The Good Wife often takes inspiration from the headlines—and we all know there’s plenty of fodder to choose from. Most recently, we saw the show’s nod to the Sony hacks when the firm’s emails were compromised. This week, though, the show upped the ante with a timely take on the hot-button issue of gay marriage and the rights of religious freedom. Recently, the state of Indiana and its governor, Mike Pence, enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law that could give businesses the right to refuse service to gay people. Unsurprisingly, the law has sparked a wave of controversy that’s even made its way to the pop culture world. Many people are boycotting the state of Indiana in protest. Then earlier this week, an Indiana pizzeria publicly said it would refuse to cater a same-sex wedding, but that it would not deny service based on sexual orientation. The restaurant has had to shut its doors due to the backlash.
“Loser Edit,” which was written and shot in February of this year, features an eerily similar story line. Diane joins R.D. (Oliver Platt) and his conservative lawyer friends, Justin Partridge (Michael Zegen) and Max Gaul (Darren Pettie), to offer up her liberal viewpoint. They are considering funding a case on gay marriage and religious accommodation and want to know whether it’s worth their time and money. So Diane’s there to play her part as Devil’s advocate. The case is as follows: A baker in California was asked to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but she refused citing religious objections. (Sound familiar?) The gay couple then sued for discrimination, and R.D. is trying to decide whether or not to take up the woman’s appeal. Diane advises that they not take the case, but not because of her liberal beliefs. She’s just convinced that they won’t win. Max brings up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, noting that it allows exemptions in anti-discrimination laws. But that doesn’t hold true in California. The whole debate is rather civil. Both sides voice their opinion, but no claws come out. And that’s just the opposite of what R.D. wants. He calls Diane out on going too easy on them. He wants her to fight and convince them that they’re looking at a loser case. She need not worry about offending anyone and go for the jugular. All I can say, R.D., is be careful what you wish for.
They continue the debate, this time replacing the gay couple with different types of protected classes. So where does religious freedom end and anti-discrimination laws begin? The answer is not a simple one. And every which way they look at this issue they can’t seem to agree. But Diane seems to have made a strong enough argument. R.D. tells her that he’s decided not to fund the baker’s appeal.
But slam the breaks! Literally that’s what Diane does. She’s driving in her car, listening to NPR, when she hears that R.D. agreed to fund the appeal after all. It’s a wedding planner in Idaho, but the case is basically the same. (Diane had already admitted a wedding planner would be a slightly harder case to win than the baker.) And Diane’s pissed. She knows she was just used as R.D.’s liberal guinea pig. But R.D. has another proposition: “If you think gay marriage can withstand all legal assaults, you should rejoice in any chance to defend it.” He wants Diane to represent the plaintiff in a mock trial so they can practice their defense. He’s even hired liberal judge Geoffrey Solomon (Richard Masur). R.D.’s stacking the deck against himself. “If you lose, all your fault,” R.D. tells Diane.
So Diane continues her go-for-the-jugular strategy. She hires Tom Keppler (Smash‘s Wesley Taylor) to play Nils Anderson, the plaintiff in the trial. R.D. is clearly shaken by this development and calls a recess before cross examination. Why? Because Tom is his gay nephew. He thinks she’s being too personal, but Diane points out that when it comes to these sensitive issues, it’s better to see who you’re impacting. R.D. asked her to go for the jugular, and now he’s suffering the consequences. (Or at least getting a little unwanted family therapy session out of the deal.) When it’s all said and done, Diane ends up winning her case for the plaintiff. But R.D. still doesn’t agree with Diane’s tactics. But I love her response: “The law is supposed to be fair, not impersonal. In fact, I would argue that the law is always personal. It has to see the human side, too—or else it’s meaningless.” But despite his loss in the mock trial, R.D. decides he is still going forward with funding the wedding planner’s appeal. He likes people who stand by their beliefs, which is part of the reason he and Diane get along so well, despite their major ideological differences.
In other Good Wife developments, reporter Petra Moritz (Lily Rabe) is working on a puff piece about Alicia and her rise from being a stay-at-home mom to the recently elected state’s attorney. Unfortunately, there’s still some concern that Alicia’s hacked emails might come out and negatively affect Petra’s story, even though the firm settled the WharfMaster case. These concerns are warranted because an anonymous source sends Alicia’s emails to Petra. And the juicy contents make it pretty hard for Alicia to claim that she’s worthy of the public’s trust.
Petra goes back to the editing room to make tweaks to the piece, this time including the firm’s hacked emails. Then, Petra organizes a second sit-down interview with Alicia to ask her, stealthily of course, about the emails. She starts off with questions about Alicia’s relationship with Will—and then goes straight for the jugular. Eli, who’s standing off in the wings, pulls Alicia out of the interview for a “phone call.” They know she has the hacked emails.
NEXT: Alicia & Co. try to stop Petra. [pagebreak]
Eli and Josh head to the newsroom where they hope to put the kibosh on this story. But it doesn’t go over so well. Even Petra’s boss, Charles (Ruben Santiago-Hudson), gets involved. Charles ultimately agrees to hold the piece until he considers all sides of the story, both ethically and otherwise. But we all know that this is only going to buy Alicia & Co. some time. Those emails are coming out. And the myth of St. Alicia is going to be busted.
Petra, worried that her story may get cut, tips Gawker off to the hacked emails. And once that site starts sniffing around, Charles decides to move forward with the story. He doesn’t want to get scooped. So Eli & Co. go into strategy mode to make sure they control the story going forward. It starts with offering Petra a sit-down interview with Peter. It’s a delay tactic, but it’s one that works. Eli tries to convince Alicia to say that her relationship with Will was just a flirtation, but she has trouble agreeing. She doesn’t want to lie about her relationship with Will. It was an affair.
But Eli knows they have to control the narrative. So he enlists Peter’s help at Marissa’s suggestion. Peter and Alicia discuss the situation over wine. And I have to say, it’s a pretty bizarre encounter in the fact that it is completely drama free. As of late, any time Peter and Alicia are together, you can expect an argument. But this time, they’re both at ease.
Alicia: “It’s kind of odd that we’re discussing this so calmly.”
Peter: “I’m hoping it’s maturity.”
They’ve reached another understanding of sorts. It looks like they’re past hating each other, at least for now. And they clearly want the best for the other person. (But no, Peter, Alicia’s not going to have sex with you. Get control of Little Peter, dude!) But wine refills all around! Alicia and Peter are just enjoying each other’s company. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Anyway, back to controlling the story. They get Ted Willoughby (Mo Rocca) to play the part of friendly, dumb-as-an-ox reporter. It works to their advantage that he doesn’t really have to play the part. He is just a friendly idiot. Meanwhile, Eli sits down for an interview with Kim Masters (who guests as herself). And then Peter finally gives Petra her on-camera interview. He gets to deliver the news that she’s already been scooped, courtesy of Mr. Willoughby and Kim Masters, in the middle of the interview. It’s pretty awesome. (Situational ethics, guys!) Don’t mess with the Florricks.
But maybe I should actually be saying don’t mess with Petra Moritz. The episode ends with Petra’s news piece. Only this edit is something they were all unprepared for. She spoke with the Chicago election monitor and determined that several voting machines registered votes for Frank Prady as votes for Alicia Florrick. WHAT?! Another election voting scandal? Eli says it best: “Oh, we’re all in trouble now.”
Meanwhile, things with Kalinda are going south. Andrew Wiley (Tim Guinee) returns to investigate Detective Prima. As you’ll recall, Detective Prima received an email that would have exonerated Cary. It went to his spam folder, and he never saw it. So while Diane was making a hail Mary pass at getting Cary out of prison, Kalinda faked the metadata to make it look like Prima read and deleted the email. Now, the SA’s office wants to potentially prosecute Prima for the whole thing. This is especially problematic since Prima didn’t do anything wrong. And as it turned out, Kalinda didn’t need the faked metadata to get Cary out of prison anyway. But Diane found it and used it in court, and here we are in this terribly messy situation.
