It's all about coming home this week as we settle in for the final The Good Wife episodes with a return to a classic formula.
Airtime: Sundays, 9pm
Cast: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo
Tv Show: The Good Wife
Subtitle: Season 7, Episode 14 - "Monday"
Air date: 2016-02-14
"Home is where they take you in, right?"
Ahhh, yes. Home. Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) has been struggling with that idea for as long as The Good Wife has been beaming over the airwaves. First, with the house that she toyed with repurchasing all the way back in season three. Second, with a family that became fractured after her husband Peter (Chris Noth) very publicly got caught cheating on her. And third, with her place of employment, which has changed countless times throughout the years and has inevitably led her back to where she began.
That’s why when she utters the above quote about her current place of employment, Lockhart, Agos & Lee, it means much more than the clichéd tropes about what it means to go back to the where you started. To her, home is actually a mere place that takes you in anymore. She's valiantly tried to establish and redefine that throughout these seven seasons, by doing everything from starting her own firm(s) to relocating to a downtown apartment. But life doesn’t work like that. Home isn't nearly as romantic as movies and television would suggest. Home, in effect, is just a place where people put up with you.
Oh, but do people really put up with Alicia Florrick at any law firm with Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) as boss? That’s the question that’s hovered over everything since the beginning, when Diane first lobbied for Cary (Matt Czuchry) to get the job over Alicia in season one. Yet now, with Alicia back to where she started, "Monday", the first of the final nine episodes of the series, we can finally -- mercifully -- settle back into what used to make The Good Wife so much better than just good.
Not once, but twice, did I write in my notes, "this is how the show is supposed to work" while watching Sunday’s episode. Because if you’re going to tell me that you didn’t perk up and feel your heart beat just a little faster once Cary, Diane, and Alicia realized they had to come together to defend Howell (Jason Babinsky), then I’m going to tell you that you’re a liar. The infighting. The egos. The history. The wins. The loses. That trio (along with the dearly departed Will Gardner [Josh Charles]) has always been and will always be what makes this series run. With them finally reunited, it feels like the Natural Order has at last been restored.
Throw in the return of John Benjamin Hickey as Neil Gross (rather then Gross being merely represented by an underling, which is what happened earlier this season), and what you have is a shot of adrenaline that, coupled with the drama that comes with the official announcement of the series’ impending conclusion during the Super Bowl, The Good Wife desperately needed. The fact that a trademark last-minute discovery led to Alicia and Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) winning the case was only a cherry on top of an already scrumptious sundae.
Oh, and about that case. And about Alicia and Lucca working together under the Lockhart, Agos & Lee umbrella. And about this week … .
ChumHum announces its first foray into tablets. The law firm’s IT guy, Howell (Jason Babinsky), lands a photo of it. He wants to sell it for a whole bunch of money to any of the zillions of online publications that pay for scoops. But before he can even make a decision, Gross -- along with his alarmingly strong team of officials that kind of/sort of feels like the worst, most intimidating corners of the Stasi -- shows up at the office, ready to make arrests and shuffle through everyone’s everything.
Meanwhile, Lucca is still treating life as though it’s a squarely two-woman show, and Diane ain't havin' that. It ultimately leads to the most jarring insult The Good Wife has seen in years, if perhaps ever, when, in response to Alicia explaining how much she's learned during her time away, Ms. Lockhart chillingly snaps, "You mean at bond court?" and holy shit, you can feel every single emotion attached to that moment jolt through your blood.
Interestingly, the firm is doing all it can to separate Alicia and Lucca … by then pairing Lucca with pretty much the only other African-American main player that’s left in the series, Monica Timmons (Nikki M. James). A handful of comments regarding the seemingly racial undertones of all this are made between the two each time Cary tries to pair them together on a case (the best, most wry exchange being, "do you know any spirituals?"), and boy, does it make you think. Considering Monica’s past battles with the law firm, could this all lead to Lucca and Monica ostensibly taking Lockhart, Agos & Lee down for good? And if so, precisely how stupid are Cary and Diane, for God’s sake?
