The creators of The Good Wife have often said the show could just as easily be called “The Education of Alicia Florrick,” but in this week’s second-to-last episode, “Verdict,” we see that Peter’s learned nearly as much. It’s time for a reckoning.

As Peter’s trial gets underway, he has to convince the jury (and his wife) that he’s a changed man. Is it too late? What will Alicia do if Peter goes to jail — stand by her man? And what about Jason? Will he be man enough to stand by Alicia?

The Trials of Peter Florrick

Admit it — you were wondering if Alicia and Peter had a quickie at the end of Jackie and Howie’s party, right? Apparently not (whew!) because we jump right into Peter’s corruption trial.

Diane is now serving as Peter’s attorney, with Alicia and Eli sitting loyally behind them. Things don’t start off well. They have a judge who hates the governor and a prosecutor insinuating that the First Lady of Illinois took part in the conspiracy. (Objection!)

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AUSA Fox offers a deal that would put Peter in jail for “only” eight years, but Alicia bluntly tells him to “prove it.” Fox says he has a witness who will take Peter down. Despite her brave front, Alicia’s worried enough to call Jason to find out who. Could it be Cary? (Noooo, not Cary!) 

Jason also mentions that they’ve almost finished tearing down the conference room wall at Lockhart, Florrick. Say what? Neither Alicia nor Diane ordered any demolition. In a nod to classic Good Wife episodes past, the women step off the elevator — this time to chaos. It turns out the whole thing was a mistake (not a plot by David Lee). The workmen had the wrong floor. But Diane sees this as an opportunity. With the ceiling gone, why not just take over the floor above. They want to expand the firm, don’t they?

Who Is the Surprise Witness?

Back in court, Matan Brody testifies that Peter “micromanaged” the Locke case, which the governor is accused of burying to help a big donor. Diane (wearing a Madeleine Albright-worth brooch) suggests he was just being thorough. As the attorneys argue (to the judge’s displeasure) Alicia gets a text and walks into the hallway.

It’s Louis Canning. Cary’s not the secret witness, he says. But Peter’s in trouble. The person waiting in the wings to put the governor in the pokey turns out to be his former ASA, Geneva Pine. Canning says her testimony will sink Peter.

At the law firm, Diane and Alicia have already brought in a designer to rehab and expand the damaged offices. (How did they get somebody in so quickly?) David’s not too happy, but when is he ever happy? 

Walking through the partially demo’d office (a metaphor for the future demolition of the sets, perhaps?), Alicia asks Jason to investigate Geneva Pine. What does she know and when did she know it?

They jump on an elevator together (but of course!) and she apologizes for having to stick by Peter during the trial, but Jason says it’s okay. She’s still figuring out how to deal with his offer from last week, to be together but not necessarily in the same place. “I’m not someone who likes to be un-tethered,” she says. They agree to meet up later.

Did Peter Cheat Again?

Jason visits a woman who claims to know “all the dirt” in the State’s Attorney’s office. “Tell me about Geneva Pine,” he says. What she says may shock you. Or not.

Geneva is out to get Peter because they were sleeping together. It was a long-time affair; up to a month ago. (A month ago!) He broke it off with her, which is why she’s now ready to throw Peter under the proverbial prison bus. Jason breaks out into a big grin. This he can use. 

Geneva is on the witness stand and her testimony about “lost evidence” and other misconduct is pretty damning. Before Diane can cross-examine Geneva, Canning contacts Alicia again.

“As long as you keep Cary out of this, I can help,” he says. Geneva’s lying, and he has the affidavits about her affair with Peter to prove it. Alicia takes the files and thanks him. He’s taken aback that she doesn’t seem upset about the news. 

“What? You want me to cry?” she asks. She makes a crying face and moans, “Oh my god, I thought my husband no longer cheated.” Then she smiles. “Wow,” Canning says. “I love you.” 

“I know,” she says, in true swashbuckling Han to Leia style. (Yeah, baby!)

Maybe Peter is Telling the Truth this Time

At the office, Eli and Diane worry that Geneva’s testimony hurt their case. Alicia sits serenely and hands over the files proving that Ms. Pine had a motive for lying about her ex-lover. “It goes to motive,” she say. Eli seems genuinely shocked and sorry that his boss cheated on Alicia again and repeatedly. Peter comes in and says it’s not true. “It’s office gossip, and we’re not going to use it.”

Diane needs Kurt’s help for the trial. (Yay about seeing these two together again.) She sweet-talks him into testifying since he was supposed to provide evidence in the original trial (before he married Diane). In his opinion, the (now-missing) bullets didn’t come from Locke’s gun.

David is not happy (again! who knew?) that Diane ispending a lot of money on the expansion and only seems to be hiring women. “Oh, boo hoo,” says Diane. “It must be so terrible to be outnumbered by women.”

Kurt’s Reputation Takes a Hit

Jason brings Alicia from one of Geneva’s co-workers that says Ms. Pine often bullied her way into other people’s cases, but nothing about Peter sleeping with her. And now, Jason’s done. He can no longer work on Peter’s case.

Back in court, Ms. Westfall (the woman that Kurt didn’t sell his consulting business to) testifies that Kurt is brilliant and honest, but he may have “oversold” his findings to Peter back in the day. But nevertheless, those bullets went missing, so who knows? Then she drops a bombshell: the only ASA who handled the evidence was the co-prosecutor, Cary Agos. 

Alicia insists to Canning that naming Cary wasn’t their fault. It just happened. “Tell Cary we’re on the same side,” she says. “We were, until about 10 minutes ago,” Canning retorts.

An Agos Scorned

And now it’s Cary’s turn on the stand. He’s so rattled, he says that despite Kurt’s opinion, “We knew the bullets damned Peter,” when he meant to say “Locke.”

Lucca asks Cary flat out if he hates the Florricks. He says no, but admits he’s angry at them. But he’s still telling the truth, he says.

Afterwards, she wonders why he testified against Peter. “I never meant you any harm,” she says, clearly upset.

“You know it’s amazing, Alicia,” he responds. “After all these years of working together, you still think I would come in here, to a court of law and perjure myself to hurt you. I was here to tell the truth. What are you here to do?” She has no reply.

Inside the court, Peter tells his legal team that he needs to take the stand. “The jury doesn’t trust me,” he says. Alicia agrees with him and suggests they prep.

Lucca Lays It on the Line

Lucca catches up with Jason at the lawyer bar. She’s worried that Peter will be going to jail. Alicia will need a lot of comforting (hint, hint), she says. But he thinks Alicia would continue to stand by him and eventually drift away from him. He tries to act all cool about it, but Lucca calls him on his act. She even asks if he’s in love with Alicia. When he says “no,” she doesn’t buy that either. 

“I don’t believe you,” she says. “Take my advice. Stop playing it cool. You want her? Then go to her and say ‘I want you, and I’ll protect you. You don’t owe your husband anything. Be happy and come to me. Make me happy.'” (Jason, I think Lucca’s got your number and the digits spell out A.L.I.C.I.A.)

Back at the Lockhart-McVeigh house, Diane apologizes to her husband for causing him to be humiliated in court. She cries and begs for his forgiveness. Without saying a word, he takes his wife’s hand and gently kisses it. (Awwww.)

In Preparation, There Is Truth

Alicia prepares the governor for court. He insists he didn’t make a deal with Lloyd Garber to get his stepson off on the murder charge. Alicia holds his feet to the fire about his past misdeeds, which brings out his passion about why he “micromanaged” cases. He didn’t want to see cases go bad because of his employees’ mistakes. 

But his passion for justice is one thing. What about his passion for other women? When he throws Will and Jason back in his wife’s face, she’s ready for him. “I’m not on trial, buddy,” she says.

Smash cut to: Fox cross examining Peter. “Why should anyone believe you?”

Peter tells the court that he was a “hard-ass” State’s Attorney because he was wrongly convicted and he never wanted to see that happen to anyone else. “That’s when I was at my best. That’s when I was most honorable.” 

Alicia’s clearly moved by her husband; probably for the first time in a long while.

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The Jury Deliberates

The judge gives instructions to the jury. What happens now is anyone’s guess.

Back at the law firm, David brings Diane an EEOC complaint. David says he has as much right to complain as any other minority. (Oh, lordy, poor white guy!)

Just then, a city inspector tells her that someone on the demolition crew took out a load-bearing wall and everyone has to evacuate.

AUSA Fox has a new deal for Alicia to consider. They’re offering Peter two years, down from the original eight. That’s all they get before the jury returns with a verdict. 

She takes the offer to Peter, but Eli wants to keep fighting. Peter looks depressed, and Alicia asks for the room. She pours her husband a glass of wine. “Can I make a confession to you?” he asks. (Uh-oh.) Turns out he never really liked wine. He just drank it for her, but now it’s grown on him.

Peter considers the deal. Spending eight months in prison before was an ordeal. The idea of a longer term daunts him. She reassures him, saying his speech went over well. “There’s no good answer, is there?” he akss. She gives him a hug and recommends that he sleep on it. 

“I’m going to take the deal,” he says. “It’s the smart thing to do. Two years. I get out. Write a book. Start over. You gonna come visit me?” She assures him that she will. 

“The hardest thing is being forgotten,” he says. “I won’t forget,” she says. So it’s agreed, but just then, her phone buzzes. What?

“The jury’s back,” she says. Cut to black!

Summary Judgment

Given that this episode is titled “Verdict,” I expected a verdict. But perhaps it’s better that we don’t know yet. The show runners have already revealed The Good Wife will end with Alicia standing by Peter’s side once again. The question is: Will he be talking about going back to prison or about starting over? We’ll have to wait till next week’s finale (sob!) to find out.

We’ll also have to wait to find out if Jason comes to his senses and listens to Lucca. Will he go to Alicia and confess his love for her or will he remain unacceptably cool and throw away their chance for happiness? Three words for you Jason: Listen. To. Lucca.

Another surprise? Despite being one episode from dunzo, this week didn’t have the farewell vibe of last week’s “Party” (when we said goodbye to Veronica, Owen, Zach, etc., etc.) No elegies here, not yet anyway. I can’t even guess whether Peter’s going to jail, because if there’s one thing you could rely on with TGW, it’s that you couldn’t rely on anything. Nothing’s predictable (except the excellent writing, acting, direction,costumes and set design, of course).

So are you with me for the finale? Yes? Amazingly, it’s only scheduled for one hour. One hour to wrap up the best show on network television. Can they pull it off and keep the audience satisfied? The jury is still out on that, but we’ll know soon.

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS for one more week. At which point it will become part of the pantheon of greatest shows ever.

(Image courtesy of CBS.)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV