Grace's disappearance helps Alicia make a decision

By Mandi Bierly
Updated March 02, 2015 at 07:26 PM EST
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Credit: Jeffrey Neira/CBS
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As much as I hate to admit it, I think I enjoy The Good Wife more when Alicia and Will are apart. It’s because love triangles are always more interesting when the suitors are equally worthy of the person torn between them. This show is at its most complex when Peter, the man we were originally supposed to hate, is decent, and Will, the man we were supposed to root for, isn’t ideal. Just because Alicia ended things with Will doesn’t mean she’s closer to getting back with Peter, of course. But it keeps that possibility alive, which is tension the show needs. Going back to my fondue reference in the last recap, this series is at its best when that core relationship heats up and you have truly delicious characters like Alan Cumming’s Eli, Michael J. Fox’s Louis Canning, and Tim Guinee’s Andrew Wiley to dip into it. Let’s dig in.

This episode was about bringing Alicia’s anxiety to a boiling point so she’d have to press pause with Will. It began with her hearing Grace’s voice in her sleep. “Mom. Mom. Something’s wrong,” she said. After seeing the promo for the episode that suggested Grace was abducted, I wondered how The Good Wife producers would handle that. It’s a plot twist we’ve seen a million times, and they’d have to make it different and real. They planted the seed early in the episode that Donald Pike, the incarcerated white supremacist that Lockhart/Gardner and the state’s attorney’s office had wired prison pal Colin Sweeney help prove was having witnesses killed, was at it again. If there was to be retribution, going after the daughter of the state’s attorney and Sweeney’s favorite lawyer would be a good payback. What was brilliant: Grace didn’t go missing until two-thirds of the way through the episode, which had you thinking we were in for a cliffhanger. (Granted, that would have been too melodramatic for this show.) It never occurred to me that Grace would have butt-dialed her mother 12 times while she was on her way to get baptized by that kid she’s been seen watching preach online. We’ve all butt-dialed someone, but how do you do it 12 times in an hour? Was the ride in that kid’s car that bumpy? Does his baptism service require a lot of sitting and standing? What’s your record for most consecutive butt dials?

Grace’s disappearance did more than give us another reason to dislike her (Alicia angrily tossed her lingerie for nothing!). Now more than ever Alicia is confused about her job. She found out she’d missed all those calls from Grace while she was dining with Louis, who’s still trying to woo her to his firm. Unlike Will and Diane, he’s a parent too, he said, so he doesn’t treat the office as though it’s his home. She’d get to spend more time with her kids if she worked for him. (Maybe then, and if she wasn’t wearing lingerie for Will after hours, she would’ve known Grace was still passionate about religion before asking her to cite anti-gay Bible passages that Grace doesn’t understand because of gay Uncle Owen. Ah, there’s a reason to like her.) The way Louis insisted on his driver taking Alicia to the school and helped question Grace’s friend before accompanying Alicia back to her apartment to see if Grace had left a note, was so kind. It wasn’t like Alicia called anyone from her firm for support, or even took Will’s call when he got worried. Zach, who was in Alicia’s office fixing her computer again, told Kalinda what was happening and she ultimately tracked Grace’s cell phone to a church, which apparently the police Peter made jump on the case hadn’t thought of yet. I guess we’re supposed to respect Kalinda for not using the situation as a way to win back Alicia’s friendship — she told Grace not to tell her mom she’d found her. Can you imagine if Kalinda would’ve walked in with Grace while Peter was there with Alicia? That’s a layer of drama we just didn’t need this hour.

In the end, Alicia tearfully told Will it was all too much, and she’d miss him. Of all the distractions in her life, he’s the only one she can control. If she ends things with him, the fallout is contained to the pain the two of them feel. If she’s honest with the kids and Peter about Will, they, Diane, and the media get involved. It would be easier for her — and probably Will — if she left the firm and went to work for Louis. But Louis had to go and rifle through her purse for evidence that would win the case they were arguing. (More on that later.) He’d waited until after she’d found out Grace was okay, he insisted. His firm may be ruthless, but he gets you home to see your kids. So which is more important: Spending time with your family, or being someone they can respect?

NEXT: Eli attempts to be… friendly

Will had seen Alicia and Peter in a group hug with Grace after she returned home, and judging from his bar conversation with Kalinda afterward, it didn’t make him think he’d lose her. It actually made him think he wanted more than work in his life — he wanted a commitment with her. He’d spent his whole life trying to get ahead, and sometimes he wasn’t sure why. We’d seen that it was time for him and Diane to renew their partnership agreement earlier in the episode — maybe that was another reason he told Kalinda it was time for him to ask Alicia what she wanted. Seeing Will nervously pace around his office, I do think he was willing to risk his partnership for her. But all Alicia had to say was “Will,” and he knew her answer without asking the question. Diane saw them hugging and Alicia leave fighting back tears, and she assumed it was Will who had ended it. “You did the right thing,” she said, after handing him some scotch. “She’ll get over it.” “Yep, she will,” he answered coldly.

