Alicia, Will, and Diane handle a series of emergency court proceedings to deal with potential voter fraud in Peter's gubernatorial campaign, and a winner is finally declared in the season 4 finale  

By Breia Brissey
Updated January 14, 2020 at 08:08 PM EST
The Good Wife Finale
Credit: David M. Russell/CBS

Holy crap!! That pretty much takes care of the instant reaction to the season 4 finale of The Good Wife. The funny thing is, I knew what was going to happen — courtesy of this chat with Mr. Cary Agos himself, Matt Czuchry — and the finale still left my jaw hanging open. So before we dive into the recap, I tip my hat to the show’s writers. It’s been a roller coaster of a season with its highs (Colin Sweeney and Elsbeth Tascioni) and its lows (good riddance, Nick!), but the season 4 ender was damn near perfect.

Anyway, the episode opened up with Zach preparing to vote in very his first election. (And now I understand why they threw in Zach’s 18th birthday party last week.) He noticed two suspicious-looking men carrying in a ballot box with a broken seal, and upon further investigation, he saw a ballot with a vote for Mike Kresteva. Concerned about the implication of voter fraud, he snapped a picture with his phone. Enter the polling monitor, Trent (Christopher Denham), who promptly asked Zach to leave.

Since the current polls had Peter and Kresteva neck and neck, each vote became increasingly important. So in a race against the clock, Alicia gathered Diane and Will to head to court for a series of emergency proceedings to deal with the possible fraudulent votes. It’s important to note that at campaign headquarters, Jackie wanted Cristian, her caretaker/lover?, at her side during the election, and quite frankly I’d forgotten he even existed. Also, Jim Moody (Skip Sudduth) offered to “accidentally spill” a septic tank in front of the 41st ward, where Eli was most worried about polling numbers. Totally ethical, right? More on Jackie and Jim later.

In court, the honorable Judge Abernathy (Denis O’Hare) was presiding over the late-night hearing, and nursing a sciatica problem. That meant he randomly strolled around the courtroom throughout the proceedings. Doctor’s orders! Alicia & Co. knew they’d have a tough case ahead of them, but it became increasingly difficult when Patti Nyholm (Martha Plimpton) showed up in court to represent the Kresteva camp. Obviously, she brought her kids with her, because that’s what the infuriating Patti Nyholm does. Alicia put Zach on the stand to recount (no pun intended) what he’d seen at the polling location. And Patti chose that opportunity to call his character into question, bringing up the last time Zach got in trouble with the law. (That was in the season 4 premiere, so we’ve come full circle.)

The polling monitor was also put on the stand, and he testified that the seal on the ballot box broke when he tried to move the box. But since he had ties to the Republican party, Alicia’s team used that to make it look like he wanted Kresteva to win. Diane argued that the ballots be impounded by the court to check and see if the count was in strong favor of Kresteva so they could go forward with fraud charges.

NEXT: An old face returns, and Will and Alicia share a steamy moment…

Next up on the stand was Nana Joe (Estelle Parsons), a volunteer at the polling place where Zach voted. She testified that she saw the suspicious men with the unsealed box, and Patti attempted to prove that her poor sight could not be trusted. But Judge Abernathy had heard enough and agreed to have the votes from the box in question counted. But I don’t think anyone expected these results: There were 30,843 ballots in the box. Kresteva only had 2,685, while the other 28,158 were all in Peter’s favor. Uh oh! So while Diane immediately withdrew their motion, Patti Nyholm made a new motion to have the votes thrown out.

So the next time they were seen in court, the lawyers were all vehemently arguing the exact opposite of what they had been. Alicia knew Peter couldn’t afford to lose the votes with the race so close. So both sides re-questioned the witnesses, hoping to discredit the testimonies that were harmful. And yes, that meant going after Nana Joe again! I’m sure Will is sorry. But all this took a backseat when a new matter from the federal court became an issue: An undisclosed third party placed an injunction on the ballot as a whole.

Who was the mysterious third party? Twist! None other than Jordan Karahalios (T.R. Knight). Mr. Karahalios was the campaign manager for the third-party candidate in the gubernatorial race, Albert O’Dell. We’ve never heard of Albert before, and so it’s likely that many of the fictional voters hadn’t either. But that didn’t stop Jordan from arguing for election fraud. He said some ballots had misspelled O’Dell’s name, leaving out the apostrophe. He claimed his candidate had been counting on the Irish vote, and that the Irish “O’Dell” had become the English “Odell.” Diane, Will, Alicia, and Patti were now on the same team arguing against Jordan in front of Judge Lessner (Ana Gasteyer).

But a very quick investigation by New Kalinda turned up the fact that Albert O’Dell’s actual name is Albert Steinman. Since the Jewish O’Dell had no actual Irish heritage, they argued that no real damage had been done on account of the missing apostrophe. Judge Lessner agreed, so she went back to her puzzle, and Patti and Lockhart/Gardner went back to opposing sides.

But before they made it back to the courtroom, Will and Alicia finally talked about his relationship with Laura Hellinger. Alicia thought that Laura was concerned about Alicia’s past with Will. Alicia admitted that ever since their last kiss, she hadn’t been able to move on. And considering she just agreed to renew her vows with Peter, she’s put herself in quite the predicament. So what do they do? They make out in his car, of course! It was pretty steamy, but unfortunately, Diane interrupted it from going even further to get them back on the case. With nothing actually resolved, they agreed to finally have a heart-to-heart about where they stood after the night was over.

NEXT: (Spoiler!) wins the gubernatorial election…

But the night was far from over. Back in Judge Abernathy’s court, Patti brought in a new witness: Jordan! He claimed that on Feb. 18 he took a meeting with Eli Gold to discuss ways to sweeten the vote. That included a stuffed ballot box. Alicia argued that he was doubly biased since he was currently the campaign manager for the third party, and he had been fired by Peter. But it was enough to get Abernathy to agree to exclude the votes in question. Will would start the appeals process, but without those votes Peter’s fate — unlike that tampered ballot box — was sealed. He would lose the election.

After an hour or so of sleep, Alicia got a brilliant idea: She put Zach back on the stand and he testified that he’d worked on the Florrick campaign. And as such, he knew Jordan’s testimony had to be false: On Feb. 18, the date of Jordan’s alleged meeting with Eli, Jordan had already replaced Eli Gold as the campaign manager, meaning he would have been in charge, not Eli. Abernathy agreed to consider the new testimony.

In the meantime, Kalinda got her hands on some security footage that proved that Jim Moody was responsible for the fraudulent votes. The box was a plant, and it had come from Peter’s camp. Talk about disappointing. Kalinda showed the footage to Will, and he took it straight to Peter. And that’s where things got awkward. Will told Peter it was his choice, but Peter left the responsibility in Will’s hands. But not before things got heated about Alicia: “You really handled this poorly…. She’s my wife!” In the end, Will took the high road and didn’t rat Peter out. But I’m not really sure if this is the high road since he’s covering up a major scandal for Peter. Really, he just doesn’t want to hurt Alicia and we’ve got ourselves a mess of situational ethics.

After hearing Zach’s new testimony, Abernathy agreed to let the votes be admitted. But in the end, it didn’t matter. Peter won the election by more than half a million votes. Their polling was way off. But that doesn’t negate the fact that Jim Moody committed election fraud. My questions: Did Eli really know? Was it his idea? Will this really stay quiet? Only time will tell. But don’t worry about that now, it’s time to celebrate! Even NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand to congratulate Peter.

So now to discuss Jackie’s throwaway story of the episode: In the midst of the election, Peter had Jim Moody check out Cristian’s financial, criminal, and personal background, which is weird. I feel like he would have already done this before hiring him, but whatever. After Jackie insisted Cristian be at her side, Peter began to question his intentions. Eli then spoke with Cristian, and gave him $25,000 as a personal thank you and an invitation to leave for good. Cristian took the money and left. But in reality, he left to just cash the check, and refused to leave for good. And then, Jackie offered Peter her congratulations for winning the election, and told him to not interfere with her life. Role reversal at its finest.

NEXT: Cary moves forward with his firm, and an epic cliffhanger…

In non-election news, Cary met with the other fourth years at an office space in search of their new firm’s headquarters. But at $60 a square foot, the perfect location was well out of their price range. One of the fourth years pointed out that they could afford it if they reduced their up-front salary costs. And the best way to do that? Not bringing on Kalinda. Perhaps because of their history, or perhaps because she’s really just that good a winning cases, or maybe both, Cary insisted that they needed her to be successful. The other fourth years were still hesitant and asked Cary to speak with Kalinda about taking a smaller salary until their second year in business. Kalinda didn’t take too well to that idea, and she and Cary continued to argue about the numbers. He tried to sell her on getting in on the ground floor of the new firm, but Kalinda wasn’t having it.

While Cary and the fourth years continued to discuss their Kalinda problem at the bar, they were surprised with the presence of Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker). Sweeney happened to own the building that Cary was considering for the new firm. He wanted two years of free unlimited legal work in exchange for a 20 percent savings on the office space. But Cary had no intention of taking away one of Alicia’s top clients, and informed Sweeney that Mrs. Florrick wouldn’t be joining them on their new venture.

While Alicia was busy dealing with possible voter fraud, Mr. Sweeney gave her a late-night phone call to tell her he was thinking about moving his $22 million business to Cary’s new firm. He asked her to consider making the move with him. She was with Will at the time, and since he still doesn’t know about Cary’s plans to leave, she had to cut the conversation short. But she was clearly pissed. Alicia confronted Cary and threatened to tell the partners he was leaving. Cary assured her he never tried to steal Sweeney.

Since things didn’t seem like they were going to work out with Kalinda, Cary did approach New Kalinda about leaving Lockhart/Gardner. At the end of the episode, Kalinda told New Kalinda to go with Cary after they had a conversation about money vs. loyalty. And then she told Cary to go to hell for stringing her along.

So now let’s talk about that cliffhanger: After Peter won the election, Alicia was alone in the bedroom, clearly thinking about Will. (She thought she saw him, but it was just her imagination.) Peter came to see her, but she interrupted their congratulatory moment to freshen up in the bathroom. She made a call, and asked to meet the person — presumably Will — at her apartment immediately. They hadn’t yet had their promised heart-to-heart. At her apartment, Alicia killed time with laundry, wine, and some classical music. After three ominous knocks — reminiscent of the season 3 finale — Alicia opened the door to Will Cary. Wait, what?! And she said, “I’m in.” And with two simple words, Alicia agreed to leave Lockhart/Gardner and go with Cary. And that’s how season 4 ended pretty much changing the landscape of the series as we know it.

NEXT: The episodes best lines and some important questions….

Before you weigh in with your thoughts, I must point out that the episode had some really great exchanges and one-liners. Since it’s the finale, I’ll leave you with these gems to hold you over until season 5:

++ Will, referring to Patti’s child: “Is this a new one?”

Patti: “I don’t know. I’ve lost track.”

++ Diane: “Your honor, objection. This kind of stunt went out with Perry Mason.”

Judge Abernathy: “And yet I enjoy it every time.”

++ “I have dedicated my life to not predicting what Jackie knows.” —Eli Gold

++ Cristian: “I’ve had enough water for a lifetime.”

Eli: “Right, right. Coming over from Cuba.”

Cristian: “No. Working as a lifeguard.”

++ “I love horror movies. Do you know why I love horror movies? Because they’re awesome.” —Eli, watching Hostel 3 (please note, this is the same reasoning as to why I love Eli Gold)

++ “In thinking over my early determination, I thought of a story. It’s about a very young boy, an old man, and a donkey. What the hell, I’m too tired. Judgement in favor of the defense.” —Judge Abernathy

++ “Like Les Misérables, did you see that musical?” —Colin Sweeny (I’m including this one because the show referenced Les Miz last week too! David Lee talked about Jean Valjean. The Good Wife writers must really love Les Miz!)

Now it’s question time: Did you ever think Alicia would leave Lockhart/Gardner? What will happen with the Cary/Kalinda dynamic? When will Alicia finally have a conversation with Will? Does their shared kiss mean Alicia will postpone her vow renewal with Peter? What is Jackie really doing with Cristian? And will Jim Moody’s involvement with fraudulent voting be exposed? Sound off with all your comments on the season 4 finale, and make sure you read our interview with Matt Czuchry about the finale over on InsideTV. Thanks for joining me this season! Try not to replay that Will/Alicia kiss too many times over the hiatus. Wouldn’t want to break the DVR!

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Closing Arguments

The Good Wife

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

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