The Good Wife recap: 'The Next Month'
America Ferrera's Natalie Flores returns and Florrick/Agos represents an undocumented immigrant facing deportation
Keeping with the trend of time-titled episodes following “Hitting the Fan,” The Good Wife treated us to “The Next Month,” which furthered the story lines of Florrick/Agos trying to stay afloat and Lockhart/Gardner trying to achieve world domination. Speaking of domination, star Josh Charles directed the episode! And with a lot of great scenes, I bet it was a fun project to helm.
Anyway, the case of the week revolved around the return of America Fererra’s Natalie Flores. The last time we saw Natalie in season 2, she and Eli had a bit of a flirtation, but her boyfriend and their age difference ended things before they even began. A friend of Natalie’s was facing deportation, so she went to see Alicia at Lockhart/Gardner, unaware of Alicia’s new job situation. Unsurprisingly, David Lee didn’t want to meet with her. He told the receptionist to send her on her way, but Howard Lyman stepped in to take the meeting. So you can probably guess how it went.
In his effort to break the ice, Howard made Natalie (and me) very uncomfortable. While she tried to explain her friend’s case, he made comments about the women, dresses, and drinks found in Mexico. So unsurprisingly, Natalie located Alicia to take her business far away from the creepy Howard.
Alicia & Co. found new (read: cheap) office space in an old T-shirt factory, so they spent the episode trying to move in to their new digs. The building is definitely a fixer-upper, but I bet Alicia’s apartment is pretty relieved. Natalie found their new space and presented the case to Alicia: Her friend Tomas was an undocumented immigrant who faced deportation unless he agreed to testify against a high-ranking member of a drug cartel. Alicia knew Tomas would not likely be able to pay for the firm’s services, but they felt that Natalie’s connections to New York lobbyist Joe Pallotta would be enough to make it worth their while. Pallotta controls more than $90 million in client billing, and they decided to take a risk helping out Natalie in order to get future work.
But because of their dire financial straits, Florrick/Agos was having to consider other cuts. At the recommendation of Clarke Hayden, the two Carys discussed laying off the last person they hired, who was Robyn. Robyn overheard their conversation and went into panic mode. She met with Kalinda to potentially reclaim her old job. But instead of her job, Kalinda gave Robyn some advice: Make yourself indispensable.
NEXT: A race against the clock to save Tomas….
So back to the case: Alicia negotiated Tomas’ visa so that it included 24-hour protection for him and his family. But all of this became moot. (Or moo if you’re a Friends fan.) Before Tomas could testify, Lalo Hierra skipped bail and went back to Mexico. Unfortunately, since he didn’t come through with his end of the deal — albeit through no fault of his own — Tomas was loaded up on a bus and sent back to Mexico. Now, the immediate concern was for Tomas’ safety. They knew Hierra would kill him as soon as he was back on Mexican soil, so Alicia and her team raced against the clock and AUSA Karl Dolan (Jeremy Shamos) to stop the deportation.
The main issue was that their client, Tomas Y. Ruiz, was being confused with another immigrant and known con man, Tomas I. Ruiz. The mixup in their identities caused the deportation to be expedited. With a reignited fire to not lose her job, Robyn set out to find the con man Tomas before their client crossed the border. And while she found him in record time, courtesy of some Kalinda-esque investigative work, Alicia and Cary were still given the run-around in court.
First they argued that the U.S. Attorney’s office was in breach of the agreement they made with Tomas. They, of course, argued that since he didn’t testify, he didn’t keep up his end of the deal. Once they located Tomas I. Ruiz, they thought they’d caught a break, only to learn that they’d have to take their case to the Board of Immigration Appeals. There, they reached another dead end. Protecting Tomas from Hierra in Mexico would be an asylum claim, and that had to be seen by an immigration judge. Sigh.
They argued in front of a Bob Dylan-quoting immigration judge (James LeGros) that as a “snitch” Tomas could be persecuted in Mexico. But since he never actually testified, this argument didn’t have any legs. So their next course of action was to argue that a blood feud existed. Unfortunately, there was no evidence to support that. But who needs evidence when you’ve got a gung-ho investigator?! Marilyn, shield your eyes because Robyn just made some highly unethical choices. She dropped a shell casing with the initials of L.C. (Hierra’s calling card El Culebra, the snake) through the mail slot at Tomas’ home. If there’s not a blood feud, just create one!
But it was par for the course on this one, because the immigration judge determined that a blood feud claim wasn’t relevant to asylum. It was relevant to a T visa, since Tomas’ family had suffered witness intimidation. But the judge couldn’t consider a visa application. So with less than two hours on the clock, Alicia and Cary were sent to an immigration case worker who, as it turned out, couldn’t help them. It seemed like Tomas’ death sentence was signed. But then Robyn came through with an unexpected delivery: She visited the Mexican consulate and used the name mixup to her advantage. She told the consulate worker that the United States was sending an infamous con man back to Mexico to avoid dealing with him. And her plan worked. Tomas was turned away at the border! Robyn saved a man’s life — and quite possibly her job — with that one meeting.
NEXT: Will can’t keep his hands off Isabel, and Eli learns of Natalie’s return….
Meanwhile, Will’s take-no-prisoners attitude had definitely paid off in some respects. He informed the partners that they’d be opening offices in New York three months from now. And while ushering in a new era for the firm, he decided new branding was necessary. Goodbye, Lockhart/Gardner! Hello, LG! (Nobody tell Will that LG is already taken.) Anyway, Will’s power trip meant the return of his blonde lady friend, Isabel. And despite the many, um, distractions she lobbed Will’s way, he stayed focused on trying to woo Natalie’s business away from Florrick/Agos. He also saw the benefit of having Joe Pallotta in his corner.
Other important notes about Isabel: She seemed to be off the baby kick, which is good, I guess. But there was still a little trouble in paradise after David Lee brought up Alicia to her. She questioned Will about Alicia, assuming that she might just be his rebound. Will’s response? “He doesn’t like you in my office. He wants to poison the stream.” I’m with David Lee on this one. Stop all the office PDA and get a room already.
Even though the case was resolved by Florrick/Agos, Natalie saw Alicia and Cary struggling and eventually agreed to meet with Will. Howard apologized to her, in his own awkward Howard way. And Will was able to meet Joe Pallotta. So even with a Florrick/Agos win, it was left unclear as to which firm would ultimately reap the benefits from a partnership with Pallotta. I would assume Florrick/Agos, but Will has made it clear he will go to any lengths to take down the competition.
Over in Peter’s world, Eli and Marilyn went to see Alicia to discuss with her the optics of Peter coming to visit her new offices. They wanted Peter to hold off until the firm was more established. Alicia didn’t take to that too well and told them she wouldn’t agree to any rules about her husband coming to see her. And likewise, Peter ignored their requests. But really, the Alicia/Eli/Marilyn meeting just served as an outlet for Eli to learn of Natalie’s return. (And to hammer home Marilyn’s pregnancy and point out that only pumpkin PopTarts quell her nausea.) It was priceless to see Eli stammer and fluster over Natalie’s unexpected presence. Eli (and his flopping hair) ran out of the building after Natalie, and the two agreed to have dinner together.
Their dinner was cut short by news of Tomas’ pending deportation, but before she left, Natalie got in some good one-on-one time with Eli. We learned she and her boyfriend had broken up, and that she had plans to see Peter speak at the Minority Voters’ Conference. Unfortunately, Eli had cancelled that appearance to avoid taking a side on the controversial topic of redistricting.
NEXT: Eli finally makes his move….
Eli’s meeting with Natalie, and her obvious interest in the subject matter, caused Eli to have a change of heart. He put Peter’s speech back on the schedule, much to Marilyn’s chagrin. Later in the episode, Natalie went to see Eli to apologize for cutting their dinner short and give him some dried apricots. Sure! Why not? She left, but before she could make it out of the building, he ran after her for the second time! He told her they had to have dinner that night, or it would never happen. It was all highly adorable, and I have to say I kind of love this flustered, romantic side of Eli Gold.
Anyway, Marilyn saw Eli talking to Natalie and correctly jumped to the conclusion that Eli’s shift on the Minority Voters’ Conference had something to do with Natalie. But instead of asking Eli about it, Marilyn confronted Peter, who, in turn, confronted Eli. Peter told Eli he wouldn’t be giving the speech, and Eli then confronted Marilyn. It was all very cyclical. Sadly, though, it appeared that Eli would let his work take priority over his relationship with Natalie.
She showed up at the restaurant for their date, feeling good about her friend Tomas, when Eli called her and bailed. It was pretty heartbreaking, especially when I realized he was outside of the restaurant all along, watching Natalie’s disappointment through the window. Thankfully, Eli came to his senses. He marched into the restaurant and apologized to Natalie for being stupid. “I lie 24/7 for my job. It’s actually a gift. But lying to you gave me a stomach ache.” Awwww. And then they kissed! It was absolutely adorable, and proof that Eli Gold just might not be made of entirely of stone.
Memorable lines and moments from “The Next Month”:
++ “So do we have a Yoko Ono problem here?” —David Lee, about Isabel
++ Eli: “I changed my mind. Have you never changed your mind?”
Eli: “Well, this is what it looks like.”
++ “And I don’t normally buy dried apricots. They were just in the store downstairs so I bought them. Throw them away, okay? They’re probably gross.” —Natalie (America Ferrera), explaining her impulse buy to Eli
++ “David something. He looks like a jack-o-lantern.” —Isabel, to Will describing David Lee
++ “Oh, spare me the rigors of pregnancy BS.” —Eli, to Marilyn
++ Howard’s greeting to Joe Pallotta. Howard will never learn to behave appropriately, and that’s what makes his character so great.
++ Including this Peter quote because Marilyn would, no doubt, flag it as a potential ethical violation.
Peter: “You know what? I think you’re going to take over the world from here.”
Alicia: “You think so?”
Peter: “I’d bet on it.”
Fun fact: The episode was originally titled “Ice, Ice Baby.” What did you think of “The Next Month”? Do you like Will’s new rebranded LG? Will Eli and Natalie’s relationship continue? Is Kalinda still being underused? Did you like Robyn playing her own version of Kalinda? Sound off with all your thoughts in the comments!