Will she or won’t she? Here’s the question: will Alicia run for State’s Attorney? If she says yes, will she have the stomach for a no-holds-barred campaign?
For Good Wife fans, Alicia delving into politics means at least one thing — plenty of Eli Gold. Let the witty cynicism begin!
When Ms. Florrick Met Mr. Elfman
Alicia feels the heat of modern-day politics in this week’s new episode, “Oppo Research,” — even before she decides to challenge Castro for his job. For those of you who don’t spend a lot of time watching Rachel Maddow, “oppo” stands for “opposition.” In campaign-speak, “opposition research” is a fancy term for the dirt other candidates try to dig up on you.
We open with Alicia putting out a fancy spread at her apartment, all so she and Eli can talk about her candidacy. It doesn’t hurt to talk, right?
The election won’t be for eight months, but the filing deadline’s a mere four days away. Eli tells her if the campaign were held that day, she’d beat Castro by a whopping eight points. Eight points! She’s skeptical the gap can hold. “That’s what I like about you,” he tells her. “You’re always looking for the bad.”
He reminds her she’s a brand: “Saint Alicia.” Besides, they have oppo research of their own on Castro, though he doesn’t reveal anything. He does reveal that the man at the door is a potential campaign manager, Jonathan Elfman (Steven Pasquale). If he likes Alicia, he’ll work for her.
Elfman asks Alicia why she wants to run. She lays out her case against Castro and the aura of corruption in the current State’s Attorney’s office. It’s not enough. Elfman has to believe she’s up to the challenge before he’ll take her on. “I’m not your superhero, Mr. Elfman,” Alicia says. “If you want to find someone who will restore your faith in humanity, then don’t waste my time. Or yours.”
The phone rings. It’s work — Lemond Bishop’s received a subpoena for failing to pay real estate taxes. Cary believes they’re still coming after him to get to Bishop, and the charge against their client is bogus.
Now Eli’s phone rings. It’s Peter, who wants to know if Eli’s shown Alicia the oppo research. Not yet — you don’t start with the negative, you end with it, Gold tells his boss. Meanwhile, Elfman is trying to get Alicia to say something positive about running. He’s starting to like her. And now he’s ready to show her the oppo research. But it’s not about Castro. It’s about her. It’s a thick file. “Those are the skeletons in my closet? That’s a lot of skeletons,” she says.
Eli offers her one last chance to back out, and it ends here. “Let’s go,” she says — and takes a big swig of wine.
They Say the Truth Will Set You Free
They walk through her file. Some of her clients pose a problem, but the only one they want her to drop is Bishop. She agrees to that.
Up next, a bombshell. Last year, Zach got his (now former) girlfriend Nisa pregnant. He arranged for her to get an abortion when he told his mom he was visiting Boston College. Alicia’s shocked, even more so when she learns that Nisa’s parents knew about it, but not her. As the shock fades, she becomes hurt and angry.
She angrily calls Peter. He denies any knowledge, but says he’ll talk to Zach. Oh no, our mamabear says, this is on me. But when she reaches her son’s voicemail, all she does is ask him to call her back. They play phone tag through the rest of the episode.
More bad news from the file. For one thing, Alicia’s brother, Owen, has been having an affair with a married Palestinian man who also does gay porn. “These things tend to create divisions in the gay community,” Eli calmly says. Owen needs to lay low for a while.
Next up: Alicia’s mom, Veronica. She spanked a misbehaving 5-year-old child in a department store. And it’s on video. Alicia’s compiling quite a list of family members she has to call. What about Grace? Eli assure her that Grace is clean. “Okay,” says Alicia, “Christianity 3, atheism 0.” Yeah, about that — atheism is a non-starter for candidates. Eli recommends that she tell people she’s “struggling” with her faith.
Now it’s time for Alicia’s own issues. They have a photo of Will and her at a hotel bar and one of Finn Polmar leaving her apartment building. Both of those occasions were actually innocent, but Castro will try to use them against her. Elfman wants to talk to her about Peter, but Eli tries to stop him. “Is it about Kalinda?” she asks. She knows about Peter’s one-night stand with the PI, but that doesn’t seem to be what they’re worried about.
Not too surprisingly, Alicia’s back on the fence about running now. Elfman assures her she did better than any other candidate he’s worked with. She thanks him and swigs waaay too much wine in the kitchen.
A Double Order of Awkward
Normally, Alicia would welcome the distraction of work after the revelations the night before. Not today, however. She, Diane and Cary are meeting with Bishop, and she knows that Bishop has to go before she can announce her run for office.
The team tells Bishop to comply with his subpoena. He’s okay with that, but not with learning that they’re dropping him. No matter how they explain it, Bishop insists they continue to represent him. Awkward, to say the least.
At a local diner, Eli bluntly asks Kalinda if she slept with Peter. He needs to know where the landmines are in Alicia’s campaign. She assures him he has nothing to worry about. Suddenly, lunch is over, and they haven’t even ordered. Awkward again.
Back at Alicia’s apartment, she surprises Owen and Veronica with the news about running for State’s Attorney. They need some coaching on how to deal with the media, though. Alicia wants Mom to apologize to the little boy’s parents. Owen needs to reassure her he’s practicing safe sex. Owen’s not happy that everyone’s background is fair game.
At the governor’s office, Peter assures Eli that he’s not trying to undercut Alicia’s campaign. To prove he means it, he tells Eli that the flirty intern, Lauren Lytton, can be moved to a new job in Springfield. Eli gleefully fires her.
Alicia meets with Finn to tell him about the incriminating photo, when they were actually doing witness prep for his disciplinary hearing. He tells her it’s great she’s running for State’s Attorney — they’re still buddies. He warns her that Castro wants to drive her from the race by hitting her where she’s vulnerable. Be careful.
Finn’s Warning Comes a Little Too Late
While driving home from her meeting with Finn, she’s pulled over by a cop who knows her name before she shows him her license. This fact isn’t lost on Alicia. She admits to having one glass of wine and passes the roadside test, but she’s sure it was a set-up. She calls Eli to warn him.
Bishop is waiting for Kalinda when she leaves the office. He introduces her to Clyde and Jim, two of his “colleagues,” and asks why her firm wants to drop him. She says she doesn’t know, but admits that Alicia’s thinking of running for State’s Attorney.
Elfman and Veronica meet with the little boy’s mother to apologize. The mom wants more than an apology — she tries to extort $50,000 out of them. Elfman handles it by showing the woman additional videotape. It shows that three minutes before Veronica gave her little darling two swats on the tush, the boy knocked over an 87-year-old woman who’d just love to know who should pay her medical bills. Let’s call this a stand-off — apology accepted.
Mystery Supporters for Alicia
Back home, Grace calls Alicia into her room to see a website promoting Alicia’s candidacy. It’s already pulling in big donations. Eli tells her it’s a PAC — they had nothing to do with it. In fact, the campaign (if there is one) can’t even legally coordinate with the PAC. As they’re talking, Eli learns that the intern is back to see the governor. But it’s not Lauren Lytton in his office — it’s her mother, Ramona Lytton (Connie Nielsen). She’s an old friend of Peter’s. She wants to thank Eli for getting Lauren her new job with a state senator. Peter — once again — assures Eli that he wasn’t sleeping with the young woman. Eli doesn’t look convinced. Is Peter protesting too much?
Zach and Alicia finally connect. He apologizes profusely for “the Nisa thing,” but she’s still upset about being left out of an important event in his life. She coldly tells him that she’s running for State’s Attorney, and her parenting skills will be called into question. If anyone asks, he needs to say they discussed the pregnancy and she offered to raise the child, but he and Nisa decided on an abortion. When he asks her why she’s running, she tells him, “Have fun at college, Zach.”
The Alicia PAC has over $140,000 in donations. This seems to be just what she needs to make up her mind. She’s running. As she tells Elfman her decision, he says good — because someone caught her DUI stop on camera and has posted it to the Web.
Outside, Bishop is waiting for her. (The guy does a little too much lurking for my liking, though Mike Colton is smoothly menacing.) He’s found other representation, as she suggested. And he’ll tell everyone she fired him as a client, which will help her reputation. And that PAC? He set it up to support her. And there’s more money where that came from. “We’ll be in touch,” he says.
I enjoyed “Oppo Research” for several reasons. For one thing, it was blessedly free of the “Let’s get Cary out of jail” plot line. We know Cary’s in jeopardy, but I like seeing him in a business suit, not an orange jumpsuit. This was all about Alicia, Eli and red wine — lots of Eli, lots of red wine. Though after that traffic stop, Alicia may have to rethink her favorite after-work beverage.
Ethics — so tricky. We know Alicia tries to stick to the straight and narrow, but when the stakes are so high, the choices get tougher. She wants to clean up the State’s Attorney’s office, but will knowing the real story behind the Alicia PAC’s origins get in the way? Will she have to cross “the line” referred to in the season premiere?
It’s pretty clear that The Good Wife season 6 isn’t going to make these decisions easy. But they will make them fun: next week’s episode features the return of Elsbeth Tascioni (played by Emmy-winner Carrie Preston). You asked for it, you got it — don’t miss it!
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm or so (depending on football overruns — always pad your DVR by an hour) on CBS.
(Image courtesy of CBS)