If you wondered whether The Good Wife could survive without Josh Charles/Will Gardner, the answer felt evident to me with this episode: Hell yes. This show is firing on all cylinders, in spite of, and possibly now because of, the tragedy of Will’s death. Even better: A longstanding bit involving the NSA eavesdropping on our favorite characters came to fruition tonight, with the lie-detector-test-induced firing of that one guy from The Office and Silicon Valley who works for the government here.
Surely, this wasn’t the most compelling episode as we bridge the gap between Will’s shocking death and the end of the season in a few weeks. But it was fun enough, possibly because we’ve watched these guys listen to Alicia and Company for many weeks now. They know that Alicia is still in bed, and they’re as involved in her story, meta-like, as we are. They know Nathan Lane is at Lockhart-Gardner discussing a possible merger. They know Cary doesn’t know about the possible merger. They even know that the guy from Ugly Betty, Michael Urie, works among them. Well, they don’t really know that, but I do, just like I know that Michael J. Fox would like to merge with Lockhart-Gardner in Florrick-Agos’s stead.
And if you want to think this show is not going for the meta level more than anything else, at least this week, then I give you this piece of evidence, Diane’s line at a hearing of MJF’s merger proposal: “Dear God, are you really thinking about putting the fox in charge?” Now try to tell me that this is about Canning’s infrastructure in New York and Los Angeles rather than the fact that Michael J. Fox plays him. He immediately puts the emphasis back on his fictional alter-ego, though, calling Alicia to brag about the firm’s new name: “We’re Lockhart-Gardner & Canning now. We decided to keep Will’s name. It was a nice gesture, don’t you think?”
Canning will be taking over Will’s old cases, as someone must do, whether or not Kalinda found Will’s old baseball under the chair in Canning’s new/Will’s old office. His whole “I’m the new Will” thing doesn’t go over so well with her, but it’s only a matter of time. Canning’s meeting over drinks with Diane isn’t exactly ideal, either. “You’re not the enemy,” Diane says, “you’re the devil.”
Nonetheless, a future merger with Florrick-Agos isn’t off the table yet. Canning does call Alicia to offer a compromise: His new firm will take on part of the burden of her malpractice lawsuit if it can also take on part of the burden of her firm’s Chum Hum business. Alicia cleverly uses the call for at least a little retribution, asking him, randomly, what he thinks of Al-Qaeda. This sets off five alerts on one call at NSA HQ.
The Office Space
She’ll take him, because she’s earned the right to do whatever she wants these days, though her firm will take NSA employee Jeff Dellinger (The Office, Silicon Valley's Zach Woods) as their client. Turns out our guy took a flash drive from work, for various innocent reasons, and uploaded it on his home computer — but that doesn’t sit well with his superiors or their weekly lie-detector tests. Possibly the best payoff of this story line comes when he ends up in an elevator with Alicia and is totally starstruck, having followed her drama as much as we have.
The plan is for him to go back to work like it’s a normal day, then take his regular lie-detector test and answer honestly. He tells them he took confidential materials, then reports other wrongdoing: namely, that he saw his supervisor monitoring his ex-wife’s calls. Whistleblower laws should protect him. It’s amazing, incidentally, that this season has been so good that the super-topical, NSA-related stuff is among its least interesting, but still totally interesting, plot lines.
As it happens, Dellinger gets suspended despite his whistleblower status, which plays out as a testament to the NSA’s basically unbounded powers. The only defense is a brilliant last-minute move by Nathan Lane: They’ll file a discrimination lawsuit against the NSA. Dellinger is, after all, Irish, Dutch … and Cherokee. Such a suit would force the case into, as Nathan Lane says, “the public record, the record open to the public.”
Soon, the NSA employee's home is raided, and the Feds (or whoever, I’m not into technicalities here, because I’m scared of them listening to me, too) find a classified document in his desk drawer. His mumblings to his lawyers/our characters indicate that this is a meeting schedule, nothing more, and that, furthermore, the NSA may have retroactively classified it. To take the fuckery one step further, it turns out the “judge” (or whatever we call him) in these proceedings doesn’t have the security to review the document. He’ll have to apply for security clearance so the hearings (or whatever) can proceed.
In any case, Alicia has other issues to deal with, like defending Finn Polmar, who seems to be under the State’s Attorney’s microscope as a scapegoat for Will’s death by defendant.
Other technicalities should protect Finn, though that’s still up for debate at his hearing, or whatever we’re calling this thing where Alicia defends him. Despite her earlier misgivings about protecting the man who had at least some role in Will’s shooting, she kills it while arguing in favor of Finn’s right to send Will’s killer, Jeffrey Grant, into “general detention” — that is, the regular prison population.
Alicia shows up at the hearings ready to kick some massive ass. “You seem happier,” Finn says. He isn’t quite right, but she seems … something-er. “I had a good night’s sleep,” she answers, though I don’t believe that’s the main issue here. She totally nails the State’s Attorney on whether “GD” is a normal expression among all of his prosecutors, as shorthand for sending defendants into general detention to loosen them up.
“Going Down” is how he describes that shorthand, until Alicia shows a slide of him talking about how much he “can’t wait to GD on Batiste.” “You were saying, ‘I can’t wait to go down on Batiste?’” she asks.
Extra points for the final stroke of genius, a poster purporting to be selling a car, posted at a local mosque, and with the NSA boss’s phone number. Nicely done, Florrick-Agos. Nicely done.