Alicia defends a former client while she tries to figure out what her next professional step will be.

Credit: Paul Sarkis/CBS

It’s been a tumultuous season of The Good Wife. The center of all that drama—as the show’s name suggests—is Alicia Florrick. And now, Alicia is out of work.

The state’s attorney job is no longer an option, and neither is returning to Lockhart/Agos/Lee. So what’s Alicia supposed to do? If drinking wine all day were a healthy and valid option, I’d suggest that…and also submit my resume. But unfortunately, that’s not really a route she can take. That’s the setup for the season’s penultimate episode, “Don’t Fail.” While Alicia tries to figure out her next step, it appears as though she’s agreed to write a memoir. But she’s clearly a reluctant participant. Joel Kingsley-Weaver (Ian Unterman) has been tasked with helping her write, and he’s definitely got his work cut out for him. Alicia is obviously uncomfortable with the process.

But she needs some way to pass the time. Answering sales calls on the home phone isn’t cutting it. Eventually, she settles on the less-than-exciting task of calling all of her campaign donors to thank them for their contributions. And that’s how we end up with the episode’s case of the week.

Brett Tatro (Dorian Missick) is a name on Alicia’s list, but he didn’t contribute to her campaign. Instead, he’s looking for Alicia’s legal assistance. Six years ago, Brett was accused of attempted murder. He was a bouncer at a strip club, and the prosecution claimed he got in a fight with Jeff Garrix (Josiah Bania). The alleged fight left Jeff in a coma with other serious injuries. Alicia & Co. won that case. (So in the timeline of the show, this would have happened during season 1.) But Jeff recently died of injuries from the 2009 fight, and Brett was rearrested. He’s being tried for first-degree murder.

Alicia is hesitant to help Brett, but she promises to get him a good lawyer. So an incognito Alicia goes to meet Finn in hopes that he’ll take over the case. But his plate is full with other work. Finn encourages Alicia to take the case, but she claims to be busy with her memoir. Finn isn’t buying it. The real reason Alicia is hesitant to jump back on the proverbial horse? She’s having a crisis of confidence following the state’s attorney snafu.

Alicia: “I can’t take another failure.”

Finn: “Oh, well, then don’t fail.” Episode title alert!!

In the meantime, Alicia agrees to at least go to court and observe the situation.

At court, Matan Brody (Chris Butler) returns to prosecute the case, nervous newbie Amber Audrey (Aya Cash) is Brett’s lawyer, and Judge Dunaway (Kurt Fuller) is presiding. Dunaway decides that this case is not an instance of double jeopardy (he’s being tried for two different crimes), and pre-trial motions will commence the next day. Brett and his wife, Josie (Crystal Dickinson), surprisingly have Matan to thank for Alicia’s ultimate decision to participate. Matan tells Alicia there’s a hole in her case—the case from six years ago—and then he drops this bomb: “Sorry about the election. People can be mean at first, but they’ll forget soon enough. In a few months, it will be like it never happened. Just like Peter.” There’s nothing like an easy dig to inspire Alicia to kick ass in court.

Alicia calls Cary to have the old case files sent over to her apartment. She makes a makeshift desk out of a door, and begins searching for the hole Matan mentioned. (Props to the show’s details department for the “Stern, Lockhart, Gardner” name on the files. Talk about a throwback.) Alicia starts with the interview tapes from the initial investigation. And that’s essentially how the story is told. As Alicia listens to the taped audio, we see a younger-looking cast acting out the scenes in faux-flashbacks. To be clear, this case wasn’t actually featured in the first season, so this is all new material.

NEXT: Alicia and Cary reminisce about the past.

Anyway, this pro bono case was originally assigned to Alicia, but Cary was put on as her second-chair. We get a glimpse into the former competition between the two. And we also get to witness happier times between Alicia and Kalinda. Remember when they were friends? We also see that Brett swears he wasn’t even in the parking lot of the Pink Sapphire where the beating occurred, and Lexie, one of the dancers, serves as his alibi. She claims they were together during the incident.

But on another tape, another dancer, Dakota (Lucy Owen), starts to contradict Brett’s alibi. The tape stops, and Alicia thinks she’s found her hole. So she goes to see present-day Dakota—now Dani, since she’s no longer dancing—to see where she stands now. Dakota has no intentions of dredging up the past, but points Alicia in another direction. Lexie, the main alibi witness, died four years ago of a drug overdose.

Alicia goes to see Matan, where he offers to drop the charges to second-degree murder. Matan knows he has a stronger case with Lexie’s death, but Alicia stands by Lexie’s original testimony. So off to court they go. The defense argues to include the 2009 testimony for this case, for obvious reasons. But Matan fights to have it excluded. So he calls Daniel Cain (Timothy D. Stickney) to the stand. Cain is a former bouncer who worked at the Pink Sapphire six years ago. He discredits Lexie’s testimony by saying that she was using drugs at the time, and she only testified for Brett because he was her dealer. Uh oh.

Alicia goes back to the case files to listen to Daniel’s tape, but she hits a dead end. Daniel’s interview was recorded over by Zach, who was practicing a speech with Jackie for one of his classes. Ooops! Alicia calls Cary to see if he has any other information about Daniel. At the time of the original trial, Alicia and Cary disagreed over trial strategy. Cary wanted to find someone else to blame for the beating, but Alicia wanted to emphasize Brett’s alibi. Cary decides to deliver the files himself, and he and Alicia reminisce about their competitive days. They also address the elephant in the room: Kalinda is gone, and she didn’t say goodbye. It’s all very sad.

Back in court, Alicia discredits Daniel with Cary’s information. She’s able to prove that he was in the parking lot during the fight, when he said he wasn’t there. But Alicia and Amber still need another way to establish Brett’s alibi. Especially after Brett admits he was in the parking lot, when he had earlier sworn that he wasn’t. (Was there anyone not in the parking lot?!)

It’s interesting how the past six years have changed Alicia, and you can see that in the juxtaposition of her working with Amber. They now know Brett’s alibi is false, but they’re not suborning perjury because they’re not putting him on the stand. When they argued for the transcript to be admitted, they didn’t know it was false.

Amber: “That doesn’t seem right.”

Alicia: “I know. But it’s legal.”

Practicing law is not always black and white, Amber. You’ve got a lot to learn.

NEXT: The episode’s best moments and lines.

They get a break in the case when Judge Dunaway decides he will allow the 2009 transcript into evidence. But Matan brings one more new witness to court. Enter Evan Houston (Salvatore Inzerillo), who worked at the gas station across from the Pink Sapphire at the time of the fight. He identified Brett in a photo lineup for the police, but his testimony was not used in the original trial.

Leave it to Finn to fill in the blanks on why: He tells Alicia about Det. Richard Hardy (Graham Winton), who went through an I.A.D. investigation regarding his photo array practices. The investigation into Hardy was dropped, but his questionable behavior is what kept Houston off the stand in 2009. So Alicia brings Hardy in as a witness to question his work on the original case. On the stand, she asks him about the I.A.D. investigation. Matan obviously objects because the investigation was supposed to be confidential. Someone had to have told Alicia. But Alicia won’t give Finn up, even with Dunaway’s threat that she’ll be found in contempt of court. Dunaway gives her a day to cough up the answer.

So the next day, Alicia’s prepared for the worse: “If he jails me, I need you to call Cary Agos,” she tells Amber. But when the judge asks for a name, Alicia lies and says Kalinda Sharma. Since Kalinda is conveniently MIA and out of Chicago jurisdiction, there’s nothing anyone can do. And with that, Judge Dunaway decides to dismiss the case. Finn told Alicia not to fail, and she didn’t!

The case of the week was a little underwhelming, especially with no Eli or Marissa for comic relief. But this episode served as a set up for the finale. Throughout her work on the case, Alicia decides that she does, in fact, want to start her own firm. Instead of bringing in the top-dollar clients, though, she wants to help the people she wants to help.

Grace: “Can you make money doing that?”

Alicia: [Laughs] “I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to see.”

Alicia will have to work out of her apartment, so she moves her door desk into Zach’s room, and does some other rearranging to create an office. One possible snag in this plan? Zach eventually returns Alicia’s call and says he wants to visit home. But I guess she’ll cross that bridge when she gets there. Anyway, if Alicia’s going to start a new firm, she’s going to need a new partner. The episode ends with her asking Finn to join her.

The best moments and lines from “Don’t Fail”:

  • Kalinda telling Jeff in the flashback that her name is “Kalinda None of Your Business.”
  • Drunk Alicia and Kalinda in one of the flashbacks.
  • Amber taking a picture with Alicia for her mom. Awkward!
  • Matan: “We do not hold the recent election scandal against Alicia Florrick at all.”

    Judge Dunaway: “Of course. That’s why you brought it up. So it won’t be held against her.

  • The saddest moment: Cary thinking he sees Kalinda at the office, but it’s not her.
  • Alicia calling Zach after she hears his recording with Jackie. (And that flashback scene with Zach and Jackie in general.) This show always has good mother/children/relationship moments.
  • “Well, I hope you get to use this stuff against Daniel. It’s like a director’s cut. Wouldn’t mind finally seeing it shown.” —Cary

I don’t know how I feel about Alicia starting her own firm. She did that once, and it didn’t turn so well. But I do think if she goes through with this, it would be nice to have Finn by her side. They work well together.

Other thoughts: Peter is Peter. Will is dead. Johnny is in California. And Finn is potentially Alicia’s new work partner. What does that mean for Alicia’s future love interests? I’m still not sold on her and Finn romantically. So let’s hope season 7 brings a new love interest altogether. The season 6 finale is next week. And it looks like it’s going to be a good one. You better deliver, The Good Wife! Also, who’s behind the door?!

Episode Recaps

Closing Arguments

The Good Wife

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

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