The Good Wife Recap: Campaign and Suffering

Message Discipline

As TV viewers, there’s a certain success threshold we expect from our network drama protagonists. They can lose the occasional case, suffer the intermittent personal setback, but they’re supposed to follow the Chumbawamba-approved adage: “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.”

In the twisty, twisted world of The Good Wife, however, regular small-screen rules do not necessarily apply. Dashing young attorneys can have their lives cut short in acts of senseless violence. Upstanding, tech-savvy teenagers can usher their pretty girlfriends to clandestine abortion appointments. Elections get rigged, friendships get permanently fractured and true love is allowed to wither like a petunia after a November frost — with no amount of unrequited elevator-proximity putting Humpty Dumpty’s heart back together again.

Which is precisely why, as I watched this week’s installment of CBS’ superlative legal drama, my brain dusted off a couple of truly troublesome questions: What if Alicia winds up getting trounced in her race for State’s Attorney, her hard-won reputation buried beneath a bag of festering Chinese food in the back-alley Dumpster? And what if Cary can’t outmaneuver current S.A. James Castro’s vendetta against him, if he finishes Season 6 in a crossover episode with America’s Hardest Prisons? I’m not sure if bad news for these characters would be bad news for viewers, but I’ll probably be tossing and turning into the wee Monday hours pondering it.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility. And the developments in “Message Discipline” (the title of Season 6, Episode 7) reinforced the nagging undercurrent of uncertainty. Let’s recap the action and the main questions raised:

TV FAME TRUMPS POLITICAL FAME? | As Peter sits down for a tougher-than-expected interview with political commentator Frank Prady (David Hyde Pierce), Eli notices a prominent campaign operative in the wings — and he’s not the kind of guy who goes anywhere “without good reason.” Turns out Prady’s circling the State’s Attorney’s race, too, and since he’s a “bigger brand” than the First Lady of Illinois, that could spell trouble for Saint Alicia. Johnny and Eli set up a meeting in which Alicia can seek Prady’s endorsement, but all of her advisers’ suggestions strike her as uncomfortably unsubtle. “Alicia, you’re not writing a poem – you’re practicing politics!” barks Eli, beautifully exasperated. The poem Alicia winds up writing, though, might as well be titled “Portrait of a Candidate With a Foot in Her Mouth,” as her efforts to butter up Prady via tougher policy on crimes against the elderly go awry. Turns out reports of his mother’s mugging weren’t accurate; the victim was another woman from her assisted-living facility. “I believe it… the elderly crime… thing,” Alicia mutters in the most unconvincing fashion possible.

No surprise, Alicia fails to secure an endorsement, but she does snag an interview slot on Prady’s show. Johnny preps the candidate by telling her not to cross her legs under the table (the better for her posture) and by informing her that “questions are for dopes” (in other words, always stay on message, no matter what the dude asks you). When he floats a trial question about Zach’s girlfriend’s secret abortion, though, Alicia channels her inner Khaleesi and gives birth to a fire-breathing dragon. “HOW DARE YOU?” she rages. “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?” Johnny approves the message — if she takes out the “freaking” and reins in her hand gestures. It’s a priceless dance lesson, really, with Alicia learning that every move — no matter how off-the-cuff or personal — must be carefully rehearsed. Unfortunately for her, Johnny’s prepped her for a hard-hitting Q&A, so when Prady shows up on live TV with condescending softballs like, “Where do you find the time?,” Alicia does her best impression of a robot in a swimming pool, going CTRL+ALT+DEL in front of the ominous cameras. (Brilliant direction and editing in that scene, no?) “OK, I’m going to get drunk,” Alicia groans to Eli as she heads for the exit — forgetting that there’s no such thing as irony (or humor) for political candidates.

Despite the blow to her candidacy, Alicia refuses to let Eli and Johnny use a potentially damaging law-review article that Prady wrote long ago condemning Israeli settlements, and so they take the next obvious step: Leaking it to Castro and letting him do the dirty work. Prady shows up at Alicia’s office, dejected over losing friends and disgusted over how “human beings are treated like commodities” in the current political environment — and he seems to have her sympathy. But when the talking head suddenly gets sanctimonious and blames Alicia for the leak, claims it’s convinced him to quit his job and run against her, she bristles. “You’re such a hypocrite!” He’s not trying to change the system, she huffs, he is the system — and he’d been planning to run for weeks, even when during their uncomfortable interview.

“Good luck, Mrs. Florrick,” Prady sneers.

“Yep,” she replies. “It was fun. See you out there.” If this isn’t the physical and verbal embodiment of “no love lost,” I’m not sure what is. But since Alicia is always at her most delicious when faced with a formidable rival, the more the merrier, I say!

PUTTING THE ‘CARY’ IN SCARY | With 58 days ’til trial, Finn starts sniffing around a leave of absence Cary took during his tenure as an ADA, and — welcome back, Geneva! — eventually learns Mr. Agos was involved in a swept-under-the-rug incident where drugs connected to Lemond Bishop went missing after he brought them from lockup to the crime lab. Finn drops vague warnings to Alicia (over drinks, naturally) that another wicked wind is headed toward Florrick-Agos HQ, then drops the bombshell in court that he wants “proof of other crimes” introduced into the trial.

It’s Kalinda to the rescue when she figures out Cary was working under Peter’s direct orders — and is keeping his mouth shut to protect the governor. When Cary says he can’t come clean, Kalinda traces the source of the troubles to the lab tech — who just so happened to get a $30,000 deposit in her account for misplacing the evidence, who also happens to be the cousin of Bishop’s MIA crew member Trey Wagner, and whose hijacked GPS info leads the boot-loving investigator to Trey’s hideout in Gary, Indiana. He agrees — with the blessing of his deeply religious family — to work with Finn and testify against Bishop, but guess what? Castro doesn’t want to cut out the middle-man in their case (Cary) — even though Trey claims he helped set Cary up. “You don’t care about Bishop. You care about Alicia Florrick,” Finn marvels at the Weaseliest Weasel to Ever Have Weaseled. And next thing we know, he’s resigned from his ASA position and is back out at the bar with Our Lady of Straight Bourbon (aka St. Alicia). When Finn says he can’t legally discuss his exact reasons for quitting, Alicia counters with this innnnteresting jab: “You will tell me more after three drinks!” The episode ends with more sobering news, however: Wagner and his relative — the only two folks who can clear Cary’s name — have died in a car accident. Is it possible Bishop learned of their intentions? (Most likely.) And is it possible Bishop learned from… Castro? (Perhaps. It seems like dude would do anything to win.)

Oh, and one last note: Cary and Kalinda flirtatiously texting with each other and exchanging lusty looks? In court? Within eyeshot of the judge who could revoke his bail until trial? I realize these two cats occasionally seek out danger in the alley, but I’m not sure I buy that either one would risk so much for so little payoff so soon after the whole “50 feet of separation”/”ankle monitor ruling.” Anyone else with me on that count?

105394_0027bALICIA 2.0 | When Peter finds himself blindsided about current case law during his interview with Prady, he tells Eli to assemble a list of personal attorneys from which he can hire a new staffer — oh, and he wants “family friend” Ramona Lydden (mom of the infamous, panty-less intern) to be included. Ramona bumps into Alicia while she’s waiting for her interview, as it turns out, and we learn that she’s recently divorced, returning to the work force after raising her children, and is essentially modeling her career comeback after Alicia’s. (The question looms, though, does Ramona also share Alicia’s taste in sexy governors? Yes, yes, it’s dreadful of me to speculate so quickly, but we know Peter’s weaknesses, and we saw the private laughs he and Ramona shared when Eli walked in on ’em a few weeks back, so… Your objection is not sustained!) For now, Ramona proves a quick study in her new job: When Diane makes the case that Cary expedited the cocaine evidence under orders from his then-boss Peter, Ramona shrewedly advises the now-Governor that “They want it to look like you’re covering something up — so don’t” and adds that Peter shouldn’t reach out and speak to Cary — lest it get used against him. Her argument holds up in court, impressing Finn, but methinks Eli will take a little more winning-over.

