Wow. What a thrilling start to Season 5 of “The Good Wife!” They leapt right out of the gate with a bang (though literally, a drip), and presented new revelations every minute. No lollygagging through plotlines on this show.
When last we saw Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), she had opened her apartment door and told the person outside, “I’m in.” But she said it not to Will Gardner (Josh Charles), as many of us had hoped, but to Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry). She decided to join Cary and the other fourth years in starting their own practice. But they need to wait until after their current case, and what a case it is.
We see Alicia and Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) waiting in a room—apparently for over two hours—at what turns out to be an execution. Eddie Allen Fornam (Malik Yoba) was convicted years ago of murdering two teenaged girls and is now waiting to die, but while making his heartfelt plea about his innocence, the IV falls from his vein and drips on the floor. Ew.
This begins a rush on the firm’s part to win a stay of execution, and hopefully prove Fornam’s innocence. They involve him in an Eighth Amendment class action suit, not by adding him to the suit, but by presenting him as evidence in the case. The difficulty the nurse had in finding his veins, Will and Diane claim, is the very definition of torture, and they would be destroying evidence by executing him. While it’s perhaps odd to worry about torture while putting a man to death, it allows the firm time to try to stop the execution altogether.
Eventually, after enlisting the reluctant help of state attorney Geneva Pine (Renée Goldsberry), they find the court typist-turned-“prison broker” who provided the erroneous information to the thought-to-be-dead snitch who convicted Fornam in the first place. I enjoyed seeing Pine work with the LG team, rather than trying to defeat them. While their findings are not enough for the judge to declare Fornam’s innocence after so many years, Will makes a final call and the execution is cancelled on a technicality: the poisons needed for the execution were transported illegally by U.S. mail.
So the good guys win again. But is Alicia such a good guy? She feels a tad guilty about seceding with the fourth years—especially when family law attorney David Lee (Zach Grenier) gets suspicious about their plans. He warns the partners, who call in Alicia. Uh-oh! Can she be in trouble? Turns out, no. Or at least not yet.
The partners still think Alicia is one of them—in fact, they want to use her as a spy. She outright lies to them, these people who she respects and even admires, and perhaps has second thoughts about leaving. She tells Cary she will miss the resources she has at LG, and really enjoys watching Will and Diane work, to which Cary replies: “You and I are the new Will and Diane.”
She resolves to stay with the fledgling company, but says they must leave LG by the end of the week. The others want to stay two weeks so they can receive their bonuses. While I certainly understand needing money (and who doesn’t), that seems pretty messed up to me. Alicia at least warns Cary not to use the company phones for new-practice business, because David and the partners are monitoring them (apparently perfectly legal because they’re company-owned phones). It’s exciting to see how this storyline grows and how long they’ll stretch it out. It’ll likely cause some major fireworks this season.
Meanwhile, fresh from his recent election as new Illinois Governor, Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) and his sidekick Eli Gold (the brilliant Alan Cumming) meet Ethics Commission head Marilyn “Mitch” Garbanza (like the bean? Did they name her that ’cause she’s a chick?), played by Melissa George. She warns them of the potential ethics violations in their choice of chief of staff. She also tells Alicia to be careful, lest she and her children do something that could be misread ethically and reflect poorly on Peter.
The timing of this meeting seems odd because Alicia changes it to Sunday, after the execution was supposed to have happened, but the case doesn’t make much progress by the time she meets with Marilyn. Also, can she really whisper to Eli in the middle of this meeting, without Marilyn noticing? They’re the only ones there! How rude is that.
Anyway, Eli has his own warnings and tells Peter that they should replace Marilyn because “the optics are wrong.” In other words, given Peter’s poor track record with women, Marilyn is just too pretty, and people could misconstrue their interactions. While Peter initially dismisses this line of thinking, he finds himself staring at her legs and realizes Eli is right.
They “promote” Marilyn to the Transit Authority Board, but no one buys that it’s a promotion—perhaps not even Eli himself. Marilyn is clearly not happy about it, and warns them they’re making a mistake. Time will tell how much of a mistake it turns out to be.
I wonder if Eli—or better yet, Peter—could have been honest with her, since she’s so insistent on the ethical. While Peter and Eli follow her advice about their initial chief of staff decision, they don’t seem to consider what ethics they might be violating by appointing Eli as chief. Sounds like a potential conflict of interest to me.
Marilyn isn’t the only one turning heads: Zach (Graham Phillips) discovers that his sister Grace (Makenzie Vega) is getting more attention than she used to. Not surprisingly—she certainly looks different from last season, much more grown up and sophisticated. Some might even say “hot.” So hot, in fact, that Zach discovers she’s number four on a website listing the hottest daughters in politics.
It’s disgusting that there’s a website like that (if there really is one), but considering the existence of sites like Hot or Not, it’s not too surprising. It remains to be seen whether Grace is appalled, or pleased, by this new distinction.
For all the information this episode imparted, little was said between Will and Alicia. We still want to know if (read: hope that) there’s something between them, even though she seems fairly committed to Peter—or at least doing her own thing. Alicia tries talking to Will after the case ends, presumably about her departure, but Will interrupts her—argh! Cut that out!—assuming that she ended their relationship. He doesn’t hear (or doesn’t want to hear?) Alicia say, “Don’t end up hating me,” and goes to have a celebratory drink with Diane.
And thus ends the first episode, leading the way for a thrilling season 5, especially if the preview is any indication (watch it again below). Last season’s bit with Kalinda’s husband aside, this show has yet to have a slump, and it doesn’t look like there’s one to come. Will is going to get more action, and while the preview almost looks like it’s with Grace (ICK!!), perhaps it’s with Marilyn?
Incidentally, I would love for a university to offer a law class based on pop culture procedurals like “The Good Wife.” It would be a much easier and more engaging way to learn about law and amendment rights than just reading case briefs, and would answer my constant questions about how realistic these shows really are.
What do you think, readers? Will Alicia stay with Lockhart/Gardner, or will she keep her promise to Cary? Are you hopeful that things between Will and Alicia heat up again, or will it only be in anger, not passion? Did you like the running gag with “Monica” telecommuting via Skype and running into walls (slapstick is even funny on machines), or did it border on the absurd? Chime in below!