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The Good Wife Recap: Sinner Party

We begin at Colin Sweeney’s engagement party full of Robert Palmer girls, a disorienting and engaging opening scene, as always, for The Good Wife. Very Eyes Wide Shut vibe for Alicia’s seemingly routine trip to a client’s house to get a financial-disclosure agreement signed.

The vibe continues as Sweeney dons his electronic glasses that match whoever he’s looking at with a porn star’s body type, and even as he introduces Alicia to his flirty new fiancée, Renata. He’s shocked that Alicia doesn’t know he’s engaged: “Do you really not follow my life? I follow yours.” Renata is into Alicia: “I have a theory about women with three-syllable names,” she says suggestively. She follows this with the statement, heavy with show-spanning symbolism: “Every saint is just a sinner waiting for an opportunity.” She’s played by the sexy Laura Benanti, who is so talented she made that live Sound of Music worth watching, and she’s wearing a fetching black dress studded with sparkles. (Please let her return.) There’s a lot of talk about a red-herring subject, something about how Colin will stop animal testing at a company his may merge with if Alicia talks to his fiancée about it … or whatever. This barely matters, except insofar as the seemingly random woman at the party who is very anti-animal testing stalks off to take a call from her boyfriend: “Demetrius, I told you not to call,” she says so emphatically that we know we’ll hear from her and Demetrius again.

Alicia, bless her heart, is ping-ponging her cell-phone calls to deal with more issues than any working mother should have to: Zach was photographed with a bong, and the photo ended up on Gawker! Also, weird stuff is still going on with Finn, who is played by the love of my life, Matthew Goode, who, more importantly, is a regular for at least the rest of this season. It’s hard to imagine a person being a regular for just the rest of this season and not next season, so this is telling and great news.

Anyway, Alicia has a lot to juggle. Finn’s mysteriously been taken off all the cases he was prosecuting against Cary, at minimum, and Colin included “drugs and sexual therapy” expenses of $145,000 on his financial-disclosure statements, which is not allowed because of … it doesn’t matter, another red herring. A reporter wants a statement from Alicia about Zach. Zach’s friend calls and says she won’t lie to cover for Zach; he has a “problem.”

Oh, right, and that woman who was talking to Demetrius on the phone appears to have hanged herself in the bathroom at Colin’s party. This, friends, is the non–red herring, and the signal that we’ve had another humdinger of an opening sequence on The Good Wife.

Alicia is, interestingly, now a witness to a possible major crime committed at the home of her client. Oh, and the first time she ever met him, his ankle was handcuffed to a dead girl’s wrist, so there’s that. She’s clear with the cops this time, though, that the last time she was present at an “involuntary manslaughter,” and furthermore, we don’t even know that this time was any more than an suicide. Yes, this girl looked like she’d been tied up and tortured. But unfortunate coincidences happen. The cop is convinced: “You were brought here to be his alibi,” he tells Alicia, who acts unfazed, but we know she isn’t.

God, you guys, it’s hard out there for a working mother. It’s hard to even remember that also her lover was recently slaughtered by a client in a courtroom and her marriage is all but finished. To pile onto the disastrous proceedings, an online video interview of her brother, Owen, surfaces, in which he praises Zach’s bong-related heroics, claiming to not be surprised: “You should see Alicia drink,” he adds, in the rare bum note for this series. Really, he’s that stupid? And then she just forgives him?

But the nice thing about Alicia’s life is that there’s always something ridiculous going on to distract from, say, her teenage son possibly smoking pot and being caught by the media even though his father, the governor, is anti-pot legalization, or even from, say, her longtime lover being recently murdered. So, on that note, Sweeney turns out to have a room full of ropes and shit in the attic of his townhouse. A “torture chamber,” the state’s attorney calls it, though Sweeney protests: “This makes it look so grim. It’s really quite sweet.” Renata adds, “Sometimes we put flowers in there. And a vase. And pillows.” So it’s like … Crate & Barrel? No, actually, it has to do with the “ancient Japanese art of sexual satisfaction through the tightening and loosening of knots and ropes.”

Alicia will likely be called to testify for the prosecution of … someone. And she remembers seeing a guy climbing the stairs to the fourth floor of the townhouse not long before the purported murder — was it Demetrius? The state’s attorney, at least for the moment, doesn’t seem to care much; Renata is under arrest. Alicia, as a witness, can’t defend her, so Alicia recommends Diane for the job. Finn is, surprisingly, named as the prosecutor. The show continues to engage in these wonderful point-of-view shots throughout, like Alicia revising her memories (maybe it was the manservant, and not Demetrius, creeping up the stairs?) and Finn remembering the day of the courtroom shooting that killed Will.

Even better, the case dovetails perfectly with the Will-Finn-state’s attorney intrigue. Something’s fishy enough about Finn being named prosecutor on this case, after being taken off so many others, that he talks to Alicia about it. She suggests he run for state’s attorney, which would make him immune to being fired by the man who’d ostensibly be his opponent in such an election. Suddenly, mysteriously, Mr. State’s Attorney is thinking of stepping in for Finn on Renata’s case, and suggesting Finn take some time off. He’s firing Finn when Finn finally realizes what’s happening and declares: He’ll be running for office. He’s making a very large mistake, Mr. State’s Attorney says. I disagree, since it means Finn/Matthew Goode will remain a major player on this show, one way or another. Alicia gets to show off her increasing badassery here too, not only because she suggested the run-for-office move, but also because she then calls Eli to get Finn the 7,000 signatures he needs to file for candidacy.

A gorgeous shot of the state’s attorney and Eli sitting in front of Peter in his office sets up what will clearly be a major plot line as we head toward the end of the season, and possibly into the next. Mr. State’s Attorney wants Peter’s endorsement so bad that he mentions that the prosecutor now running against him “overreached” in the Jeffrey Grant case. If he’s not scared of Finn, why the overreach here? Peter gets it right away: “Jim, you have a problem with my wife?”

The wife has her own problems, however: Colin is in love, and is also a psychopath who is pouting throughout Alicia’s testimony in Renata’s trial. Alicia has consistently shown herself to be meticulous about any testimony she ends up giving, and this is no exception: She admits freely that he asked her to lie before she took the stand. But it all comes down in Renata’s favor, and Colin’s new wife is released. Afterwards, Alicia asks him, “Did Renata do it, or did you?” The happy couple isn’t even apologetic. I wonder what this will mean for Alicia in the long run — maybe a change of heart about her profession?

She watches her standard crime show and drinks her standard wine at home that night with Owen, discussing Zach’s reference to her and Peter being like Bill and Hillary now. They’re staying married, and doing whatever on the side. “It’s a decision,” Alicia says. “I like decisions.” Owen wonders about her meeting someone else and wishes for her to get laid because “you’re my favorite person in the world.” Aww! I suddenly have this idea: What if Alicia and Finn were a thing? I don’t know if I want that for her, or just for me, but I like it.

And suddenly Peter’s endorsing Finn, which makes me think I might actually be right. Then again, next week’s scenes have her flirting with Nestor Carbonell, of Suddenly Susan and Lost fame. He’s also cute. But he’s no Finn. Or, you know, Will.

Photo: David M. Russell/CBS