OK, your turn. What did you think of “Message Discipline”? How worried should we be for Cary? And what to make of Alicia going out for drinks with Finn with such increasing frequency? 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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50 Comments
  1. Steven says:

    Did anyone else notice the amount of political advertisements during the commercial breaks? Great episode though. Poor Cary cannot seem to catch a break.

  2. analog says:

    Hmm I wouldn’t mind if Alicia loses to David Hyde Pierce.

    • TV Gord says:

      Only a show as great as this one can make its lead character so unsympathetic and a new character–whom we expect to be unsympathetic–to completely switch it up and become sympathetic himself! Brilliance! I loved this episode!

    • They wouldn’t allow Alicia to lose to that character after making him act so deplorable towards Alicia with arguably no justification.

  3. Somes rt says:

    Loved the episode , back on track :)
    And yep , something is gonna end badly , whether the election or Cary’s trail ( and that includes Kalinda , whom the writers finally remembered about her and are giving juicy material .. It helps that she’s doing it because of Cary . It helps because it’s personal ).

  4. DW says:

    Another great episode. The tension with Cary is the best part of the show right now. Castro is evil personified and each week I have more sympathy and empathy for Cary. It is amazing how easy it is for powerful people to ruin innocent peoples’ lives. This show has too often used Cary when they needed someone to lose a case, a job, an argument, etc. This arc is really great for Cary and Matt Czuchry and I can only hope that Cary is fully vindicated in the end. The thought of Cary going to prison for a possible 7th season is not good. I had a feeling Peter would watch out for himself and not help Cary. It would be great if he changed his mind and helped his former loyal employee. Great to see Kalinda in action for Cary. They have tremendous chemistry. TGW is so far superior to any other drama on television. Wish I could say for sure that Cary will be vindicated but the writers here don’t always go by the tv rules as was pointed out in the recap. Hang in there Cary!

    • delfiteblu says:

      I’m not trying to be snarky but you really think there’s TENSION with Cary? To me it’s more of a Chinese fire drill with everything changing and everybody lying and him leering at Kalinda in the back of the courtroom. I’m not that nuts about their chemistry; Kalinda seems about ten years older than Cary and frankly, I don’t think either of them should trust the other. I’m said that Kalinda is leaving after this season but everybody needs to remember that it’s because she already has a new show built around HER. she’s sorta lost her charm for me now that she’s using her powers for evil. Okay – I’m finished now. :)

    • Castro is so much the personification of evil that he is not interesting as a character or even an antagonist to Alicia.

  5. delfiteblu says:

    The things I’m tired of: ELI acting more and more like a snake. He has lost his fun, quirky self and is now out for blood, no matter whose blood it is. I’m tired of Cary leering at kalinda with his perpetually red eyes (which I’ve hated since the show started.) I’m tired of not knowing whether Peter is honest or not and I’m tired of having to worry about whether Ramona will be a good attorney or just another lay for Peter. I HATE that they moved into the Lockhart, Gardner offices, I hate that I’m having trouble understanding the Cary/Bishop/Peter THING and as much as that abortion thing w/Zak has been brought up, how much air time did they actually spend on it? 15 minutes on one show? I don’t like the fact that she isn’t Alicia anymore.

    I LOVE this show and there’s always an OMG moment but it’s getting so mean and confusing. I’ve been angry since the season’s first episode when Finn had Cary arrested when we thought he was a friend. I’m upset that they never showed Peter’s inaugural. I’m NOW sorry that Diane joined Florrick/Agos although the one good thing that came out of it was that she finally mentioned the fact that she DID get married, which we had no proof of since we saw her and Gary Cole walk into the Clerk’s Office. NEVER was it mentioned again.

    I’m not as ticked as I sound but I don’t want the show to become soulless and I certanly don’t want Alicia who is SO intelligent to end up in the middle of a dirty campaign. I LIVE in Illinois and we are the KING of dirty campaigns.

    I’d just like to go back to seeing Alicia in the courtroom with her brilliant lawyer skills and occasionally seeing the kids and wondering if A will ever have a real boyfriend.

    But I really DO think Eli has turned into a snake.

    • Ella J. Wade says:

      I agree with you, well said. But where is Robin?

    • Nan says:

      Thanks for putting into words what I seemed unable to put together. I do not like the storylines this season and hope they don’t drag this out and Alicia running for State’s Attorney considering her “relationship” with Peter just don’t ring true to me…after watching all these I do not see this as a next step for her…now divorcing Peter and her moving in..more to my liken and the Cary thing please please I beg the writers don’t draw this ouuuuuttttt.

    • spartan says:

      Also have to agree with delfiteblu about this soulless season with all of its inexplicable developments. Alicia hates everything about politics, but let’s have her … run for office! Finn has been simpatico with Alicia, but let’s have him … pursue a case that could destroy her firm! Cary’s machinations are always fun to watch … but let’s have him tied up in a paralyzing legal problem and frequently stuck in jail. Many of this show’s characters are so amusing and endearing, but the writers seem determined to throw in every bonkers twist they can think of to make themselves look clever — whether or not it makes any sense for the characters. Ugh.

  6. bar says:

    I liked the moment toward the end where Diane and Cary were leaving and Alicia didn’t have any idea what was going on. It was subtle but telling about the state of affair at FAL.

  7. Luli101 says:

    I am not a huge fan of this season. It seems slow and tedious and I keep waiting for a payoff–but there never is one. I’m glad Cary has a story line, but I’m not sure if I like this one. I’m happy for Alicia and Finn having drinks, but that is not that much. Give a little payoff. Last season by this point we were falling out of our chairs because of the great episodes.

  8. Lucy says:

    “I’m not sure I buy that either one would risk so much for so little payoff so soon after the whole “50 feet of separation”/”ankle monitor ruling.” Anyone else with me on that count?”
    Right now, considering his awful life, Cary has 3 choices: drugs, alcool or Kalinda.
    He has no family on his side (worst dad ever). Alicia is busy with the election stuff. And Diane is just his lawyer. There’s no way a man can handle what he’s going throught without any kind of “help”. He’s not a superhero and he’s entitled to lose his mind right now. It’s pretty realistic and understandable.
    Maybe right now we should be less inflexible with him and take all those weakness like a sign that he’s breaking.

  9. Sara says:

    So, Prady’s dad was a cop who only talked about sports….LOL

  10. I really hope we find out one way or the other where this Cary thing is going after next week.
    I want to see him back in a courtroom defending cases and the like.

    I REALLY hope we find out how Lemond Bishop knew about Trey Wagoner and his crime lab cousin so that he could kill them. Three people (that we’ve been shown) knew Trey was turning state’s evidence: Castro, Fin, and Kalinda. Plus that woman he was holding hands with, I suppose, who seems to have helped convince him to come forward.

    So one of those 4 people is responsible for the two murders…

  11. Bruce From Missouri says:

    Castro totally ratted out the witness to Bishop! He’d rather go after Cary to mess with Alicia than go after the actual criminal.

  12. Joshua says:

    For those of us who don’t have a crush on Matt Czurchy or shipping Cary/ Kalinda am I the only starting to lose interest in this case ? Look, I’m not saying it should be wrapped up in 1 episode, but it if drags on the entire season its going to make for some dreary watching. It was good to see Geneva, again. I was beginning to think was the only other employee at the States Attorney’s office other than Castro. I didn’t think I would, but I actually miss Will’s characters, he had intriguing story arcs. The saying is true. You don’t know what you have until its gone.

    • Nan says:

      No you are not the only one losing interest…they need to wrap this up fast or I see boredom city in my viewing future.

    • Denise says:

      I’m not losing interest in Cary’s case, per se, but I do want them to wrap it up soon because the whole thing just adds more dread with each episode. To the point where I’m really worried Cary won’t get out in one piece.

      I don’t think this will drag out all season-long, though, probably until holiday break so the show can focus on Alicia’s campaign in earnest.

  13. Hayes says:

    Kalinda will kill Bishop and goes into hiding.

    • Overthinking says:

      I hadn’t read your comment before making mine but I feel like Kalinda is playing with fire and is going to get burned i.e. killed by Bishop or one of his people.

