The Good Wife Recap: Red, Red Wine... Stay Close to Me

To quote Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, “Whoa.”

Alicia wades into the forehead-deep mire of political opposition research on this week’s installment of The Good Wife, but instead of drowning in possible scandal — photos of herself and late lover Will at a hotel reception desk, son Zach’s girlfriend’s secret abortion, mother Veronica’s spanking of Damien from The Omen in full view of a department store surveillance camera (which, frankly, had to be worth a two-point bump, no?) — she strides over the surface with newfound fire and (thank goodness) her weary sense of humor in tact. (Copious pours of robust red vino don’t hurt, either, but more on that in a moment…)

Alicia,” our protagonist sighs after her would-be campaign manager once again calls her Mrs. Florrick. “Anyone who’s pawed through my underwear drawer should really call me by my first name.”

I know, I know, The Good Wife has enough problems getting egregiously snubbed in the Emmy race for Best Drama Series — Darkness at Noon keeps taking that sixth slot — but I’d argue it also packs in more laughs per minute than 90 percent of sitcoms currently in production. Can Robert and Michelle King lobby the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to submit half their performers in the comedy races — or at least Stockard Channing, whose droll response to Alicia’s announcement about running for State’s Attorney — “Why not just take a trip? You’d love Bali” — places her character alongside Lucille Bluth and Marie Barone in the Cantankerous TV Mothers Hall of Fame.

But none of the ramblings above actually get to the heart of what happened in Episode 4, “Oppo Research,” so let me get to the business of recapping:

We open with the glorious sound of a wine cork popping and the sight of Alicia — in an apron! — preparing her home for a sit-down with Eli about her decision to run (or not) for office. But as the cabernet breathes on the dining room table, our protagonist gets the wind knocked out of her when Eli notes they’ve only got eight months ’til the election, six months ’til the debate, and four days (!) to announce her candidacy. Oh, and because nothing in Eli-land can every be presented with absolute transparency, he’s unexpectedly invited a potential campaign manager, the unflinchingly direct Jonny Elfman (Steven Pasquale), whom Alicia is allowed to dismiss after 20 minutes if she doesn’t dig him. (Little does she know, Eli’s placed Jonny in a similarly disarming situation.) Bonus hilarity: Grace and her school choir friends sporadically harmonizing on “I Will Trust in the Lord” from the bedroom during the meeting’s most tense moments.

Jonny, who’s tired of working with political neophytes, demands to know why Alicia is thinking about throwing her hat in the ring, but when he cuts her off mid-sentence to hurl more insistent questions her way, she’s as cool as bathroom tile in January. “I’m not finished yet,” she says, unruffled. “Do you want me to finish?” (I love how Julianna Margulies imbues Alicia with a special sense of menace whenever male characters underestimate her womanly strength.)

Finally, Eli and Jonny cut to the point: They’ve brought along a thick file of “oppo research” that unearths and categorizes all of Alicia’s weak points as a candidate. Not only are Colin Sweeney, Lemond Bishop and The Paisley Group considered problematic as clients, but there’s also the matter of Alicia’s family business.

* Turns out Zach’s ex-girlfriend Neesa had an abortion — and Margulies’ combination of shock, horror, anger and indignation (about possibly being the last to know) as she asks “why?” “when?” and “what day?” ranks among her finest moments in Good Wife history. Jonny reminds her it’s important that Alicia “inure” herself through the process, and so she sips a little more from her liberal goblet and gets more unwelcome news.

* Alicia’s mother spanked an unruly child in a department store — setting up a potential lawsuit and a PR nightmare.

* Her brother Owen is sleeping with a married Palestinian man who has a secret life filming bareback gay porn under the name “Phil.”

* And then there are the suspicious pictures of Alicia and Will — as well as the one of Finn Polmar exiting her apartment at 8:30 on a weekday morning. (“I don’t like my kids seeing who I sleep with — how could they get out in time for their abortions,” she says with brutal sarcasm to explain the time stamp of Finn’s exit.)

