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'The Good Wife' recap: 'Don't Fail'

Alicia defends a former client while she tries to figure out what her next professional step will be.

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Paul Sarkis/CBS

The Good Wife

TV Show
run date:
43 minutes
Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth
Current Status:
Off Air

It’s been a tumultuous season of The Good Wife. The center of all that drama—as the show’s name suggests—is Alicia Florrick. And now, Alicia is out of work.

The state’s attorney job is no longer an option, and neither is returning to Lockhart/Agos/Lee. So what’s Alicia supposed to do? If drinking wine all day were a healthy and valid option, I’d suggest that…and also submit my resume. But unfortunately, that’s not really a route she can take. That’s the setup for the season’s penultimate episode, “Don’t Fail.” While Alicia tries to figure out her next step, it appears as though she’s agreed to write a memoir. But she’s clearly a reluctant participant. Joel Kingsley-Weaver (Ian Unterman) has been tasked with helping her write, and he’s definitely got his work cut out for him. Alicia is obviously uncomfortable with the process.

But she needs some way to pass the time. Answering sales calls on the home phone isn’t cutting it. Eventually, she settles on the less-than-exciting task of calling all of her campaign donors to thank them for their contributions. And that’s how we end up with the episode’s case of the week.

Brett Tatro (Dorian Missick) is a name on Alicia’s list, but he didn’t contribute to her campaign. Instead, he’s looking for Alicia’s legal assistance. Six years ago, Brett was accused of attempted murder. He was a bouncer at a strip club, and the prosecution claimed he got in a fight with Jeff Garrix (Josiah Bania). The alleged fight left Jeff in a coma with other serious injuries. Alicia & Co. won that case. (So in the timeline of the show, this would have happened during season 1.) But Jeff recently died of injuries from the 2009 fight, and Brett was rearrested. He’s being tried for first-degree murder.

Alicia is hesitant to help Brett, but she promises to get him a good lawyer. So an incognito Alicia goes to meet Finn in hopes that he’ll take over the case. But his plate is full with other work. Finn encourages Alicia to take the case, but she claims to be busy with her memoir. Finn isn’t buying it. The real reason Alicia is hesitant to jump back on the proverbial horse? She’s having a crisis of confidence following the state’s attorney snafu. 

Alicia: “I can’t take another failure.”

Finn: “Oh, well, then don’t fail.” Episode title alert!!

In the meantime, Alicia agrees to at least go to court and observe the situation.

At court, Matan Brody (Chris Butler) returns to prosecute the case, nervous newbie Amber Audrey (Aya Cash) is Brett’s lawyer, and Judge Dunaway (Kurt Fuller) is presiding. Dunaway decides that this case is not an instance of double jeopardy (he’s being tried for two different crimes), and pre-trial motions will commence the next day. Brett and his wife, Josie (Crystal Dickinson), surprisingly have Matan to thank for Alicia’s ultimate decision to participate. Matan tells Alicia there’s a hole in her case—the case from six years ago—and then he drops this bomb: “Sorry about the election. People can be mean at first, but they’ll forget soon enough. In a few months, it will be like it never happened. Just like Peter.” There’s nothing like an easy dig to inspire Alicia to kick ass in court.

Alicia calls Cary to have the old case files sent over to her apartment. She makes a makeshift desk out of a door, and begins searching for the hole Matan mentioned. (Props to the show’s details department for the “Stern, Lockhart, Gardner” name on the files. Talk about a throwback.) Alicia starts with the interview tapes from the initial investigation. And that’s essentially how the story is told. As Alicia listens to the taped audio, we see a younger-looking cast acting out the scenes in faux-flashbacks. To be clear, this case wasn’t actually featured in the first season, so this is all new material.

NEXT: Alicia and Cary reminisce about the past.