It’s easy to forget that Will’s death didn’t just leave a hole in his friends’ lives — he also left behind an overextended law office. This week on The Good Wife, Diane’s decision to merge with another firm takes an unexpected turn in “All Tapped Out.” 

And where does the still-struggling Alicia fit in this picture? Let’s find out.

A Canny Opponent Returns

That darn Edward Snowden! He’s made life a lot harder for our guys at the National Security Agency, where every employee now has to take a weekly polygraph test. We know this because the Illinois NSA office still has a team monitoring Alicia, Peter and everyone in their immediate circle because Alicia defended “terrorist sympathizer” Danny Marwan a few years back. 

What they pick up is pretty interesting: Clarke Hayden warning Cary that Alicia’s talking about merging Florrick/Agos with L-G. We shouldn’t do it, Hayden warns Cary — they’ll just squeeze out people like you and me. All they want is the ChumHum revenue. With Alicia still out sick, Clarke recommends that he and Cary take the reins.

Cary calls Diane, trying to negotiate favorable terms for F/A staff if they merge. Ms. Lockhart isn’t too keen on Mr. Agos’ tough stance (even though he’s right to point out that L-G is overextended and needs better management). An annoyed Diane tells the L-G partners she’s had a change of heart. Maybe a merger with F/A isn’t in the cards right now. 

What a coincidence! David Lee says he’s happy to hear that, since he’s done some reaching out of his own. Guess who’s available to help out the firm? None other than Louis Canning (returning guest star Michael J. Fox) — the very same man who drove L-G into bankruptcy in the first place. Diane is, to say the least, skeptical.

Who’s in Charge Here?

Alicia, still in mourning for Will and looking only slightly better than death warmed over, gets a call from Finn Polmar at home. He’s concerned because they took away his computer, the one with all his notes on the Jeffrey Grant case. 

She visits Finn’s boss, Jimmy Castro, at the State’s Attorney’s office. Castro says they took Finn’s computer because they’re investigating all of his cases. But she knows they’re really just trying to pin the Grant debacle on Polmar. 

Back at F/A, Cary gets an anonymous note to meet someone outside. He and Clarke get into the elevator with the note-writer — one of the young NSA surveillance guys. (Honestly, the folks who write The Good Wife like elevators nearly as much as they do over at Grey’s Anatomy.) The guy, Jeffrey (there’s that name again!) Dellinger, accidentally took home confidential material from the office on a flash drive. He wants F/A to defend him if he gets in trouble. 

Aside from being worried about his job, he acts waaaay more paranoid than he should. For one thing, he warns Cary and Clarke that they can’t talk about his case on the phone — any phone. By this time, Alicia (still looking sickly and wan) has gotten into the elevator. She may be grieving, but she’s not stupid. Why no phones? 

She wants to discuss the case with Cary before they take it on. But he’s in no mood to humor her. While you’ve been sick, someone had to make decisions, he declares

They take the case. Clarke and Cary give Dellinger very specific instructions about what to do and say at work. They want him to look like a whistleblower, which might get him off the hook for taking home the flash drive.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T — Find out What It Means to Me

Speaking of phones, Alicia picks up a call from Canning, who brags about being the new partner at L-G. It’s now Lockhart, Gardner & Canning. He tells her they kept Will’s name “out of respect.”

Well, Will Gardner may be gone, but Kalinda hasn’t forgotten him. She’s not showing much respect to Canning either, especially since he’s moved into Will’s old office. Canning knows she’s not a fan, but he reminds her that he’s her new boss, and she’d better learn to trust him quick. “I’m the new Will,” he says. 

After hurling one of Will’s old baseballs at his head — Canning misses it — she retorts, “You’re not the new Will.” 

Later, at lunch with the still-skeptical Diane, Canning says all he wants is her respect. But why should she trust him? He says he’s been drifting and needs a home. He thinks L-G can  be that home for him. Diane’s attitude seems to soften. 

Unfortunately, the State’s Attorney’s office hasn’t softened its attitude toward Finn. The inquiry into his handling of the Jeffrey Grant incident begins. Besides Jimmy Castro, the accusers include Matane Brady — Alicia’s old nemesis when he worked for Peter. Alicia’s still off her game, making numerous minor errors and generally not helping Finn’s case. 

By the end of the first round of questions, Finn himself feels guilty for indirectly causing Will’s death. After all, he’s the one who had Grant housed with the general detention crowd at the jail. That’s standard practice in the State’s Attorney’s office to get suspects to crack. In Grant’s case, being beaten up every day did indeed cause him to crack — and shoot up the courtroom.

While Finn feels guilty, Alicia feels angry and disillusioned. She tells Clarke Hayden she can’t defend Polmar anymore. 

It’s Time to Phone a Friend

Jeff Dellinger returns to F/A with news: he’s been demoted, even though he followed Clarke and Cary’s instructions to the letter. But as part of their plan, Dellinger blew the whistle on his boss Chuck Freunds for illegally spying on his ex-wife. Freunds found out and demoted Dellinger in retaliation. And that’s illegal, too, folks.

Worse, Dellinger says they must have heard someone in the F/A offices mention the NSA, despite his earlier warnings. Suddenly, the once-sickly Alicia snaps to attention: just how could the NSA have heard the lawyers talking about the NSA? Dellinger tries to deny it, but the truth comes out. The agency’s been tapping the phones of Alicia and everyone she’s close to, including Peter. 

Alicia’s now on fire. Kill the phones! Shut down your computers! She even visits Eli in his office to warn him about the surveillance. Peter’s there, too, treating her coolly, which is probably as much as you’d expect after last week’s blowup.

Peter’s worried that the NSA recorded them talking about the ballot box case. After Alicia leaves, Peter calls a friend — a US senator. Is the NSA spying on me and my wife? The senator says he’ll look into it, though Peter expects he won’t get the truth. He also remains mum when Eli questions the coldness between the governor and the First Lady. 

Alicia Gets Her Groove Back

At a mediation between Dellinger and his lawyers, and the NSA and the agency’s lawyers, things aren’t going so well. The agency continually stonewalls Clarke and Cary’s requests for information that might get their client his old job back. 

At F/A, Canning calls again. He wants to see if Alicia would be willing to give up some of the firm’s ChumHum work in exchange for L-G & C taking partial liability in an old legal malpractice suit. She’s ready for him now (on fire, remember?). Knowing full well the NSA’s listening in, she lures him into a (largely innocent) conversation about Al Qaeda and Ayn Rand. 

Peter’s playing a similar but more devious game. His senator friend calls back, saying the governor can rest easy — there’s no surveillance. As a test, Peter starts talking about a development deal they’d discussed a few weeks back, a deal that the senator would really, really like to keep under wraps. 

The jittery senator confesses that Peter and Alicia are indeed being wiretapped and coughs up Chuck Freunds’ name and phone number. Eli, who witnessed Peter’s masterful moves, sinks to his knees, saying, “I am not worthy!” (And that from a man with a lot of masterful moves of his own.)

But Peter’s plans don’t end there. The governor sends an intern to mosques all over Chicago, posting a “car for sale” notice with Freunds’ contact information. When a baffled Freunds (who, let me make is clear, is a petty and vindictive man) starts getting calls from people with “suspicious” names, he ends up on the wrong end of the polygraph test — and of an NSA investigation.

Suddenly, the order comes down to the young techies: we’re shutting down the Florrick investigation and moving on. By then, Dellinger’s had enough — he’s off to Iceland for a little R&R.

Time for Justice, Time for Reconciliation

A newly revived Alicia decides she wants to help Finn after all. She’s back to her old feisty self, accusing Castro of trying to scapegoat Finn. I can’t really explain how she traps Castro with his own words, because this is a family website. Let’s just say she gets Castro to define the term “GD” as something other than “general detention.” Although we don’t see the actual end of the investigation, I think Finn’s in the clear.

Meanwhile, Diane and Kalinda have come to terms with Canning’s new place in the firm. It seems he’s helping them dig L-G out of the financial hole that Will’s many deals put them in. Diane reminds him that his past record is hard to overlook.

“But that was the past,” he reminds the women. “I’m your partner now. I may be a scumbag, but I’m your scumbag.” He may work out after all. 

Even Alicia’s lightening up. After learning about Peter’s plot to take down Freunds and end the surveillance, she visits his office to thank him. Rather than snarl back, he politely asks her to go over their schedules, so she can make political appearances, as promised. And she politely agrees. Could there be a thaw in the air?

Summary Judgment

This episode had some of the lighter moments we’ve come to know and love about The Good Wife, especially in the various take-downs — of the senator, Castro and, especially, Chuck Freunds. After all the darkness of the last several episodes, “All Tapped Out” (another classic title with a double meaning) felt closer to a “normal” day at the office. Serious stuff on the table, sure, but a bit of laughter as well. 

But what would a “normal” TGW be without more questions: now that Alicia’s on the road to recovery, will she and Peter also recover as a couple? After recent events, can Alicia and Cary fully trust each other? And is Canning really here to stay?

Four more episodes to go in season 5. And next week, it’s the return of creepy client Colin Sweeney. Alicia — you may not want to take that call!

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV