The Good Wife Recap: Crack Open the Green Notebook

Chris Noth as Peter. Photo: Jeff Neumann/CBS
The Good Wife
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Editor’s Rating

I expected The Good Wife to take big risks in its final episodes; after all, this is a show that's known for tackling ambitious story lines. (And frankly, some excessively ambitious ones.) I did not expect The Good Wife to tackle a story line about ISIS.

But right at the beginning of the episode, there's Alicia, waiting at the curb for a military escort, which takes her to a secret room where a cadre of high-level military officers and legal counsel are waiting for her. Alicia (and the conservative civilian lawyer who's been recruited as her counterpoint) are told they've been brought in to consult on the matter of Massoud Tahan. He's a social-media recruiter for ISIS, and although he's never personally killed or explicitly espoused violence, his recruits have committed massive atrocities in Iraq and Syria.

The question, then, is whether a recruiter counts as an enemy combatant, and that question has to be examined quickly, because the government knows Massoud's whereabouts for the next 48 hours. Alicia and the rest of the team have been selected to give the government legal justification to kill him. (There are some direct but delicate references to the Paris attacks during this back-and-forth.) Alicia points out that he does have a material tie to all of the atrocities — in recruiting, he provides the bodies that suicide bombs are strapped to. Everyone agrees that this is reason enough to order his assassination … but then the officer leading the proceeding drops the bomb that "Massoud" is a pseudonym, and the man in question is an American. They get a night to think things over, and an accusation soon emerges about one of the committee members leaking details of the proceedings, but ultimately, the military sends a drone to take out Massoud.

Let's take a step back to praise the writing in this sequence, which airs almost entirely before the opening credits. It's really indicative of what I'll miss about The Good Wife. ISIS is an inordinately complex subject to even discuss — there's no way to point that out that doesn't seem like a total understatement — but this story line tackles that complexity in a way that's easy to understand and drives a narrative of its own creation. It's an impressive feat.

And now that I'm done praising the writing, allow me to express my disappointment that, somehow, this story takes us back to the NSA offices, and thus back to a story line that I consider to be my personal Good Wife nemesis … but it seems we'll learn more about that in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, back at Lockhart, Agos, and Lee, paranoia runs rampant after a magazine reporter comes to the offices and seems more interested in photographing the women of the firm than the men. David, afraid that Diane is planning to make a move toward making the firm 100 percent female-partnered, asks Jason to investigate. (I'm not sure how Diane could even pull off such a thing, but on the other hand, PLEASE DO IT, DIANE.) Cary gets just as paranoid, and tries to pump Lucca for information in a scene that makes me nervous that she's doomed to be underutilized for the rest of the series. Ultimately, it's true that Diane floated the idea of a female-partnered firm to Alicia a while back, but the lack of trust between the two of them makes this all seem pretty impossible. I certainly enjoy watching David Lee sweat, though. And this little story line does give us the best exchange of the episode, when David tells Jason, "You've got kind of a cowboy thing going, huh?" and Jason responds, "Not intentionally."

When Jason's not busy doing David Lee's dirty work, he and Alicia are getting busy with some of their own. They finally have sex, and while I think the scene that preceded it was supposed to be sexy, I found it a little off-putting. Alicia asks Jason for help getting the cork out of her tequila bottle — surprisingly enough, this is not a euphemism — but Jason tells her not to drink and coaxes her into a guided meditation instead, which ultimately leads to office sex. It all feels just the slightest bit mansplain-y. Why did it have to be on his terms, not hers? Alicia, it would seem, liked it a whole lot more than I did. By the end of the episode, she's all but demanding round two.

Finally: I should have known that Elsbeth Tascioni would get one last ride in The Good Wife's final season. Has any other guest star been as widely embraced and, more important, as delightfully weird? Eli hires Elsbeth to find out why the FBI is investigating Peter. In essence, she's a lawyer there to find out why they need a lawyer in the first place. Everyone drags their feet about how much to disclose to Elsbeth — and Eli remains convinced that there has to be something Peter's never told him about — but finally, they tell her about trying to fix the election for Alicia. "Okay," she says, "Let's crack open the green notebook. That's for serious notes."

When Elsbeth starts interviewing Marissa about what she knows (since Marissa was approached by the undercover FBI agent last week), Elsbeth bolts out of the room at a seemingly innocuous statement, telling Eli she can't stay on the case. Eli begs her to come back, but the best she'll do is refer him to a new lawyer: her ex-husband. I'm so glad that if this is our last time seeing Elsbeth, we're getting this version of her, the smart and capable and quirky character, not the cartoon caricature who dropped by last season.

Elsbeth wouldn't have left the case unless there'd been a conflict of interest, so her ex tells Eli and Peter that they'll need to track down her client list. If they can figure out which client caused the conflict, they'll know more about the nature of the FBI investigation. (In other words, the investigation is not about the vote rigging or, at the very least, it's not just about the vote rigging.) There's a delightfully kooky string of events — of course Elsbeth would be married to/divorced from someone as unique as she is — but ultimately, Peter and Eli deploy Jason to follow Elsbeth, who's on her way to warn her client. The client is a wealthy dairy farmer who both donated to Peter's campaign and once gave Marissa a job. Marissa's offhand mention of him in her interview with Elsbeth tipped her off. But how does that tie back to a federal investigation?

We'll find out soon enough. There are only seven episodes of The Good Wife left — and yes, that feels almost too surreal to write. But what's even more surreal is I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next. What a wonderful place to be.