Kalinda goes to Finn to seek out some legal advice. She doesn’t give any specific names, but she explains her situation in hopes of learning what could happen if Wiley’s investigation turns up foul play. She learns that even though Diane wasn’t aware that the evidence was faked, she could still be disbarred or even go to prison for using it in court. It doesn’t matter if Kalinda swears to Diane’s innocence. The damage has already been done.
NEXT: Kalinda’s lies catch up with her. [pagebreak]
Wiley determines that the metadata shows that Prima deleted the email in question on Aug. 28 at 3:11 p.m. But he was testifying in a burglary case at that exact moment. Wiley’s on to something fishy, but his main theory involves the fact that Prima was having an affair with Geneva Pine. So now that Wiley has determined that the metadata was likely faked, he goes to question Finn. Finn is obviously innocent in all of this, but now he’s got that conversation with Kalinda fresh in his mind. He knows what she did
Finn: “Do you have a dollar?”
Kalinda: “Yeah. Why?”
Finn: “Cause I need it. [She hands him a dollar.] Okay. So I’m your lawyer now, Kalinda. And this dollar represents attorney-client privilege.”
Kalinda explains the full situation, this time with real names. He’s on her side now, but he also has no idea how to rectify the situation. He does know she needs to contain the Howell (Jason Babinsky) situation. Howell’s the one who showed Kalinda how to fake the metadata. Unfortunately, Wiley gets to Howell before Kalinda does.
Howell tells Kalinda he covered for her. He lied and told Wiley they discovered the metadata while he was fixing speeding tickets for her. She doesn’t have any tickets, so of course he’s got to create fake tickets, too. Lies on lies on lies. Kalinda perpetuates the speeding ticket story, and Wiley calls her out on it. He knows she faked the metadata. “The longer it takes for you to admit it, the worse it’s going to be for you and Diane. So, I mean, I hate to say this because I like you. But if I were you, I’d come clean.”
The best moments and lines from “Loser Edit”:
- “Do you want some crackers?” —Marissa, to Alicia
- More Josh Mariner “blah blah blahs”
- Andrew Wiley’s kids (Timmy and Dora) running all over the firm while he tries to work
- R.D.: “Diane, you brave soul.”
Diane: “How am I brave?”
R.D.: “A liberal lawyer in this lion’s den of conservatism.”
Diane: “A lion’s den is perfectly safe when you have God on your side.”
- The baking vignettes when they talk about the gay marriage case
- The show’s title card featuring text from Alicia’s hacked emails
- “You’re gross.” —Josh, to Petra
- Josh: “Eli couldn’t make it. Some blah blah with the governor.”
Charles: “Good. I don’t have the energy to talk to Eli.”
- Eli: “Okay. Strategy session. Two-pronged attack.”
Marissa: “Oh, I love the two prongs. Even as a kid we had two pronged-attacks…”
Eli: “Marissa! Shh!”
- “You’re like an 18-year-old. Everything’s about where you can stick it.” —Alicia, to Peter
- “I like secrets and things of that elk.” —Ted Willoughby, who misunderstands elk versus ilk
This episode was really firing on all cylinders. No episode has felt more timely. And I don’t think it matters which side of the issues you come down on, either. It just felt so smart. (Look for our post-mortem with Robert and Michelle King tomorrow morning.) But hot-button issues aside, this episode really furthered some of the ongoing story lines. First, we’re finally seeing Kalinda’s decisions come back to haunt her. As we get closer to the end of the season, and knowing her departure from the show is nigh, it makes me read into every little thing. And if Andrew Wiley knows that she faked the metadata, it’s only time before everyone else does, too. And like wife like husband, I guess. Peter had his own voter fraud scandal, and it looks like Alicia is going to suffer the same fate. Now, I highly doubt she cheated—or had any knowledge of cheating. But who knows what the people around her did. If Lemond Bishop can fund her PAC, then surely someone can arrange voter fraud. No matter what happens, looks like we have plenty of drama to expect before the close of season 6.