      • Hayes says:

        Agreed. She kills him, or he kills her, or whatever. Point is, I don’t see any end game for Kalinda that does not involve Bishop.

  14. abz says:

    Just curious but can someone explain to me why it is that Cary’s legal case is held in a court room that allows so much background talking? Is it because of the type of case it is or because it’s bail-related and they’re gathering evidence to restrict his freedom and to try and prosecute him? Don’t think I’ve seen that type of courtroom on the show before until Cary’s case.

  15. KeithH says:

    Prediction: Kalinda’s exit will come after she testifies against Bishop and either goes into witness protection or Bishop has her whacked.

    • sladewilson says:

      I’m hoping for the former and Cary at the last second goes with her. And Cary’s final bombshell? He has some felony sized dirt on Peter and leaves it at the firm so Alicia can decide Peter’s fate….

      • Hayes says:

        Matt Czuchry’s contract is also up at the end of the season.. Everyone’s focus is Archie leaving but the Kings could drop a bombshell and Cary’s a goner too. Alicia loses the SA race, and the final season has Alicia and Diane running the only firm in Chicago with 2 female name partners… or something like that.

        • Catherine says:

          That would be wonderful – and a defense for the writers’ decision to have Alicia follow her anger all the way into campaigning. That just doesn’t seem like the way that this character would protect Cary and defend Will’s memory, but if it leads to Alicia and Diane running the only all-female-name-partners firm in all of Chicago, then I’m all in.

  16. Overthinking says:

    I may be jumping the gun here but it sure looks like they are setting it up for Kalinda to be taken out by Bishop and company.

  17. Jan says:

    Yeah, I didn’t buy the flirtation between Cary and Kalinda, either. It really didn’t make a lot of sense. Castro is one bad dude; I’m sure he leaked the info on Trey & his cousin to Bishop. This show always has such interesting twists and turns.

    • Joy Ann Inn says:

      There’s been an on again off again affair between Kalinda and Cary since the first season. I see Kalinda taking out Bishop to save Cary and getting killed herself.

  18. truth says:

    Usually, The Good Wife is such an extraordinary show. The writers are surprising us each and every time. I love that about the show.

    But this whole storyline around Cary and Kalinda doing the job to prove his innocence or basically to help him out of the really bad situation he is caught in… I mean, if they are gonna kill off Kalinda, as the consequence of helping Cary out… I’m not gonna accept that. That is actually way too obvious to me, as she puts herself in danger too. Lemont will get back to Kalinda, for basically working against him to free Cary. I hope they won’t go for that way. If an actor exits a show, that doesn’t mean the writers have to kill of the respective character. I really hope they will go for another way.

    Oh and Castro is a damn a**hole. Although I somehow hope Alicia will loose the election, simply because she doesn’t want to do all that dirty work. i really hope she will win through her way, or just loose and stick back to the court (As we love her doing that!!).

    • Denise says:

      I don’t think the show will kill either character so soon after Will. We already know Kalinda is leaving the show. As other people have mentioned, I bet she ends up leaving Chicago and getting a new identity because of Bishop. Will Cary stay on the show or leave as well? Now, that is not so certain at the moment.

      • newsdee says:

        If they want me to continue watching they will stop with the imprisonment of Cary……and get rid of the Lemond Bishop storyline.

  19. Joy Ann Inn says:

    I am very worried about Cary. He is innocent but now there is no one to prove it. I wonder if they are going to kill off Cary and Kalinda. This would be a mistake, in my opinion. Those 2 are very interesting characters. As far as the divorced attorney goes and Peter. I don’t care if Peter has another affair. I am no a fan of Peter Florrick. I like your synopsis. It was right on.

  20. Alicia is quickly becoming the most boring and inconsequential character on this show with over reliance on guest stars.

  21. delorest says:

    I wish that they would stop with the Cary demonization. We already lost one major star.

  22. newsdee says:

    I’m tired of the Cary/Lemond Bishop storyline. Allow Cary to have some happiness.

  23. Barb says:

    This was once my favorite show, it isn’t even worth watching anymore. This thing with Carey and Alicia and her run for political office is so boring. The writers have lost their edge. I am not even giving it one more chance.