I always take showrunners' assurances that they have story lines and plot twists set out decades in advance with a healthy dose of skepticism. That said, I have no doubt that all those years ago, when they were conceiving Alicia Florrick and The Good Wife's premise, Michelle and Robert King must have envisioned the scene that opened last night's episode. This time, it was Alicia who was resigning in disgrace, and Peter who stood a few steps back, the spouse of the disgraced. The symmetry of the moment was really cool, although I'm not sure yet whether that symmetry justifies an entire season of is-she-or-isn't-she campaign antics. Too soon.
Now that she won't be state's attorney, Alicia hopes she'll be able to go back to the firm, and she sits anxiously in the waiting room under a sign that's already removed her name. (Lockhart, Agos, and Lee doesn't have much of a ring to it, but what can you do?) There's a perfectly civilized meeting in which Diane invites a very, very relieved Alicia back to work. "This is home," Diane says, which for Diane is almost mawkish. "Welcome home." Cary's obviously supportive, and even David Lee's onboard.
Rather than setting off a celebratory montage of Alicia moving all of her files back in and slow-motion high-fiving paralegals and stuff, Alicia's invitation back to the firm sets off an hour of misunderstanding that's frankly unenjoyable to watch. It's like being the spectator of a fourth grade classroom's game of telephone. The core of the misunderstanding was very simple: Before the meeting with Alicia, Diane called one of Alicia's clients and said Alicia would likely be leaving the firm. (This part still doesn't quite make sense to me — wouldn't Diane have assumed, due to Alicia's limited options, that a return to the firm would be her best bet?) But Alicia either misunderstands or mishears that Diane was contacting her clients after their meeting and saying Alicia was leaving.
It really was all an honest misunderstanding, but it was pretty irritating to watch unfold — I don't like television shows where people bicker, and I think it's a particular waste of this cast's talent and ability to send them round and round in conversational circles for an hour. Alicia and Diane do get on the same page by the end of the episode — thanks in part to help from Kalinda, who we'll get to in a second — but even though they forgive each other and Diane makes it clear that Alicia's still welcome at the firm, R.D., her conservative client, happens to be in the room at the time, and he says he'll leave the firm if Alicia's reinstated. "I am scrutinized heavily," R.D. says. "By the press, bloggers of every stripe … The Florrick name? That's like George Ryan. Or Blagojevich. Just another in a long line of corrupt Chicago pols." And so Alicia's left out on her own, but we have a few foreshadowed tidbits of what might be next for her — first, she talks with Grace about how much she likes making speeches that changes people's minds as they watch To Kill a Mockingbird and later, Peter (who she's surprisingly chummy with these days) suggests she write a book.
Meanwhile, R.D. has asked Cary and Diane, along with two conservative attorney friends of his, to work together on a test case regarding mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, which they all oppose. Reaching across the aisle! The men agree on one client, but Diane takes an interest in someone else — Louise Nolfi, who inadvertently mailed MDMA tablets. Her first move is to discredit the public defender who represented Louise, but he was a fastidious, hard worker who once clerked for Justice Ginsburg, so it's impossible to prove him incompetent. Next, she tries to prove that Louise is an actual addict, so she'll qualify for some sort of rehabilitation program, not the 6- to 30-year mandatory sentence. Diane brings Louise to Joy, who was Cary's pretrial service officer. Louise solemnly promises she needs to "get the horse off her back" and go to rehab, but Joy replies that she can't send anyone who isn't a drug addict to treatment for addiction. Bringing in Joy again was a great move both because Linda Lavin is so, so good, but also because it drove home that people in the system recognize how constrictive and frequently unfair mandatory minimums are — there are many in the system who wish they could help, but can't. Diane works a little magic (with an assist by Kalinda) and has the lab look at the tablets again; when it turns out there are 13 tablets rather than 26, Louise is sentenced to six months' probation, which the judge immediately declares time served.
And then there's Kalinda.
At the end of last week's episode, it seemed like everyone was on the verge of turning Lemond Bishop in to Geneva Pine. In particular, Cary and Kalinda seemed pretty determined to protect one another, but Kalinda got to Pine first, asking her not to approach Cary for evidence. Kalinda could get it herself, she assured Pine, and could get it to her within 24 hours. Even by Kalinda standards, the plan she put together was pretty genius — she stole a flash drive from a car that belonged to Dexter, one of Bishop's crew. Then, after driving Dylan home from school, she used the drive to download incriminating files from Bishop's computer (intentionally?), improperly ejecting the drive when she was finished, causing Bishop to bring his tech support guy in, who identified the flash drive as belonging to Dexter. (This story line suffered from an over-reliance on misunderstandings, too.) When the police finally turned up for Bishop, he yelled behind him, "Call my lawyer, and tell Dexter he's dead!"
After Cary hears what happened, he waits for Kalinda at her apartment, but when she shows up, all she'll say is that the situation's been handled. She kisses him good-bye, and this is where it becomes clear that all she's doing now is tying up loose ends. She makes a call to Diane to help resolve the MDMA case and gets so sentimental on the phone Diane asks her if anything's wrong. Finally, she ends up at Alicia's place, hoping to speak to her, but Alicia's not home, so after a sentimental lap around the Florrick living room (pausing in a particularly strange way at a photo of Peter), she leaves a card with Grace. Grace says good-bye to her, and Kalinda stops, looks right into the camera, and says, "Good-bye."
And that's that — Cary visits her place in the morning to find it abandoned, and her cell phone's already been disconnected. She'll take with her the mystery of why Alicia and Kalinda, once on-screen best friends, haven't really shared a scene together since season four — and the new mystery of what was in the card she wrote for Alicia. She'll also leave a proper void in the show. Without Kalinda out and about in the world, The Good Wife is a show about attorneys — she gave it spark and variety. My first inclination is to ask how the firm will replace her, but with everything that's happening with Alicia, how important will the work of the firm be going forward? And how does the show move on without a character who has anchored it for years? With just two episodes left in the season, it would seem it's time for The Good Wife to start ponying up some answers.
Correction: An earlier version of this recap misidentified Robert King as Patrick King.