The Good Wife Recap: Test Kitchen

Alicia Florrick almost always wins, but that doesn’t mean she’s always right.

On this week’s installment of The Good Wife, our protagonist bristles at her law partners for making a massive decision about their firm’s future without consulting her — only to be met with the high-end equivalent of a shoulder shrug and an exasperated “Woman, pleeease.”

Seeing Diane and Cary unapologetically get on with the business of running a major firm while Alicia becomes fully immersed in her run for state’s attorney proves fantastic on two levels: First, it ties up the nagging, season-long plot hole surrounding the named partners of Florrick-Agos-Lockhart never weighing in (on screen) about whether or not Alicia could/should run for office less than a year after the firm’s launch. And secondly, it creates yet another undercurrent of tension in the complicated web of relationships that showrunners Robert and Michelle King have spun over the past six seasons.

The instigating event in Diane-Cary Vs. Saint Alicia turns out to be the loss of Neil Gross/Chum-Hum as a client, thanks to the firm’s less-than-effective representation during the billionaire’s divorce proceedings? Using the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” (or the “we’ll go belly up without some replacement for this lost revenue”) philosophy, Diane and Cary act quickly to poach delicious nemesis David Lee from his alliance with David Canning and put him back on their team. When Alicia finds out this has all gone down during her verrrry long State’s Attorney debate, she’s surprisingly, almost infuriatingly indignant. “You can’t just…” she huffs, then reconsiders. “I’m a named partner. This is a decision for all of us.”

Diane, though, is ready with a counter-punch: “No, it isn’t Alicia — not anymore. You running for State’s Attorney — that was a decision for all of us,” she says, and yes, Ms. Lockhart takes her glasses off mid-conversation like a total boss. Diane adds that Alicia initially said she was running in order to beat Castro (aka the guy who was falsely prosecuting Cary), but with him out of the race, the question looms: “Why are you still in?”

Alicia gets even angrier over what sounds like a completely valid query, grousing that Diane would never pose that question to a male candidate. Alicia’s got a big campaign staff, 38,000 donors and she thinks she’d make a better State’s Attorney. “There? You have a problem with that?” Alicia seethes, before turning on her heel and marching back to her office.

Trouble is, Diane and Cary don’t have a problem with that. They have a problem with Alicia thinking she can campaign for public office as a full-time job, but also continue to have an equal say in the future of a business she that’s no better than No. 2 on her list of priorities. Is this the same Alicia who started Season 5 with a joyous decision to join Cary in leaving Lockhart-Gardner and starting their own venture?

Look, I’m not saying it’s not this woman’s prerogative to change her mind, but Alicia shouldn’t expect her partners to remain in an extended state of limbo while she reaches the crescendo of her campaign — and with a huge chunk of her savings tied up in the firm, nor should she want them to. (A better argument for staying in the race, honestly, might be that Alicia dropping out at the 11th hour would be an embarrassment, a sign to the firm’s clients that the Governor’s wife is somehow capricious or less-than-steadfast.)

What’s intriguing about this twist in the action, though, is realizing how much of Alicia’s self worth is tied up in the State’s Attorney’s race: In the last year, she’s lost the love of her life to senseless gun violence, she no longer has any intimacy (physical and emotional) with her estranged husband, her son has gone off to college, she’s keeping Finn at arm’s length, and she’s not really involved in trying cases or running the operations of the firm. If Season 6 were a night in Vegas, Alicia would be at the poker table at 2am, with all her chips riding on a single hand of the current election cycle.

As the episode ends, Alicia doubles down on her belief that — polling numbers be damned — she’s got this race won. And while I’m not sure whether a victory or a loss opens up the more exciting dramatic avenues for the show’s writers, I’m certainly eager to see it all play out.

Since it’s Golden Globes night and our Best/Worst Moments gallery has made me late in getting this recap finished, I’m gonna break down the rest of the week’s action in pithy bullet points, and let you handle the big related questions down in the comments section:

* The show’s fictional take on the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner provides an insightful, though occasionally hard-to-watch look at the politics of race. Eli, in particular, measures the public-relations value of every aspect of a jury trial that ultimately exonerates two officers for killing an unarmed black man named Cole Willis, but we also see Gov. Florrick, the Mayor and his chief of staff, Alicia and Frank and local religious leaders grappling how best to spin their opinions and their involvement in the ugly business while standing in front of a backdrop of angry community protests. Eli’s right-hand woman Nora (Nicole Roderick), meanwhile, gets a moment to shine. Usually, she’s his harried-but-silent companion. But when he invites her to accompany him to various campaign stops on the night of the Willis verdict, she confronts him head-on with his hypocrisy: “I‘m your black shield tonight,” Nora finally determines, providing a tart and emotional balance to Eli’s mercenary POV.

* Peter and Ramona are kaput! An area newspaper lands pics of Peter exiting Ramona’s apartment two nights before Alicia’s debate — and plans to run the allegations of an affair. Knowing he needs to be “effective” in the wake of the Willis verdict, and (even though he never comes out and says it) that his long-term political prospects could be harmed by revelations of another instance of infidelity, Peter summons Ramona to his limo, and 10 minutes later, she exits, crying. “We said goodbye,” she tells Eli, smart enough to understand why, but invested enough to still be devastated. Is this truly the last we’ll see of her, though? I kinda hope not — given that “Peter in actual love” is much juicier than “Peter merely shtupping an intern.”

* Alicia and Johnny are kaput? Alicia explains to Johnny her kiss was a matter of circumstance, not an indicator of a lingering crush (or lust). Just when it seems like she’s gotten through with her breezily “let’s forget it!” message, though, Alicia realizes she never bothered to ask if Johnny has feelings for her. And the look on his face is kinda, sorta spelling out, “I’m smitten with my client!”

* Alicia and Frank’s debate takes a very circuitous (and open-ended) path. During Alicia’s televised showdown with Mr. Prady, the Kings skewer the ridiculous ground rules of debates — the 10-second ‘lightning round’ was my fave — and how they often stifle meaningful discourse. But when the Willis verdict interrupts the proceedings, and Alicia and Frank find themselves alone foraging for food in the hotel kitchen, a true back-and-forth is able to happen, with Alicia making a compelling case for why inexperienced dreamers often falter once they’re elected. “Vote realistic cynicism!” isn’t a great slogan, either, but Candidate Florrick’s philosophy — she can’t do anything to cure racism or make people good, but she does know the mechanics of how prosecutors fail in court — seems to sit on a solid foundation. Once the network is ready to resume the debate, though, Alicia finds Prady has left the building, wanting to continue the podium showdown only after he’s had time to “take action” and to “listen.” The biggest win of the night, then, has to go to Alicia, who shuts down that aforementioned reporter’s Peter-Ramona query before he even has a chance to pose it: In a fired-up monologue that’s both pragmatic and deeply feminist, Alicia wonders in what job, exactly, would it be relevant that her husband has weathered an infidelity scandal — and asks him to remember not only her own humanity, but that of her daughter and her opponent, too.

* The Life-Without-Kalinda playbook begins here: We barely see Archie Panjabi’s investigator this week — save for some brief scenes in which she exposes marital infidelities by Neil Gross’ boss — but perhaps this is just the Kings’ way of weaning us off our obsession with Ms. Sharma (and her boots).

On that note, it’s your turn. What did you think of this week’s Good Wife? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

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. nikki says:

    I really like Peter and Ramona. And Peter is much more interesting now that he is in love and not just sleeping around.

    • James Butler says:

      There never was any intent on having Peter be happy after all the abuse and innuendoes
      even though he is always there to bail out his “WIFE” after another of her bad choices/

  2. analog says:

    There’s really no other outcome of this election storyline than Alicia winning. Think about it: she can’t go back to the lawfirm. It would be bad for the story. Next season will be her at the SA office.

    • Citygirl says:

      And then it’s time to change the name of the show, The courtroom and law firm storylines were what was interesting about the show (even though there were many discrepancies AND it was NOT about Alicia’s love life).

      • abz says:

        They don’t need to change it. The show has and continues to have it’s legal side, but this show has always been about Alicia’s growth after the scandal change her life six years ago and her evolution.

      • Coal. says:

        I wholly agree with you. The show is no longer a political/legal drama its begun to concentrate more romantic entanglement of its characters and the political and legal story arcs are just part of the furniture. The direction of show has become more like a Shonda Rhimes show while initially it resembled something Aaron Sorkin could come up with.

    • Lei says:

      That’s sad, how Diane and Cary just shut her out!

      • Alicia is spreading herself too thin. She needs to decide which career is more important. I don’t see how she can be SA and keep her law firm job, wouldn’t that present a conflict of interest delima?

        • Caro says:

          I agree. I never liked her running in the first place; I thought she committed to start her own firm with Cary and now Diane?! I’d like to see more of that!

        • abz says:

          I think she realizes that she can’t have both and maybe she is just having a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that she may have to let itgo if she wins. It’s a decision she partially already made in deciding to run, but perhaps she wants to still feel like she has an influence in the firm in the event that she doesn’t win.

    • Ange says:

      I disagree. I think her losing forges what the dynamic will be between she, Cary and Diane with David Lee back in the fold.

  3. puck says:

    I don’t even understand this show anymore. Do the writers?

    • Citygirl says:

      I don’t think so!!! It’s as if they write stuff for shock value and not keeping with the original premise of the show.

      • I agree. I used to look forward to this show, but have sort of lost interest.

      • drhenning says:

        I just don’t get this original premise stuff that people attach to certain shows.. Just like people, shows can evolve and especially after long runs.. Crime shows can stay true to their roots more than non-crime shows… The unfortunate thing is the name of this show was mostly geared to its first season and the comparison to the Spitzers.. After that, it has nothing to do with it..

      • Ella J. Wade says:

        I agree. It reminds me of the last couple of seasons of Lost. Where is Robin? And Taye Diggs character? The fact that they never even mention them seems very unfair to the viewers. We don’t forget.

  4. Anna says:

    One episode at a time of this show is just not enough. I need more. Johnny (who knew his first name before this epsiode? No one? Okay.) is definitely having a crush on Alicia. Which is fine by me, as long as Alicia somehow ends up with Finn. I just need all the Matthew Goode I can get.

    • Caro says:

      Yeah, me too! I like Alicia/Finn!!!

    • abz says:

      I’m finding myself conflicted over Alicia’s love life these past few episodes. I’ve always been a supporter of her and Finn, but I am loving the chemistry between her and Johnny and I really think Johnny is falling for Alicia. In the end though, the primary thing she needs to do is end her relationship with Peter once and for all. It’s growing tired and I think they will both be happy once that happens.

    • Sid Neeto says:

      The chemistry between them is through the roof!

    • Steven says:

      Alicia and Johnny is coming off as forced. I really hope she ends up with Finn, they were building it up all season just for her to kiss another guy out of nowhere? Ugh.

  5. Citygirl says:

    I haven’t watched the episode yet but if what Slezak brings up here about Alicia/Diane/Cary and the firm, this issue about Alicia seeking a political position and what that means for this firm that she fought hard for – didn’t she think of the repercussions? She CANNOT do BOTH. If she does win the election, she will have to step down from the firm that has her name. Her being State’s Attorney will definitely bring in a “conflict of interest” between the SA’s office and her old firm. This is sloppy writing. If the show continues with Alicia winning, the original premise of the show is gone. It will no longer be The Good Wife, it will be “Alicia Florrick, State’s Attorney” and the law firm part of the show will be gone. The part, ie courtroom scenes, the cases, is what was interesting about the show in the first place.

    • JAO says:

      I agree with most of your thoughts However to me it is still the Good Wife as it is the GW’s evolution and growth as a self aware person who is responsible for self and not the image of her husband.

    • abz says:

      It isn’t sloppy writing. It’s natural for shows to deviate from their original premise as they age and different plots emerge. This show has primarily been about the evolution of Alicia. Yes, part of the show was the legal drama side, but it’s about her growth and the woman she’s become and her journey ever since the scandal changed her life six years ago.
      The problem I think with a lot of people who comment about this show is that they want things to be black or white and it’s NOT! I think deep down Alicia knows she’s been unreasonable in her anger over hiring David Lee again. She did the same thing to Cary when they brought in Diane. And that’s what I love about this show. She’s not a perfect woman. She has many flaws just like most of us. Emotions fueled her outburst over Diane/Cary’s decision and she didn’t take a moment to think about the situation. It was a very hypocritical but human reaction. This tension that her outburst created between them will most likely fuel her own journey of self-awareness and discovery and realizing what she really wants in life. She wanted her own firm and she got it, but maybe that wasn’t enough for her. Maybe she wanted to do more. Does she want to stay in her toxic marriage or is she gonna finally fight for herself to be happy? She may be struggling with her decision about careers. She desperately wants to win, but at what cost? She may having a hard time letting go and realizing that her decision to run has to come at the expense of something else (i.e. her firm).
      Also, while I do enjoy the courtroom scenes, I’m glad this show is deviating from it and finding a balance between procedural and serials as I wish most shows would start doing. I don’t want this show turning to another boring procedural (i.e. the later seasons of Bones, CSI, etc.) where each episode is the same).
      And the law is not always about courtroom scenes. We’re still constantly seeing the legal side of this show through the workings of Cary’s trial and even in this episode we had the chance to observe negotiations.
      Also, even if they decide to make her win and the following season becomes about her life as a State’s Attorney, I don’t think the law firm side will just disappear. Diane and Cary are still big characters on the show and their presence is needed. Also if Alicia is the new SA, then she and Florrick Agos are bound to be put up against one another in court at some point so there could be many possibilities if they decide to go that route.

      • Sid Neeto says:

        Great comment. I totally Agree. Reading your comment led me to think about a thread that runs through the show– Alicia’s “betrayal issues.” She’s always feeling wronged and betrayed. Perhaps one day she’ll come to examine what her actions/inaction, choices etc. contribute to those occurrences.

    • Sid Neeto says:

      Yes, but having a partner as the State’s attorney brings prestige, the appearance of political clout and clients, to the firm. Very common occurrence in “high-powered” firms..

  6. Florrick Agos says:

    Kalinda and Alicia appeared in the same room together this episode. Ahem…no Alicia was on a tv screen. They haven’t been in the samen room since season 4!

  7. Cmina says:

    Loved that Chris Matthews cameo as moderator at the debate – he channeled his inner Fox

  8. Jackie says:

    I think it is Louis Canning, not David Canning… right?

  9. Lei says:

    As Always, an engaging show. Liked how they threw in Ferguson as a subplot.

  10. James Butler says:

    Just as Peter seem to be getting on with his life up pop another out if nowhere photo and hints of infidelity. Alicia throws her convictions to the wind when they conflict with her desires. Her selfishness enables her to put aside faithfulness, integrity, honesty and all other virtues so the she can do what feels good at the tine no matter what the cost. Johnny should have asked her why would he want to be with a married woman and why would a married woman want to be with him?

    • Anna says:

      Yes, because Alicia only ever worries about what feels good for her. She’s never let the love of her life go because she felt it interfered with her commitments to her family. She’s never turned the other way to her husband’s lying and cheating for the sake of her children. She’s never broken out of her professional comfort zone so that she can maintain her own integrity or stand up against dishonesty and corruption.

      And why would a married woman want to be with Johnny? I don’t know, maybe because he respects her, appreciates her intelligence, believes in her abilities, thinks she’s capable of more than just standing by the side of her slightly shady/sleazy ex-husband-in-all-but-law? That wouldn’t be a refreshing change of pace at all.

  11. Puddin says:

    I thought there was too much going on in this episode.

    • Jenna says:

      Exactly. Dealing with a Ferguson type of issue while 3 other plots were happening was a bad call. If they want to take on a sensitive topic of that nature then give it the weight it deserves not a disjointed effort like this episode. The all consuming campaign story just won’t go away either. It’s kind of a joke that it’s being treated like national or even a Governor’s race.

      It was good to see that actions do have consequences for Alicia – with the firm and in her private life. All season I’ve been watching and wondering how do the clients feel about her situation as well as Cary’s. Who was doing the account management? It was like they were an afterthought for the writers and for the characters.

      I’ve found so little to enjoy about this season and now it looks like they’ve taken my one sweet spot of eye candy enjoyment, Finn, away, too. Will Finn/Matthew Goode disappear for weeks with no explanation as David Lee and Robyn did?

  12. I’m so tired of people referring to Alicia as “Saint Alicia”. She doesn’t portray herself to be a saint and she isn’t……….NOBODY IS. NOBODY IS PERFECT.

  13. Viv says:

    I waited for this scene at the end ever since Alicia decided to run. I was on Diane´s und Cary´s side on this one. If Alicia wins this race she is gone and they have to manage without her anyway. And honestly, I didn´t quite get the feminism angle that was thrown in there. That seemed like a cheap way to put the blame on Cary and Diane for making the desicion alone. If she said to them “I run because I want to beat Costa.” then the question why she still is running seems valid to me. If she had said “I run because I want to win” from the start, I don´t think Diane would´ve asked her. That part didn´t work for me. And I said it before, I will say it again: I don´t care for the election storyline. (and… other question that I asked myself during the episode: are Alicia and Zach still on no speaking terms?)

  14. Luis says:

    1. Glad someone finally called Alicia out on the whole “i can run a law firm and run for public office at the same time” sham. Given Cary’s legal troubles, it’s frankly a miracle the firm didn’t collapse into rubble at poor Diane’s feet.
    2.There can never be enough David Lee.
    3.Peter and Ramona had to be the fastest affair in T.V. history. Truthfully, every news outlet in Chicago and Springfield had to have a specifically tasked “Peter Florrick infidelity” correspondent on their payrolls.
    4. Sorry Alicia, but when your husband’s the governor and you are running for state’s attorney, questions about his infidelity are bound to be asked.
    5. Please, please, please do not make that kiss between Alicia and Johnny out to be anything more than it was; any entanglement between the two of them would just be ridiculous.
    6.Finally, thank you, thank you, thank you to the Kings for bringing the wonderful David Hyde Pierce back to television. He’s been sorely missed.

  15. Anya says:

    I really liked this episode, I know there was too much going on but I liked it. There’s not one dull moment, I couldn’t take my eyes off the tv. The writing is so good.
    The recap wonders about Kalinda’s brief appearance, but what about Robyn? Where is she?

  16. Julia says:

    Alicia is just completely unlikeable now. In previous seasons, there were moments to root for her. For some reason this year has lost me in the Alicia camp. She is still a complex character and I understand the lack of imperfection, etc. but she just seems cranky and power hungry now. I’m much more interested in the other storylines outside of Alicia’s run for SA.

  17. Gail says:

    I Just read the next new episode is not until March. That really sucks. A month and 1/2 off, then 2 episodes and now another month and a half off.

  18. GREGO366 says:

    The ‘Good Wife’ ? Not anymore. This show is now about an IMBITTERED woman who has come to use her friends and bend truths to conform to HER wants !!! Hardly worth watching.

  19. yikes says:

    Here’s a possibility: Alicia will win and become State’s Attorney. Somehow, Kalinda’s tampering with evidence to exonerate Cary will come to light and she’ll have to make the decision to prosecute Kalinda/Florrick-Agos and jeopardize Cary’s freedom.

  20. Sam says:

    The outcome of the elections is now taking center stage. Indeed i had thoughts of what would happen if she won and had to leave the firm but brushed them aside. And the issue was never adressed by the firm. Now we see the firm moving on with or without her.

    I trust the the Kings and go with them wherever the story leads but i’m abit scared on this one. Are they planning to have a Alicia Vs. Lockhart-Cary future? I don’t like that. Careful here.
    Then again, i trust them and will keep watching to see where this goes.
    Kalinda has been underused anyway, no big deal that she was barely there in the episode.

  21. Jordan says:

    This show reminds me of Breaking Bad in the sense that it’s slowly made me dislike the main character over several season. I think that’s intentional on the show’s part. They’ve shown her being put through hell and being forged into a much harder and more calculating person. It’s a fascinating character study, but I don’t side with Alicia as the good guy anymore. She’s just the protagonist now. I’m with Diane and Cary on the management of the firm and, if I were a voter in this fictional election, I’d be voting for Prady.

  22. carol says:

    I hated alicia yelling with cary and diane…
    alicia trust your partners or be there!!!!!!

  23. caarooliinee says:

    I hated Alicia yelling with cary and diane!! alicia, you trust your partners or be there!!!!!!

  24. Hayes says:

    I sure hope Alicia doesn’t become SA. I just want it to be about the law firm again.

  25. Michele says:

    WOW you’d think these were real people! Anyway, Alicia and Peter should have divorced two seasons ago. I don’t like Alicia and Cary’s firm becoming the old established Lockhart Garner firm complete with same offices. I liked the newness and edginess of the fledging firm in the loft. Lastly, Alicia running for SA at this stage of her career (new firm) and life (still married to Peter) never made sense. I miss interesting legal cases. I guess I haven’t liked the last two seasons much.

  26. Mally says:

    The whole “if I was a man…” shtick was really grating and a cop out. Out of all the people Alicia accuses of sexism, she accuses DIANE?? Like, come on. Didn’t Alicia do something similar to Cary when he was in jail? She made decisions without him or even regarded him. Sometimes I really don’t like how Alicia handles things.

  27. Sid Neeto says:

    One the best episodes. Alicia finally found her voice as a candidate. The only thing I can think of to that could possibly follow such an amazing episode is your recap. I really look forward o reading them. Your Las Vegas analogy was kinda brilliant!-

  28. karma says:

    Regarding Alicia’s campaign, I will make a bold prediction unless someone has beaten me to it. She WILL WIN the SA’s office in a narrow margin (the writers would be fools to intimate voting conspiracy/corruption that Chicago is notorious for) BUT resign in a twist we all can expect from the Good Wife which shall serve as the season ending cliff-hangar of why and who will replace her.

    In the following new season after that, she will appoint Finn Bollmar (or is Pollmar?) to replace her on an interim basis since he did get the Governor’s initial backing during his aborted run early in the season. Thus, creating a “fox in the henhouse” situation with Finn being under her thumb, so to speak. This new dynamic could allow the writers to either build on Alicia’s and Finn’s growing relationship or cause them to become adversaries as he would try to shake off the label as being her’s and Peter’s puppet.

    The reason(s) she resign will be either be very juicy and elaborate where some random or innocuous events in the past has caught up to her or perhaps some bizarre circumstance in the tradition the Good Wife has been known to utlize.

  29. Paola says:

    Please, where is Finn? Were is Matthew Goode? I just wanna see him..beautiful gorgeous intense and sexy man

  30. Kelly says:

    I have binge-watched all 5 1/2 seasons in the couple months, and boy is S6 a let down after such an amazing Season 5. And if she leaves her firm to become the SA…. ugh… I think they have really missed the mark this time. There was so much potential—seeing Alicia running the office and being the boss. Why leave that out before she moves on to something new?