'The Good Wife': The moment we've all been waiting for
Abortion, religion, health insurance, adultery, sex, race: Tuesday night’s episode of "The Good Wife" was so full of controversial subject matter that the only thing it was missing was a cigarette or two. Oh, wait ...
All the turmoil started with what is surely a typical day at the office for a junior associate at a white-shoe Chicago law firm: working on a high-stakes case involving cutting-edge experimental surgery and some extremely complicated bioethics. In the middle of a snowstorm, Alicia and Will are called to work on an “emergency case” involving a young couple suing their insurance company to pay for fetal surgery that will save the life of their unborn child. Without it -- you guessed it -- the child will most likely die. Which, according to the laws of television, also means that the insurance company, Life State, obviously will not cover it.
Making her triumphant return to “The Good Wife” as Patti Nyholm, Life State’s attorney, was the excellent Martha Plimpton. When last we saw Patti, she was milking her pregnant status for all it was worth, while doing her darnest to make sure that a bunch of widows were denied a wrongful-death payout. Last night, Patti was exploiting her newborn in the same way in order to make it clear she was "pro-baby." Her manipulative ploys make Eli Gold look like a Girl Scout.
This inspired plot line brought up all kinds of thorny issues: Should insurance companies be required to cover medical care for “unborn” people, or should their priority be insuring those who are, at least legally speaking, alive? Can someone be pro-choice but also believe that insurers are responsible for covering this kind of expensive procedure? On the flip-side, if you’re pro-business but also pro-life, then where do you stand? It was all very thought-provoking.
But, to be honest, I was more interested in what was going on elsewhere.
First, there’s the extremely urgent matter of Will’s off-hours stubble. As you faithful "Wife" trackers know, the famous stubble first appeared a few weeks back, and it’s catnip to Alicia -- and to some of the commenters on this blog, I might add. It’s so potent, in fact, that after six long months of stoic, self-disciplined behavior, Alicia finally caved and did something human, maybe even irresponsible. Yes, folks, it was the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Alicia finally made out with Will.
The scene itself -- as well as the protracted aftermath in which Alicia ran away, then changed her mind, then changed her mind again -- was pretty satisfying, if I do say so myself. There may have been some gleeful yelps, perhaps a few bursts of clapping, maybe even some “Go back! Go back!”s heard in my apartment. Whatever -- no judgments here at Show Tracker, OK?
Strangely, the make-out also turned out to be the moment Pete’s been waiting for.
That’s because after her thwarted make-out session, Alicia pulled a very bad wife move: With thoughts of Will on her mind, she hurried home and seduced her husband. That’s right, Alicia "Goody Two-Shoes" Florrick used her husband for sex. And she was probably (maybe) thinking of someone else while she did it. Peter was thrilled, though he may not have been thrilled to find out what really caused her sudden hormonal urge.
In a delightfully awkward twist, Will showed up the next morning to talk to Peter about the Willoughby case. Thus ensued the most awkward scene in the history of the universe: Alicia, in her pajamas, serving coffee to the estranged husband she just seduced and the guy she just made out with. To make it even more cringey, Peter was unbearably smug about Alicia’s seduction. He practically cheered when former archenemy Will walked in the door -- obviously he thinks he’s won this battle. And did it strike anyone else as patronizing when he asked Will how Alicia was doing at work?
After the world’s most uncomfortable breakfast, Alicia and Will have a heart-to-heart talk at work -- with the doors wide open, I might add. Alicia expressed her reluctance to pursue anything more with Will (no!!!) but left the door ever-so-slightly ajar by suggesting it’s because she doesn’t want to jeopardize her job, not because she’s married (yay!).
Will once again brought up the dinner topic, but Alicia deflected the offer. “Alicia, it’s fine. We have bad timing. We’ve always had bad timing,” Will said, breaking my heart into a thousand little pieces. I should have known that by the end of the episode, Alicia would once again be back to her controlled ways, but at least she’s cooling to both men, not just the one. In the episode's final scene, she shot down Peter’s obvious attempts at “round two” with a cool “Good night, Peter.” That's my girl.
Lest I forget, another conflict may be on the horizon because of Peter’s sudden religious awakening. The conversion started out as your typical political photo-op: Apparently, African American women don’t like Peter, so Eli Gold arranged a meeting with Pastor Isaiah (Gbenga Akinnagbe), a young, influential black preacher. Peter will go to church at Pastor Isaiah’s, hopefully with Alicia in tow, appear repentant and, just like that, he’ll be embraced by the black community.
The only problem is Pastor Isaiah won’t let Peter take a shortcut; he tells Peter that he has to accept Jesus before Alicia will ever “return to the bed.” After some initial cynicism, Peter opens himself up to the idea and, what do you know, she comes barging into his bedroom. You could practically hear Peter thinking, “Gee, maybe this religion thing works after all.”
To put it mildly, Alicia doesn’t seem thrilled with this development, though it’s hard to tell whether that’s because she’s an avowed atheist or because she’s skeptical of Peter’s motives. Either way, something tells me she’s not going to be attending Sunday services with him anytime soon.
One last thing: As much as I loved this episode (which was a lot), I have a teeny, tiny bone to pick. Will and Alicia discover that Life State is running a possibly illegal program called “PAM,” and they use this bit of ammunition to get the Willoughbys’ coverage reinstated.
Which is great, except that they had to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to make this happen. So now the insurance company’s thousands of other customers can still have their policy waived over minor infractions, and the definitely unethical, possibly illegal program will continue. Remind me again how that’s a good thing? And why would the state insurance commissioner agree to such a rotten deal?
What we learned: Do not post pictures of yourself casually smoking on Facebook. Ever. And don't let Kalinda anywhere near your cellphone.
New questions: Is Peter really going to find Jesus? Are Alicia and Will ever going to have that dinner? And will anyone at work find out about Alicia and Will? Am I terrible for rooting for Alicia and Will?
-- Meredith Blake (follow me on Twitter@MeredithBlake)
Photo: Alicia (Juliana Margulies) serves coffee to both of her men. Credit: Jeffrey Neira / CBS