In an episode that seems unsure of whether to be serious or sitcom-ish, The Good Wife tells some very different stories this week. 

On the serious side: there are issues of truth (can Alicia fake a belief in God for the cameras?), death (why does everyone keep bringing up Will?) and freedom (is Cary heading back to jail?). On the sitcom side: a wacky love affair between two lawyers who should know better.

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Minor Issues Become Major Problems

In this week’s new episode, “Old Spice,” Alicia’s in for a very busy week. She continues down the road to public office, and the subject of religion keeps dogging her. She’s an atheist, but campaign manager Jonathan wants her to change her tune, at least publicly. While they’re discussing it, her new “body woman” arrives. It’s Eli’s daughter, Marissa. (Love her!)

Picking up from last week, we also learn that the criminal case against J-Serve is still very much alive. Down at the federal building, Elsbeth — now working with Alicia again (yay!) — tells off assistant US attorney Josh Perotti for bringing the charges. Despite her apparent disdain, he still wants to woo her. 

Over at Lockhart-Gardner & Canning, it’s business as usual until David Lee gets served with an eviction notice. (I guess that cockroach Diane saw last week was one bug too many.) To fight back, L-G & C sicks OSHA on them, which could cost a fortune in repairs. Diane and Alicia still want to move. A crabby Cary is against it, seeing it as a step back. 

In court, Alicia and Elsbeth’s client, Camilla Vargas, at first appears to be on trial for selling trade secrets. But Alicia catches on quickly that AUSA Perotti’s trying to prove that J-Serve (Camilla’s former employer) committed industrial espionage and sold encryption software to the Chinese government. That’s a much bigger deal, and Camilla could go to jail for years. 

Not the Struggle You Expected

Alicia’s scheduled to be interviewed by Reverend Jeremiah, a Chicago heavy-hitter. Jonathan urges her to come up with a plausible story to help her “walk back” her atheism. She calls Grace for advice.

Back in court, Elsbeth takes advantage of Perotti’s crush to distract him, but it’s Alicia who knocks the sails out of Josh’s witness by using his own testimony from last week’s civil case against him. 

Diane and Kalinda go “behind enemy lines” (Kalinda’s words) to give Louis and David a taste of their own medicine in the form of OSHA charges against several of Canning’s real estate holdings. Drop your charges and we’ll drop ours, Diane says. Canning seems to cave to them — too quickly. 

David has another card to play: The lease requires Diane to have been on the premises, but she’s been gone for four weeks. She’s about to cave, too, when Kalinda comes up with a plan. Let’s hire old geezer Howard! He becomes their proxy at the L-G & C offices. Diane tells Louis and David they have 24 hours to vacate the premises. 

Grace and Alicia prep for her appearance on Reverend Jeremiah’s show. Alicia admits her only “struggle” with belief in God is politics. She’s still an atheist. Grace tells Mom that she loves her — no judging. (They really have a sweet relationship.)

Cary attends a Harvard alumni party and picks up a young woman attorney. Unfortunately, they arrive drunk at his (really nice) apartment to find Joy Grubick, his pre-trial services officer, waiting. When she asks to see the Uber trip on his cell phone (to prove he wasn’t driving), she sees that their trip took him over the state line into Indiana. That’s a bail violation. (Oh, Cary!) Diane gets him a reprieve, but the judge says he’ll make his decision based on Joy’s final report the next day.

While Cary’s appearing before the judge, Alicia’s being interviewed by Reverend Jeremiah. He reminds her that she’s on the record as an atheist. Has she changed her mind? She skillfully deflects his questions, saying her life has gone through many changes, and she’s become less dogmatic. She’s more open to people who talk about God now.

The Reverend brings up Will’s shooting, and she admits that’s still hard to talk about. He then asks about Grace’s faith journey, and then prays for Alicia on camera. On the drive home, Marissa says she did well. Alicia’s not so sure; she doesn’t like to pretend to be something she’s not. (Honey, if that’s true, then you might want to rethink politics as a career!)

Scents and Sensibility

The next morning, we see Josh on an elevator, being turned on by the smell of baby powder from an actual baby. (Kinda creepy, actually.) Meanwhile, Elsbeth is sniffing a bottle of Old Spice before court. (Oookay.) Perotti puts a CIA analyst on the stand to prove that the Chinese have the encryption code he claims came from J-Serve. 

Alicia asks Kalinda for help on the espionage case. Just as she’s telling Alicia about Cary’s arrest and hearing, Joy Grubick approaches Kalinda to ask questions — some of them about her own criminal history (even though all of the charges were dropped). Joy tries to rattle the PI, but she stands firm in her support of Cary. 

After court, Elsbeth’s in her office dancing to “Call Me Maybe,” when Josh shows up. He may be uninvited, but not unwanted. He thinks she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, and he loves how she smells of baby powder. She confesses that she’s turned on by the scent of his Old Spice aftershave. (So that’s what that was about!) They end up going at it on her desk. Isn’t this a mistrial in the making?

A Fresh Start and Another Chance

The next morning, Kalinda reports back to Alicia and Elsbeth (in her now-demolished office — apparently she and Josh used more than her desk). K’s found info that might help the case. Alicia suggests a delay to get proper documentation, but Elsbeth says no — there’s another way. 

An abashed Cary wants to take a leave of absence, but Alicia tells him they support him, no matter what happens. Fortunately, Joy’s final report keeps Cary out of jail. Unfortunately, the court puts more restrictions on him, including an ankle monitor, a curfew — and no contact with Kalinda. Joy classes her as “a danger.” So Cary’s free, but this is his last chance. One more infraction and it’s back to the slammer for him. 

Elsbeth goes to see Josh. He’s disappointed to hear she’s there for work. She tells him that his case involves selective prosecution.The government has had similar incidents in the past they didn’t charge anyone for. She hands over evidence, and he promptly drops it in a shredder. She’s hurt he’d do that after last night, but this is work. He doesn’t care that he’s just destroyed evidence if it helps his case. But she records his remarks on her cell phone, putting him in a tough position. As she’s leaving his office, she tells him, “So call me. Maybe.” He smiles as she leaves — he’s still smitten. 

In court, he withdraws all charges against J-Serve and Camilla Vargas. Now Camilla can get back to her civil case against J-Serve for wrongful dismissal. “See you in court,” a smiling Alicia tells Elsbeth. And what of Josh? For now, he’s heading back to DC, with the smell of baby powder lingering in his mind. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of these two crazy kids. 

At the end of the day, Alicia and Diane walk into their old — now new — offices. They’ve been trashed by Louis, David and the others, but it’s a fresh start for Florrick, Agos & Lockhart.

Alicia’s pulled up short by seeing Will’s old office. Though Diane offers Alicia her old space, she says she won’t hear of it. Alicia sits in Will’s chair, as Diane looks on. They smile at each other ruefully.

Summary Judgment

Was it just me or did this feel like two different episodes crammed together into one very busy hour? 

On one hand, you have Alicia dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. Her belief system. What she’ll say to get elected. Her relationship with her daughter. The possibility of Cary returning to jail. And, of course, taking over Will’s old office.

On the other, there’s the Elsbeth/Josh storyline, which seems to have been dropped in from another show entirely. Okay, I laughed when Josh literally swept her off her feet (and swept the papers from her desk). But this wasn’t the classic Good Wife wit (leave that to “body woman” Marissa). This was just odd. 

The upside? Unlike last week, Elsbeth seem less like a candidate for a stay at a mental facility and more like the distracted-but-brilliant attorney we know and love.  Maybe with Josh back in DC, Elsbeth will make a true return to form. 

Next week’s episode marks the return of Frasier‘s David Hyde Pierce to network television as a potential political rival for Alicia. Will Niles Crane take on Alicia Florrick? Bring it on!

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm (except on the many nights in the fall when football overruns make it late) on CBS. 

(Image courtesy of CBS)


Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV