'The Good Wife' recap: Go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now, you're not welcome anymore...
A note to men everywhere: If you've slept with your wife's best friend, you should try to come up with a better explanation than "it was before she was your best friend."
Over the last two seasons, we've seen Alicia evolve from a woman of quiet resignation and introspection into a woman of decisive action. On Tuesday night's episode, "In Sickness," we saw her take the biggest -- and perhaps riskiest -- step yet. Within minutes of hearing about Peter's one-night-stand with Kalinda, she's set up an appointment with a real estate broker (you know, one of those 24-hour brokers they have in Chicago), paid the first three months' rent on an apartment, and packed up Peter's things.
All that's left to do is hand over the keys. Alicia calls Peter, who's still in the middle of his victory celebrations (the phone-call-via-television was a nice touch, no?). For all the build-up, the initial confrontation between Alicia and Peter was brief, almost perfunctory. The bottom line for Alicia? "You slept with my best friend." Peter's defense is lame and entirely misses the point: Alicia's been humiliated one too many times, and whether or not she knew Kalinda at the time, the betrayal still cuts to the bone.
Clearly, though, Alicia is not invulnerable. As soon as she gets home, she has a good cry, but she doesn't wallow in her misery. She psyches herself up with a tough-girl anthem (it might as well have been "I Will Survive"), puts on some lipstick and heads to work, where she goes head to head with the fiercest opponent of them all, Patti Nyholm (Martha Plimpton). Even Diane notices Alicia's assertive new demeanor. "I think you're getting under Patti's skin, so keep it up," she says. The implicit message is that what's bad for a woman's personal life can be a boon for her professional one. Sure, it's a little too neat, but it's also inspiring to see a woman try to rebound from a nasty breakup through means other than ice cream and multiple viewings of "An Affair to Remember."
Of course, the big question is whether there's any chance for a reconciliation between the Florricks. The odds at this point are not great, especially after Peter's and Alicia's second, decidedly nastier showdown. Alicia comes home to find Peter, waiting in their apartment. He begs her to go to marriage counseling, but she flatly refuses, not just therapy but even to allowing Peter to explain himself. I've never liked Peter, but this was nevertheless pretty harsh, maybe even a tad irrational. (And I say that as someone who thinks she should have dumped this dude a long time ago.)
But, as they say, it takes two to tango. Whether or not Alicia was open to hearing it, Peter ought to have responded with some kind of explanation. Instead, he strikes back with some ugly allegations about Will. "There have been three people in this marriage, every moment of the last two years you've been thinking of him," he says. Alicia's got feelings for Will, as we all know, but Peter's recriminations are still largely off-base -- especially the sex part. The confrontation between these two was raw and surprisingly vicious. I truly didn't expect things to turn quite so ugly, but it sure made for riveting television.
After this bitter exchange, it will be hard, if not impossible, for the Florricks to patch things up, but there's still a teensy, tiny opening. We still don't know why Peter and Kalinda slept together, but my hunch is that there will be an explanation that will vindicate one of the parties involved. Peter makes a point to say that Kalinda is "blameless" in the whole incident, which begs the question of why, exactly, Peter slept with her if it wasn't merely the consummation of lingering mutual passion. Or, as Alicia rather indelicately puts it, "Did you rape her?"
The clues are scant, but so far the implication is that Kalinda slept with Peter to procure some sort of desperately needed favor -- maybe to help her hide from that husband she's got in Canada. And if that's the case, I don't see how it could possibly make things better for Peter. ("Oh, I see. You just slept with my best friend because she was terrified that her husband might find her and, well, actual bribes are illegal so sex was the obvious solution. All is forgiven.") The way I see it, Alicia will patch things up with either Peter or Kalinda, not both. So the question becomes: Who's more disposable at this point? Sorry, Chris Noth fans, but the answer to that is pretty obvious. Alicia was able to dodge Kalinda for most of this episode -- except for one horribly awkward meeting outside of Will's office -- but their showdown arrives next week. I'm dying in anticipation.
Alicia's firm decision immediately invites a backlash. First, and least surprising, is the scorn heaped on her by Jackie. She accuses Alicia of poisoning Zach and Grace, and staying with Peter for political purposes only. Alicia tells her to go eat rotten eggs (I'm paraphrasing). It's much harder for Alicia to bear her children's reaction to the news. Zach, who's evolved into something of a daddy's boy this season, also accuses her of sticking with Peter for the sake of the campaign. Grace is less skeptical but tells her mother she needs to "protect" them more. This, obviously, is the last thing Alicia wants to hear, and she breaks down. If the Florricks do get a divorce, it should be interesting to see how the kids respond. Will their loyalties be divided? Will they blame Alicia, especially if they don't know about Kalinda? Hoo, boy, this could get ugly.
Strangely, the only person Alicia seems able to rely on these days is Eli. He halfheartedly encourages Alicia to seek marriage counseling, telling her that his experience with his ex-wife was not "as bad as I thought." It's clear, though, that Alicia's not open to negotiation. Her decision is irrevocable (and yes, that means it's not subject to change). "You do know that this will look politically motivated," he warns her. It's all done in a thoughtful, rather than a threatening way. With Kalinda out of the picture, it looks like Alicia has a new bestie. Who would have thought?
Now, I haven't spent much time talking about the rest of the episode -- which even featured a (somewhat underwhelming) guest appearance from Aaron Staton, a.k.a. Ken Cosgrove -- because, well, there was just too much going on with Alicia. On "The Good Wife," there's often some sort of implied parallel between Alicia's personal life and her "case of the week." This episode provides a prime example. We've got three women -- Alicia, Patti and Marjorie -- who face undue scrutiny over the decisions made in their personal lives. Marjorie (Marin Ireland) is deemed unsuitable for a liver transplant by a doctor who doesn't approve of her hard-partying lifestyle; Alicia is accused of being an opportunist -- by Jackie, of course, but also by her own children -- for leaving Peter the day after the election; and Patti gets fired for being pregnant. Patti pretty much sums this up the theme of the night when she claims she was being punished "because I have a working vagina."
Something that's not exactly working for me is Cary's undying animosity toward Alicia. At Kalinda's behest, Will and Diane offer Cary the chance to return to Lockhart Gardner as a second-year associate. He rejects the offer because Alicia will be a third-year and, in the final scene of the night, shows up at Peter's office to plead his case. Cary has grown considerably this season, evolving into a character who's both more interesting and more likable than the smarmy operator he was last year. He's not even bothered by Kalinda's dalliance with Peter, and he's happy to return to Lockhart Gardner. So why is he still so mad at Alicia? She's not the one who fired him, after all. His grudge seems forced. Still, the Cary-Peter alliance should prove interesting. Will Cary tell Peter what he knows -- or rather, suspects -- about Alicia's relationship with Will?
I am so thrilled we've got two more episodes to see how this all plays out. There are so many questions:
Is Alicia being fair? Should she give Peter a chance to explain himself, or does it even matter why he slept with Kalinda? Do you think there's any chance for a reconciliation between Alicia and Peter? Could Kalinda possibly say anything that would make Alicia forgive her -- or Peter? And speaking of Kalinda, what's up with her and the nurse? So. Many. Questions.
What do you think?
-- Meredith Blake
Photo: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) confronts Peter (Chris Noth) on "The Good Wife." Credit: CBS