The Good Wife Recap: Common Experiences

Julianna Margulies as Alicia. Photo: Michael Parmelee/CBS
The Good Wife
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Before we get down to the business of tonight's episode, I have a question about the announcement that aired during the Super Bowl about the show's cancellation. (That word feels a little inaccurate when the show is ending on positive terms, but "termination" sounds too violent and "culmination" too sappy.) During the promotional spot, a voiceover said, "Seven seasons. Hundreds of twists. But the biggest Good Wife surprise left … This is the final season."

Is the surprise in question the simple fact that the show would be ending, or is the biggest surprise in Good Wife history yet to come? I know that sounds like a minor quibble, but knowing one way or the other would go a long way to manage expectations for the show's final episodes. And if tonight's episode is any indicator, managed expectations will be the name of the game between now and the May finale.

The biggest news is that Alicia and Lucca have accepted Cary's offer and signed on with Lockhart, Agos, and Lee — as a junior partner and an associate, respectively. It's a full-circle moment for Alicia, returning home, but it didn't come without bumps in the road. You can tell all those things are through, though, because various characters spend the entire episode pointing it out to one another. Alicia's return has felt like an inevitability for a long time now, and with the end of the series approaching, it makes even more sense. It's basically our only hope for Diane, Cary, and the rest of the non-Alicia, non-Eli cast to get the closure and send-offs they deserve.

Alicia's return had already paid itself off three-quarters of the way through the episode, when Diane calls Alicia into her office to remind her that Lucca no longer works for Alicia. To be fair, Lucca's "insubordination" comes in part from the fact that Diane and Cary keep insisting that she work with Monica, one of the only other women of color at the firm. Lucca is drily and righteously annoyed, then sits down with Monica and says, "Let's share about our common experience."

The conversation between Alicia and Diane is both a standoff to see who can hold her icy smile the longest and a reminder of how the power between them has completely shifted over the years. It also includes one of the most magnificent examples of Diane Lockhart shade in recent memory: Alicia tries to talk about how she connected with new people and resources in her time away from the firm, and Diane replies, "You mean at bond court?" Diane is wearing three strands of pearls and a blazer embroidered with what look like flat, shiny Lego blocks, which makes the moment standout even more.

There's a big case this week, complete with a stolen ChumHum prototype tablet called the Foil, a secret tech-y police force, a return of Dudowitz and Gross (The Good Wife's answer to Jobs and Wozniak), a courtroom full of ants, and a troublingly sweeping ruling that declares anyone with the proper number of Twitter followers a legally protected journalist. It's actually great fun — or at least way more fun than the overly complicated ChumHum episode about artificial intelligence earlier this season — and a surprisingly cohesive way to weave Alicia, Lucca, Cary, and Diane into the same stories. But stakes-wise, it takes a backseat to what the writers seem to be teeing up as the show's home stretch: the target on Peter's back.

Ruth warned Eli weeks ago that people would be gunning for Peter after his presidential campaign failed, but oddly, it's Marissa who figures out that Eli is already under attack. She's working at a juice bar (sidenote: I just wrote and deleted a couple hundred words concerned words about Marissa's capabilities and whether she's living up to her potential), and an FBI agent approaches her, flirts a little, and asks to hang out on her lunch break. When he starts asking pointed questions about Eli and the Florricks, Marissa starts surreptitiously recording him under the table. She passes the recording on to Eli, and he's so thrilled by her stealth that he says, almost tearfully, "Now I get why people have children. They can admire themselves in someone else." Consider this my first in a series of weekly petitions for Eli Gold to get a spin-off. Good As Gold? Gold Rush? I'm flexible on the premise.

Eli can't bask in his pride for long, since he's off to figure out what's going on. He visits Judge Schakowsky, who says the FBI asked him about Alicia. They make thinly veiled references to something shady that happened "last year," which has been going on all season. (That has to be coming to a head soon, right?) Concerned that Alicia is the target, Eli shows up at Lockhart, Agos, and Lee and announces, "I think the Feds are investigating you. And your chair is tilted."

Oh, right: There's a running gag about Alicia's faulty desk chair, which, like all of the business around Eli's tiny office, is funnier than it probably should be.

After Ruth shows up with a grand-jury subpoena, Eli decides to get to the bottom of things and meets up with the FBI agent himself, who cockily informs Eli that he's got the full support of both the FBI and the Department of Justice behind him. As far as Eli is concerned, that pretty much confirms it — the Feds are after Peter. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, he also promises Ruth that he'll have her back, which I find oddly touching.

And maybe that's why Ruth ultimately turns up at Alicia's office with a bottle of tequila in tow. She explains away the visit as an office-warming at first, but then tells Alicia that something bad is on the horizon. Peter may love her, but he could hurt her. "Cash out while you still can," Ruth warns. It's theoretically good advice, but it's also confusing. Does that mean Alicia should divorce Peter? They're so publicly linked that I'm not sure how divorce would protect her at this point … and if the DOJ and FBI already have eyes on their family, the timing would be notably suspicious.

All logistics set aside, though, there's something awfully tempting about the idea. What if, by the end of the series, Alicia isn't a wife anymore — good or otherwise?