Every year I watch The Good Wife season premiere, I think the same thing to myself—I’ve missed this show! Now, last year, things got sour for me quickly, as the show re-hashed storylines like Peter’s election campaign that I felt I had seen before, and dumped the “Kalinda’s S&M husband” plot all over the first half of the season. Then the show pulled out of its mini-slump with an impressive final run and a devastatingly clever twist to finish things off. Season five has a really different playing field. Peter is the Governor of Illinois, and Alicia and Cary are preparing to break away from Lockhart/Gardner and set up their own firm.
This episode isn’t exactly about Alicia wavering in her choice. Her problems with Lockhart/Gardner are waved in her face—the tyrannical David Lee (Zach Grenier, now a series regular!) is ready to hack his employees’ phones at the drop of a hat, after sensing just a whiff of conspiratorial behavior. A lady’s face on an iPad is wheeling around on some sort of motorized Segway machine, the firm’s latest dabbling in hi-tech future nonsense. Everything’s still very cutthroat. Alicia is lost in the chatter, and she’s the most prominent of the fourth-year associates who feel undervalued.
At the same time, she’s watching Will and Diane be a super-dynamic team on the most crucial, exciting, nail-bitingly tense kind of case there is—a death row appeal. As the episode begins, Eddie (Malik Yoba, doing great, if brief work) is about to be executed by lethal injection, but the process is torturous enough that Diane manages to stall for time to pursue evidence of his innocence. That it’s taken this long for people to try and come up with new leads is a little preposterous, but the idea is to have Will and Diane’s crusade be as life-and-death as possible.
It’s a pro bono case, the kind of case Alicia and Cary won’t get to take in the early years of their new firm. And it’s full of wacky legal twists and turns, like Eddie being entered as evidence in a different Innocence Project case to keep him alive, and the snitch who informed on him, thought dead, being revealed as both alive and a liar. Jeffrey Tambor turned in fantastic work as the judge of the week, particularly at the moment where he had to turn down the appeal despite evidence that the case against Eddie was flawed. Tambor sold the difficulty of the decision, and his thinking behind it. It could have come across as yet another plot twist, and it didn’t.
Alicia’s also wrestling with her lingering romantic connection with Will, of course. Which is why she whispers “don’t end up hating me” to him at the end of the episode. But that, to me, confirms that it’s all systems go. I want the show to pursue this shake-up and not let it go. The Good Wife is infinitely fun to watch, but it could definitely get stuck in a rut. This is how it can avoid that. We can stick with Lockhart/Gardner as well as watch Alicia and Cary try to be the new Diane and Will. If there’s any show that’s proven itself good at juggling multiple complicated plotlines while still somehow remaining a procedural, it’s The Good Wife.
What’s happening on Peter’s side of things? Well, Melissa George plays the head of the state ethics board and tells him to watch out for the zillion conflicts of interest that result from being married to a high-powered lawyer and having Eli Gold as your right hand man. Eli immediately tells Peter to promote her or get her out of the way, essentially because she’s too cute to be photographed next to him. This is ludicrous. Sure, Eli might have such a fear. I can buy that. But he’s also supposed to be a savvy political adviser and would surely know what a nightmare he could be provoking by making that move.
The implication, I think, is that Peter himself worries that he might be attracted to Melissa George and figures it’s best to have her out of the way. He’s making the quick, easy decision without considering the bigger implications. It’s something he’s done before, and it’s more in character for him. But I just don’t buy that Eli (who is appointed his chief of staff at the end of the episode) would be such a bonehead. It’s obviously justifying some future plotline and I shudder to think what will happen. But I hate any plot that feels this contrived.
Whatever. The Good Wife is back and it’s lovely to have it back. There’s so much potential this season and “Everything Is Ending” gave me little fear that the show would deliver. Here’s to continued success and no sign or mention of Kalinda’s husband ever again.
- Grace has been listed the fourth hottest politician’s daughter, behind Abby Huntsman, Bristol Palin and Meghan McCain. Poor girl, although was there a hint of flattery in that final shot?
- Kalinda and Robyn make a good team but them catching the snitch as he broke into a car was a bit much.
- Peter tells Eli that the ethics commissioner is right. “She's not right, she's anal.” “Well, anal is what we need right now. Did I say that?” “Yes. New state motto?”