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The Good Wife Recap: The Big Chill

Was this the first episode all season that actually showed some solid continuity from the one preceding it? Seems like it! As I wrote last week (er — two weeks ago), it was looking as though the major threads/cliffhangers that would string us along through our final three episodes would be Willicia 3.0 and Diane Lockart: Supreme Court Justice (?) and, lo and behold, we were given movement on both story lines this week! While this sort of linear plot development might not be notable were this another show or another season, on this one at this juncture, we’re doling out credit on a sliding scale. Add in some Cary defection threats, good Robyn scenes, and a case-of-the-week that managed to roll in buzzy topics like Bitcoin, Steubenville, “legitimate rape,” and Anonymous hacktivists, and we had the makings of a pretty solid hour.

On to what happened: In court this week, we’ve got the unfortunate case of a high-school-age rape victim named Rainey (Makenzie Leigh) who opens the show by tweeting, “I don’t care if they put me in jail. Todd Bratcher RAPED ME” to the strains of The Kills (as two of you have pointed out in the comments).* L&G is defending her in a civil case against Bratcher, since his rich parents’ slimey lawyers were able to get him off on a technicality in criminal court, so now “he’s going to Princeton, not prison.” Yikes. Rainey’s planning to donate the amount she’s suing him for to rape-victim advocates, but her tweet unfortunately violates the judge’s gag order so she’s thrown in jail for contempt before things even get off the ground. It’s just the first nugget in a string this episode that positions TGW back on top of dramatizing of-the-moment technology and the ways it can make things sticky legally and ethically. Rainey’s not up for apologizing to the court, which is Will’s suggestion, and when she tearfully explains why not and Will gets that glint in his eye, we can tell that she’s gotten under his skin. “I don’t think I’d have that determination,” he tells Alicia on the way out of jail.

It’s all an effective setup for the major theme of the episode: idealism versus reality, the bones of which are hammered home by the return of Mr. Bitcoin Dylan Stack (Jason Biggs), who’s back with a vague ask about a class-action lawsuit against prosecutorial overcharging loosely in the memory of Aaron Swartz. Alicia’s not all that interested, but he’s got money to drop on the table and a choice rebuttal to Alicia’s seen-it-all yarn about how reality and idealism are bound to clash. “When the two of them run into each other, only one gets hurt,” she says. “Maybe it will be reality this time,” Stack retorts. Oh, kids these days …

It’s a conceptual quandary we’ll see played out with Diane and Cary this episode as well, and the distracting sight of Mr. Agos meeting with the other fourth-years at the same restaurant as Alicia’s lunch is only the beginning. What could be up?

Meanwhile, over in Supreme Court vetting-land, Jim Moody from Florrick HQ is in Diane’s office with Kalinda to go over some of the intel that could prove to be an issue for the campaign, but really it’s just the backdrop for Diane to shock everyone with the news that she and Kurt ARE GETTING MARRIED! Whaa?! This is about all we’re given with this one for the hour, but Diane’s confident smile after Moody tells her this could complicate things proves that she’s made peace with the prospect of losing the opportunity for love. Little does she know that later in the episode, Chief Justice Ryvlan (Jeffrey Demunn) will drop the knowledge that it’s not Kurt McVeigh’s dodgy reputation that could muck things up for her after all … it’s Will’s. Uh-oh. Will Diane’s idealistic side win out? Will she refuse to work under a respected chief justice who calls her trusted colleague and friend a “scoundrel to be spurned”? Or will “reality” win out and she’ll have to push a couple of her principles under the rug for the greater good?

Things get even dicier in court when evidence that could help Rainey’s case starts appearing mysteriously on Zach and Grace’s cell phones, like a nasty video of Todd Bratcher and his friends kicking around a blow-up doll and a photo of a clearly unconscious and barely dressed Rainey with Todd. Where’s it all coming from? It’s hard to argue that it’s not connected to a smirking Dylan Stack, who’s begun to sit in the back of Alicia’s proceedings each day, or perhaps it’s that band of anonymous, masked hooligans that creep everyone out and post inflammatory Internet videos about the case. As interesting as the stuff might be, it all gets a little annoying and distracting since none of it is admissible in court because it’s been illegally obtained. Alicia marches straight to Dylan’s hotel at the Plaza (or whatever Chicago spot the location scouts want this to represent) to chew him out, and then to Will’s for a powwow. Will appears to come up with a canny way to admit the photo anyway, and Alicia gets excited, and then wistful as she does, and then, this time, chilled? We know it’s Chicago in winter, but this whole shivering thingwhich happens again later after Will gives Rainey a paternal hug after getting her out of jailis a little bit odd, right? But okay, message received: Willicia is still a force to be reckoned with, creating involuntary reactions in Alicia’s body.

In the end, it’s Kalinda to the rescue in court, when she charms a detective who was formerly on Bratcher’s case to release his embargoed taped confession, which she leaks online, setting off a chain reaction that results in a mistrial and Rainey getting released from jail. And yes, Cary is in fact plotting his escape, and still hasn’t given up on the idea of Alicia coming with him. “You and I are the new Will and Diane,” he says (yes!), appealing to her idealistic side with that old chestnut “when you were in law school, didn’t you want to change the world?” Didn’t we all. But Florrick, Agos & Associates sure does have a nice ring to it.

Loose Threads:

  • After a bit of push-back from Kalinda, Robyn’s hired on at L&G full-time past her trial period. Yay!
  • Alicia to Grace: “I was [a great mom], but things are out of control.” Commenters: Your thoughts on what she means?

* This recap previously stated that the episode opened with a Violent Femmes song.

Photo: null/CBS