There were several missteps and high jinks galore in this problematic episode. The fine balance the show has achieved by pitting our main characters against each other melted down in the face of a frantic and confusing double trial. But the larger point of the episode revealed something quite telling about the moral erosion of our favorite Chicago lawyers. So put a lock screen on your cell phone and I’ll meet you at the Honey Bar, here’s what we learned from last night’s episode of The Good Wife.
I’m not even going to call it the “case of the week” in this recap. That would be giving the Riggs-Lamprey shenanigans too much respect. I see what they were going for here with Alicia and Will forced to work at the same table but against each other’s interests. It’s a condensed, more complicated version of the across-the-aisle bickering we’ve seen since Florrick/Agos peeled off from Lockhart/Gardner. But the double juries and their constant complaints quickly became tiresome and even if you weren’t keeping meticulous track of all the legal roadblocks and back biting that was going on at the Defense table, the whole thing was exhausting. Not even Victor Garber as a judge (where have you been my whole Good Wife life, Victor Garber?) could hold it down. I see what they were trying to do, but it was an absolute mess. Something even the prosecution conceded.
Crossing a Line
Though you would certainly be right in claiming that both Will and Alicia sat on the jury misconduct they saw, Will lying his face off in front of Alicia to Judge Victor Garber was a step beyond. Both Alicia and Will were guilty of legal misconduct but Will’s behavior in judge’s chambers was over the line. Is it strange that I consider this his worst behavior? Will has always been someone we could root for and in this scene, as he betrayed Alicia, it felt like a firmer moral (or immoral) line was being drawn in the sand. Was this character shift worth it? Well, it echoes down the rest of the episode, so we’ll decide at the end.
“We Needed to Do Whatever We Could”
In his initial conversation with Marilyn, Eli said (and we believe him) that he had no knowledge of Jim Moody’s action and the shenanigans surrounding the stuffed ballot box that first made its appearance during last year's season finale. Then Marilyn (who, despite being so wackily pregnant with Peter Bogdanovich’s kid, is quite good at her job) grills Eli on whether or not he could have at least given the indication that he would be okay with these kinds of tactics. It comes to light that he gave a blanket order to his troops. Something along the lines of “we needed to do whatever we could.” It’s that kind of loosely suggestive imperative that gives people with questionable morals like Moody the leeway they need while people like Eli can feel like they can keep their hands clean.
“Just Tell Me You Will Fix This”
Unfortunately, that’s exactly the kind of imperative Alicia later gives Peter. She barges into his office and is borderline hysterical at the thought of Zack having to testify on a grand jury. Teary-eyed but firm she demands Peter “fix this.” Uh-oh. Alicia should know better. Do you think she does know better? She’s not blind to her husband’s murky morality and she’s already seen it work in her favor. How aware do we think she is that this could easily be interpreted by Peter as permission to misbehave? I believe that Eli (he who threw a fit at the Lockhart judgeship scandal) was not giving Moody a winking go-ahead to stuff boxes. Even though Eli sullied his hands during that lunch with Moody in this episode, I think his initial intentions were clean. Alicia, on the other hand? I’m not so sure.
The Paisley Group Coup
Anyone else miss Kalinda being the crackerjack investigator on the show? I like Robin so very much and she’s a great addition, but she gets all the fun “putting the puzzle pieces together” wins these days and Kalinda just ends up with martini on her hem and egg on her face. That being said, I far preferred her plot with Cary this week to whatever it is that’s going on with that Katy Perry–loving detective. Cary deserved a win after Kalinda treated him so shabbily and I was glad he was able to pull that phone trick off with aplomb. Who else thinks the Paisley Group is going to come back into play this season? You don’t cast silver fox Tom Skerritt for one throwaway sidewalk scene, right?
Complete Transcript of the Florrick/Gardner Conversation From Last Year
In case your memory is as fuzzy as mine, here’s how their conversation about the ballot box tape went down.
Peter Florrick: I heard it went well in court
Will Gardner: It did. You sounded good.
PF: You have something for me.
WG: Kalinda found some evidence. No one else has seen it.
PF: And you’re telling me this why?
WG: I’m your lawyer, I want to know what to do with it.
PF: Well, you’re the lawyer, you decide.
WG: This decision needs to be the client’s.
PF: Why are you doing this?
WG: I need direction.
PF: Nah, if you had needed direction you would have given it to Alicia to show me.
WG: I didn’t want to hurt her.
PF: You’ve really handled this poorly.
WG: That’s possible.
PF: She’s my wife.
WG: Then punch me ... Shows your 30,000 votes are fraudulent. If it goes to the judge, you’ll lose.
PF: Then I’ll lose. This seems to be some kind of lesson in mutual hypocrisy which I’m not going to participate in.
WG: So you want me to bury it?
PF: Do what you want. You want me to lose? Show it to the judge. You want me to win? Don’t. I’m not owning this decision.
Now Just the Pertinent Bits From the Florrick/Gardner Conversation Last Night
Peter Florrick: If I were to waive privilege, what would your testimony be?
Will Gardner: That I visited you in your hotel suite on election day. That I acquired a videotape that I wanted you to see.
PF: A videotape that I refused to see.
WG: That is correct.
PF: Okay and that would be it.
WG: No. I told you that the video proved that 30,000 of your votes were fraudulent.
PF: No, you said the video showed evidence that I would lose the election.
WG: Yes, that too. Then I said the 30,000 were fraudulent.
PF: That’s not how I remember it.
WG: Really? And how do you remember taking back Diane’s judgeship?
PF: Wow. So we’re headed that way, huh?
WG: No, I’m just making a point. Politicians have a way of misremembering things to their liking.
PF: Yeah, tell me about the ethics of that, counselor.
WG: What could I tell the most ethical administration in Illinois history?
PF: Do you even hear yourself? Suspended lawyer, man who cheats with other men’s wive—
WG: What do you want me to to do, Peter? As your lawyer? What do you want me to do?
PF: [Nostril flare.]
“I Object to Your Entire Voir Dire”
This is something Diane says to Cary during the three-ring circus that was the jury selection. “Voir Dire” is a fancy legal term for, well, jury selection, but in its literal sense “Voir Dire” means “to speak the truth.” We had a lot of interesting mirrors in this episode when it came to honesty. Cary and Kalinda. Will and Peter. Eli and Alicia. The truth is this: The morality is eroding from our key players. Comparing those two conversations between Will and Peter, we could certainly believe that Peter misremembers the events of election day. But, knowing Peter as we do, we’re pretty sure he’s lying his well-tailored ass off. Add to that the hypocrisy of him constantly playing the injured, cuckolded husband around Will when this whole series is predicated on Peter’s much more egregious infidelity? It’s galling. We can’t root for Peter. So we have to side with Will. Especially given the way Will threw the injury done to Diane in Peter’s face. But, then again, Will lied to the judge in front of Alicia today. Can we side with Alicia, who basically told Peter to do whatever it takes to make a certain scandal go away? At this point, the only member of this whole group who comes out looking good is Diane. Especially in the throwaway moment of comfort she gave to her client. You could see Alicia missing being on Diane’s side. As for the rest of the group? Well, I have to say I’m beginning to object to their Voir Dire.
What’s With All the Springsteen?
This isn’t the first time The Good Wife has featured new music in an episode and ended with a little promotional tie-in, sure, but it’s harder to do that on the sly when Bruce Springsteen has such a yowlingly loud presence on the soundtrack. One Springsteen song per episode, please. I think “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was the only track that didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. All will be forgiven, however, if the series ends with a reformed Will and Alicia clutching hands and scampering off into the sunset together to the tune of “Born to Run."