'The Good Wife' recap: 'The Deconstruction'
Well, I have to say that was a little unexpected. The Good Wife writers sure do have a knack for getting rid of characters before the season finale. We all knew Kalinda’s departure from the show was imminent since Archie Panjabi announced that the sixth season of The Good Wife would be her last. No one knew exactly when or how Kalinda would make her exit, but with that huge plot line looming, it was hard not to question every single decision Kalinda has made this season. Well, in “The Deconstruction” we finally got some answers. And sure, it wasn’t the same tear-inducing farewell associated with Will Gardner’s untimely demise (#StillNotOverIt), but it was still really, really sad. And yet, it totally made sense. But I’m getting ahead of myself here:
Alicia finally admits defeat. After her encounter with the terrible humans running the DNC, Alicia has no choice but to withdraw her name for contention for the office of the state’s attorney. She’s obviously not okay with the decision, but she’s been backed into a corner. She thanks Peter and her supporters, and then fights back tears as she exits the stage and asks an important question: “What do I do now?” She’s got a good point. But thankfully the show isn’t called The Good State’s Attorney. So at least she has options.
The first option is the obvious one: She returns to her old firm to find they’ve already taken her name off the sign. Welcome to Lockhart, Agos, and Lee. (Cary still gets second billing, and David Lee is moving on up.) But they all seem to be on the same page, and Diane & Co. ask Alicia to come back as a named partner. Insert the collective sigh of relief! Even David Lee is on board! All is right in the world. But I’ve spoken too soon because we haven’t even hit the title credits yet. And you’re right. It’s all a little too good to be true.
Alicia gets a call from a client shortly after her meeting at her new/old firm, saying that Diane called him and told him Alicia was not coming back to the firm. Uhh, what? Alicia realizes they’ve been playing her from the beginning. Peter encourages her to play along to leverage a new exit package. (I kind of love Alicia and Peter on the same side of things. Does their marriage work? Not so much. But they really understand each other, so it weirdly works.)
What ensues is The Good Wife version of one Three’s Company-esque misunderstanding after another. Alicia tries to rescind her exit package with the help of her lawyer, Finn. And after a fairly awkward meeting, Finn agrees that Diane & Co. are playing her. Meanwhile, Diane and Cary are discussing how much they really want Alicia back! They don’t want Alicia to get the wrong idea about her clients.
The miscommunication continues because David Lee calls the original client back only to hear that Alicia is considering branching out on her own. Guys, just talk to each other! It’d save everyone a lot of trouble. But this back-and-forth nonsense continues for the duration of the episode.
It culminates in an Alicia/Diane argument in which they both accuse the other of betrayal. But Kalinda is there to save the day. She calls Alicia to let her in on what we already know: this is one big misunderstanding. And later, Diane and Alicia make up. The drama has come full circle. Diane wants Alicia to come back to the firm. But there’s a hitch in that plan: R.D. won’t stay on as a client. And since he’s the firm’s biggest client now, that presents a problem. But there’s a bigger issue at play here. As R.D. says, “The Florrick name? That’s like George Ryan or Blagojevich. It’s just another in a long line of corrupt Chicago pols. I’m sorry, but it’s just how it is.” So what does that mean for Alicia? Well that’s the million-dollar question. She can’t go back to Lockhart/Agos/Lee. And she can’t start her own firm because the only client willing to stay with her is, of course, Colin Sweeney. Peter of all people, though, encourages Alicia and says, “You can do it, Alicia. You can come back from this. I know it.” Cosign, Peter!
NEXT: Diane takes on mandatory minimum sentencing.
In a sort-of case of the week, Diane and R.D. partner on another potential test case, this one concerning mandatory minimum sentencing. In an odd turn of events, Diane and R.D. actually agree on something: they both think mandatory sentencing in unfair. R.D. wants to use Steven Mercurio as an example. Mercurio became addicted to painkillers after back surgery, and then gave pills to a friend who happened to be an undercover cop. His mandatory minimum sentence is 12 years. Ooof.
Diane wants R.D. to consider a different person for the test case: Louise Nolfi (Phyllis Somerville). Louise is a lovely 62-year-old woman who is found guilty of possession of 26 tablets of MDMA. Judge Aaron Coleman (Reg. E. Cathey) is sympathetic to her plight, but has to charge her with the mandatory minimum sentence of six to 30 years. He wants to revisit her conviction, but can’t unless she can bring in some new evidence. R.D. wants to stick with the Mercurio case, though, because he thinks it’s a better demographic. People can identify with jailed white guys! (His words, not mine.)
But Diane decides to defend Mrs. Nolfi anyway. Diane’s first plan of action is to question the public defender, Alex Bollinger (Dan Bittner). She hopes to prove ineffectual assistance. And it looks like it’s going to be a pretty easy task. Bollinger is kind of a mess, complete with mustard-stained files. But as it turns out, he’s totally on top of things. And there’s no way they can go the ineffective assistance route. But Bollinger does offer an interesting piece of information: If Nolfi were a regular street criminal they could get her into a probationary program. She could avoid all jail time. But as it stands, she’s still facing that mandatory sentence.
Diane tries to play this new angle, but unfortunately she has to go through the pre-sentencing officer first. Enter returning guest star Linda Lavin as Joy Grubick. Diane has a hard time keeping her eye rolling under control any time Grubick is around. Diane lies and says Nolfi has a serious drug addiction, but Grubick isn’t buying it. And it’s even less convincing when Mrs. Nolfi herself tries to play the role of a hardened street criminal.
