You know when you cook Thanksgiving dinner and everything on the table looks beautiful and delicious? But if you go into the kitchen, it’s littered with dirty dishes, open bags of flour, and basically looks like a disaster area?
That’s how I feel about the fourth season finale of The Good Wife. “What’s in the Box?” wasn’t pretty, but I liked where the hour ended up. The episode took an often silly and ridiculous route to get to where it wanted to go. But season five is already poised to be a doozy. Cary, Alicia and Robyn against Will, Diane and Kalinda? I am absolutely in.
But how the show got to that place? Ugh. It’s utterly preposterous that Zach would suspect voter tampering and that Alicia and Will would spend the whole night in court arguing. The gubernatorial candidate’s son is going to court with a case argued by the gubernatorial candidate’s wife? I’m one of the few people who has always liked what Alicia’s kids bring to the series, but this tested my goodwill towards the Florrick offspring.
At least the plotline brought back the always-delightful Martha Plimpton as Patti Nyholm. (“Is this the new one?” Will asks Patti about the baby she’s holding. “I don’t know. I lost track,” she responds.) But the plotline also brought the return of T.R. Knight as Jordan Karahalios. He is a character who never worked. Jordan, honey, no one cares about you. Really, we don’t.
Amid all the voting shenanigans, Alicia is still struggling with her feelings towards Will, so they have a steamy makeout session in a car like a couple of teenagers. Because, sure that’s what you would do on the eve of your husband’s election when there are potentially cameras everywhere. Will discovers that it’s actually Peter’s campaign who stuffed the ballot box. Will confronts Peter asking him what he would like him to do—report Peter’s campaign and definitely lose the votes in question and the election or keep quiet and potentially keep the votes. The two men have a tense conversation that really has more to do with their mutual feelings toward Alicia than the governor’s race. “You’ve really handled this poorly,” Peter tells him. He then tells Will “I’m not owning this decision.” Really Peter? Who is supposed to own it? It’s your campaign. In the end the votes in question didn’t matter since Peter won by over half a million votes. But here he is—a man who has already gone to jail—willing to look the other way at voter fraud? It just didn’t track for me at all, unless the point was to make it clear that Peter hasn’t changed and he’s still a jerk. (Also it was a little too reminiscent of Scandal’s major storyline this season).
The episode’s other bright spot was the return of Dylan Baker as Colin Sweeney. TV is all about building shows around serial killers these days. I would so watch a show all about Colin Sweeney. This time Sweeney is willing to offer Cary discounted lease fees on office space in return for free legal representation. But he only goes to the new firm if Alicia goes too.
After Peter wins the election, Alicia makes a phone call and says, “Do you still want to talk?” to an unknown person on the other side of the phone. As dramatic as those final minutes were supposed to be, I knew all along it would be Cary at the door and not Will. Didn’t you? The only thing Alicia can do to stay away from Will is to stay away from Will, and leaving the firm accomplishes that.
The only thing I don’t understand is why. Is it the power that comes with being First Lady of Illinois that keeps Alicia with Peter? I don’t think so. The desire to keep her family intact? Perhaps. The fact that she still loves Peter? Maybe. But it is still challenging to believe that a woman who is as smart and accomplished as Alicia would return to a man who cheated on her with prostitutes.
But the drama is poised to have a great fifth season—rival law firms, squelched desires, Peter as governor, Diane as potential Illinois Supreme Court justice. The show might need to be renamed The Good Strife. I can’t wait.
Other thoughts on “What’s in the Box”:
• The Good Wife always gets so many of the little moments right. I loved that Alicia took out towels from the dryer to fold as she waited for Cary to arrive. There is always something in my dryer that needs folding.
• So happy to have Eli back for the finale. His love of horror movies was delightful.
• The whole storyline between Cristian, Jackie and Peter is pretty hilarious.
• There were a lot of dropped storylines this season. We never did get any kind of resolution to the Indira Starr storyline. And I don’t ever want to see Nick again, but I do fear that the longer the show goes without addressing what really happened to him, the more he could return when we least expect him to.