Politics is a dirty game. But with growing accusations about rigged elections, even someone as savvy as Alicia must wonder why she ever wanted to play in the first place. 

But, hey, what’s a little voter fraud between friends? Now, Diane — there’s someone in trouble. Thanks to Kalinda’s heroic but illegal efforts to keep Cary out of jail, Diane might ends up in the slammer instead.

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Another Florrick Scandal?

That’s not just my subhead — it’s also the headline on the news program Alicia’s watching as “Winning Ugly” gets underway. It seems that voting machines in certain districts registered votes for Alicia that should have gone to Frank Prady. So besides the embarrassing release of the Alicia-Will correspondence, there are now damaging allegations about the touchscreen machines. Darn calibration problems!

Much to Eli’s dismay, the Election Board has to investigate because someone turned over a microchip that might have switched the votes. When Alicia confronts him, he denies any knowledge of the hack, but he can’t be sure one of their supporters didn’t do it, either. There might have to be a recount.

Eli worries that “elections are stolen during recounts.” He asks Alicia to approach Prady — tell him he doesn’t want to win that way, by winning ugly. She tries, but Prady won’t meet with her. Instead, his lawyer, Mr. Perrillo, claims he’ll prove to the Election Board she cheated.

Darn Metadata!

PI Andrew Wiley brings Diane his evidence that she may have presented falsified evidence in court to exonerate Cary. Kalinda is rightfully scared when Diane approaches her with a stony look on her face. 

They take their discussion to Finn’s office. Kalinda explains that she never intended her boss to present the fake metadata. (Remember that Kalinda had found another way to save Cary, but Diane found the “evidence” on K’s computer.) Good intentions aside, Diane could get disbarred. 

But, wait, it gets worse! Diane tells Cary and David what happened. Even though Detective Prima didn’t delete the all-important e-mail, he did try to frame Cary with an altered wiretap tape. David insists Diane go before the police internal affairs review and come clean. Otherwise, disbarment might be the least of her problems — she could go to jail. 

Alicia and her new executive assistant, Marissa (I love how her job title keeps getting better), visit Frank Landau, the local Democratic Party chair. He introduces Spencer Randolph, a famous civil rights attorney (played by Ron Rifkin). He’s volunteered to represent Alicia before the Election Board. He believes in her and the democratic process. It’s the first good news she’s gotten all day.

For Grace, not so much, after she sees an online video of two middle-aged men reading the Will-Alicia e-mails on camera. (Really, it could be a thing.) 

All About Review Boards

At the Election Board meeting, the mere appearance of Randolph causes a stir. (And Marissa has a huge crush on him, despite the 40-year-plus age difference. I felt a little uncomfortable.) 

Over at the police review board, Wiley delivers his report, pointing a finger at Florrick/Agos/Lockhart. Diane and Kalinda (with Finn and David) make a surprise appearance before the board. Kalinda testifies that Diane had nothing to do with it — and reminds them that Det. Prima is still guilty of doctoring the interrogation tapes. Prima whines to ASA (and his former lover) Geneva Pine that he was framed by the law firm.

Back at home, Alicia apologizes to her daughter for having to deal with “all my stuff.” She also confesses that she did have an affair with Will. Grace isn’t happy that Mom lied, and I’m guessing Alicia’s excuse that she lied to the press because “it wasn’t their business” isn’t flying. 

Was Prady the Cheat?

At the Election Board hearing, Randolph questions Alicia. She firmly denies any involvement in any fraud. Perrillo tries to accuse Peter, as governor, of purchasing the new voter machines. Later, Peter explains that he appointed an independent monitor to oversee the purchases. 

Unfortunately, the monitor, Ernie Nolan, had tried to bribe her before she ran. Looks bad. Looks better when Nolan tells her he won’t testify on her behalf because she rebuffed him in the past. Prady’s people were “much more open to donations.” 

“You put the hacking devices in the machines for Prady?!” she asks. He just smiles. But Prady still lost “because your campaign cheated better,” he says. “We didn’t cheat!” says an indignant Alicia. Nolan tells her she should have taken his money. “Now you won’t be SA.”

Nolan still has to testify before the board. He claims to have found 40 of the hacking chips — he recommends a recount. (Surprise!) Funny thing, though, Alicia taped their meeting. (Yes!) Nolan walks out of the room. Perrillo, never missing a beat, says this just proves there should be a recount. The people deserve fair elections.

Diane now faces an obstruction-of-justice charge, which could earn her three years in jail. The judge wants a full hearing. Diane approaches Geneva and asks her, “What do you really want?”

Kalinda, meanwhile, has her IT guy looking into the hacker device. (She really should stay away from him.)  “There’s something odd about it,” she tells Alicia. IT guy Hal tells the board that the hacker chip is “ancient” — it’s from 2012. Why would you use it now? 

You wouldn’t — it would have been used in 2012, for Peter’s race for governor. A shocked Alicia didn’t realize Randolph was going after her husband. Marissa states the obvious: “Dad’s not going to be happy!”

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A Deal with Teeth

Geneva tells Diane that outgoing State’s Attorney Castro has agreed to drop all charges. (Whew!) But the price will be high — Diane has to testify against Lemond Bishop. (“Oh, no!” sighs Kalinda — and the audience.) It’s the same (rejected) deal Castro offered Cary six months ago. 

“And here we go again,” Diane says, “back at the beginning.”

Finn tells Cary, Kalinda and Diane that the SA’s office really, really, really wants Bishop. What to do? Kalinda walks out with a concerned look on her face.

Peter is furious about Randolph’s accusations of impropriety during his governor’s race. He sends Eli to approach Randolph and ask him to back down. The famed attorney is disappointed that Alicia supports this move. Defending the democratic process, etc., etc. But back in front of the Election Board, he defends Alicia with florid language, calling her a hero who has the strength to fight for what she has earned.

Perrillo recalls IT guy Hal to the stand, who amends his testimony. Those 2012 chips weren’t just lying dormant for three years; they were actually updated remotely, right before the State’s Attorney’s election. Perrillo demands a recount (again).

Kalinda and Cary talk (after sex, presumably). He can tell she’s thinking of doing something. He knows her so well! Cary warns her that if she turns evidence against Bishop, he (Bishop) will kill her. But when has that ever stopped Kalinda? 

Cary later confirms with Geneva that Kalinda hasn’t approached her yet about Bishop. He tells ASA Pine to turn her down. He’ll give up Bishop instead. 

A Shocking Betrayal

Eli and Alicia tell Democratic chair Landau they’re ready for a recount, should the board ask for one. That’s all fine, but Landau instead blindsides them by telling Alicia the party wants her to step down. He agrees that Alicia’s hands are clean, but it’s not all about her. There were other tight races during the election. The hacking device was really for a state senator in danger of losing his seat, which would mean the Democrats would lose their supermajority in the state house. They can’t risk a recount. 

Landau tells her the party will make it up to her in the “next round.” There won’t be one, she hisses. But if she doesn’t withdraw, the party will take vengeance.

It’s worse than Alicia can imagine. Landau summons his men into the office. They frisk Eli and search Alicia’s purse. They also take her cell phone to make sure she didn’t record the meeting. 

“Oh my god — did that just happen?” she says. Marissa’s right — her dad is not happy. But wait — it gets worse!

Peter tells Eli and Alicia to call Landau’s bluff. Let Randolph continue to argue in front of the Election Board to stop a recount, he advises. After Alicia tells Randolph about the Landau meeting, he tells her he’s on her side. 

But he’s not. He tells the board that Alicia lied to him and actually committed voter fraud. He believes Alicia should step down as the new State’s Attorney. 

A stunned Alicia confronts the famed attorney. Why did he lie? Why did he betray her? She’s innocent!

It’s all about keeping that two-thirds majority in the state house. “Be a good Democrat — step down now. The party will take care of you, Mrs. Florrick,” he says. “Everybody wins.” He leaves her alone, in tears. 

When she gets home, Peter’s waiting. She throws herself into her husband’s arms, sobbing. 

Summary Judgment

Will’s murder aside, this may be Alicia’s lowest moment ever. Despite the occasional ethical lapses over the years, we know she’s at heart the Good Wife (and a good lawyer). This time, we also know — and the people who could help her know — that she’s innocent. It’s the political system that’s “winning ugly,” and Alicia’s the loser. More than ever, the great Julianna Margulies makes us ache for Alicia. 

The show takes a break on April 19 for an awards show. Which is too bad since the previews show Alicia withdrawing from her new position and all hell breaking loose at the law firm. As she says to her husband, “What do I do now?” 

And with the threat of jail time off the table for Diane, we can switch our attention to another important question: how will Kalinda make her exit? Archie Panjabi tweeted on April 9 that she’s finished filming her last scenes, but still no clue regarding how it’ll happen. Given how clever Robert and Michelle King are at keeping secrets, I don’t think we’ll have that clue until minute 58 of the season finale on May 10

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in sending virtual hugs to Alicia. She could use a few right now.

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS, unless it’s delayed by football, golf, lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee or just on a whim. 

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV