It may be Stanley Cup season (go, Bruins!), but the latest Good Wife episode, “The Penalty Box,” ain’t about hockey. But it isn’t tennis either — this one’s all about the teamwork.

In a most satisfying way, the latest episode has set up the lawyers at Lockhart & Associates for next week’s season finale. Court is in session!

The Case Before the Court

One of Chicago’s most prominent jurists, Judge Cuesta, asks Diane to help him when he’s put in the “penalty box” (basically, assigned busy-work duties while he’s under a cloud). He’s being investigated for prosecutorial misconduct on a case that dates back 20 years to when he was an assistant state’s attorney. Apparently, in his zeal to convict a man for killing his wife, Cuesta may have overlooked evidence that would exonerate him. Now the man’s conviction has been overturned thanks to a new DNA test. The question is: Did Cuesta railroad the defendant?

Things don’t look so good for Cuesta when Kalinda (following a lead from the case’s original investigator) turns up old credit card slips — dated after the murder and after the husband was arrested. Cuesta says he never saw the slips, though Diane muses he might have developed an unconscious need to overlook anything that might clear the accused.

Cuesta is wracked with guilt at his possible culpability in sending an innocent man to jail, but ultimately Alicia proves that all financial evidence is the responsibility of Cuesta’s co-counsel, Bullock. When Bullock denies overlooking the credit card receipts, Alicia forces him to admit he was addicted to painkillers during the whole trial, something he never revealed to Cuesta. The presiding judge seems satisfied that Bullock was the responsible (or perhaps irresponsible) party. 

Second Chair

With Will’s suspension still in effect, Diane realizes that Lockhart & Associates is stretched pretty thin when it comes to litigators. Alicia suggests they hire Cary, who has become increasingly unhappy at the State’s Attorney’s Office since his demotion. Though Diane shows enthusiasm, Will is still angry about Wendy Scott-Carr’s investigation, which contributed to his suspension. He suggests they consider one more candidate before making an offer to Agos.

What he doesn’t know is that Diane’s alternate pick is Callie, the attorney they faced in last week’s episode — and now Will’s new girlfriend. He isn’t too happy about finding out she might be hired, given how recently he went down the inter-office romance road with Alicia.

Unfortunately for Cary, Eli sees him in the interview and asks Peter if he’s cutting Cary loose. Peter, hurt and angry, calls the younger man into his office and confronts him, telling him he prizes loyalty above all else. Though Cary apologizes for not coming to Peter first, he admits to his unhappiness. But Peter isn’t ready to forgive and really does cut him loose. “You gotta do what you gotta do, kid,” he tells his former protegee.

But does Cary have a job to go to? It’s a resounding yes! Callie has accepted a better deal from another firm, which also lets her continue her relationship with Will. Cary takes Diane’s offer, and she welcomes him back. Lucky Cary, lucky Callie, lucky Will — lucky audience. Will and Cary even agree to bury the hatchet and begin again.

Hostile Witness

The Kalinda mystery deepens. While in the office to discuss his legal affairs, drug kingpin — excuse me, “independent businessman” — Lamond Bishop asks to speak with Kalinda and Alicia privately. He wants to know why FBI agent Lana Delaney questioned him about checks he wrote to Kalinda for work she performed for him, work he doesn’t remember requesting. With a barely veiled threat, he tells Kalinda and Alicia to make this problem go away. Alicia openly warns the PI that Lana is going to get Kalinda killed.

That night, Kalinda visits Lana at home. The FBI agent can barely contain her lustful glances, and Kalinda appears to respond. Backing Lana against a wall, Kalinda kisses her passionately — then asks her to back off from Bishop, because she’s going to get killed otherwise. Despite the obvious sincerity of Kalinda’s plea, Agent Delaney says she can’t stop: It’s her job. Kalinda stalks out, leaving a frustrated Lana in her wake.

And, in fact, Lana doesn’t stop. She confronts Alicia about the payments from Bishop to Kalinda. Though Alicia insists that they’re the result of an accounting error, Lana isn’t buying. This isn’t over, and neither is the threat from Bishop.

Compelling Evidence

Plenty of great moments and snappy dialogue in this episode. A few highlights:

“Will, I don’t mean to intrude, but could you please keep your pants zipped?” — Diane to Will, after finding out that he’s dating potential hire Callie. (In fairness to Will, he had no idea Diane was considering bringing on his new girlfriend.)

Eli tries to get old senior partner Howie to side with him and Julius to vote Will out of the firm. At first, Diane wants to take steps to stop them; Will advises her to just let things run their natural course — a smart move. Eli quickly realizes that Howie is a few briefs short of a case, suggesting that they also get rid of Diane and telling Cary the firm should create a slush fund “to help get clients laid.” Soon enough, Eli is telling his would-be conspirator, “Please forget I said anything to you, Howard. Can we please just go back to us not talking?” 

Finally, the night’s crowning moment. After accepting his job offer, several of the young associates repair to a local bar to celebrate. Cary thanks Alicia for recommending him and toasts her for “getting a judge out of the penalty box today.” When he comments that she seems to have it all in the bag now, she lets him know that looks can be deceiving.

For one thing, she’s blue about defending the judge, unsure whether he was innocent or whether it even matters. Cary replies, “Look, I went away for two years; now I’m back, and I haven’t learned a thing. I’m just as stupid as when I left law school.” She wants to know, what’s there to learn? “You learn that people lie, and the people who judge, they lie the most,” he says.

Suddenly he gets a call on his cellphone — it’s Peter. When he goes off to talk, we get the moment we’ve been waiting for all year: Alicia spots Kalinda walking into the bar and pats Cary’s now-empty chair to welcome her once-and-future friend to join her.

The gang’s back together, folks — yay!

Summary Judgment

More and more, Alicia is taking center stage in important cases (well, the show is about her), and more and more, she’s losing her idealism. While it’s painful to watch at times, it’s also gratifying to see her realize she can’t go it alone. With Cary back in the fold and Kalinda back in the friendship zone, Alicia seems ready to face her increasing responsibilities surrounded by allies. They’ll come in handy in the months to come, as Peter’s race for governor heats up.

Though this week’s show could easily have served as the finale, that’s still to come. The preview for next week makes it clear that threats abound for all our favorites — from Bishop taking on Kalinda to Louis Canning taking on the entire firm. I sense cliffhangers coming, don’t you?

(Image courtesy of CBS)

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Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV