This season has been mind-boggling in scope — I mean, Alicia still worked at Lockhart-Gardner in the first episode — so I suppose it’s natural for things to slow down before we get to the finale. On the up side, we have special guest star Tom Skerritt. He plays James Paisley, CEO of the Paisley Group, and someone is claiming that he fired him for being gay. Paisley is dealing with protesters, including one who throws a pie in his face, thus capping off yet another stellar Good Wife opener, which began with loving shots of hands making and baking that pie.
The honest-to-God action in this episode lurks quietly without exploding this week: An official report has cleared Finn of any blame in Will’s shooting; in fact, it lays blame squarely on the current State’s Attorney. But we get some throwaway facts — to pluck a random example, Finn divorced his wife after a miscarriage. (Hmm.) But, hey, we’re thrilled with the results until a photo surfaces that implies Alicia perhaps slept with Finn. (She didn’t. At least not yet.) “How do you think it will look that you endorsed your wife’s lover?” is the sort of question our fair governor fields from advisers this week. We would love to feel badly for him until we remember what we learned from The Karate Kid: What goes around comes around. In this case, even when the “what” in question, or at least the “what” that’s coming around, isn’t real. Peter does not care for this feeling, in any case, and he throws water into Mr. State’s Attorney’s face. Twice. Which is kind of awesome. Meanwhile, Peter, understandably, wants to wait a bit on the endorsement. Eli helpfully reminds him that he’s already endorsed the fellow, just hasn’t appeared with him. No matter. This can wait, while we admire Kalinda’s amazing slate-blue leather jacket.
Louis Canning is suffering his own insults over at his new firm, good old L-G. Howard Lyman cunningly assesses Louis’s state: “Challenged. Isn’t that the word? Challenged? Do you like that?” This is a nice counterbalance to what’s about to come, in the case we’re meant to focus on this week, from Paisley’s lips in a much more public forum — on a cable-news show: “I felt like Anne Frank hiding from the Nazis,” he says, describing his mental state while besieged with protesters. “The one percent is the new hunted minority in this country, not unlike the Jews in Nazi Germany.”
Helpfully enough, Howard has some Jew in him, and decides to play it up for the purposes of this case, yarmulke and all. L-G shall represent … the opposite of Paisley, because there are obviously only two law firms in Chicago. What will we do when they’re collapsed back into one? (Oops. Getting ahead of myself, huh?) For starters, Jill Hennessy won’t have two law firms squabbling over her class-action-related business.
Anyway, for now, the only two law firms in all of Chicago are squabbling over jurors — this is one of The Good Wife’s many wonderful strengths, milking the details of the law for drama. Sure, sometimes defendants shoot major characters to death in court, but other times, an entire episode can hinge on jury selection, like tonight’s.
Jury selection, that is, and public relations. As Alicia and Louis pick through the jurors, Alicia persuades Paisley to meet with a Mr. Fishbein, a Holocaust survivor, and then release a statement as to his Important Lessons Learned. And yet he can’t help himself from continuing: “A man has to pull his weight. … We reward winners. This is not Italy or Greece.” Uh-oh.
Peter, too, has learned no lessons from history, and is thus flirting with an intern in his office when we next see him, telling Eli he’d like to grant an interview to this “journalism major in exile.” (I am planning to steal this as a tag line for my life.) Her lipstick is too red, as far as I’m concerned. But that’s mostly because no one rocks red lipstick like Alicia, so I’m not really interested in what this chick puts on her lips. Neither is Eli: “You are now 50 feet from the governor’s office. Don’t ever cross this line again.” Peter doesn’t want Eli to babysit him, but this hasn’t stopped Eli before. Peter and Alicia, it turns out, haven’t DTR-ed as much as they should have: “Alicia and I … I don’t know.”
When Eli pops up soon afterwards at the Alicia Florrick homestead, I realize how much I love what has happened between Eli and Alicia over these five seasons. Zach is trying on his graduation gown, and Eli explains his presence thusly: “I’m just watching a family … be a family.” The red wine comes out soon afterwards, and Eli declines while Alicia indulges — maybe I’ve been watching old reruns of The O.C. too much, but is Alicia in for some kind of intervention on her alcohol consumption, à la Kirsten Cohen? In any case, Eli wants to know what’s going on between Alicia and Peter, “because I care.” This show has trained us so well that we realize: He’s serious. Everything on this show is so cynical that the only truly dramatic option is for someone to be sincere. Alicia, however, is just tired. Eli, like a high-school girl straight out of The O.C., thinks Alicia really loves Peter.
It’s important to note that the very next line in the very next scene is David Lee saying he’s “not buying what you’re selling.” Next we get a barrage of important, if seemingly disconnected, information: A Greek lady from Skokie is a little offended by Paisley’s remarks about Greeks. Eli knows Alicia and Peter have a permissive marital “arrangement.” Alicia is part of the one percent, and yet she is not a fan of Ayn Rand: “It’s like basing your philosophy on the books of John Grisham.” Alicia appears to have convinced Eli that she didn’t sleep with Finn. (Yet.)
We are now reminded that Cary and Kalinda are still sleeping together, which, honestly, I’ve never totally bought. Like, sure, Kalinda might sleep with Cary, but she’s eventually going to eat him alive, right? There’s no way this is a real relationship. I believe Kalinda can be with someone, but not Cary. This feels related to the fact that Jill Hennessy — a.k.a. Rayna, the woman with the class-action lawsuit — didn’t show up for her meeting at L-G, but also bailed on her meeting with Florrick-Agos after getting a call from one Louis Canning. Everything is suspicious!
We get so many extras in this episode: an inside look at vetting Paisley’s second apology via a kind of focus group; Alicia’s unintended racism when she mixed up the two black male cable anchors (whom she couldn’t see because she didn’t have a monitor). We also get tons of subtle legal cues that show how much faith The Good Wife has in its audience: Canning is also repping a company accused of price-gouging AIDS patients, which makes Juror No. 5 a problem because her son died last year of AIDS … This is truly a lot to ask of me when we’re on the penultimate episode of a genuinely exhausting season.
In any case, it appears we have a settlement of some sort, and we also have a glimpse into Peter’s psyche: His computer desktop is a lovely photo of Alicia, possibly from Good Wife publicity stills. And yet, his intern is still hanging around …