Elsewhere, there’s yet another ominous investigation in the air as Eli (Alan Cumming) finds out that his daughter Marissa (Sarah Steele) was asked on a date by an actual FBI agent (side: that initial exchange between Marissa and the agent was delightful). This, excitingly, leads to the return of Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale), if only for an episode, to again warn Eli and Alicia that something bad is on the horizon. “Cash out while you still can,” she advises Alicia in the final minutes, which inevitably leads me to conclude the following prediction that’s not the atypical Crazy Prediction Of The Week:
Peter's going back to jail. If anything has been proven about the Kings’ approach to this, it’s that they want this to be a circular story. Alicia was always going to end up back at that law firm, this much we knew. But let’s flash back to the very first moments of the very first episode of the very first season of this very series. It opened with the press conference that established how Peter cheated on Alicia, while also announcing his resignation as State’s Attorney, which led to his impending incarceration. The way Alicia was first presented to us was a woman of embarrassment, a follower, while never a leader, a humiliated house wife who abandoned prospects of a career of her own decades prior.
So, tell me why we shouldn’t believe that this series will end with another press conference, this time of Peter announcing his resignation as Illinois state governor, Alicia standing beside him, a completely different woman. Creators Robert and Michelle King said they knew how they wanted to end this, what -- after the first 13 episodes? That seems like an ending easy to come by at that stage in the game. Plus, part of the speculation about the series’ future, and if it would continue without the Kings, leads us to believe that the series actually could continue, even after this story ends. A proposed season eight (which, of course, we now know definitely isn’t going to happen) could, in theory, pick right up with Alicia beginning this new chapter of her life.
I mean, when it happens, don't say I told you so.
For now, though, it’s up to us as viewers to appreciate the final eight episodes of this series. And the most pertinent reason why this week’s episode felt so good is that, for better or worse, it at once feels like all the madness is gone, and we’re back to the classic The Good Wife formula that allowed this show to be so gripping for so long, complete with zany judicial antics. The only sadness now comes with the reality that once we finally get back to where we started, we now have to turn around to head back out the door to bid adieu forever. Yet even so, it’s good to be reminded of why we stuck around this long in the first place, which, at its core, is what "Monday" accomplished.
So, come on in, Alicia. If home is where the heart is, rest assured that there are millions of viewers who make sure you never go without a roof over your head ever again.
Approaching The Bench
Boy, wouldn’t that be great if we get a Will Gardner flashback episode where Josh Charles plays a dominant role through all 40-plus minutes, just for old time’s sake?!?!
Boy, wouldn’t that be great if we get a Kalinda Sharma flashback episode where Archie Panjabi plays a dominant role through all 40-plus minutes, just for old time’s sake?!?!
Boy wouldn’t that be great if … all right. I’ll stop.
That race thing is going to blow up, isn’t it? It has all the makings of, "And you thought the Monica character really had no reason to ever appear in all of this, but boy were you wrong". But even if/when it happens, I just find it so hard to believe that Cary and Diane are either that stupid or that racist. Like, honestly. Monica is there because she called you out on your questionable hiring tactics. Why immediately force-feed the first African-American to walk through the door a case that Monica’s on and relegate them to a conference room?
Here’s a list of characters I’m going to keep a running tab on between now and the final episode to see if they make one final appearance (because if they don’t, I’m writing a nasty letter to CBS): Louis Canning. Zach Florrick. Finn Polmar. Jackie Florrick. Lemond Bishop. Glenn Childs. Kurt McVeigh. Elsbeth Tascioni. Colin Sweeney. Wendy Scott-Car. Natalie Flores. Frank Prady. Judge George Fluger. Derrick Bond. Robyn Burdine. Clarke Hayden. Nancy Crozier. Reese Dipple. Yes. I’ll be keeping track.
Really, though. That bond court smack was brutal. When Christine Baranski is perfect, Christine Baranski is perfect.
"First the tragedy and then the farce".
I've said this before, but I don't think people give enough credit to how valuable having the rotating cast of judges, with their subsequent quirks, was and is to this series. Judge Hal Ferris with the ants and obligatory dialogue with Harris the Bailiff was classic The Good Wife fodder. And man, I've missed that.
The back-and-forth between Alicia and Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) about his beard was adorable.
Crazy Prediction of the Week: Peter goes to jail, a special election is held, Alicia runs, Alicia wins, and Alicia becomes the Illinois state governor.