Holy frijoles, this season of “The Good Wife” just keeps getting better and better! Last night’s episode, “The Decision Tree,” is their 100th episode and also the mid-season finale—and it’s a doozy. Interesting twists, great character development, and stellar acting, especially from Josh Charles, cement “The Good Wife” as, hands down, one of the best dramas on television.
As a reminder that this is the 100th episode, we see a big “100” that turns out to be on Kalinda’s odometer. She’s in hot pursuit of new LG partner Damian Boyle, whom she’s trying to vet on Diane’s request. Apparently ‘vetting’ means following him around, even when he’s driving 90 miles an hour on streets and running red lights. They seem to be having too much fun, especially for supposedly being on the same team—that is, if Boyle is actually a team player, which I doubt.
He leads Kalinda into a trap with a friend of his, a Detective Jenna Villette, played by the lovely Jordana Spiro, who arrests Kalinda. Apparently Villette owes Boyle a favor, which is why she’ll give Kalinda a hard time while letting Boyle get away with worse. But of course it works out fine for Kalinda: she and Villette get it on after she tells her one of my favorite jokes (“What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back? A stick”). How did she know from that joke that Kalinda would be interested? Her lesbianism always seems to appear at the most convenient times.
Boyle shows up at Florrick/Agos to get Alicia to sign her exit contract for Lockhart/Gardner, and inadvertently clues them in to the fact that Alicia may be set to inherit quite a large sum of money. Apparently, her former client, the late Matthew Ashbaugh (John Noble)—returning in flashbacks as he did when we first met him last season—created a will where he left Alicia some $12 million. Wha? Ashbaugh’s wife, who has a different will leaving the money to her, hires Will and Boyle to represent her against Alicia and figure out which is the correct will. So we have Will and Alicia facing off against each other again—but not in any way we imagined.
While trying the case, Will and Alicia both (separately) recall what happened while they were representing Ashbaugh together two years ago—at a time when they were right in the thick of their hot and heavy relationship. During their deposition, Will is flirting (to put it lightly) with Alicia under the table while the unsuspecting Ashbaugh is speaking. Later that day, Will notices Ashbaugh staring at Alicia, and realizes that he has feelings for her. He recognizes that Alicia may have manipulated Ashbaugh into drawing up a new will, a point he now uses against Alicia in court, and calls her as a witness.
The title “The Decision Tree” refers to the incredible scene mid-episode where Will is trying to narrow in on his line of questioning for Alicia the next morning. He speculates what answers Alicia might give to his questions, and his fantasy runs away with him. He remembers the weekend they shared together while working with Ashbaugh, an extremely romantic and intimate weekend in New York, where she confesses that she’s the happiest she’s ever been. The scene keeps us disoriented, guessing what is happening when. It seems real, but it can’t be; they appear to be in the courtroom, but the judge isn’t there.
Will remembers Alicia saying that she can get Ashbaugh to agree with her because he’s in love with her. Will takes it personally, and in his fantasy scenario, accuses Alicia of manipulating him in order to steal his clients. She is vulnerable, replying that she loves him, and he tells her he doesn’t like it when she’s weak.
She is only weak in Will’s imagination. On the stand, Alicia is strong and confident, and actually throws Will for a loop—and of course doesn’t say anything about whether she loves him.
Oh, so many feels! It’s heartbreaking, and Josh Charles plays it so effortlessly. Poor Will. He’s clearly so betrayed by Alicia, and he’s still in love with her. Some of his questions for her on the stand are because he wants to know. What’s less clear, however, is what she feels about him. She obviously cares for him, but is she still in love with him, or is she just so good at being the dutiful wife? She doesn’t have any moments of weakness or vulnerability (Will seems to want one from her as much as I do); any sadness about the complete and total disintegration of their relationship. Is she hardened to it, or really committed to Peter again? Or have we just not seen it? I’m also still unclear on why she chose Peter—who, by the way, she is still not living with.
I have to say, the music on this show is so fantastic, and has been all season. David Buckley’s compositions have a great sound and draw up the drama and the humor of the situations. He really knows what music to use when, and his use of silence is equally as important.
With all this incredible drama, it’s difficult to notice anything else in the episode, as entertaining as it may be. Nathan Lane is back as Clarke Hayden, adorably flummoxed during his first cross-examination in court. Alicia’s mom and Peter’s mom have a mini-showdown of sorts at the Florrick/Agos holiday party, which Alicia invites them to after inviting Peter because they feared that no one would come. Eli is trying to prevent Peter from attending the holiday party because of some of Alicia’s questionable clients, and Marilyn Garbanza, in a rather ridiculous twist, reveals that she’s thinking of naming her baby Peter.
Shenanigans. Especially for someone who’s all about ethics. Marilyn must know how that would look, regardless of whatever reasons she may have for wanting the name. Great spit take from Eli though.
So what do you think, good-wifers? Will Alicia ever allow Peter to move back in with her, or will she ever be vulnerable and show her true feelings—to herself—about Will? How much longer will Will be involved with The Skank? Did you cry when Will cross-examined Alicia, either in real life and/or in his fantasy? How do you plan to survive the time until the next new episode, in 2014?