The Good Wife Recap: The Illusion of Free Will

Photo: CBS
The Good Wife
Episode Title
A Material World
Editor’s Rating

“If I die before you, please don’t let them read ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ at my funeral.”

Truer words have never been said. This almost makes me wish we had gotten a glimpse of Will’s funeral, which must have been something. My boyfriend and I just happened to talk about this very song this very weekend, and he said, “Do people really still think that song is good?” Will’s family does. So terrifying. They didn’t know anything about him. They thought he enjoyed walks in the snow, and Diane knows: “He hated the snow.”

I adore Alicia and Diane together, even if it seems to be a short-lived alliance (for now). “Two mistresses at the Irish funeral,” as Diane describes them, even if she means it only “metaphorically.” The matching martinis, two olives each, say it all. I love that Will’s death brought Alicia and Diane back together again, a feminist message if ever there was one in a TV show.

Quickly, the message becomes clear: Diane feels alone now at Lockhart Gardner. Even the divorce case Alicia’s firm is fighting against them feels deeply metaphorical: Alicia and Diane want to settle it quickly; David Lee and Cary do not. Diane is willing to wield her power in whatever form it came, banishing David to some terrible office if necessary. “I’m on the infrastructure committee,” she says, likely the first time that sentence has been uttered to denote power in a dramatic setting. “Too bad you’re not.” Shakespeare, you’d have had so many more tools in your arsenal in 2014. Or, at least, different tools.

Our resident hot Irishman, Damian, tries to drive a wedge among the top brass at Lockhart Gardner by spilling the beans to David Lee: He saw the ladies talking merger over a few too many martinis, he says.

But Alicia & Co. have other issues at this point: Namely, Will’s killer’s parents possibly bringing a wrongful prosecution case against the State of Illinois. At first, I totally get why this is an issue as Alicia overhears Cary interviewing the parents as possible clients; then, I remember that Peter is now governor, not the State Attorney, so I don’t get it. Then she calls the delightful Finn (played by the delightful Matthew Goode) and I start to get it. She’s worried about Finn and his sparkly blue eyes. Sorry, that’s me: She’s actually worried about him because he liked Will and tried to save him. But if she eventually wants to have an affair with Finn, hey, I wouldn’t blame her. That’s all I’m saying.

That doesn’t seem that far off, as Alicia shows up for a particularly frosty photo op, both literally and figuratively, with Peter. It’s also hard not to read so much resonance into the fact that in the divorce case at hand, both sides cheated. Does this reflect on Alicia and Peter’s relationship? The relationship between Alicia’s firm and Diane’s firm? All of the above? Yes, yes, and yes.

David Lee and Damian make a run at trying to remove Diane from power, and Kalinda tells Diane this is happening. So much for that, though, as Kalinda somehow manages to have such terrible flashbacks to Will’s death while trying to have sex with Cary that she runs to Jenna instead. It’s weird how this leads to Kalinda uncovering some evidence against Damian in Jenna’s files as she sleeps. Surely that’s a pure coincidence. I’m either overly suspicious by nature, or I watched too much Game of Thrones this very night … or I’m totally right.

We got still more of Good Wife’s core philosophy in this episode, courtesy of the professor whose divorce goes to trial once a nanny-cam tape of his wife cheating on him is discovered. Turns out he’s a “materialist,” a view summarized by Alicia summarizing his published work: “We may believe we have free will, but it is the illusion, in fact, of free will.” Furthermore: “When someone dies, there’s nothing left of them?”

If you think that’s an overly cynical summary of this show, Finn brings home the point. He is, despite his protestations to the contrary, worried that his boss will hang the wrongful prosecution on him. Alicia is having her own doubts, meanwhile, breaking down outside the courthouse. “I think I made a mistake,” she tells the lady dancing on the sidewalk in gold lame, “being a lawyer.”

Not to worry, though: Kalinda has uncovered, via all means necessary, criminal connections in Damian’s past. He’s no longer a threat to Diane at Lockhart Gardner. A possible merger with Alicia and Cary’s firm — or whatever Diane wants — can proceed unimpeded. Girl power forever!

Or … something. Alicia is breaking down further, staying home sick under the covers and watching some unnamed crime show in which they say things like: “People think there are just black hats and white hats … but there are hats that change back and forth between black and white … there are striped hats. And there is nothing you can do but curse God.” If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that The Good Wife doesn’t believe in God … doesn’t necessarily believe in God, anyway.

In the end, Diane accepts Cary’s proposal in the divorce case. She can, because Damian is gone. She can also pursue a merger with Alicia and Cary. Chum Hum, after all, will come with Alicia once the deal is done. This statement alone suggests that this merger is easier said than done, even though it isn’t even that easily said.

For example: As we head toward a conclusion this episode, Jenna slaps Kalinda. (Was she right or wrong to do what she did? Who knows?) Finn is at Alicia’s, asking, “I just needed to know: Should I be hiring another lawyer?” (Is this the worst or best case of Alicia’s life?) And, most importantly for our purposes, Alicia is having it out with Peter in their gorgeous kitchen while wearing the best schlubby sweats money can buy. He’s worried about losing his wife? “I lost my husband a long time ago.” When he cheated it didn’t mean anything? “When I cheated it did.” He’s a bastard? “And you’re a selfish bitch. But you know what? We’re all that we have.”

I’d love to leave it at that, since we’ve reached the crux of the entire series, but two more quick things that may turn out to be pretty important: Alicia would like Peter to sleep with whomever he’d like. And David Lee would like to know if Michael J. Fox’s excellent character is interested in a merger. So we’ve got plenty more to do this season, folks.