After four tumultuous years, Alicia’s finally climbed the partnership ladder at Lockhart-Gardner. She deserves a little downtime, right? If the first of five new Good Wife episodes in a row is any indication, the answer to that question is, not a chance!

Besides giving us some clues as to whether Alicia’s character has changed with her promotion, we get plenty of other high-stakes issues to ponder. Such as: can Peter win his election? Has Will gotten over Alicia? Most important, is Eli headed to jail? Let’s tackle that one first.

Two Cases for the Price of One

In this week’s episode, “Going for the Gold,” Eli’s attorney, Elsbeth Tascioni, has her hands full. The feds, in the form of assistant US attorney Josh Perrotti, seem hell-bent on proving that Eli traded discounted services for votes. Even though Perrotti’s wiretap evidence against Eli got thrown out of court, Perrotti says he has a new charge: conspiracy. But who’s the co-conspirator? The US attorney won’t say. 

Thanks to some clever sleuthing by Kalinda, she and Elsbeth learn that Perrotti coerced Frank Landau, the local Democratic Party boss, into claiming he witnessed Eli committing campaign violations. Landau made statements to Perrotti that wound up in the press, so Elsbeth has a stroke of genius. To reveal in open court that he’s the prize witness, she’s going to sue Landau for defamation of character.

So Eli ends up involved in two cases. In federal court, Elsbeth takes on Perrotti to dismantle the conspiracy charges. In civil court, Alicia serves as lead attorney, forcing Landau to offer up the testimony he’d been saving for the federal case. Throughout the episode, we bounce back and forth, as one case feeds into the other. Perrotti has to give out bits and pieces of his federal case to support Landau, even bringing in Jackie Florrick and Diane Lockhart as witnesses.

Two cases, two judges, two courtrooms, but with many of the same players. Confusing? A bit. But all you need to know is that Elsbeth emerges triumphant from both venues, and Eli’s legal woes seem to be behind him. 

Maddie About You

With Peter’s campaign against Maddie Hayward for the Democratic nomination heating up, it’s a bad time for Eli to face jail. We learn, in fact, that Jordan now runs the show at Florrick HQ. Debates loom ahead, but Jordan’s advice to his boss falls along the lines of, “Play nice, so you’ll get the women’s vote.” 

Interestingly, the woman herself — software magnate Maddie — has no interest in playing nice. In particular, she goes on the offensive about the role of preferential hiring within the state’s attorney’s office. During the first half of the debate, Peter seems unwilling to take her on directly, not wanting to appear like a bully. Jordan insists that’s the right strategy, but Alicia encourages her husband to call Eli for advice — something Jordan resents. 

It’s clear Eli gets Peter in a way Jordan never will. Using Eli’s tactics about where to stand on stage and how to engage with Maddie, Peter becomes an unleashed tiger. He accuses her of laying off workers, shipping jobs overseas and busting unions. The tables turn and Peter takes the debate.

With the court cases over, Peter wants Eli back on the campaign. Gold resists, saying he’s damaged goods who will reflect badly on the candidate. Peter doesn’t care — he can’t envision making it to the statehouse without his old ally. 

A seal-the-deal handshake leads to a manly bro-hug. Eli’s back, baby!

Legal Briefs

Despite the political and courtroom action swirling around the Florricks and their friends, this episode still makes time for two other plotlines, both of which may have repercussions as we move forward.

First, Diane directs Alicia to lower billable hours on everything involving Lamond Bishop. He may be Chicago’s biggest drug dealer, but he’s a valuable client, and Diane doesn’t want to appear to be exploiting him. Alicia hesitates to force the associates on the case, including Cary, to back off. She doesn’t want to hurt their careers (something Cary points out will happen if they reduce their hours). 

Her solution? She reduces her own hours on the case instead. This move angers Diane, however. She reminds Alicia that clients like to see equity partners on their cases, not associates. Alicia has to find another way, but not before Will lets Cary and the other associates know that she went to bat for them. The guilty look on Cary’s face when he learns this information is priceless.

Second, now that Lockhart-Gardner is out of bankruptcy, it can solicit business from the state’s attorney’s office to handle civil cases against the state. Peter has recused himself from the selection process, which leaves Geneva Pine and former military lawyer Laura Hellinger in charge. Though Will makes a strong pitch, it turns out L-G never stood a chance; Geneva hates the fact that the firm represents Bishop. 

At first, Will thinks Laura’s to blame for the losing bid and lets her know he feels betrayed, especially after everything the firm did for her in the past. When he learns the truth … well, just keep reading.

The Best Evidence

Lots of interesting stuff in this episode — some verbal, some visual. Among the memorable moments:

“You know, they’re always wondering if men and women can be friends. But the real question is, can women?” — Alicia to Maddie before the debate, when Maddie accuses Alicia of trying to rattle her by speaking to her beforehand.

“You know, I really miss having you run the show.” — Peter to Eli, when he calls to get debate advice. When Eli admits that he misses Peter too, I swear I see the usually snarky Gold get choked up. (Really, Jordan doesn’t stand a chance in this relationship.)

 “No.” — Elsbeth to the still-infatuated Perrotti, after she turns him down for dinner following the end of Eli’s case, and he says, “May I ask why?” Carrie Preston practically guarantees herself an Emmy with that one-word answer. 

In the non-verbal categories, I have to give it to three key scenes:

Alicia and Will end up in an elevator, again. But this time, they talk about a kiss that shouldn’t have happened (and apparently spread a head cold from one to the other). Will insists it won’t happen again, and they shouldn’t avoid each other. Though Alicia agrees with him, the conflicted look on Alicia’s face speaks volumes. 

A man of his word, Will seems to be moving on. When he goes to apologize to Laura for accusing her of  disloyalty during the civil-work bidding process, he definitely gives Laura a look. You know: a look. We’ve seen that look from him before — it just wasn’t with Laura.

But Alicia’s feeling better, too, despite that darn cold. Shortly after the elevator awkwardness, she and Peter share a scene inside the campaign bus. Forget the fact that he invites her for dinner, just the two of them, without any political staff around. Forget that she gets him to admit that means it’s a date. Notice instead that his shirt’s unbuttoned, and she’s zipping up her jacket over some pretty sexy lingerie. Hey, you two, get a room! (Oops, I guess they already did.)

Summary Judgment

Though lacking a certain amount of suspense compared to the last episode — Alicia’s decision about how to handle the Bishop billing dilemma doesn’t carry quite the weight of her decision to become a partner — “Going for the Gold” still delivers. First of all, how can you resist a double dose of Elsbeth Tascioni? Her squeamishness at having to share a pre-trial meal with US attorney “Call me Josh” Perrotti makes this one worthwhile all on its own.

But there is also a sense of the world being set right again. Eli’s free of his legal struggles and back on Peter’s campaign. Will and Alicia might really have reached a truce in their relationship. Best of all, Alicia is learning to balance her new role as management with her innate sense of decency. She may not be “Saint Alicia” — as one of the associates sarcastically calls her — but she’s still good. Heck, they named the show after her, right? 

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV