The Good Wife Recap: And the Winner Is …

Grinning and bearing it! Photo: JEFF NEUMANN/CBS
The Good Wife
Episode Title
Red Meat
Editor’s Rating

It's finally, finally Election Day on The Good Wife! Alicia's lead is substantial enough that her staff is completely relaxed about the outcome, until Peter, who's angry that Alicia insinuated he was a racist in an address last week, goes on the news and says she's a shoo-in. This sends Elfman and Josh into a tizzy — if voters think Alicia's already locked down the election, they won't bother to get out and vote — and it sends Alicia into the next room with Marissa for a daylong Halo and doughnuts marathon.

To be honest, it's a little odd that Halo (and hunting, which we'll get to in a second) drives so much of the action after last week's episode, which seemed to take a pretty hardline stance about how horrifying the prevalence of guns and gun violence has become. It's a little odd to take a stance that principled and in the episode immediately following use guns as a convenient way to drive two separate narrative arcs. Halo's not inherently bad, and neither is hunting, but it felt a little odd, and not in an intentionally ironic way.

That said, the video game is a good way of keeping Alicia busy — and handset-flirting with Finn Bolmar, who dropped Halo off as a diverting campaign-day gift — and it's probably not a bad way for her to channel her anger at Peter. Once she realizes what he's done, she confronts him, and he swears it was unintentional. Still, in the middle of their fight, it dawns on Alicia that Peter doesn't want her to win. "You want to be the only winner in the family," she says, and while I think she might be right, I'm also sort of surprised that Alicia talks about "the family" as though it's an actual, functioning unit. When was the last conversation she and Peter had about something other than work? When was the last time all four of them were in the same room?

While Alicia's busy waging interstellar war, Elfman and Josh try to set up a robo-call that will scare voters into turning up by implying parking fees will go up in the city, but when Peter refuses to record the call, they're left scrambling for another option. Elfman reaches out to Martin Sheen, who he apparently knows from a previous campaign, and Sheen declines but instead recommends Melissa Fitzgerald, who played C.J.'s secretary on The West Wing. Fitzgerald briefly plays herself via Skype and is a very good sport about the whole thing: "It's THE West Wing and MRS. Landingham. And also I didn’t play Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing."

Meanwhile, it turns out that the three-day hunting trip Diane and Kurt planned at the end of last week's episode was neither an empty promise nor a sexual euphemism, because there Diane is all dolled up in designer camouflage and ready to shoot deer. Via phone, Cary and David Lee encourage her to hunt new clients, too — after all, this is a hunting trip packed with "the top one percent of the top one percent of the top one percent," and the firm needs a new top-tier client now that ChumHum's off their roster. Diane gets shuttled off with the other wives — her look of blank horror at learning she's being condemned to a day spa with lady Republicans is Christine Baranski at her comedic best — but makes a valuable connection anyway. Except she mistakes techie billionaire Gil Berridge's mistress for his wife, completely destroying her chances of landing Berridge as a client.

But Diane gets a second chance, thanks to a two-hour-long debate about abortion in a deer blind with billionaire R.D. (the marvelous, marvelous Oliver Platt, another The West Wing alum). The two are diametrically opposed politically, but R.D. likes the idea of working with and being represented by someone he respects but disagrees with. Platt's signed on for a few more episodes this season; their chemistry together as performers makes this very good news. And Diane even kills a deer! Hooray?

Back in Chicago, Peter makes things right by snarling up traffic with his gubernatorial motorcade to discourage voters from coming out to the polls, and it does the trick: Alicia wins! Her first order of business is to take a congratulatory call from Peter (which turns out to be Eli calling on his phone); her second is to call Prady and ask him to come aboard as her deputy. Prady declines, saying he finds her approach too pessimistic and doesn't think it will work. If this means the end of David Hyde Pierce's time on The Good Wife, that's a shame — Prady was an excellent counterbalance to Alicia, and David Hyde Pierce was a more than welcome addition to the show.

And Kalinda's odd story line with Lemond Bishop just keeps rolling along — they're two skilled performers, but their story is so separate from what's happening on the rest of the show that it feels off. She continues driving Bishop's son Dylan to school, and they continue to be followed by a mysterious SUV. Bishop finally forces the SUV to a stop, and he and his crew pull the driver and his passenger out. Unfortunately, someone from Dylan's school sees this happen, and Dylan is expelled because he could theoretically pose a danger to the other kids.

But it turns out the men in the SUV weren't following Kalinda because she had Dylan in the car — they were following Kalinda, on orders from Geneva Pine. We don't know why yet, although it seems possible that it could be related to the email tampering Kalinda did to keep Cary out of prison. But that might not be Kalinda's biggest problem. Bishop's decided that for Dylan's sake, he has to get out of the drug game, and he knows that old dealers always end up dead or in prison. He tells Kalinda that he needs her to reach out to the new state's attorney — to Alicia — for her protection. Given how quickly Alicia got off the phone at the top of the episode when Bishop called to wish her luck, and given how disinclined she is to come to Kalinda's aid lately, Bishop might be asking Kalinda to do the impossible.

So we're left with a few big answers: Yes, Alicia won the race. No, it looks like Elfman isn't going to stick around to work with her; he left her victory party without saying good-bye after seeing her with Peter. But there are many questions still unanswered, and the biggest is a broad, series-arching "Now what?" Can Alicia continue to be a partner in the firm and be state's attorney at the same time? How will Cary and Diane respond? Will Peter's desire to be the "family winner" make him cause trouble for Alicia in her new role? Does The Good Wife have the capacity to tell a story like this for Alicia without neglecting the ongoing characters and stories it already has?

And, hey, isn't Taye Diggs on this show?