Kalinda swoops in to save the day again with some last-minute investigative work to give Diane’s case the breakthrough it needs. Louise Nolfi was caught with 26 ecstasy tablets, but the price for the pills was only $500, considerably less than the street value. They take this information back to the judge: the 26 tablets had been cut in half, so there were technically only 13 pills in the package. The threshold number for the mandatory minimum to apply is 15 pills. So the judge happily sentences Nolfi to six months of probation, which he deems served already. Whew!
But I’ve really buried the lead here. Let’s talk about Kalinda. Cary calls Geneva Pine and says he’ll turn evidence against Lemond Bishop. But he’ll only do it if Pine agrees to drop all charges against Kalinda and Diane. Unbeknownst to Cary, Kalinda has a similar thought process. She’s conveniently in Geneva Pine’s office when Cary makes his offer. Kalinda tells Geneva to turn Cary down because she will get Geneva the evidence she needs. Kalinda’s catch? She refuses to actually testify. She knows that’s a death sentence.
This episode could have alternatively be titled “Playing With Fire,” because that’s pretty much how Kalinda spends her time. She starts by meeting with Dexter Roja (JD Williams) to tell him about Bishop’s plans to leave the “business.” She plants the seed in Dexter’s mind that he would be No. 1 with Bishop out of the way. But Dexter’s not falling for it. He swears his loyalty to Lemond Bishop.
So Kalinda moves on to plan B, more appropriately titled Plan USB. After dropping Dylan off at home after school, Kalinda uses a USB to download Bishop’s incriminating files. This, of course, has to happen in a matter of minutes since she’s trying to finish the file transfer before Bishop returns home. When he does finally arrive, Kalinda tells Bishop that she saw Dexter leaving his house right before she arrived. It’s a lie, but a smart one. Even so, Bishop is still suspicious. (He’s Chicago’s top drug dealer. When is he not suspicious?) So he checks his computer only to find that pesky alert that says a disk was not ejected properly. My first thought: “Rookie mistake, Kalinda!” My second thought: “Breia, you’re slow on the uptake tonight. This is clearly all a part of Kalinda’s plan!”
NEXT: Kalinda’s plan comes together
Sure enough, that earlier meeting with Dexter Roja wasn’t just about planting the seed about turning on Bishop. Kalinda stole his USB drive, which was conveniently named “D.R.’s Jams,” knowing Bishop and his tech guru, Jamir (Carter Redwood), would be able to trace it. Bishop questions Kalinda about the USB, but she feigns innocence and retells her initial lie that she saw Dexter leave Bishop’s house. Bishop calls Dexter, and now Dexter knows his USB drive is missing. And, oh yeah, he’s in big trouble. Kalinda, on the other hand, has all the information she needs to fulfill her bargain with Geneva Pine. A few scenes later, Lemond Bishop is being arrested by the Chicago Police Department. “Call my lawyer, and tell Dexter he’s dead!” Those are not empty threats coming from Bishop.
Cary hears about the arrest and calls Geneva Pine. He’s rightfully concerned about Kalinda’s well being because he knows she’s the one who turned on Bishop. Dexter Roja is also not too thrilled with Kalinda, but for different reasons. He goes to her apartment for answers, but finds Cary instead. Cary lies and says he was the one who turned evidence against Bishop, but Dexter isn’t buying what Cary’s selling. Especially when Dexter realizes that Kalinda played him all along and stole his missing USB drive.
Cary continues to wait for Kalinda at her apartment. Eventually she shows up and tells him she’s handled it. Umm, Kalinda, you are not Olivia Pope. This situation has not been handled. Cary tells her that Dexter knows she set him up. Cary offers his help, but she won’t accept it. She kisses him goodbye. And is it just me or does that kiss feel really final?
Later, Kalinda goes to see Alicia to presumably tell her goodbye, too. But Alicia isn’t there. So she leaves a note with Grace. There, Kalinda and Diane share a phone conversation where Kalinda says goodbye. And again, it’s a goodbye with a sense of finality. The real nail in the proverbial coffin? Kalinda looks right in the camera as she’s leaving Alicia’s apartment and says, “Goodbye.”
Cary tries to call her cell phone, but Kalinda’s phone has been disconnected. He goes back to her apartment, but it’s been fully cleaned out. There’s nothing but empty drawers and a hairbrush. Then Alicia finally finds the note Kalinda left her. She reads it, casts it aside, and then breaks down in tears. For those of you keeping track, this is the second episode in a row to end in Alicia tears. Have you no decency, Good Wife writers? When Alicia hurts, I hurt.
The best lines and moments from “The Deconstruction”:
- “For an extra $200 an hour, you can actually get ’em to speak.” — R.D. about his conservative lawyer friends
- “Meeting grandmothers isn’t facts. It’s manipulative kitsch. And you know it.” —R.D. to Diane about taking Louise Nolfi’s case
- Alicia: “And you’re not worried about my situation?”
Cary: “What, a voter-fraud scandal? You mean after I almost went to jail for six years?”
- Alicia and Grace watching To Kill a Mockingbird together
- Alicia’s fake smiling during her meeting with Diane, Cary, and David Lee
- R.D.: “Call me R.D.”
David Lee: “R.D. Simple. American. I’m a conservative too, sir.”
Diane [making an epic Diane face]: “Really?”
David Lee [making an equally ridiculous face]: “Yes.”
- Diane: “These are good notes.”
Bollinger: “Thank you. Yeah, that’s the way Justice Ginsburg liked them.”
- R.D. and Diane arguing about politics in front of Alex Bollinger
- “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” by Lauren O’Connell in the last scene
So that was a rough episode. If we’re to believe what we saw, it appears as though Kalinda is gone for good. And even though I knew it was coming, it was still incredibly sad. Where does everyone go from here? Does Robyn return? And most important: What does Alicia do going forward? There are only two new episodes left this season. You better give us some answers, Good Wife writers!
Julianna Margulies, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth star in the legal/family drama.