'The Good Wife' Recap: Perfect timing (for an hour, anyway)
There was something particularly well-timed about Tuesday night's crowd-pleasing "Good Wife" season finale, which arrived not long after Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed to the world that he'd fathered a child out of wedlock, and a few days after IMF chief and would-be French presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested after a sexual assault of a maid in a New York hotel room. "The Good Wife" is a show inspired by real-life political scandals, so given the news of the week, Alicia's tequila-fueled night of passion with Will was a particularly sweet way to conclude the season: Finally, it's the wife who gets to do some fooling around -- in the presidential suite, no less!
The majority of this episode functioned as a long foreplay session, for we all knew what lay ahead -- we just had to wait a long while for the show to get there. There's something to be said for this tantric approach to storytelling. The chemistry between Will and Alicia at the bar was electric, but I worried that Alicia's sensible side was going to win out, especially during the comically protracted journey to the presidential suite. I thought the shame of being winked at by a hotel piano player might have squelched Alicia's desire, but no. Nothing was going to stop her from getting her groove back.
The sequence was cheeky and perhaps a tad indulgent -- the writers knew exactly what we wanted, but they were sure going to torture us before delivering the goods -- but it was also sublime entertainment. These two clearly wanted to make their "exceptional moment" happen once and for all, $7,800 be damned. The cherry on the top of it all is that it's Alicia who figures out the key card. It was such a perfect metaphor for her evolution: now she's the one who's in control, who's cool and collected enough to get what she wants. It's the men in her life who fumble. Well played, Alicia. Well played.
Now, this finale may have given us the Will-Alicia hook-up we've been rooting for all along, but we all know that a luxurious tryst does not a relationship make. They both went into that elevator with the (possibly feigned) understanding that this was a one-time-only event, and while it seems unlikely that this will, in fact, remain an isolated incident, their romantic prospects are not exactly certain. Even if things progress, there are plenty of storm clouds brewing on the horizon.
First of all, there's Will's ambiguous relationship status. The "I think she's in London" thing was convenient -- maybe a little too convenient -- and I doubt this will be the last we hear about Tammy. Moreover, Will is still an unknown quantity, especially on the relationship front. As Alicia points out in this episode, the ladies can't seem to resist his boyish charm -- and he knows it. Is he going to abandon his bachelor lifestyle and pursue a relationship with someone who has two teenage kids? Will is, first and foremost, an ambitious guy, so the fact that he's Alicia's boss only complicates the issue further. Finally, who's to say Alicia even wants the complications of a new relationship when she has her hands full already. Sigh. Whatever's in store for these two, I sincerely hope that Season 3 picks up exactly where Season 2 left off, and we get to see Alicia and Will doing the time-honored Walk of Shame out of the hotel the next morning. (For some hints about next season, check out my Q&A with Josh Charles).
There's also Peter, who clearly isn't ready to give up on Alicia just yet. We discover that he's the one who sent the bloody glove to Lockhart-Gardner. Now, I know what you're thinking "Awww, how sweet!" I mean, what woman doesn't want a DNA-encrusted glove from her estranged husband? (Fellas, if you're in the market for a bloody glove for your beloved, remember the two months' salary guideline!) Seriously though, I realize the evidence-leaking was Peter's elaborate way of trying to make things up to Alicia, but didn't this seem like a strange way to do it? At the very least, you'd think Peter would have figured out a way to take credit for it, and not remain anonymous. That is, unless he's really turned over a new leaf and only wants to see Alicia succeed -- whether or not she's with him. I doubt Peter's motives are entirely selfless. As Frank Landau tells Eli, "Without her, he’s a John who overpaid for a prostitute. With her, he’s Kennedy." It was a glib line, but the more I thought about it, the more the truth of the statement really rang true. Philandering politicians never really look like losers until their wives leave them.
Another complication is that Eli may be setting up his political consulting shingle at Lockhart-Gardner, and that Alicia has been asked to work as the liaison between the legal and political arms of the firm. It's a pretty brilliant stroke by the writing team, who no doubt want to keep churning out the political storylines into next season -- and with good reason, since that's what this show does best. But having Eli at the office also keeps the Peter-Alicia tension alive and well. How will Alicia negotiate her new job duties and avoid her estranged husband? And what if she has to face him across the courtroom? Now that will be interesting.
This finale also brings us a somewhat chastened Kalinda who, almost inevitably, winds up in bed with Sophia, but who quickly begs off when she discovers that Sophia is married. She's also noticeably aloof with Cary, which seems to suggest that Future Kalinda will rely solely on her wits. Say it ain't so. At least the frosty relationship between her and Alicia appears to be thawing, ever so slightly. (The scene where Alicia has to stand there, frozen, envelope in hand, and beckon Kalinda for help was pretty inspired, wasn't it?)
My only grievance with this episode is that we didn't get to see more of Dallas Roberts. I love Owen, and I love his dynamic with Alicia, and I wish we'd gotten to hear his take on the Peter-Alicia situation -- because you just know she told him everything.
"Good Wife" fans, we have a lot to look forward to next season, not the least of which will be how the show handles this latest round of political scandals.
See you in September. Until then, who's got predictions?
-- Meredith Blake
Photo: The timing is finally right for Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Will (Josh Charles) ... at least for now. Credit: David M. Russell / CBS