The Good Wife recap: 'The Debate'
Alicia and Frank Prady battle it out in a candidate debate while Peter and the city of Chicago prepare for a potential riot.
Things I love: cheese, The Good Wife, and Tina and Amy hosting the Golden Globes.
Things I hate: not having cheese, The Good Wife going up against the Golden Globes, and then The Good Wife not winning any of the awards at the Golden Globes. We can’t have it all, folks. But at least you can have one more new episode of The Good Wife before it takes another hiatus courtesy of the football playoffs. (That’s why we didn’t get a next-week-on tease.) So let’s jump right in to “The Debate”:
The Good Wife often rips its storylines straight from the headlines. But this particular episode resonanted considering its timing. In fact, the episode began with two disclaimers:
“This episode was written and filmed prior to the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island.”
“All mentions of ‘Ferguson’ are in reference to the events in August 2014 after the shooting death of Michael Brown.”
I’ll refrain from getting political here because it is, after all, a television show. But I applaud the writers for continuing to tackle polarizing subjects. And in this case, they managed to deliver a serious episode with just the right amount of Good Wife levity.
Anyway, the episode begins with shaky video footage of a black man, Cole Willis (Robert Manning Jr.), being arrested by two white polices officers. You can hear Willis saying, “You’re killing me” before the footage switches to a current newscast. A jury is hearing evidence on his death, and a verdict in the case against the two officers involved is due any minute. Of course, racial tensions in the community are at an all-time high as people await the trial verdict.
Meanwhile, Alicia is preparing for her live debate with Frank Prady. Eli, Johnny, Marissa, and even Josh Mariner (the returning David Krumholtz) are on-hand for last-minute debate adjustments. Alicia is six points down, so her performance is crucial to her campaign. Right before she goes on stage, though, she learns about a reporter from the Middleton Herald, Patrick Mancini (Michael Berresse), who plans to ask Alicia about photos of Peter with Ramona Lyton—and the photos are just two days old. Just add it to the list. Johnny and Josh coach her with tips until the last possible second.
Chris Matthews guests as himself to moderate the debate, which gets off to a pretty rocky start. Alicia plays with masking tape stuck to her podium, her pen doesn’t work, and she appears to be unprepared, despite all the prep we know she had. But when Patrick Mancini tries to question her about Peter’s latest alleged infidelity, Alicia comes alive. (I love it when Alicia goes full badass mode. It’s inspiring. And always so fun to watch.)
But just as Alicia really starts to turn things around in the debate, their live feed is interrupted to go to coverage of the Cole Willis verdict. And you totally saw this coming: The two white officers were found not guilty. They hope to go back to the debate, but in the meantime, both Prady and Alicia flock to the kitchen to find some food. (Both of their handlers wouldn’t let them eat before taking the stage.) There, they decide that they should have a debate right in the kitchen. Who cares if there’s an audience? Not Frank and Alicia!
NEXT: Peter & Co. try to avoid a riot.
Of course, their mini-debate attracts an audience of kitchen employees. One in particular calls them out on their ridiculousness: “You know what’s really stupid? You’re two white people arguing about why black people are rioting. That’s what’s stupid. And you’re saying there needs to be more black people in office, and that’s why we need to more white people running.” Yeah, that’s pretty hard to argue with. More and more people arrive at the great kitchen debate, and it looks like Alicia is coming out on top. So Frank’s handler swoops in to shut it down.
Before the real debate resumes, Alicia speaks with Johnny about last week’s parking-garage kiss. As expected, she tells him it didn’t mean anything. She was just in a mood. So we all saw that coming. What I didn’t see coming was Johnny’s reaction to this. He was so uncomfortable. Lots of awkward laughing, and he couldn’t even look at her in the face. It didn’t mean anything to Alicia, but perhaps it meant something to him? I feel pretty indifferent about Alicia and Johnny being together. But I feel strongly that Steven Pasquale is very attractive. So I’m really all for whatever happens. We never get to see Florrick vs. Prady round 3, though. Prady’s camp calls the debate off. This is the first mistake Prady’s team has made, and Alicia’s team capitalizes.
Meanwhile, knowing a verdict is just around the corner in the Cole Willis case, Peter meets with Pastor Jeremiah Easton (Frankie Faison) at the inter-denomination conference. He’s trying to locate the mayor of Chicago so they can put a plan of action in place to avoid any potential riots. Unfortunately, the mayor is off in New Hampshire, safely away from the Chicago drama. So Peter and Eli are forced to deal with the mayor’s chief of staff, Franny Zissis (Rachael Harris). Franny brings her own pastor to the conference, Jeremiah’s son Isaiah Easton (Gbenga Akinnagbe). And just like Franny and Peter don’t see eye to eye on a course of action for the city, Jeremiah and Isaiah are at odds about what to do.
After the not-guilty verdict is announced, Peter decides to head to the courthouse where the center of the protest action is taking place. He’s still trying to avoid an all-out riot. While Peter’s focused on that, Eli is busy trying not to have an aneurysm because Ramona is also at the courthouse. Fortunately for Eli, Peter’s infidelities take a backseat to the serious issues at hand. (As they rightfully should. But unsurprisingly, Little Peter strikes again.) Unfortunately for Ramona, Peter takes this totally opportune time at a near-race riot to finally end things with his latest paramour. Romana says she won’t talk to the press, but after the dust settles, I doubt this dalliance will go away so easily.
Eventually, Peter, both pastors, and Deidre Willis, the victim’s wife (Jessica Frances Dukes), make a joint announcement at the courthouse steps, and they manage to avoid any major rioting or disasters. Because this is an hour-long drama, this story gets tied up in a nice little bow. Must be nice. If only real life were as easily written as The Good Wife!
Over at Florrick/Agos/Lockhart—I think that’s what we’re calling it now—they are dealing with Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey). He’s the firm’s top client, but is unhappy with the way they are handling his never-ending divorce settlement with Mrs. ChumHum, Deena Lampard (Megan Ketch). He doesn’t want to settle for higher than $15 million, especially since he has a pre-nup. But the leading attorney on the case, Evan (Patrick Boll), starts the negotiations at $30 million. Diane and a just-welcomed-back Cary try to get to the bottom of the situation. They’re concerned that Evan might have a job offer on the table from the opposing counsel, the one and only, David Lee.
NEXT: All’s fair in love and divorce
Kalinda learns that Evan isn’t being poached. His son just happened to be undergoing serious surgery to remove tumors during the negotiations—Evan has just become nice. (What a concept!) Diane and Cary know they can’t take Evan off the case without opening themselves to a malpractice suit, so they just swoop in to help him out. But it’s not going to be easy. David Lee has upped his ask to $100 million. Diane and Cary come back with Deena’s non-compete clause. They argue sleeping with the competitor is a violation of that agreement.
But all that work is for naught. Deena went to the ChumHum board, and now Neil has no choice but to settle for $75 million. He fully blames the firm for costing him that extra $60 mil, so he fires them. Ooops. So what’s the next logical move? To hire David Lee back! Without consulting Alicia, Cary and Diane ask David Lee to come back into the fold. Anyone else feel like they just made a deal with the devil? (But really, it’s okay. I love to hate David Lee.)
Alicia is less than thrilled to learn that Cary and Diane have made such a big decision without her. But Alicia is obviously busy with other things, like running for state’s attorney. Diane thought she’d drop out of the race by now since it was originally about taking down James Castro. Now, though, Alicia is fully in it to win it. The episode ends with this exchange:
Johnny: “What’s wrong?”
Alicia: “Nothing. Everything’s great. I’m gonna win.”
Johnny: “Yes, you are.”
The best lines from “The Debate”:
++ Marissa: “Do you want something to eat? I can make you a sandwich.”
Josh: “No. Nothing to eat. It will make her want to throw up on stage.”
Marissa: “How about peanuts?”
Josh: “No! Now go away, crazy lady.”
++ “I’ve missed this. All the usual disasters.” —Cary, about returning to the law firm
++ Johnny: “Eli, what is going on? I thought he broke it off.”
Marissa: “Yeah. Stuck it in and broke it off.”
++ Nora: “Yup. Black people just can’t help themselves, can they?”
Eli: “I’m not saying you’ll riot.”
Nora: “Oh, thanks.”
Eli: “Well, you’re not like other… people.”
**This hilarious exchange between Eli and Nora only got more awkward
++ “Good. Poetic justice. Using David Lee’s work against him.” —Diane
++ “Half my life is about lawyers these days. And just when I think I have reached bottom, the ninth circle of hell, there is always a circle lower.” —Neil Gross
++ Marissa: “Yeah, I’m thinking of voting for you now. That’s how good you were.”
Josh: “You weren’t gonna vote for her before?”
Marissa: “No. I’m not a big voter. I’m in my 20s.”
++ “I guess you just can’t quit me, can you?” —David Lee
How do you think The Good Wife handled such a sensitive subject? What do you think about Johnny and Alicia’s relationship? Will he become an actual love interest? Where was Finn during this episode? And Alicia seems to have had a change of heart about her campaign. If she wins, will she really leave her firm behind? If I think too hard about this, I go down a rabbit hole of possibilities. Sound off with all your theories!