The Good Wife Recap: Red Light, Red Light, Green Light Go

Photo: DAVID M. RUSSELL/?2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: DAVID M. RUSSELL/?2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Sorry this is late, guys! I’m in France.

So after all the will-they-won’t-they, it sure looks like Will and Alicia will. Or did. Was it a satisfying end to a tense and riveting, if flawed, season? Not really. But it was inevitable.

And utterly unsurprising. This has a lot to do with CBS consistently leaking the best reveals of their episodes in the promos (even in promotional photographs). Not cool. But it also just seemed written in stone as soon as we knew that Alicia and Peter were separated. Did we kind of want the characters to rip off each other’s clothes in a fit of passion? Yes, but we’re cheesy like that. One of the highlights of season one for us was that truly hot moment when they kissed and Alicia ran away, then came back, only to find Will gone. Character consistency dictated that Alicia would only get physical with Will again after long consideration; she’s a woman who reacts, but does not act, quickly. However, we thought we were dealing with the new Alicia, who is filled with opinions and comebacks and emotion. We’re excited about the consummation of their attraction, but somehow disappointed with its execution. Maybe that’s because Alicia didn’t initiate it. It’s so old-school for the man to be in pursuit and the woman to shut him down, then later give him a hint that it’s okay to pursue again, and finally open the door. Yes, this is better than old Alicia, who would have kept the door shot forever, but truly evolved Alicia would have somehow tricked Will into coming over, flung open the door, and ridden that pony off into the sunset. In other words, she would have acted more like Kalinda.

But before we get to those 60 minutes in heaven (or in the presidential suite) and their implications, let’s talk about the events leading up to it. The legal case this round was excellent for its ticking-clock timeline, in the grand tradition of “Nine Hours” and Moo Cow, and not so excellent in that you just knew that the sympathetic family man they had as their client was innocent. And there was no way we were going to end the season with Lockhart Gardner losing and watching this poor man go to prison. As set up at the end of the last episode, this case was about a judge who’d wound up murdered two months after deciding against Lockhart Gardner’s client in a civil case in which their client sued a dentist when his 9-year-old son had died in a routine oral surgery. Glenn Childs’s SA’s office had already botched the case; a glove the judge had been wearing that probably had the killer’s blood on it had gone missing. But Childs wanted a big conviction as his swan songs, two days before he had to leave his office.

We come upon the courtroom during closing arguments, and as the jury goes off to deliberate, our heroes only have one juror on their side, Juror No. 2. Then, in a pretty neat trick, Alicia opens an envelope and the missing bloody glove drops onto her desk. She freezes; she’s smart enough to know not to touch a thing and to alert the police right away. But now she’s stuck. Kalinda walks by. Alicia resists asking for her help. Kalinda walks by again. Alicia finally calls out. The great freeze isn’t over, but it’s probably going to thaw pretty fast, just for practical reasons.

Kalinda calls Sophia, her old friend/lover from the SA’s office who now runs a private-investigation firm; time is of the essence, and since the police have no urgent need to rush the testing of the glove, an exonerating piece of evidence will come too late for their client. In a great scene, all the incredibly smart, awesome women of the show crowd around the glove and discuss the dilemmas surrounding this glove. There’s no chain of custody for the glove, so they’re not going to get in trouble for possessing it now, but how do they extract DNA from it to test? “That memo is privileged Lockhart Gardner work product,” Kalinda tells Sophia. “That memo with the dried blood on it?” she asks, then swiftly removes it from underneath the glove, and dumps the dried blood into an envelope.

Soon they’re back in front of the judge, motioning for a mistrial. We’ve liked this lady judge before and we like her even more now; she wants to give them a mistrial but can’t since the jury has already gone out. She needs proof that the exculpatory evidence was purposely withheld from the defense, and she needs to know it is exculpatory. Privately to Will, she lets him know that she’s on his side, but that if he loses and it goes to the appeals court, he won’t have any friends; judges protect their own, and they’re not going to reverse a guilty verdict on a judge killer. Tick tock.

Diane lays out a three-prong strategy. They need to watch the jury closely to know when their clock is in danger of running out. Will is on that. They need to approach Peter and try to get him to intervene and look up the hero who’s cleaning up a case Childs botched. Will is also on that. And they need to find out who the whistleblower was. Alicia is on that; the police never collected the envelope that the glove was in. It’s still in the Lockhart Gardner mailroom with fingerprints waiting to be processed.

The fingerprints on the envelope from an ex-military and an ex-con are red herrings designed to make Alicia and Kalinda waste their time and let the clock run out. (Turns out Lockhart Gardner has a sex offender working in their mailroom, and he sings a lovely baritone at the Christmas party.) Tracking down the judge’s other enemies proves to be a dead end, too; even the Italian construction worker who has “mob hit” written all over him seems like he’s probably innocent. But the construction worker does tell Kalinda that the dead judge pissed him off by constantly delaying cases for personal reasons, which leads them to find the judge’s daughter, whom he’d been visiting in rehab in Arizona. The daughter, too, gets eliminated as a suspect, once clever Kalinda finds her syringes hidden in a towel rod in her bathroom and gets them DNA-tested. But she does tell them that her dad was constantly taking bribes.

On the jury front, Will has the bailiff working as his eyes and ears. We were confused when he told the bailiff to serve them tons of coffee, but then realized he needed the male jurors to need to pee so he could ambush them in the bathroom. Pretty sneaky. While next to a peeing juror, Will talks on the phone with Diane about the case, and slips that they have new evidence. He’s immediately back in judge’s chambers, asking to get the juror replaced with an alternate, only to discover that their one sympathetic juror, Juror No. 2, was in the stall and overheard the conversation, too. At least it buys them another day.

Sophia has the lab results back and they negate almost all of the firm’s work: The blood is female. Kalinda thanks Sophia for her good work by going to bed with her; it looks like a hotel. They joke about which one of them was the most fun in the old days, demonstrating they have a history, and then Sophia mentions her husband. Kalinda is in shock; she didn’t remember this husband. Soon she’s out of bed and pounding shots. Did she leave because of what happened with Alicia and not wanting to be the other woman again? Or is she suddenly realizing that she was so callous and self-centered during her days at the SA’s office, that other people’s marital statuses just went in one ear and out the other?

Diane is working on the third prong of tracking down the whistleblower, and believes she’s figured it out: Cary. The envelope was shipped from a postal office near the SA’s office, the postal worker recognizes Cary, and it’s common practice for the SA’s office to dump evidence on botched cases so as not to leave it around to taint the new SA. “As flattering or offensive as this is,” Cary begins, he didn’t do it. Or did he? On Peter’s behalf?

The most confusing parts of the episode all involve Peter. Will volunteers to talk to Peter about stepping in to stop the case, and as he’s heading out the door has one of the several moments with Alicia that builds up to inevitable conclusion in that hotel. She tells him about the separation (“It’s a long time coming”) and warns him in not so many words that there will likely be tension when they talk because Peter suspects something went on between them. When they meet, Peter says he won’t get involved because he’s not in office yet. He asks about Alicia in a way that suggests Peter thinks that Will has knowledge of her well-being outside of work, then remarks that it will be funny when they’re on opposite sides of the court. “But not laugh-out-loud funny,” he says cryptically. Unless we missed something, we never figure out who the whistleblower is. But we do see Peter tearing up some mysterious piece of paper in the courtroom hallway. Enlighten us … anyone?

Our heroes get one more break when the jurors request to be read the transcript of the civil case that Lockhart Gardner’s client filed on behalf of his kid killed in oral surgery. Josh Charles rocks the scene, in which Will has to come up with wording that sounds convincing enough to let the sympathetic judge have the bailiff read the entire 186-page transcript rather than just a portion: “In the service of justice, we believe it is the very foundation of our judicial system as promulgated by our founding father that comprehensiveness be chose over … the opposite,” Will says, desperately winging it. The judge goes for it, and they have three hours. Now they’re looking for husband-and-wife defendants that may have bribed the judge, then gotten angry that he dropped out of the case, causing them to lose. They stumble upon a woman who lost $33 million after buying off the judge, only to have him run off to Arizona on her. Kalinda takes the evidence to Cary; soon, the judge declares a mistrial. They have a brief talk about Kalinda freezing him out and whether or not she said anything to Alicia, and it’s clear that after spending a whole season getting close to each other, Kalinda has sadly thrown her walls up again.

Throughout all this, we start getting hints on what’s to come for next season. The firm is expanding and Diane wants Alicia to take on a bigger role. That role, it turns out, is going to be as the liaison between the legal side of the firm and their new lobbying branch, to be none other than Eli Gold. (Says Diane: “The path to the corner office is always sudden and incestuous. Take the chances when they come!”)

While he’s waiting for Peter’s yet-to-be-announced run for governor, Eli needs to hunker down at a law firm to get paid, and he’s chosen Lockhart Gardner. The firm is not about to turn him down; they apparently lost that Internet billionaire kid Patrick Edelstein’s lobbying business because they didn’t have anyone working politics in house. With Eli they can probably get him back and we’ll likely see Edelstein pop up again, which is good because we like that kid. He also tells Diane he wants to run his “Peter Florrick for Governor” campaign from there, which Diane, who’s in the dark about the separation, thinks is wonderful. Sneaky Eli knows full well that the Democratic committee is right when they say that Peter can’t win without Alicia and the amazing poll numbers she brings. (“Without her, he’s a john who overpaid for a prostitute. With her, he’s Kennedy,” says that one Dem dude.) The more Eli can get Alicia and Peter in the same room together, the greater chance he has to engineer their reconciliation.

But Eli is not so sneaky that he can’t have an honest conversation with Alicia when she tells him to take his business elsewhere. “No,” he says. “I have deferred to you on many things, but this is a business decision. I am bringing my consulting business here because it is a good fit and you are going to be the liaison because that is a good fit. Now, you can find any hidden agendas you want, but I am not changing my business plan.” Well then!

On the home front, Owen seems to be the new babysitter, though Jackie is not giving up. She crashes their Wednesday-night dinner. We’re okay with this. As long as Owen and Jackie end up getting drunk and wearing headdresses together, we like this setup. And more Owen means that we can actually hear Alicia talking through her affair with Will like a giddy schoolgirl.

And, um, back to that affair. You know it’s coming through the entire episode, what with the conversation about her separation in the elevator and a lot of purposeful arm-touching on all sides. And we were pretty taken with the build-up to it. Like after the great kiss of season one, they were celebrating after a great win, this time with shots of tequila. Alicia pulls the old trick of telling Will to go for the waitress who’s obviously eyeing him, just to make sure Chicago’s 16th Most Eligible Bachelor is into her. Will jokes about how women love him until they discover his uncontrollable bachelor syndrome. Then he remarks, as he has done many times before, that they always have bad timing. Only he continues, “What if we were suddenly to have good timing, just for the hour? What would that look like?” Alicia has made up her mind: “I think that would look like an exceptional moment.” And they’re off. But at every turn there is an obstacle. There are no rooms vacant in the hotel … except for the presidential suite, which costs $7,800. Will throws down his AmEx (not a gold card?!), and we suddenly have an Amber Madison flashback. How far removed from being a high-priced escort is the act of going to a $7,800 hotel room with your boss for an hour? They get to the elevator. It’s full. They get in the next car. A kid gets out and as the door closes, they realize she pushed a button for every floor. We watch them through the elevator doors opening and closing, the tension building. Will grabs her hand. Alicia grabs his back. Soon they’re against the wall, kissing passionately. They get to their room, finally ready to go. Will tries his key card. Red light. He tries again. Red light. Alicia gently takes it from his hands and puts it in the slot. Green light. Go.

Will this one hour be good? Bad? Will it be repeated? God, we hope so. Will Peter find out? Yes, probably. What will this all mean for the two sides as their personal grudges grow, their legal battles intensify, and their political futures become more and more entangled? We don’t know, and it’s going to be torture waiting a whole summer to find out where this goes. Discuss away, you fine, wonderful commenters. I’m convinced we have the smartest, most insightful discourse on this show out there, and have loved reading you every week. Till season three.

The Good Wife Recap: Red Light, Red Light, Green Light Go