Welcome back, The Good Wife! We’ve missed you! Now, let’s cut to the chase. Will and Alicia, a hotel room, a doorknob. Did they or didn’t they?

Though we were denied racy flashbacks, the evidence is there: They did. How else to explain Alicia’s new glow at the office, Will’s late arrival … and, oh yeah, the hot-and-heavy, all-too-intimate rendezvous they had later that day in Will’s apartment.

The Case in Evidence

As the episode’s title, “A New Day,” foreshadows, we see a lot of changes in The Good Wife‘s world. Besides the Will-Alicia tryst, we also learn: Eli is settling into his new digs at L-G; Peter has decided to take full command of the state’s attorney’s office with a sweeping “no plea bargains” edict; and Kalinda’s former lover Sophia is now on contract with Peter as a PI.

The only person who hasn’t changed is Diane, who spends most of the episode telling Will to lighten up on Alicia (if she only knew!) and instructing Alicia to “fix” whatever is wrong with her relationship with Kalinda (if she only knew!).

All of these elements — even Diane’s mother-hen routine — come into play with this week’s case. An old friend of Diane’s named El Sayid (who happens to control a wealthy foundation) asks L-G to defend a college student accused of assault during a political rally involving Jews and Palestinians. Alicia gets the case, taking the tack that the boy, Jamal, is being singled-out because he’s Muslim.

She seems to be making headway, but thanks to Cary’s maneuvering, it turns out Jamal’s alibi for the rally may instead put him in line as the prime suspect in the apparent hate-crime murder of a Jewish student.

By episode’s end, we know that the real killer was almost certainly Jamal’s roommate, Tariq. But it wasn’t a hate crime — it was a love crime. The dead boy and Tariq met playing video games online, fell in love, then fell out in a particularly bad way. Thanks to Peter’s new hard line, however, Cary won’t drop the case. In a rare TGW carryover case, this one ain’t over, as next week’s previews show.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

This case has ramifications throughout the firm. For one thing, El Sayid asks Eli to create a pro-Muslim campaign to combat discrimination. Eli’s skeptical at the man’s motives, wondering if he wants to hire him because he’s good — or because he’s Jewish. “Why can’t it be both?” the equally canny new client answers. 

Meanwhile, Eli’s friend Michael (a cameo from House‘s Peter Jacobson) confronts him about taking the work. Eli is thoughtful, but in the end it’s about business. They part in anger–yet Michael isn’t too angry to later offer Eli a juicy contract with a Jewish anti-defamation group. Taking the assignment would of course create a conflict of interest with the pro-Muslim group and force Eli to drop El Sayid’s account.

Fortunately for Eli, this suits El Sayid just fine, since he’s become disenchanted by how L-G has handled Jamal’s case.

Brief Testimony

A few quick hits from this episode:

  • With Sophie now embedded in the state’s attorney’s office, she also becomes entangled in the case. But whose side is she on? On the one hand, she helps Cary maneuver Alicia’s client into a murder charge. On the other, she follows Kalinda around like a puppy during thei investigation and ultimately helps her confront the real killer.
  • Peter prods at Alicia, telling her that she’s had it easy till now. After all, the previous prosecutors didn’t know how she thinks, like he does. His office is going to win this case. A post-night-out-with-Will Alicia just smiles knowingly and says, “Good luck with that, Peter.”
  • Grace has a new tutor, an eccentric girl who likes to make flash-mob videos on the subway. Not sure where this is going. They gave it too much airtime just so Grace can admit that, despite her initial reservations, she likes the girl now, because sometimes “different is good.” This is either a reference to the idea of tolerance and acceptance or bigger things await this plotline. I vote for the latter.

Summary Judgment

Despite initial disappointment at not seeing a hotel-room flashback, the ploy of keeping us guessing for awhile actually paid off. And it’s nice to see Alicia finally having a little fun, don’t you think?

Overall, a good episode, with plenty of great Eli and Kalinda material. I only hope Diane’s role will soon expand beyond giving advice. Being the “only adult” in the office isn’t all she’s about. (But with just 45 minutes plus commercials to tell the story, you can’t have everything.) The many layers of the case fascinated me, too, though less the actual whodunit (a crime of passion), than the political, racial, and religious layers woven throughout. It also gave Eli a chance to get in plenty of zingers (yay!).

What did you think? Is The Good Wife back and as good as ever? Will you be back next week to find out if Alicia wins Jamal’s case? Are you padding your DVR to adjust for football game over-runs?

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV