'The Good Wife' Recap: Game of Phones
'The Good Wife' Recap: Game of Phones
Alison Stern-Dunyak
Alison Stern-Dunyak
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Alicia's hurtling toward a future as head of her own firm, but this week the past casts shadows across just about everyone in her life. And in typical Good Wife fashion, the storyline couldn't be more present-tense, with an emphasis on "tense."

Earlier cases come back to haunt Lockhart-Gardner. Diane must decide whether her ambition is more important than loyalty to Will. Alicia's mother, Veronica, lets guilt drive a crucial business decision. And two of Zach's ex-girlfriends cause trouble. (Hello, Becca!)

The Good Wife is available on Amazon Prime.


The Case Under Review

Speaking of the past, we learn at the top of the show that the National Security Agency has had Alicia and Diane under surveillance for more than two years. It all started when they defended Arabic-translator Danny Marwat. But it didn't end then, and two young NSA analysts now spend their days sifting through phone calls to and from the two attorneys.That data, from the "bit bucket," pretty much means privacy is a thing of the past.

Imagine the analysts' surprise when they discover that Lockhart-Gardner client Neil Gross, CEO of social networking site Chumhum, plans to sue the NSA. At least, that's Alicia and Cary's plan after they learn Chumhum's stock has plummeted now that customers believe the company's sharing their personal data with the agency. (Thanks, Edward Snowden!) Though Gross denies he's cooperating with the NSA, a government gag order keeps him from discussing the situation publicly. 

Naturally, Alicia and Cary want to win the case on its own merits. But they also want to keep Gross' confidence, since he's the big fish they need to keep on the hook for Florrick, Agos & Associates. Off to federal court they go, meeting up once again with Judge Keller (Jeffrey Tambor), who presided over last week's death penalty case. 

Over the next few days, our team brings different challenges to the government. First, they try a constitutional argument: the gag order represents prior restraint since they're censoring what Gross says before he says it. That fails because of national security concerns. Then they try attacking the gag order on grounds of selective enforcement, which has caused damage to Chumhum's business. 

This approach interests the judge, especially when he learns that Chumhum's rivals have talked about their dealings with the NSA with no legal repercussions and no gag order. But that fails, too, after the AUSA takes the judge into a classified briefing to explain the government's position. Since Cary and Alicia don't have security clearances, they never hear the evidence. When the judge dismisses their complaint, a furious Alicia gets fire in her belly to keep going -- which pleases Neil Gross no end. 

Private Evidence

A little fire goes a long way. It turns out the NSA has targeted Gross because he met with some North Koreans last year to discuss selling them some telecommunications equipment worth about $14,000. That deal went south after the NSA controversy arose. Gross insists they were pro-democracy activists -- he's helping the good guys. Alicia takes this tidbit back to court and asks the judge for a private hearing, away from the prying ears of the government attorney. 

Using this insider intelligence, Judge Keller renders his multi-part verdict. The NSA gag order stands, but the government owes Chumhum the $14,000 -- hardly the billions in stock value the company has lost. However, the settlement itself lives under a gag order. This gives Gross the opening he needs to tell his customers he's received a "significant settlement" from the government, a move that helps regain their trust.

Just as significant, the rebel alliance of The Good Wife attorneys has redoubled the trust of their most important future client. 

Friend of the Court

Ironically, even as the fourth years thank Alicia for warning them about the firm's suspicions, everyone's unaware the NSA has two L-G partners under surveillance. Like many people trying to fly under the radar, the young associates have gotten burner phones to carry out the business of departing the mothership. 

They've also found prime office space -- with one catch. The bank wants additional money to secure the lease because the group can't confirm their current employment with Will and Diane. Cary thinks Alicia can help find the $140,000 they need, but she's tapped out. 

Without telling her daughter, Alicia's mom, Veronica (Stockard Channing), comes to the rescue. She has the money and, apparently, not a little guilt about being a distant mom during Alicia's childhood. (Apparently, Mother always liked son Owen better.) The sudden investment makes David Lee (who is helping plan her estate) suspicious, but then what doesn't? Veronica insists she's happy with her choice. 

Not everyone is as happy as Veronica. A peeved Kalinda now knows Cary's leaving the firm and doesn't want to help him on the Chumhum case for fear it's a conflict of interest. He assures her that if they win, it's a win for L-G. 

Hostile Witness

Diane's still in the running for the State Supreme Court. But the Chief Justice won't give his endorsement because he's worried her association with Will's past misdeeds (and subsequent suspension) will taint her tenure. (Eli has a different spin on it -- that the Chief Justice is a cranky old sexist.) 

A quick aside: The egotistical coot also wants Peter to show gratitude for a gold-plated gavel he sent as a post-election gift. Unfortunately, no one can find the gavel. It's gone missing -- straight into the arms of Zach's scheming ex, Becca. When she advertises its sale online, Eli confronts her, accusing her of cozying up to Zach to steal it. But the Florrick son denies any involvement with her. So how did she get it? Well, let's just say that Grace didn't break up with her gal-pal, even if her brother did.

Back to more serious business. Eli believes Diane must publicly disavow Will's history to make any headway with the CJ. She views that as a betrayal, however, and won't bite. Gold arranges an interview with a friendly reporter to lead Diane toward a condemnation of Will's behavior, but she stands her ground. A furious Eli tells her he hopes she likes working at Lockhart-Gardner, because that's where she's staying. Suddenly, standing on principle doesn't seem as inviting.

Peter won't tolerate the Chief Justice's reticence. He has a closed-door session with the CJ. Whatever he says must work because Eli calls Diane's office to tell her that everything's okay. She doesn't need to re-do the interview after all.

But it's too late. Just as Diane's assistant ends the call with Eli, we see the reporter leaving Diane's office, thanking her for the great interview. We won't know until next week exactly what Diane said about Will, but I'm guessing it's not good. As in betrayal-level not good. 

The Accused

Throughout the episode, the plot repeatedly pops over to the NSA facility where the young analysts monitor calls. They aren't sure they should keep listening in to Lockhart-Gardner lawyers during an active legal challenge to the NSA. Their boss and an attorney assure them to keep up the good work, urging them to find more "terroristic" connections to the firm. With the Danny Marwat case now two years old, the current environment demands they step more carefully when it comes to surveillance of private citizens.

In particular, the NSA's own lawyer shows increased interest when they learn Alicia is on the brink of becoming First Lady of Illinois. Can they connect any "terroristic" activities to the new governor? Imagine their delight and surprise when they learn that someone keeps calling Alicia's apartment from the phone of a "known Hamas sympathizer." 

Who might that be? None other than Zach's other ex-girlfriend, Neisa, whose father is a politically connected Somali national. Now the NSA believes they have the connection they need for a "three-hop" warrant that allows them to expand their surveillance activities. 

The worst part? Zach won't even take Neisa's calls anymore, since all she does is cry. Not very "terroristic," but enough to set the government on the Florricks.

Summary Judgment

This week's new Good Wife didn't have the life-or-death consequences of the season premiere, but certainly had a lot of resonance with today's headlines. Short of having an episode about the government shutdown, this is as current as it gets -- and I'm sure the NSA just loved it. 

Even better, we're now set up for some huge conflict at Lockhart-Gardner, especially if Diane threw Will under the bus. That's good television, people. Or should I say, that's The Good Wife


(Image courtesy of CBS)



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