Alicia’s attempts to “fix” her family “liabilities” meet with varying degrees of disaster: Owen dumps his vino and exits without a word when she probes him about his affair (a somewhat galling response considering how free he is with unsolicited advice for big sis). Alicia winds up hanging up on Zach in disgust and a deliciously realistic lack of resolution — “have fun in college” — although perhaps she ought to have at least come up with a genuine answer to his knee-jerk query, “Why are you running for State’s Attorney?” (Has she answered that question to anyone’s real satisfaction — beyond the surface-level delight of “to beat that rat-fink Peter Castro”?) And while Veronica’s initial apology to the spanked child’s mother ends in hilarious disaster – “I should’ve spanked you, you bitch!” — further store-cam footage neutralizes the political threat. #BratsWillBeBrats

Far bigger issues loom, anyhow, in the form of Alicia’s nefarious foe Castro and her dangerous client Bishop.

* Alicia goes to a bar to share a glass of wine with ADA Finn — to make sure he’ll tell the truth about the nature of their early-morning meeting. One her way home, she gets pulled over by a cop who makes the mistake of dropping this salutation: “Good evening, Mrs. Florrick, have you been drinking?” (Ummm… how’d he know he was pulling over the governor’s wife before her window was barely rolled down?) The officer won’t comply with her request for a breathalyzer, and so as Alicia walks in a straight line on the sidewalk, iPhone footage gets captured by random (or perhaps not-so-random?) passers-by. Next thing you know, a tabloid site is blaring headlines of Alicia heading to detox for alcohol addiction — with grainy images of her run-in with the law illustrating the ugly lie. Two questions: Is it possible Finn was in on the sting — and his imploring that she stay and have a drink with him was fueled by darker motives? And secondly, is there any concern that Alicia’s wine glasses are big enough to give Cougar Town‘s Jules a run for their money? (Doesn’t bother me at all, but like atheism, the number of glass bottles in Alicia’s recycling bin could prove a future liability at the polls.)

* Bishop, for his part, hears out Diane, Cary and Alicia’s speech about how he needs to find a new firm — since Florrick-Agos is suffering a conflict of interest representing both Agos and Bishop — but he smiles his menacing/charming smile and says, “No. But thank you.” He lures Kalinda into his van later, and after she spills details of Alicia’s political ambitions (what choice did she have?), a “grass roots” PAC supporting Alicia’s campaign pops up online. Who’d have guessed it’s Bishop behind the “kindness.” Maybe there’s something to be said here about “keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer,” but all I can say is Alicia’s entanglement with the hot, cool and collected drug lord continues to add to the moral ambiguity of her life.

* And finally, in the trial of Red-headed Panty-less Intern, Peter finally gives Eli the OK to eject the ambitious sexpot Lauren to a position in the state capital. Alas, though, it turns out Peter wasn’t getting it on with the twentysomething, he was doing a favor to her mother, a sexy family friend named Ramona (Connie Nielsen) who laughs wayyyy too easily at the governor’s jokes. Eli’s double-down on suspicion over the revelation only makes me love him more — even if his hair color changes scene to scene, episode to episode.

Last question: Are we OK with the idea of Alicia saying “yes” to Jonny without so much as a single scene of her discussing her future — in politics and at Florrick-Agos — with Cary?

On that note, I turn it over to you…

What did you think of this week’s Good Wife episode? Are you more or less excited about Alicia running for office in the wake of “Oppo Research”? And how did you feel about Alicia’s handling of her issues with her mom, son and brother? Sound off 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. Elodie says:

    You barely mentionned the new campaign manager. What will be his role (apart of campaign management), will he be like Alicia new love interest ? I am really interested in who will take Will’s spot especially as Finn -who once I thought would take the seat- seems out the race. I wonder where Kalinda stands as well…she seemed so enigmatic about her affair with the Governor. I am very excited about this season and oh! love the Darkness at Noon thing even if I am not familiar with the TV show…

  2. Zachery says:

    Good write-up.I certainly appreciate this site. Continue the good work!

  3. Mick says:

    Let’s talk about how hot Steven Pasquale is in this episode, like damn and some of the looks between him and Alicia were electric. How many episodes did they commission him for? That needs to increase. It reaffirms my theory that his full range has not been showcased on television. I also like Finn, but the dynamic between Eli, Alicia,and Jonny was spectacular. The amount of dark humor and tension flowing through the scene had my mother and I cracking up. I am also concerned how Alicia did not speak to the partners of her firm before deciding this especially since she pushed so hard for this merger over Cary’s objections.

  4. analog says:

    so if Alicia wins which I think she will, season 7 (and supposedly the last) will be about her as SA.

  5. NotSo says:

    I swear with as much money as this show makes can’t they please get Juliana a wig that doesn’t look like the prop department ordered it from the back pages of the National Enquirer from the ZsaZsa Gabor’s collection????? I’ve seen mannequin wigs that looked more like human hair…

    • Lei says:

      Hmmm….do you think she will get a political makeover ala Hillary?

    • Dot says:

      That IS her real hair!!

      • CantWait says:

        No, it’s a wig; It’s always been a wig. All you have to do is look at the part to see it’s a wig. The actress’s own hair is very, very curly and much longer. For some reason they want the character to have shorter straight hair.

        • Jeri says:

          Their initial explanation for the wig(s) was that it would take too much time to style her natural hair. A sort of odd reason but maybe she (or the production) doesn’t want to spend that much time in a make-up chair.

    • Sotrue says:

      Sorry, but the award for cheesy wigs goes to the one that the chick from The Blacklist wore all last season. That one was so distracting that it should have been listed in the credits!

  6. Coal says:

    The minute I saw the campaign manager, I groaned I can already imagine the shipping communities salivating. I have nothing against the character, in contrary I like him, but I just hope he doesn’t become a romantic interest for Alicia. Isn’t it terrific to see Alan Cummings have something really sink his teeth into for after a while on TGW ? Now to find Chris Noth something to do, except being the jealous husband or worry about who he is sleeping with

  7. KevyB says:

    WORST. EPISODE. EVER. Seriously, it’s like they took everything I don’t like about this show and shoved it into what seemed like a three-hour episode! This election/non-election is shaping up to be even worse than Kalinda’s husband. Are we expected to believe that Alicia would WANT to run a campaign where her aborted grandchild will become known to EVERYONE? THIS MAKES NO SENSE! This show is turning into Glee with these left-field character developments.

    • Karen says:

      I thought I was the only one who felt like this. Alicia was just so unsympathetic in this episode particularly about Zach. I’m hoping she’ll come to her senses and withdraw particularly as she has been blindsided by Bishop funding her campaign which just can’t be good.

    • Walter Freeman says:

      “THIS MAKES NO SENSE!” I disagree.

      You can’t assume the abortion will become official public knowledge. Political campaigns in Chicago are nasty business and Alicia understands how these games are played. It depends upon how much dirt they’ve got on Castro and whether or not mutually assured destruction will balance the equation between him and her. Eli and the campaign manager would have walked away if they thought the abortion couldn’t be buried and denied. They’re both too big and important to be wasting their time on a doomed campaign for a governor’s wife who’d never rise above the state’s attorney office.

      And I thought her reaction to Zack was perfectly natural in light of the entire Good Wife story. Young Zack was worried that his father’s infidelities would rub off on him. Alicia comforted him by insisting that he was not the same dishonorable man as his father, and she also comforted herself by believing in his sweet innocence, despite her own occasional doubts. A mother scorned can be just as vindictive as a wife scorned. Doubly so if she’s betrayed by the son of the husband who betrayed her first.

      Saint Alicia has always been an ironic title. If you believe she’s incapable of emotional, selfish behavior, then you haven’t been paying attention to the first five years of the show, or you’re choosing to see only what you want to see.

    • Rebecca says:

      Why should she drop out because of the choices Zach made? He was over 18 and she is making her choice. I don’t think that’s a good basis for her to drop out.

  8. Sandra Lindström says:

    The Good Wife is already killing it this season! I’m really interested in seeing where everything goes, and also, I laughed so many times during the episode. I mean, I thought SNL was funny this week, but I probably laughed more during TGW which is saying something.

  9. Lauren says:

    Didn’t love the episode to be honest. I’m not keen on the State’s attorney storyline after this episode. I missed Cary and Diane (and how has Alicia not told them??!!) and it just seems like a bad decision for Alicia. All her dirty laundry exposed, she’d have to leave the firm she loves, she’s indebted to Bishop (or he thinks she is) and she’d be shackled to Peter for another four years. I still don’t understand why they haven’t divorced.
    Also, it’s James Castro, not Peter, although Peter is also a rat-fink so I can understand the typo.

  10. lyn says:

    We’re not even a quarter of the way through the season and it’s already time to engrave JM’s name on next years Emmy- her expressions to the opposition research were priceless! A+ episode!!!

  11. Marsgyrl3 says:

    Didn’t Finn say something like stay for another drink and take a cab? Possibly changing his motive or intent?

    • rowan77 says:

      Finn did ask her to drink with him and catch a cab – but I don’t think he’s working with Castro to hurt Alicia. The Kings have already said Finn is the new love interest and he clearly likes Alicia. Plus after Castro trike to make Finn (his friend) the scapegoat for Will’s death, why would Finn do him any favors? No, I think Alicia was being followed and Finn was being unwittingly used. This will likely hurt Castro’s later attempts to use Finn in this way again.

      • TV Gord says:

        When/Where did the Kings say Finn is the new love interest? That certainly doesn’t sound like something they would say. I think you may be reading something into one of the many vague comments they’ve made. They aren’t the types to give that kind of spoiler away.

    • Finn is so sexy. Can’t they get he and Alicia together? He’s just not having a big enough part. The campaign manager is so hot. How about she flirts with him but is really in a relationship with good guy finn. matthew Goode is one of my favorites!

  12. Lei says:

    I love this show.

  13. Hayes says:

    Ugh. I don’t like this election stuff and I really really hate that Bishop is involved in the storyline. That oppo research is awesome stuff though!

  14. Dana says:

    I though the exact opposite about Finn- I thought he might have suspected Castro was going to set her up or follow her and he was trying to warn her. I feel like he might end up a spy for her- they’ve set up that connection too much to just abandon it.

  15. Saabgirlatx says:

    I wasn’t really excited about the SA story until this episode. Great set-up/seguay although I did miss the legal action at the firm.

    On the fence about Finn, but I think he was giving her a warning. He seemed a bit more confident than in other moments with Alicia, too.

    Loved that Bishop is supporting her for SA-hilarious turn of events. I could see Alicia thinking “how did I get here!!”

  16. Heather says:

    The fact that she didn’t discuss it with Cary and Diane is a big hole. Also, I’ve been wondering for weeks now why there isn’t more discussion about the fact that she would be leaving her new firm if she won. While I get that the writers are showing us how easy it is to go down a morally ambiguous path and get caught up in corruption, I don’t like this story line one bit. We were finally through with the Florrick/Agos vs. Lockhart/Gardner competition. I was looking forward to them actually building the firm, the reaction of David Lee and Louis Canning to Diane’s defection (and taking all those lawyers with her). Now we’re stuck on this. I think there are enough lessons to be learned at the law firm, via clients like Lemond Bishop and Sweeney.

    • s says:

      I agree. Love the show, but I was hoping the SA arc would not end in Alicia running–and i still hope so.

    • Dot says:

      Alicia running for SA is going to change the dynamics of the show. Unless she loses the election, it will not be fun to watch anymore. As the “boss”, including Finn’s boss, she will not be going to court too much, something which she loves to do. She will have to keep her distance from Diane, Cary and everyone else at her old firm. There would be a conflict of interest. Also, WHY would anyone give up something they love, both the law firm and actually be a practicing/billing attorney, for a public job? Her cut in pay alone will hurt her. How is she going to afford that mortgage on her condo? It’s a dumb story line. Temporarily – it’s okay, but not long term.

    • Ella J. Wade says:

      I do not like this story line at all. I agree with you. The show needs to be about Cary, Alicia and Diane being lawyers. Huge hole with her not talking to them about the election. Poor Cary, slammed again. I think Finn’s character is as exciting as a frog. If they want a new guy for her, the campaign manager is really cute, but let’s drop this campaign and find something else for Eli to do. How long did we spend on the governor’s election? Now we have to go thru another one. I see enough campaign ads on TV. Let’s see some court scenes. Oh, and what happened to Kalinda being a great spy, now she tells everything she knows.

  17. SLW says:

    Loved the episode, but I really don’t care for the Chris Noth character or story line. He’s a big nosy baby who bores me.

    I guess they had to go for the SA arc to mix things up, but not sure I like it. Alicia’s reaction to the oppo intel was priceless.

  18. abz says:

    TVLine, what is with the comments sections on this site for the past several weeks. So many times when I post a comment, it tells me its a duplicate, but when I go to see my comment, it isn’t even there. At other times one of my comments go through and the next day when I try to reply to someone who commented on mine, it doesn’t go through at all.

  19. I’m more concerned about Finn’s hair than Alicia’s. It looked way better longer. I think Alicia’s makeup is too harsh and makes her look old and tired. She does need a makeover. Having said all that snipey stuff, if Alicia does become the SA, isn’t she going to be under Lemond Bishop’s thumb? Obviously, he wants to use this opportunity to have her in a position to do him favors. Alicia and Finn do have good chemistry, but can she trust him? I’d rather see her fly solo for a while. Peter fornicates enough for everyone!
    This plot line seems to come more from the writers than from Alicia’s character. Cary, Diane and the other department heads from Lockhart Gardner, made their decisions based on Alicia being a managing partner with Cary. Her heart doesn’t seem to be in it and it may be a temporary ego boost, but I can’t imagine how her being SA is going to work. Plus, it’s a conflict of interest with her husband’s job. I loved the idea of Cary and Alicia starting all over from the bottom, and fighting their way up, with all the obstacles in the way. And now Diane and the others from LG, make it even more interesting.
    While I believe women should not have to forsake their ambitions for parenthood, let’s face it-Zach, did not feel he could tell his mother about Neesa’s abortion, and then she told him to lie about her parenting because of the campaign. Alicia parents like my mom did – as long as you’re good, I don’t have to be that involved. Any one of Alicia’s skeletons would be enough, but all of them? I campaigned for a woman candidate for US Senate, and the vetting process isn’t for the timid. The best way to find out if you have skeletons in your closet? Run for office.
    If she does run for SA, she will really lose her already tentative moral compass.

  20. JIW says:

    I like the disclaimer above this box! Best part about it. Now as for TGW. I’m not too hot for the SA direction. Perhaps if they just explore the possibility. I agree that we have had pretty good acting and great lines. Loved the video of the kid destroying the women’s dressing room and kicking the old lady. So much for suing Alicia’s Mom. But we already went thru a campaign w/ Peter. All the oppo stuff around it would be fun to explore, with a final, it’s too much baggage, I don’t hunk I’ll run. One of our favorite shows for years now!

  21. HAP says:

    I’m baffled by the fact that this great show was lower in the overnights than its lead-in and lead-out.

  22. kkmr514 says:

    So when Peter noted to Eli that Jonny had a nasty scar on his face…and then Eli retorted that he didn’t…this wasn’t important??? I think that Jonny may not actually be who he says he is. Why is no one else talking about this???

  23. John Moshier says:

    one of the funniest things Ive seen on tv if nuse Jackie is a comedy what is this

  24. Jan says:

    Not crazy about Alicia running, but JM was SO GREAT last night! Michael, I loved your comment about the show being funnier than most current sitcoms. That is so true! While I didn’t like the episode on the whole … it’s bits and pieces were just marvelous … so, I guess I did like it, a lot! Eli’s reaction to the intern’s mom was hilarious!

  25. Judy Carey says:

    I love her. I think she should have told her son off big time. Forget about how it looks with her running for office, the girl’s parent were here. He should have told her. and as for the drug dealer, it’s time to kill him off.

  26. Kim R says:

    I thought the episode was so well edited together and smart, so that part was great for me. However, Alicia’s running for SA was not. I am really hoping that they are using this to bring in more plot twists and then they will drop it. It seems like it has just come out of left field and feels a little ridiculous. Why on earth would she run and expose her private life to the scrutiny she has hated being married to Peter? To have to do this only because she hates Castro is stupid. I don’t believe the character would do this at all. It doesn’t fit.
    As you can tell I’m a little annoyed. :)

    • schu says:

      I’m in agreement. Really feels like a misplaced storyline and I hope it gets dropped as well. I just couldn’t handle her completely abandoning Cary after he’s gone through so much with her. That said, still an amazingly smart and well done show, acting, writing, directing, everything. So solid, always fully entertained every week.

    • Linda Smith says:

      Agree! It’s ruing the story line and making it all scattered.

  27. becky says:

    Why is no one talking about the show “Talking at Noon” on the TV? It was a parody of Talking Dead. I wonder why Alicia kept in on when Jonny and Elite were there. Funny they went over and watched when she was on the phone.

  28. sladewilson says:

    This episode just made me a fan of Bishop. He’s a way better villain than I thought he would be even though he has never embraced the typical “drug dealing thug from the hood” character. I was like, so what – he’s The Good Wife’s version of Stringer Bell or something? Please. But no – there is a quiet but very loud perception of fear and violence around this man and the nicer he acts, the more afraid everyone should be. Besides, he’s the first person I’ve seen Kalinda actually look afraid of. And I’m so glad mama spanked that little hellion. Him and his ignant mama needed the wind knocked out of them, so to speak….

  29. wendy britton says:

    Stupendous! The writing is the best on tv. And Alicia’s character is so authentic and complex. When I watch the show I am riveted and laughing simultaneously!

  30. oh joy says:

    Alicia is so snarky and rude sometimes. She doesn’t want to be interrupted, but has no problem doing it to everyone else.

  31. oh joy says:

    Anyone also want to explain to me why Bishop was going to be dropped, but not Sweeney….the murderer?

  32. Diane Paton says:

    What was that red wine she was opening? Was it fake? A 2005 Des Boothes Margaux???? or what?

  33. Carmena says:

    I love trying new wine does anyone know what wine she was drinking! It ends in “boothes”

  34. Anthony says:

    Wife has a long history of its writing/story lines being wildly inconsistent. When the show is on-point, it’s stellar. The best series on TV. So good that we forgive it its forays into Whackyville. Like the Kalinda/lesbian asskicker/my husband is a thug absurdity. So far this season, it’s not only off the rails, it’s dangerously close to jumping the shark. The cast of thousands. The quirky bits like the shirtless maintenance man bathing in the Florrick/Agos sink; tonight’s all girl choir singing in Grace’s room while the grown ups talked politics; Gloria Steinhem encouraging Alicia to run, etc. It’s all too much. Distracting. Am looking forward to when it reels itself back in and becomes — once again — the taut, smart, sophisticated drama we love!