The NSA, Canada, an arrest, the return of Kurt McVeigh and a looming divorce. Yep. We're right back where we started.
The Good WifeAirtime: Sundays, 9pm
Cast: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Subtitle: Season 7, Episode 19 - "Landing"
Air date: 2016-04-17
"So, we're right back where we started, huh?"
Indeed, as these The Good Wife episodes begin to dwindle (only three more!), each week's leading quote becomes easier and easier to pick out. This week, it's Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) making a conclusion some of us saw coming months ago (self-high-five!) to his wife, Alicia (Julianna Margulies) in the confines of his office. He's received a plea offer from AUSA Connor Fox (Matthew Morrison) and the proposition isn't great: three years.
And no. He's not talking probation.
"Landing", this seventh season's 19th episode, is one of the season's best. Following up a strong hour of television (episode 18, "Unmanned") with an even better showing this week, it's been enormous fun to see The Good Wife find its stride, even if it’s coming with only a handful of weeks to go before the entire thing cuts to black for good. Nothing is promised in Series Finale World, so with a handful of really great recent episodes in tow, we may now finally be able to stop managing expectations while going into each Sunday night. These guys are going out on top of their game, even if that plateau hasn't been reached with as much regularity as one might want in the last few years.
As has been the case in past The Good Wife lore, what makes the story move this week is actually what we don't see. Turns out, that cliffhanger from nearly a month ago has worked itself out in the interim: Alicia is going to stick with Peter through the investigation before eventually divorcing him.
Even better is the reality that we're done listening to testimonies through wall vents, and we've cut to the chase of Peter getting arrested. They've got him on corruption again, all due to some missing bullets. Who knows what the truth is, but does that really even matter anymore? Of the many lessons this series has taught its audience through the years, one of the biggest is the notion that perception beats truth every time. So much so that it's hard to even care about confirming any type of truth that may or may not be connected to Peter. Dude's an asshole. He's had chances.
Still, the climax of that opening sequence, where Alicia grabs a tie and a jacket -- the former to put around her husband's neck, the latter to cover the handcuffs -- and tells Fox to go get bent, is tremendous. For as over it as she is, she still has a loyalty, a very real attachment to him in a vague mother-like/former-best-friend fashion. "I can talk shit on him all you want," you think she's thinking, "but don't you dare say what I know is going through your head right now. You have no idea." There's something incredibly admirable about that. Perhaps more telling is this might be the first time in the series where we see her stick up for Peter all while knowing for sure that there's absolutely no future for them as a couple. You have to work to obtain that feeling for the viewers. The Good Wife used a slow-burn approach over seven years to achieve just that.
Elsewhere, Jeff Dellinger (Zach Woods), he of NSA plot-line fame, is back and wants to attend his mother's funeral in America. It's ultimately used as a vehicle (or at least so it seems) to put to bed the aforementioned NSA plot-line as Alicia finally finds out exactly how much the government knows about her. Tyler Hopkins (Tobias Segal), in a scene that felt far more creepy that you might think they wanted it to, approaches Alicia and asks about her family before taking the stand to essentially outline the breadth of knowledge he and his coworkers have compiled on the Florricks.
While that C-story’s always felt out of place, this week's developments make it make sense in a "oh, so this is really just The Good Wife taking shots at how government surveillance is out of hand these days" kind-of way. After some help from Lucca (Cush Jumbo), who doesn't seem to agree with Alicia on a lot of this stuff, a funny-in-a-cute way introduction of Canada's version of the NSA (sorry, but there's only one Michael Urie, damn it), a slew of underhanded comments lobbed at how awful America is through the Canadian eye, and a whole lot of "your worship", Jeff lands asylum in Canada, presumably to go work for The North in the same ways he worked for The South.
The week's other driving force is perhaps its most endearing. Diane (Christine Baranski) and her husband Kurt (Gary Cole) decide they want to take their marriage to the next level by … living together? Holy moses, they've been married three years and they don't live together? It's like … what? Anyway, that doesn't really matter all that much because, well, they’re the best. It's the single moment in this series's history that allows Diane to be an actual human. Her response to Kurt -- "You can't use the same expression for everything!" -- is all types of adorable. It only gets better, then, when she realizes he wants to sell his business to a fine-looking young lady who in a year-and-a-half could be the next Fox News star. She gets chesty, drops the F-word in a completely epic scene (and I hate using the word "epic" for anything), and ultimately settles on "You make me happy" after Kurt says he'll find another buyer. It's all just great. Great, great, great.
Not so great? Peter Florrick's life right now. He seems genuinely hurt that Alicia is leaving him and, to Chris Noth's acting credit, he also sort of/kind of feels sympathetic. The biggest disappointment one can feel is the disappointment in one's self, and more than anything, that's the emotion you get when he explains to Eli (Alan Cumming) what's going on. The character feels resigned, resigned to a fate he knew was always a possibility, but resigned to a fate he always hoped he'd never have to actually face. Sure, he's a sack of shit, but it doesn't matter who you are: when you watch a life crumble in front of you, it allows perspective and, more importantly, empathy. He's going to jail and he's losing his wife. That'll take anybody down (and down hard).
Speaking of going down (again, within the first five minutes, there's a shirtless Jason [Jeffrey Dean Morgan]), Alicia wants Jason to know that even though she's finally, mercifully, getting a divorce, he needs to understand that this has absolutely nothing to do with him. Right. The confession ruins the forward momentum they have (side: doesn't it seem like their forward momentum is being ruined every other week anymore?), and the episode is spent in that Alicia/Jason Weird Zone to which we've grown accustomed. The hour concludes with him reiterating for the 5928th time that all he wants is something simple. She admits that nothing about her life is simple. He steps toward her, asks her what she wants, and she responds with a matter-of-fact "you", and we cut to black.
And suddenly, the Alicia/Peter story isn't the only tale that's wound up right back where it started.
Approaching The Bench
Great to see Cary (Matt Czuchry) again. I honestly wasn't sure if we would. And boy, he's a little prickly these days, isn't he?
Finally, someone showed up! Great to see you, Kurt McVeigh, but here’s my updated 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 (Michael J. Fox), Zach Florrick (Graham Phillips), Finn Polmar (Matthew Goode), Jackie Florrick (Mary Beth Piel), Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter), Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver), Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker), Wendy Scott-Car (Anika Noni Rose), Natalie Flores (America Ferrera), Frank Prady (David Hyde Pierce), Judge George Fluger, Derrick Bond (Michael Ealy), Robyn Burdine (Jess Weixler), Clarke Hayden (Nathan Lane), Nancy Crozier (Mamie Gummer), and Reese Dipple (Oliver Platt). Again, I’ll be keeping track.
Without question, this was the most I've ever liked David Lee (Zach Grenier). It was the most real that character has ever felt. His responses -- both facial and audible -- after that meeting with PGT Ballistics were absolutely priceless, and his interactions with Diane were fantastic. I've never really liked that character at all -- no redeeming qualities, never moves plots in any intellectually compelling manner, seems more annoying than anything -- but he was great this week. Grenier and Baranski played it perfectly.
"I'm easily mesmerized by people who use multi-syllabled words". Diane was given gold to work with this week, all around.
That prediction from months ago seems pretty strong right about now, no?
Who knew Canada had such harsh preconceptions about the United States? Wow, they laid it on hard, don't you think? Still, it was a fun case in a fun setting, and the intercom interruptions were a nice touch. Plus, it was a nice surprise to see Jayne Atkinson come over from House of Cards to play Nora Valentine.
Did I miss something, or is there a reason why Alicia has to rush, at the drop of a hat, to be at Jeff's side? That seemed a little extreme. Like, you have to fly back and forth from Canada as your governor husband’s about to be arrested? Perhaps more importantly, is she even getting paid? How could he pay her? Why would Diane be all right with one of her stars not being around because of a case that means nothing to the firm? Maybe I'm over-thinking too much. OK. I'm over-thinking too much.
Really? Do Cary and Jason have to hate each other?
We're strapped in now, friends. Three more episodes in three weeks. No more off-weeks. "End" is slated for May 8. You're sad, too, right?
Crazy Prediction Of The Week: I have yet to read anything that came from the Tribeca talk because I don't want to have any sniff of any potential spoiler, but I did see a headline that had the name "Josh Charles" in it. So, let's go with … Will (Josh Charles) comes back from the dead to take on Jason and then all of those The Walking Dead/The Good Wife memes blow up the Internet.