The Good Wife Recap: With Great Power Comes Great Moral Ambiguity

My name is Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.” “Hey! Who turned out the lights?” “I’ve made a huge mistake.” And now, thanks to The Good Wife, we have yet another example of a line of TV dialogue that only gets more delicious (and more meaningful) every time it’s repeated: “All options are open to me, and I plan to decide in the next 48 hours.”

One of the great things about “Undisclosed Recipients” — aka the episode after Alicia Florrick wins the race for State’s Attorney — is that every time she utters the aforementioned “compromise,” she’s flintier, funnier, at once more exasperated and more aware of her own power.

Sure, Alicia’s campaign process sent her down a morally/ethically slippery slope at Olympic slalom speed, but she’s also proving a quick study in the art of the brushoff, the veiled threat, the charming smile that barely masks disdain and derision, the knowledge that no matter who helped her win the election, she’s the one with an army of attorneys at her disposal and the authority to dispatch ’em where she sees fit.

The question, of course, becomes whether Alicia temporarily leased out her soul for the sole purpose of bringing true change to the legal system — or if the Lemond Bishops and Guy Redmaynes and James Castros of the world have slowly but surely chipped away at everything “good” in our titular character’s makeup.

Not that these paths are mutually exclusive, of course — and that’s what’s making Season 6 such a mind-bender. And so, while Alicia’s personal life, professional life and moral compass all stand at a crossroads, let’s recount how the Good Wife‘s latest hour played out:

CHAMPS FOR THE CHAMP! | Alicia arrives at Florrick-Agos-Lockhart the day after her win and finds her office completely overrun by congratulatory swag — including a scales of justice statue very reminiscent of the murder weapon on How to Get Away With Murder. (Coincidence? I suspect not!) Marissa tells the new State’s Attorney she can only accept gifts under $75 in value — resulting in a smashed bottle of perfectly good champagne. It turns out to be just the first valuable thing Alicia “breaks” in her new power position.

Her predecessor Castro comes by, asking her to keep his No. 2 on the job and to promise not to investigate him. Power donor Redmayne has his own candidate to foist on Alicia — in exchange for the $1 million he gave to her campaign — and his comparison of Alicia’s feet to those of a “whore in Arizona” just makes his demands that much creepier. Finally, there’s former client/major drug dealer Bishop, who tells Alicia he wants to get out of the “business” — but needs her assurances she’ll stop ASA Geneva Pine’s investigation of him, since most reformed drug dealers wind up behind bars or dead. (Little does Bishop know, but methinks that Pine is looking into Kalinda’s legal misdeeds, not his own…)

Alicia shuts down all three fellas with a display of “Hey, I just won” enthusiasm — and seems almost taken aback when each of ’em responds with a threat. Castro suggests he can bog Alicia down by overloading the S.A.’s office with losing cases before she’s sworn in. Redmayne huffs that the neophyte politician has overplayed her hand: “Give me 20 hours and I’ll show you power!” he rages. Bishop punches a wall when Alicia says he’ll need to implicate all his lieutenants if he wants a free pass.

All of Alicia’s novice indignation sends Eli off the deep end. “The absence of ‘yes’ plus time equals ‘no,'” he seethes — bringing to mind Crimes and Misdemeanors‘ “Comedy equals tragedy plus time.” He wants Alicia to be “a Disney princess” — and not outright crush any of her benefactors’ dreams. In fact, he insists she bring ’em back to her office for conciliatory sitdowns involving some variation on, “All options are open to me, and I plan to decide in the next 48 hours.” Rich, powerful men are forgetful, after all, Eli contends — and they don’t necessarily expect their demands be met, they just want to know they’re being heard.

Alicia is smart enough to know she has to swallow her words — or else risk sinking before she’s even boarded the State’s Attorney’s ship. Castro and Redmayne buy the “All options are open to me” in the way you’d expect from career politicos. Bishop, who’s all too familiar with polite dismissal, fires back with an equally chipper,  “I appreciate your openness.” Only Eli, who has his own suggestion for Alicia’s No. 2, is completely taken aback when his own words get sent back in his direction. Hey, he’s the one who hit Alicia over the head with his message of, “Go slow. Choose carefully,” right?

106081_0827bWHAT A HACK! | The week’s other big plot focuses on two areas: The Florrick-Agos-Lockhart partners attempting to cheaply buy out Alicia’s share in the firm — knowing her new post requires her to quickly divest — and a hacking scandal exposing the firm’s emails to the public and resulting in dozens of simmering (or boiling) tensions among the firm’s employees. It’s not pretty — Julius refers to David Lee as “a racist fruitcake”; Diane suggests Cary’s imprisonment might not be that bad of a hit, given his middling skills; Howard Lyman tells someone Kalina is “a good lay” (the one time in recent memory that our be-booted investigator loses her cool).

The whole leak springs from a Florrick-Agos-Lockhart suit on behalf of a movie studio claiming a file-sharing service hurt led to early leaks of a film that hurt its box office, but the real upshot is the tension exposed among friends and close colleagues. There’s a great scene at the end of the hour where Cary tells Diane that “an apology is in order.” To which she zings, “From whom to whom?” And then, with that trademark Cary smile, he shoots back, “Take your pick.”

Still, when Cary, Diane and David insult Alicia by dropping their buyout offer from $350,000 to $100,000 — she’d wanted $650,000 — Alicia proves she’s not above using the throne her new office to get exactly what she wants. “I want you to know,” she says in the most slow, deliberate fashion,  upon news of her former colleagues’ lowball offer, “that this offer does not in any way impact any consideration of your criminal cases when I am State’s Attorney.” They know it’s not just a hint of a threat, but a promise of one, and in this rare instance, I’m inclined to agree with the Florrick third of the named partnership. (Hey, it’s always easy to go against David Lee.)

Finn, by the bye, is representing Alicia in her negotiations — and we get another peculiar variation on their pas-de-will-they-or-won’t-they when she volunteers that she described him in an email as “soft and malleable — with a spine of cottage cheese” while he was prosecuting Cary. That said, she still wants him to rejoin the SA’s office in the role of her No. 2 — which makes me think that maybe she’s written him off as a potential romantic partner? (Either that, or the risk of a sexual-harrassment suit really turns Alicia on.)

Oh, and under the subject of “what turns Alicia on”… Marissa goes through thousands of Alicia’s emails that didn’t get exposed by the hack — but certainly could be — and finds not only are there instances of the late Will Gardner referencing their extramarital sexytimes, but one in which Alicia talks to campaign manager Johnny about their pre-election erection. (Sorry, I couldn’t pass up a good rhyme.) “Relax, it was just a one-night stand, albeit a great one,” reads Alicia’s missive. Marissa finds Alicia’s use of “albeit” to be utterly quaint, but how the electorate will feel if their sainted spouse proves all too human could be very interesting kindling for Season 7.

What did you think of this week’s Good Wife? Did you side with Alicia or her former partners? And who presents the biggest threat: Castro, Redmayne or Bishop? Share 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. abz says:

    This has got to be one of the funniest episodes of The Good Wife ever. I was laughing WAY too hard throughout. The email hack was genius. LOOOOOL Kalinda and Howard…I couldn’t control myself that killed me.

  2. Jimmy says:

    Meh. I’m so tired of this plot line. Alica being SA makes me yawn.

  3. abz says:

    Oh and that phone call with Kalinda congratulating Alicia definitely caught me a bit off guard. I guess it might be just that Alicia is very happy in the moment, but the way that they were talking really felt like old times. I hope it’s an indication of more to come for the rest of the season before Kalinda leaves. Kings need to seriously put them in the same room together, screw any behind the scenes rumors of drama.

    • Wait, I’ve heard so much of these rumors but don’t know the complete story. Have Archie and Julianna really had difficulty working with each other on set? If it’s true then it makes me really sad.

      • abz says:

        I honestly don’t know. I think maybe it started a few years ago back when JM gave an interview about her thoughts regarding the Alicia/Kalinda friendship and how she doesn’t want or see how they can reconcile because she didn’t think it made sense. It was definitely a disappointing interview I remember when I read it. At first I thought it was just rumors because people like talking and making stuff up, but when we’ve barely seen the two physically together on screen in I think over two seasons, it’s starting to make me wonder if there is a bit of truth to the rumour. If it’s true, i think it’s very sad as well. Their friendship was one of the highlights of the show for me.

        • :( I agree with you that their relationship was one of the best features of the show. I love both actresses so much that it really bums me out to think that they don’t get along, but here’s to hoping that they will reconcile before Archie leaves!

  4. Somes rt says:

    Now we’re talking ! Best episode since the one where Alicia kisses Johnny. The reading of the emails sequence alone was Amazing

  5. Harry Wild says:

    I think Bishop will get what he wanted because he donated over $1 million dollars and mobilized the Blacks for Alicia’s campaign! If he does not get what he wants; it payback time for Bishop! That means taking over the SA’s office himself! Remember, he got paid informants at the police command level too! So he just too powerful to fool around with!

  6. Yo says:

    So….no one found it completely unbelievable that so many people would write such outlandish things on their work e-mails? Particularly lawyers?

    • abz says:

      Look at the SONY hacks. People say and do things without thinking. Plus as seen over the years on the show, these lawyers constantly trash talk and gossip. I didn’t find it that unbelievable. Plus even if it were, it was still pretty hilarious to watch

    • Desmond Kane says:

      Nope. I’ve seen worse in my own company.

    • Citygirl says:

      You have a point. ANYONE who has worked at a law firm knows those emails can be tracked and read. Not because the firm is “spying” on anyone, but sometimes those emails can make or break a case. If a law firm employee, including the lawyers, want to trash their co-workers, there is NEVER a paper trail. It is done over lunch, over dinner, in the privacy of their own homes. But….this IS the Good Wife where storyline are at times ridiculous.

    • cccloc says:

      It happens. When some embarassing emails and FB postings were discovered at my last company, they instituted a social media policy.

    • DW says:

      Actually the e-mails did remind me a little of my work but I did find it unbelievable that Diane would think Cary a “good” but not “great” lawyer. This is totally the opposite of everything she has thought of Cary for 6 years on TGW, From season 1 when she told Alicia that she could “never be a Cary” to telling Cary they made a mistake with his layoff to asking him back the firm and so on. For me Diane’s e-mail comments did not ring true and I’m surprised the writers let the wording stand in the script. Other than that I thought it was great! Funny, true to life and totally enjoyable.

  7. Tonights episode was so good! I loved every minute of it!

  8. Carol Dubovick says:

    I love the fact that Alicia won the SAs race. I’m not fond of Carey anymore because he just isn’t like the Carey of before his prosecution and conviction. I hate the fact that David Lee and Julian and about 50 others(!) are back in the firm. They bickered in the other law firm. I hate them Diane is vicious in her dealings with Alicia. Who was that woman who spit on the door? Half of those attorneys I just don’t remember.

    • Desmond Kane says:

      I think that’s it true to Diane’s character. I mean look at how they handled it when she left the firm the first time. For Diane is business, besides her and Alicia have drifted apart.

    • abz says:

      Why would Cary be the same? Being in jail and going through the ordeal he went through would definitely have an effect on him. He actually seemed to be getting back to his old self a bit over these past few episodes, but he definitely shouldn’t be exactly the same or else what would have been the point?
      And why do you hate that so many people are back in the firm? It’s a firm. It needs people. Also, those attorneys like the one that spit on the door were just workers we’re supposed to assume worked there. We never met them other than the few (Julius, Howard Lymen, David Lee).

  9. Gloria Bradford says:

    Both of them. BISHOP is scary unpredictable. Castro malicious, sneaky and corrupt.

  10. Yo says:

    “All options are open to me, and I plan to decide in the next 48 hours.” I just loved that. Politics will never be the same. This was an excellent episode, especially the emails. None of us should send email.

  11. 20dj10 says:

    I loved when Alicia used Gold’s response on him it was so funny. The episode was a good one.

  12. Dez says:

    I just love Marissa. I think her and Alicia are morphing this show to a comedy in the Veep vein.

  13. doris says:

    We had stopped watching The Good Wife. Alicia was into suffering. Not entertaining. Saw last night’s episode appears to be back on track. It was a good episode!

  14. Ro says:

    All options are open to me, and I plan to decide how I feel about this episode in the next 48 hours.

  15. Jess says:

    What a fun episode. I haven’t been laughing so hard in a long time. Can they make Marissa a series regular? She is slowly becoming one of my favourite characters. I wasn’t fond of SA plot but now I’m actually looking forward to what Kings have planned for Alicia.

  16. Ok, Michel, question for TVLine’s questions of the week:
    How is that Alicia didn’t have any e-mail leaked, allegedly because she hadn’t used her office e-mail for four months, but Marissa found an e-mail of Alicia for Elfman about their one night stand, because Alicia used her office account by mistake, which would have happened in the last week? I imagine that if the ONLY e-mail sent from the new SA e-mail account in the last 4 months was about her sleeping with her campaign manager, that would be the first one to be leaked!

  17. Marci says:

    I just don’t get the purpose of this plotline. What will happen to the rest of the cast if/when Alicia actually takes over as SA? I know I’m not interested in an “Alicia Florrick, States Attorney” show, since Julianna Marguilies isn’t the reason I watch it–it’s Christine, Archie, Matt and dearly departed Josh that I watch it for. I not only am not a fan of Marguilies, I’m disliking Alicia more and more with each passing episode. And, yes, I was laughing along with everyone else when chaos erupted in her little world. I hope it continues and she rues the day she ever decided to run for office.

  18. Stefan says:

    Hahaha, one of the funniest episodes ever! The leak was a great plot and once again it was taken from real life, which makes it all the better. I did find some aspects hard to believe – Diane’s words mostly. I guess they want us to think it was a “heat of the moment” situation or something, but it still sounded too disrespectful. Besides, the whole thing is strange, but it is personal correspondence after all, so people tend to say such things. Whatever, I don’t want to overthink it, because I enjoyed the episode anyway. I have no idea how things are gonna work now that Alicia is SA, but I am eager to once again trust the Kings. The show is still awesome!

  19. PFitzDC says:

    Worst. Episode. Ever. I don’t know what’s gotten into the Kings. I have been a devoted fan for years, but this season is a total, unadulterated mess, and I want the critics I love (Slezak, Mitovich, Roush) to start admitting it and taking the producers to task. It’s uneven in tone. It has continuity problems out the wazoo. (For one, Florick Agos Lockhart is a NEW FIRM, it doesn’t HAVE e-mails going back two years….) And while this episode was a nod to the embarrassment and fall-out of the Sony hack, the over-the-top reactions of the lawyers were just plain absurd and unworthy of this show. (Really? Spitting? Come ON.) I honestly can’t wait for the year to be over, for the stupid state’s attorney plotline to be over and for the show to settle on a new direction and theme for next season. And that makes me sad. The earlier seasons are running in late-night syndication and I’ve found myself longing for the tight, expert plotting that carried us through Seasons 1 through 5. Get it together Good Wife!