St. Patrick’s Day is typically more associated with green beer than family drama, but The Good Wife isn’t a typical show. As the Lockhart & Gardner team gets ready for the annual Chicago Shamrock Dinner, there are more tears than beers on display.

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Things look pretty serious this week: an inquest into a car crash, which may or may not be an accident. The return of Cary’s dad, who can’t resist showing his disappointment in his son. A perhaps-final showdown between Eli and Jordan, which also entangles young Zach. But, hey — Peter wins his primary, so it’s not all bad news.

The Case Before the Court Coroner

When an Illinois State Supreme Court Justice, Roger Ludwig, dies in a car crash on an empty rural road, his wife Janie calls in her old friend Alicia to help prove it was an accident. The insurance company wants to prove Ludwig contributed to the crash by driving recklessly, which would void his $2 million policy. 

In a change of pace, the proceedings occur not in a standard courtroom, but at a coroner’s inquest. The rules are different than in regular court, because the law limits attorneys from either side to only three questions per witness. That limitation makes it harder than usual for Alicia (and later, Will) to ferret out the truth. But what truth? How did Ludwig die?

Hobson, the insurance company’s attorney (well played as a condescending jerk by In Plain Sight‘s Frederick Weller) raises suspicions that the judge committed suicide-by-vehicle because he was under investigation for bribery. To counter this, Alicia sends Kalinda and new investigator Robyn on a fact-finding mission. They discover Ludwig stopped at a motel before the crash — and argued with a blonde woman as he left. This gives Alicia and Will the ammunition to propose that he was actually murdered by an angry lover who drove him off the road.

However, though Ludwig was having an affair (with his best friend’s wife, no less), the truth turns out to be simpler than either Hobson or the L&G team supposed. After leaving the hotel, Ludwig fell victim to a drunk in an SUV whose erratic driving forced him through a guard rail. Rather than go to a jury trial — where evidence of an accident would have triggered twice the payment — Hobson offers to settle with Janie for the full amount. 

A Hostile Witness

Cary’s surprised to find his estranged father Jeffrey back in Chicago. After Cary had refused to help Dad land a job in Peter’s office, the younger Agos is genuinely surprised to see him again. And Jeffrey’s brought the firm a big fish, as Diane calls it — Emmons Pharmaceuticals. The company wants Lockhart & Gardner’s help writing draft legislation for a medical marijuana law.

With lobbyist Jeffrey at the table, Cary struggles to keep the discussion on track. He knows that if they write the legislation Jeffrey’s way, it will be patently obvious that Emmons wants to protect its own interests. The older Agos makes it clear Emmons needs Cary and his team to follow his lead. He repeatedly demeans his son, comparing him to the fast-rising Alicia. 

When Cary refuses to fall in line, Jeffrey tells Diane that it’s too bad — Emmons heard about L&G’s history of class-action lawsuits against Big Pharma and wants to pull its business. So sorry about that!

Imagine Jeffrey’s surprise when his underachiever son arrives at the firm with none other than the CEO of Emmons. Cary has convinced the man that Lockhart & Gardner’s tight relationship with the State’s Attorney’s Office could be beneficial. Voila! L&G has another big client (again). 

To add insult to injury, Cary tells Dad that his services won’t be needed anymore, at least not when it comes to the medical marijuana law. Cary will handle that particular piece of work directly with the Emmons general counsel. 

When a bitter Jeffrey accuses Cary of holding a grudge, the younger man sadly but calmly tells him, “I’m too busy for grudges, Dad. Take care, thanks for the business.” 

Opposing Counsel

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the softer side of Eli Gold. And if the latest Good Wife is any evidence, we won’t be seeing it anytime soon. 

Now that Eli’s legal troubles are behind him, he’s ready to take down rival campaign manager Jordan Karahalios. He does it the easiest way he knows, by making it look as though Jordan is messing with the Florrick family. We know how Alicia feels about that. 

Zach’s girlfriend, Neisa, hands Eli what he needs on a silver platter. After inviting Zach over for a holiday dinner with her family, she tweets a photo of the group dressed in traditional garb. (Jordan also reveals that her father once gave money to a Muslim organization that’s since been tagged as a terrorist front.) Eli cleverly maneuvers Jordan into discussing the photo’s ramifications for Peter’s campaign with the boy. 

When Alicia finds out that Zach broke up with Neisa afterwards, “ballistic” doesn’t even begin to describe the situation. She castigates Jordan for trying to “parent” her child. However, when Eli tries to apologize for Jordan’s behavior — telling her that Jordan does things differently than he does — she eyes Gold suspiciously and tells him that whatever game he’s playing, she’s not interested. She’s got his number, but Jordan still pays the price.

Shortly after we learn that Peter’s won the Democratic primary for governor (buh-bye, Maddie!), Jordan gets the boot. As he’s leaving, he pretends to show pity for Eli, saying Eli will die a lonely old man because he doesn’t trust anyone. Guess what? Eli doesn’t seem to care what Jordan thinks.

As an ironic coda, Alicia later learns Zach planned to break up with Neisa regardless. With college just a year away (and just around the corner for the year-older girl), Zach tells his mom she was getting too serious. Evidently, Eli’s moment of opportunity proves to be Zach’s as well.


Alicia and Will take a moment to discuss their situation. They agree that avoiding each other feels uncomfortable; it was better when they were friends. When Will asks her if Peter would be upset if Will attends the Shamrock Dinner — a big political event that Lockhart & Gardner has never been invited to before — she says it’s fine. 

However, despite the “Let’s be adult about this” talk, Alicia still waits in her office, listening for the elevator so Will can leave first. She clearly doesn’t want any awkward encounters right now.

But given that the episode ends with Alicia leaving her apartment for the dinner wearing a wowza red dress, I have a feeling that more awkward encounters await. 

Summary Judgment

It seems anticlimactic to learn of Peter’s victory almost as an afterthought (I mean, where is Chris Noth this week?), but the battle between Eli and Jordan gives us Gold at his sneaky best. Really, Jordan doesn’t see it coming. 

This week’s case feels a little more “procedural” than usual, with the accident/suicide/murder — nope, it’s an accident arc, but the array of guest stars livens up the proceedings considerably. Besides Frederick Weller, we also get a pleasantly toned-down Jessalyn Gilsig as the wife who knows more that she lets on and Rene Auberjonois as the feisty coroner. Well into season 4, The Good Wife shows no signs of letting up with the great casting.

Even better: how much do you love Cary putting his creepy, disloyal dad in his place without once raising his voice? John Shea, in a return appearance, plays the lizard-like lobbyist with just the right balance of charm and smarminess. After Cary’s disappointment over losing out on partnership and the possibility of starting his own firm, it looks like his fortunes may be looking up. (And that’s without even a reference this week to what’s going on with Kalinda…)

Next week, we’ll see more of America’s longest St. Patrick’s Day celebration as the Shamrock Dinner finally gets underway. The previews promise us showdowns between Eli and (GOP rival) Mike Kresteva, Peter and Mike Kresteva, Peter and Will — I could go on, but you get the drift. Just as the city always dyes the Chicago River green for the holiday, I’m “dying” to see what happens as these heavy-hitters face off. 

Don’t miss what happens when Peter and Will get a look at Alicia in that red dress! Be sure to put The Good Wife on your customized watch-list with the BuddyTV Guide app. 

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV