judge too. He sure changed attitudes fast.

    • The judge and his book is definitely important. I’m confident that will come up again.

    • chris says:

      Marilyn’s endgame is that she wants government to be open and clean. Eli’s trying to bully her into issuing a report she doesn’t think is justified by the evidence she has. Under the circumstances, cooperating with Dubeck makes perfect sense. She’s hoping he’ll get to the truth.

  7. shaun says:

    The NSA guys are really getting annoying, at least to me. I know the wiretapping is part of the story but those two guys are just too goofy. I hope they make the comic relief of the show from other, already established characters, not these two meta characters who will never be part of the main story lines.

  8. Liz says:

    Gave it an “A.” This show is on fi-yah this season. I need the next episode ASAP. I loved all the thread in this episode, and I have so many Qs.

  9. Carolyn says:

    So worth the eight week break!!! TGW never disappoints! I can’t wait for the next two weeks to see how the voter fraud and the wiretapping develops–doesn’t look good for Will! He’s really keeping quiet as far as Peter is concerned. Wonderful show tonight!!

  10. nikki says:

    Yes Good Wife Writers, we get it. Will is the best thing ever and Peter is evil. Can you get a new shtick?

  11. Diz says:

    So good. Who does this guy think he is trying to get Will to say something for nothing? Will doesn’t work for free buddy!

  12. Chelle says:

    Absolutely phenomenal ep. I love that this show pays off the various twists planted throughout the season in a meaningful way. The casting continues to be pitch-perfect (Jack Davenport rocked the Chicago accent). The hour was so stunning and so chock-full of drama, I just now realized that we didn’t even see Peter. Best show on TV for my money.

    • Dee says:

      Couldn’t have said it better. In fact, until I read your post I hadn’t realized that Peter wasn’t in the ep.

  13. Sheryl says:

    Outstanding episode!!! Am I the only one who can’t stop thinkng about The Princess Bride, when ever Wallace Shawn appears in anything? Inconceivable!!!

  14. I was so glad to see all the pieces of this crazy mosaic start to come together. Never would have thought the Marwat case would end up leading to all of THIS.

  15. Dee says:

    It was terrific in every way. The writing, acting and guest stars are perfect. Cary & Kalinda were a long time coming and handled well with Kalinda having her usual ulterior motives. She sure read Cary wrong about the phone taps. Cary showed, once again, that he’s one smart guy. The best cast on all of television and the best show. Completely satisfying and total quality all the way. Can’t wait for next week.

  16. Tina B. says:

    I LOVE THIS SHOW! I worry about Will though. I can’t believe he would turn down immunity to protect Peter for Alicia! I think Will ends up sacrificing himself for Peter, Alicia finds out, goes back to Will but Will gets arrested along with Peter.

  17. Maya says:

    That was not a sex scene, it was the morning after.

  18. KevyB says:

    Wow, an episode without any of the annoying characters! None of the SS/DD self-righteous arguing between new and old firms! No signs of kooky Marilyn! The best judge on the bench! Cary and Kalinda get together in the most anti-shipper scene in history!!!! It was almost a perfect episode and then they had to throw in that crap with the cable show. Grow up, Good Wife people, Just admit Breaking Bad is a better show because its writers are smart enough to NOT to throw in a bunch of atrocious characters like horrid Irish “charmers”, stormtrooping lesbian lackeys, ethics advisors with multiple personalities, violently sexy ex-husbands without any menace or sex appeal, etc. It’s also more than a bit disingenuous to claim cable can “do more” than you can, when you’ve had fingerblasting!

  19. Overthinking says:

    Hands down the most akward scene is Cary talking to Diane, Will and Kalinda about the wiretapping.

  20. Bob Smith says:

    Calinda? Carlinda? Anyway, another great episode.

  21. Lori says:

    Ah, The Good Wife is back. Feels like it’s been forever. Great episode, great show.

  22. barbara says:

    wow and wow after waiting for it to come back this episode didn’t disappoint!!!!!!.. glad cary had more to do but him with kalinda not so much especially her just doing it to get info. that judge is up to something but don’t no what i also think it will play out later on. also wondering in the preview not next week but next one what the big moment is????. as usual alicia was superb!!!!!!

  23. Spitey Spice says:

    THANK YOU for finally going TGW recaps (please make them regular!). So happy it’s Slezak (and I haven’t even read it yet, lol).

    • finally says:

      The Good Wife is such an amazing show with good storylines, both the professional side dealing with cases and with the personal stories. I’ve wondered why this show has not been reviewed by TV Line. I’m happy to see that this is now the case and it is being done by MS.

  24. Dot says:

    I actually enjoyed last night’s episode. Haven’t done so in a long time. And PLEASE – Will was NOT thinking of Alicia when talking to that guy from the phony agency, He was saving his own ass!! I see both law firms joining forces and going for the jugular with the NSA. Between the legal minds at both firms, they will come up with something that will make the NSA’s eavesdropping illegal. For starters – eavesdropping on attorney/client privilege. Oh, and voter fraud does not come under the NSA and their snooping techniques. That’s for local governments to decide.

    BTW – what will come out about the stolen ballot box – Peter already won the election WITHOUT those votes.

    • Kelly says:

      How is he saving his own ass by REFUSING immunity? He could have easily taken the immunity and ratted on Peter, but he didn’t because he still doesn’t want to hurt Alicia personally like that, which is also the reason he withheld the information about the ballot box in the season finale. No matter what he does it seems like WIll can never win.
      Also, just because there is only evidence of one box being stuffed, how do we know there weren’t others? Who stuffs just one box? And even if it was just one box and Peter would have won anyway, it’s still voter fraud, which is illegal and can result in jail time. It’s kinda like a baseball player taking steroids even though they’re already hitting 30+ home runs a season *cough*Barry Bonds*cough.*

      • chris says:

        For Will to cooperate with Dubeck’s investigation without putting up any resistance would make his other clients leery of doing business with him. He has to refuse to cooperate.

      • Marc says:

        What am I forgetting that would constitute Dubeck’s “ongoing conspiracy” involving Peter that would obviate attorney-client privilege? Jim Moody and party people stuffed the ballot, not the campaign. Neither Will nor Peter had any legal obligation to disclose this and neither, on-screen as far as I recall, conspired to cover it up. If Will discloses what he told Peter and when he told him and Peter’s response, it would violate privilege and subject Will to disbarment as well as civil and criminal charges. What am I forgetting?

        • Deion says:

          I believe Peter’s continued presence in office is the ongoing conspiracy. They have yet to reveal how the reporter got it, but Will found the tape. He can authenticate it and prove that Peter knew about the ballots on election night.

  25. Kim R says:

    First of all we totally thought we were on the wrong channel when the episode began. Then I thought the guide had listed The Good Wife in error. Then Alicia appeared on the screen. :D I also had feelings of Will refusing to even entertain the NSA dude’s questions out of a heart that still wants to protect Alicia in some way. I would have been disappointed if he through her under the bus.
    And I may be alone but I get a kick out of the NSA IT guys. A little comic relief never hurt anyone and they have this whole “soap opera” going on in their heads as they listen.
    I was waiting for Charles Lester to say “inconceivable!” :D

  26. Christy says:

    Good Wife, how do I love thee, let me count the ways… The writing and acting on this show is so good. I can’t believe that was Jack Davenport, what a great actor!

  27. vera says:

    The Cary/Kalinda scene was not steamy because they never have been and never will be. They were so much better as friends, but no, the writers had to mess with that. Not everything with Kalinda has to be about sex.

    They have made a huge mistake having Cary and Kalinda sleep together, because they can never get back that innocence.

    If they are trying to make them this “dangerous” couple, it doesn’t work either, because Cary doesn’t have that edge about him no matter how hard they try to convince us that he has changed. He’s just not that kind of character.

  28. Olivia says:

    What was the teaser about the episode in 2 weeks? My DVR cut off just as they were announcing something really big would happen. Anyone?

  29. Kelly says:

    I’m so glad this show is back! Can you pretty please make these recaps a weekly thing? I don’t understand how one of the best shows on TV doesn’t have a weekly recap on here but shows like Revenge and Once Upon a Time do. No offense to those shows, I do watch them sometimes, but they don’t hold a candle to The Good Wife.

    • abz says:

      Agreed. I don’t get why TVLine does recaps for so many show weekly (Grey’s, Revenge, Scandal, OUAT, Arrow, Castle, Nashville, etc.) and yet they recap The Good Wife (arguably, better than all of those shows combined, even though I do still love those shows) just whenever they feel like it or if it’s like a premiere episode.
      Also, I really would like it in general if TVLine started using the recap/review format that they did a few times with OUAT. I know for me personally, I just skim through the recap to see if something interests, but really I don’t need to read what I just watched. A review, on the other hand, would be a bit more fun and interesting to read to get the writer’s take on the episode.

  30. chris says:

    It seemed like Bishop and Lester told Alicia about their intention to commit a crime. Is she really not allowed to report that? Are there any lawyers out there who knows?

  31. Laurel says:

    Couple name: Carinda. Also, very good ep. I love that I am concerned for these characters.

  32. Ari says:

    You know what? I am done with Kalinda. She used to be my favorite character, but now? I don’t care about her. Seriously, all she does to get info is sleep around. What happened to the old, smart, mysterious, badass Kalinda? I’m so over her. Now, i’m more into Robyn. Quirky, funny, awkward, cute and smart is perfect. And the best thing about her is that, unlike Kalinda, this girl uses her brain instead of her body.