Where does this leave Will? We’ve seen “the other woman” who thinks a man will leave his wife for her many times on TV, but rarely do we see how “the other man” deals with that rejection. If work is the only thing Will has in his life, how hard will it be for him not to be angry with Alicia for jeopardizing that by drawing Peter’s attention for the investigation in the first place? Will has one thing going for him now: His new friendship with Eli, who, in the wake of Cheese Gate, has finally learned that he can’t bring in all of his new clients on his own. Diane told him he needs to make friends with the firm’s lawyers who can suggest their clients seek image help from him. Eli ended up in Will’s office, and Will saw through him. But Will needs him, too. Over scotch (what is the firm’s budget for that?), Will told Eli about the investigation because he thought he might know how personal it was since he’s still Peter’s image consultant. Eli was right when he told Will he should talk to Alicia about it because even if Will doesn’t want to make it her business, it IS her business. And Will was right to play the only card he has left: If he is investigated, it hurts the firm, which in turn hurts Eli. Eli said he’d see what he can find out.

If Peter were to call off Wendy Scott-Carr now, he’d look like he was showing his wife’s firm favoritism. This should be interesting: It sounds like Peter really didn’t intend for Wendy to go after Will personally, but the only way he can rein her in now is by saying the office can’t afford her one-year investigation. “You’ve been given the steering wheel, but I still put the gas in the car,” he told her. Wendy needed to find a freelance private investigator who’ll work cheap — Dana suggested Andrew Wiley, whose wife is rich. Cary suggested he might be a bit too rogue (because Cary knows Wiley knows things about Peter that he shouldn’t?), which Wendy naturally liked. We didn’t get to see our favorite talking lion speaker. Boo. But, we did get to see Wiley question Will at his pickup basketball game about the firm’s 80 percent win rate over the last three years while warning one daughter she’d get dizzy riding her bike around them and the other that she’d had enough apple juice. Will told Wiley to bring him any questionable win he wants, and he’ll explain to him how the firm did it. That sounds fair.

NEXT: We wish Michael J. Fox was on every week

Now we can get to that case Alicia and Caitlin were arguing against Louis and Martha (the first-year associate Alicia wasn’t allowed to hire) in arbitration. An English lit professor named Pamela Raker (guest star Jennifer Carpenter) was fired a day after asking the provost not to massage her shoulders. At first, it seemed as though it would be a simple sexual harassment suit meant to show us whether Caitlin could really hold her own. “Well, she sure is blonde,” Martha told Alicia. “But pretty hair.” Knowing Martha was holding a grudge because the job she had to take was 20 percent less salary, Alicia gave Caitlin some advice: “Remember when I told you to just give a solid performance? Forget it. Kick ass.”

Martha was definitely winning until Caitlin pulled it together and got the guy to admit he lied when he told Pamela she was let go because of downsizing. He’d hired a replacement the next day. It was because she received poor evaluations from students — which, oops, he hadn’t seen until three days after he fired her. Well, he’d meant to say they were verbal reviews from staff and students calling her disruptive and argumentative. She was very vocal about her politics. Ding, ding, ding! There was a cap on arbitration recovery if she was fired because of sexual harassment, but not if she was shown the door because she’s a Republican — which is a civil rights violation. That’s when Martha called in Louis. YAY!

The case was one of the show’s most interesting: The provost claimed he’d fired her because staff and students found her anti-abortion and Tea Party rants disruptive. He said he kept his workplace politically neutral, so he didn’t know if other professors agreed with her. He doesn’t tolerate politics in the work place. That sent Alicia running out of the courtroom, and Louis trying to follow her. “Oh, would you like me to slow down for you?” Alicia asked. “Well, that would be the sporting thing to do,” Louis said. Alicia snapped cell phone photos of posters for Occupy Wall Street and the Democratic party. If Pamela had been vocally supporting those, would she have been “disruptive” then?

Next, courtesy of Kalinda who’d been called by Caitlin, came an email the provost had sent to a fellow college administrator asking his opinion of Pamela as a potential hire. “She’s nice. I just have a real problem with homophobes,” he’d written. That had ended up on a private website for college administrators and was making it difficult for her to get another job. The provost’s defense was that Pamela saying gay people could be cured and should want to be because what they do is disgusting was hate speech. Alicia meanwhile, after consulting with Grace on those Bible passages, argued he’d defamed Pamela as homophobic when he knew it wasn’t hate speech but religiously based speech because she’s a member of the Christian Reformed Church. The question then, according to Mr. Arbitrator (John Michael Higgins, who I hope we see again), was whether the provost actually knew about Pamela’s religion. And that’s the evidence Louis had taken from Alicia’s bag: Pamela had written an email to her sister before she was let go saying she kept her faith hidden: “My views get me into enough shouting matches as it is. If they knew I was a testifying Christian, I’d never get ahead.” Louis won.

Last but not least, we get to Dana and Kalinda. Their little dance has gotten on my nerves, but I feel better now that Kalinda has called Dana out on it. They met because Dana wanted to ask Kalinda what she thought of Wiley. Really. She also wanted to play more mind games. She asked Kalinda if she’d ever slept with Cary, then said he talked about Kalinda during sex so Kalinda would know she’d slept with him. Did Kalinda want to know what Cary says? Clearly Dana wanted her to know, Kalinda answered. Dana said she could go either way. Kalinda said yes, she flirts with everyone. That’s a personal failing they share, Dana said. “No, we don’t. When I flirt, I follow through,” Kalinda said. Game over, Dana.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you happy Alicia ended things with Will, or did she overreact? Do you think it will blow back on Peter that he didn’t wait the 24 hours before getting police involved in Grace’s “disappearance?” That’d seem cheap, right? What parent wouldn’t jump the gun if they were in his position? What’s Will’s next move? And does anyone else think he should lay off the striped ties and go for ones more like that purple number he sported at the top of the hour?

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The Good Wife

Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth star in the legal/family drama.

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