The Good Wife Recap: A Very Bright Lamp

The Good Wife

Season 7 Episode 16
Editor’s Rating *****
Julianna Margulies as Alicia. Photo: Paul Sarkis/CBS

I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to write episode after episode of The Good Wife, if only because so many of them necessitate a cunning, last-minute legal maneuver to turn the story on its head. Even with a hearty willingness to suspend disbelief in play — which is essential when you’re watching this show — there are only so many feasible twists a story can take. I say all of that to make clear that I can understand the circumstances that apparently led to one Good Wife writer suggesting, “Well, what if Eli could eavesdrop on the grand-jury investigation from a bathroom?” and the rest of the writers shrugging and saying, “Okay!” But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Anyway, the bathroom in question is just down the hall from where a grand jury is meeting to decide whether to indict Peter. Eli and Peter’s new attorney, Mike (Elsbeth’s ex-husband, who brings his dog to court, which I think I’m supposed to find more charming than I do), are loitering in the hall outside the proceedings to see who gets called to testify and how long they stay, in order to guess why, exactly, Peter is being investigated. This all starts to go much more smoothly once Alicia explains the bathroom vent trick to Eli, which is a depressing sentence to type. It’s not that I mind low-quality plot devices, it’s just sad that one of the very last episodes of The Good Wife needs to revolve around one.

Eli’s eavesdropping pays off, and while he’s not yet pieced it all together, he definitely gets a better idea of why Peter’s under investigation. It has something to do with illegal campaign fundraising and payoffs. He hears “V Lock” through his special vent and deduces that it has something to do with a case from 2012 called “the People v. Lock.” He makes a quick visit to confirm something with Cary, who worked on a murder case like that back then, and while we don’t hear Eli announce his concrete conclusions, it seems reasonable to believe that Peter may have helped acquit the defendant of the case in exchange for a major campaign contribution. I’m guessing we’ll learn much more about this next week. Also, it should probably be weirder than it is that Alicia’s investigator boyfriend is working on the defense team for her crooked politician husband … but these are the Florricks we’re talking about.

Before the grand jury and the hallway and the bathroom and the dog, Alicia and Jason have something of a lost weekend. They watch the 1981 movie Roar (a must-see for anyone interested in seeing people nearly get mauled to death by lions). She feeds him chips. They share a pint of ice cream. They ask personal questions. They lounge around in a pair of Alicia’s bathrobes. He reads from a large book while Alicia lounges on his chest, which for some reason, really bothers me — did he bring a hardcover book to their sexual liaison, just in case he had a little downtime? He’s well into it, so either he brought it from home, or it’s Alicia’s and he’s just been holding it with one arm and reading for a very long time.

Then again, that’s no stranger than the fact that they have sex fully under the covers — like, I can think of a bunch of plausible reasons why the scene was shot that way, from actor comfort to ease of production, but when you see a couple having sex with covers over their heads, it makes the subsequent scene where they briefly contemplate public-office sex seem super disingenuous. Later in the episode, Jason punctuates a recounting of their weekend with, “And we didn’t even drink!” which isn’t the first time he’s been weirdly puritanical about that with Alicia. It’s nice to see her with someone, and nice to see her with someone that isn’t a Will facsimile, as Finn was last season, and God knows I’m not saying no to more shirtless Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but I’m not fully on Team Jalicia yet.

Alicia and Jason’s lost weekend is interrupted by the arrival of her mother, Veronica, and brother, Owen. Theirs is a story line that mostly seems to exist so viewers will have a chance to see Stockard Channing and Dallas Roberts one more time, and that’s fine by me. (Incidentally, did we ever see Owen and Alicia actually reconcile after they fought when she decided to run for state’s attorney?) Veronica has come over because, as she inimitably puts it, “I’ve been Madoffed!” Translation: She lost a huge sum of money in a shoddy investment and needs Alicia’s help to get it back. Turns out Veronica lost the money fair and square; she gave it to her spin instructor to invest in his cousin’s riverboat gambling scheme. Nevertheless, Jason is able to deduce that Veronica was targeted because she was on a list of gullible people that con men buy and sell — this is an actual thing! — and he then entraps the spin instructor, winning over both Owen and Veronica in the process. Not bad.

But the most interesting moment of the episode is towards its end, when Diane appears out of nowhere, whisks Alicia off to a fancy restaurant, and asks her something we don’t often hear her discuss: “What is it you want?” Diane laughs off Alicia’s pat “to be of use” answer saying, “No you don’t. You hide your ambition under a bushel, but it is a very bright lamp.” She goes on to explain that she wants to join forces with Alicia; she’s been working with Cary for a year and respects him, but he’s no Will. Alicia looks taken aback by that last remark, and says Cary doesn’t try to be. “You don’t either,” says Diane, “But you fill his shoes. You can slice an opponent to shreds, smiling the whole time, and they come back thanking you. I want someone I can work across from who I respect, who I think can outrace me.” It’s fascinating to watch Alicia’s face as Diane lays out her case.

And it’s equally fascinating to take a second to remember the many similarities between Will and Alicia, something that’s easy to forget when you’re not watching them side-by-side each week anymore. I’ve always felt that Alicia’s closure should involve something greater than simply finding another Will. Finding more of him in herself could be just the ticket.

The Good Wife Recap: A Very Bright Lamp