It's easy to sum up the things Alicia did during last night's episode of The Good Wife. She sits at her dining-room table and works. She walks around the block. She takes a few phone calls. She visits a friend in the hospital. She gets ready for an important interview. And that's the end. The list of things Alicia thought about, however, is much, much longer, and the majority of the episode is spent inside her mind. If her thoughts are always this quick, complex, and emotionally taxing, it's no wonder she has such a fondness for red wine.
I'd read earlier in the week that this episode would take us deep into Alicia's brain, and when Marissa and Elfman were plying her with cold remedies at the top of the episode, I worried the entire endeavor would be surreal and cough-syrup-induced, along the lines of the less-than-compelling look we had into Elsbeth Tascioni's brain earlier in the season. But the medications stay in their bottles, and the cold turns out to be a clever narrative device — when Alicia's voice is raspy with laryngitis, she's in the real world; when her voice is clear, we're inside her head. For as crushingly irritating as it can be to listen to someone speak with a bad sore throat, it's a good way of orienting the audience to which Alicia is which. Taking a look into Alicia's mind gave us plenty of new insights into the facets of her personality — let's break them down.
Alicia the Candidate
As Alicia prepares for an interview for an editorial board endorsement (presumably with the Chicago Tribune, although it's never stated outright), she frets over whether to admit she knows Lemond Bishop contributed to her PAC. She watches Prady's endorsement interview, and it's clear that he's just so much better than she is — not just as a candidate, as a person. He hasn't made the ethical concessions Alicia has, and nothing about his presence in the race is performance. It's weird to look at the protagonist of your television show and be certain her opponent is more qualified for the position she's after, but The Good Wife is used to occupying murky territory like that. Ultimately, Alicia's able to manipulate herself into thinking that lying is actually a prerequisite for the State's Attorney position, and goes into the interview ready to fudge the truth about Bishop if she has to.
Alicia the Attorney
Alicia's stellar litigation abilities have never been in question, but we've never seen them from the inside before. As she prepares for Louis Canning's wrongful eviction suit against Florrick/Agos/Lockhart/Hey-wait-a-minute-isn't–Taye Diggs on this show, she's consistently thinking one step ahead, mentally arguing both Canning's side and her own. It looks absolutely exhausting, but it's fun to see her mental breakthroughs as they happen, rather than watching them slowly dawn on her face. In the end, her prep work might not matter, as Louis Canning is on what might be his actual deathbed (and this time, he's not just faking to score sympathy points with a judge). Sidebar: There's so little Diane and Cary in this episode that it's concerning. Matt Czuchry has plenty to do earlier this season, but the under-use of Christine Baranski is starting to feel downright criminal. And while Louis Canning has been cheating both death and judges for quite some time, I hope this isn't the end of Michael J. Fox's time on the show.
Alicia the Parent
Because the editorial board might ask about Zach's girlfriend's abortion, Alicia's thoughts are drawn to him, and they seem to indicate that she really hasn't spoken to him since their angry phone call earlier in the season. Of all the questionable choices Alicia has made since starting her campaign, that one seems harshest. He's her SON. She tries to call him toward end of the episode, but they just miss each other.
Grace, meanwhile, is going through a crisis of faith, which Alicia learns about when some of Grace's texts show up on Alicia's phone. (This felt way too plot-device-y.) This inspires a truly complicated mental spiral — Alicia imagines Grace pregnant and sniffing glue and enters into a full-on, three-way debate with Richard Dawkins and the young minister who worked with Peter earlier this season. It initially seems too convoluted — why would an atheist mother care if her daughter stopped being a Christian? But Grace has been her mother's moral compass this season, so it's no wonder that Alicia wouldn't want her to change. And Alicia doesn't express this outright, but in her shoes, I'd use my very good daughter as evidence that I couldn't be THAT bad of a mother or a person.
Alicia the Friend
Alicia's apparently still really angry with Kalinda, which is all kinds of confusing. Why wouldn't Alicia be just as mad with or preoccupied about Ramona, who was with Peter more recently and who was once Alicia's friend, too? The show has never quite done enough to explain why Kalinda's betrayal is somehow more unforgivable than anything else Alicia's been through — hopefully this is something that will be illuminated before Archie Punjabi departs the show at the end of this season.
Alicia the Lover
Alicia's inner life is far sexier than I would have imagined — she fantasizes about Will, Elfman, and Finn Polmar (who's been MIA for a few episodes), although it's not clear how much of that desire is organic and how much is stirred up by the flirty flamenco music Alicia's listening to. They're weird and disjointed imaginings — sometimes one man's voice comes out of another, and she pictures Will shrouded in shadows. That's the one big quibble I had with the execution of the episode — some of the moments with Will don't seem like active, waking fantasies. They seem like dreams. It's understandable, since Josh Charles isn't actually in the episode, but it makes Alicia's "Goodbye, Will" moment later in the episode seem a little bit hollow. Still, it was interesting to see just how much Alicia thought about him, not just romantically, but as her friend. The moment where she wished she could talk to him because she feels so untethered was probably the most heartbreaking of the episode.
Alicia the Conflicted
I've wondered all season how Alicia was coping with the moral compromises she's been making, and now we know she does so by justifying them to herself constantly, no matter how much mental logic she has to suspend to do so. Alicia's smart enough to convince anyone of anything, including herself, but at the same time, you can tell by how scattered and heavy her thoughts are that her constant mental gymnastics are wearing her out. It all raises one question: Just how long can Alicia keep this up?