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The Good Wife Recap: A Woman in Love

"The Seven Day Rule"--Diane (Christine Baranski, left) questions Clarke (Nathan Lane, center) in front of a bankruptcy judge, on THE GOOD WIFE, Sunday Jan 27 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Now, was that so hard? Finally, thirteen episodes into the season, and we’ve got a live one. A game-changer, a Good Wife that delivers on everything this show promised us it could be in seasons one and two. There was classic legal and political ambiguity, there was Cary coming into his own, there were forward-looking story arcs for major characters, and there were even bankruptcy scenes that weren’t total snoozes. And now that it’s over, it feels like everything that came before was just kidding itself, and so was the investment we thought we had in this show. We were technically there, but we were cynical and faithless, like Alicia at the end of “The Seven Day Rule,” pouting in her office and unable to join the party going on in the next room. She had her reasons for keeping one foot out, and she figured she was close enough. That was us! We argued for appreciating episodes individually and maybe the promise of some fun-sounding developments on the horizon, but, really, when we thought about it: Would we still have been watching this show if we weren’t recapping it? Unlikely. UNTIL NOW. Like Diane said to Alicia in her outstanding, put-on-your-big-girl-pants-and-show-some-respect monologue, “Pouting is unbecoming.” You’re absolutely right, Diane. The pouting stops now. We’re officially ready to join the party of season four.

On to what happened. For a few minutes, we thought there had been a mix-up with our screener because hadn’t we seen this bit before? But wait, it was just the writers being tricky and giving us a canny flashback from the raunchily titled “Two Girls, One Code,” a.k.a. the last time we saw Chum Hum and Neil Gross on the stand, defending himself in that weird case about SEO and unfair trade practices. Seems there was some heavily invested pretty lady in the gallery whom we weren’t shown before, mouthing the words to Neil while he testified. It’s Deena Lampart (Meghan Ketch), a 28-year-old lawyer from his firm who’s also now his fiancée. Lampart and her dad are at L&G to get a “second opinion” on the prenup her (and his) firm drew up. 

Deena’s uncomfortable with all this money talk and would rather just get things over with and sign, but her dear old dad wants to make sure she’s protected. Enter David Lee with his calculating politesse and Lucite box of M&Ms, who promptly declares the contract garbage. He’s a pro at this kind of thing and has his eye on the long game. If L&G can rewrite this in her favor, they stand a chance at grabbing her future rich lady business, à la some Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation–type thing. The only problem is they need to get her motivated to play hardball against her future hubby, which may not be easy.

“She’s a woman in love,” says a wistful Alicia, who clearly remembers a time back when she used to be one of those. But inconvenient truths like those are toast in the face of cold-blooded snakes like Lee, and — lest anyone forget — Diane reminds them it’s time’s up in bankruptcy court, which is all the more reason they need to close this one, and fast. Hmmm … funny time to offer Alicia a partnership, isn’t it? But we’re only saying that now because we know how things shake out. In the moment, it was a rather sincere and congratulatory spiel from Will and Diane, with that speech about the cigar and unplugging your phone and feeling proud of yourself and Will windsurfing. Alicia’s shocked and emotional, and so are we! What a thrilling reboot this opens up to imagine them all as near-equals. (Sidebar: And does this also perhaps diminish the potential workplace risk of any future Willicia happenings because Will’s not as much her direct supervisor now?)

But of course’s there’s a catch, and we’re not just talking about the capital contribution of $600K Alicia needs to cough up. (Lawyers in the comments: Is this really as outrageous a sum as they made it seem?) Alicia will later learn (in bankruptcy court), while being questioned by a vintage one-step-ahead Canning, that she isn’t quite as special as she thought she was. Seems that L&G offered partnerships to four other associates (including Cary) too at the same time, and it probably had a lot to do with them needing the money.

Way harsh, guys. Alicia’s pissed. So much so that she won’t even take a seat next to Will after her testimony, and she marches right into Peter’s Women’s Leadership Forum dinner with guns blazing (and a slightly too-tight dress that she still nonetheless rocks). Beforehand at Florrick HQ, Jordan had the bright idea to work the God angle after a video got out showing Maddie Hayward declining to bow her head during a prayer service. “Voters don’t like radicals,” he tells Eli. Or do they?

What follows may be the most awesome three minutes we’ve seen out of Alicia (and Julianna Marguiles) all season. When she’s not pounding wine at the event or propositioning her husband for a bathroom quickie, she’s snarking at Maddy — “Have any new friends?” — and off-message bombing the call for comment a reporter lobbies at them over faith. Who woulda thunk it, she’s an atheist, too! (Sidebar: Maddy was surprisingly great in that moment, with her “I am who I am,” response, and both Peter and Alicia clearly agreed.)

Meanwhile back in lovers’ paradise, the Gross/Lampart negotiations got unsurprisingly rocky, and the whole thing might have been called off all together if it weren’t for Cary’s sharp emotional and tactical thinking. He not only talked Deena off a ledge when she was ready to bail in the face of Gross’s trumped-up demands, but he remembered Hayden’s gem about looking for secrets in the footnotes of accounting statements back in episode five, which cracked things wide open all over again. Seems there was a big secret after all, a 4-year-old one named Jacob who’s Gross’s secret son from a one-night-stand that he’ll happily pay out the nose to keep hidden from his future wife. “Isn’t it sweet,” cackles David Lee. “Young love.”

But the real heart of this stellar episode came at the very end, with that ass-kicking speech from Diane to Alicia. Seems Diane had a little asterisk attached to her making partner way back when, too, and it came in the form of Jonas Stern facing a nasty sexual harassment case at the same time. But in the end, does any of it really matter? What matters is that she (and we) are here now, in the place we wanted to be. And for that, we are grateful. “When the door you’ve been knocking at finally swings open, you don’t ask why,” Diane says. “You run through.” Preach.

Loose Threads:

  • Kalinda to Cary regarding the partnership — but what else? “You just feel sorry for yourself because you were offered something."
Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS