On this week’s new Good Wife, a case pitting management against labor blurs the line between the law and love, with possibly far-reaching consequences.

In “A More Perfect Union,” Alicia sees a side of Will she doesn’t like much. Will doesn’t know it yet, but he might have pushed her into the arms of his romantic rival.

The Case Before the Court

Alicia and her brother, Owen, attend a funeral as a favor for their mom, Veronica. (The dead man was an overworked computer programmer who fell asleep at the wheel on his way home from work.) Veronica backs Alicia into a corner, conning her into offering legal advice to the late man’s colleagues in a labor dispute with a software company, Blowtorch.

Diane, Will and David want Alicia to drop the case immediately, because Blowtorch’s business overlaps with Lockhart & Gardner’s big client, software giant ChumHum. And she’s ready to write off the coders until she finds out that Blowtorch’s lawyer is the crafty Nancy Crozier. Not one to back down against such an annoying opponent, Alicia and Cary take on the case with determination.

Blowtorch wants to fire anyone who won’t agree to sign a contract that shortchanges them. The only way to avoid dismissal: form a union. That decision lands the team in a National Labor Relations Board court, presided over by new administrative judge Rodney “Call Me Rod” Jesko (an amusing John Michael Higgins).

Despite Nancy’s best efforts to sweet-talk the judge into seeing things her way (makes you want to reach out and slap her), the coders get 24 hours to vote on forming a union. Alicia and Cary urge their clients to find the necessary votes or they’ll lose their jobs.

Labor vs. Management

Behind the scenes, labor trouble’s brewing at L&G, too. The administrative assistants, hearing how Alicia and Cary are fighting for the rights of Blowtorch’s coders, want equal time. When a sympathetic Alicia agrees to hear their concerns, David walks in and makes it clear they’ll lose their jobs if they keep pushing for more money and flextime.

But they’ve been paying attention — they now know they can’t be fired if they threaten to form their own union. Alicia warns her fellow partners that they could face years of litigation if they try to fire any of the women. Will and Diane insist, however, that they can’t afford across-the-board raises. They remind Alicia she’s now a manager and should think like one.

Meanwhile, Kalinda inadvertently learns that Robyn — who has five weeks on the job compared to her own five years — gets healthcare coverage. She’s riled up, maybe enough to consider Cary’s offer to join his new firm. She brings Cary’s offer to Will (without revealing the identity of the rival firm). Will’s skeptical about the existence of a counter-offer, but he’s open to negotiating on one condition: she has to be exclusive with L&G. Kalinda’s insistence on taking on outside cases has cost her that much-valued health insurance. 

Opposing Counsel

Back at the NLRB, things look bad for the coders, until Alicia springs a trap on Nancy’s star witness, the dead man’s widow. She proves that Charlene, a coder herself, received so much stock from Blowtorch to avoid a wrongful death suit that she’s now technically part of the company’s board. That means she can’t take part in the union voting. Thanks to Will for reminding Alicia about the difference between management and labor. 

The programmers choose to go union, which means their jobs are saved — for all of about two minutes. Nancy smugly announces that Blowtorch has been bought, and the new company doesn’t want any of the employees in the deal. The buyer? ChumHum!

A furious Alicia accuses Will and Diane of using her part in the case to drive down Blowtorch’s price to ChumHum’s benefit. Despite Diane’s placid denials, Alicia isn’t buying it. Even worse, the other partners quell the internal “clerical rebellion” by buying off the ringleaders. Those two women will get more money and the chance to telecommute, but the other admins get nothing, at least for now.

Will’s bland statement to Alicia that “this is what management does” may come back to bite him. She’s not happy with her boss right now. 

Surprise Witness

Over at Florrick HQ, Peter learns his campaign isn’t going as well as he thought. His pollster, Matt, reveals that Mike Kresteva’s ahead. With only two weeks to go, the only way to catch up is to go negative on Kresteva. But it can’t be Peter who does it — it has to be Alicia. 

Despite his acceptance of that fact, Peter won’t ask Alicia to attack Kresteva. He seems genuinely respectful of her decision to stay above the fray. Instead, he has something else to ask her: Will she renew their vows before the election? 

She’s hesitant. Things have gone so well recently, and she’s not sure she wants to change the status quo. He asks her to think about it.

Normally, her brother — not a Peter fan — would tell her to run in the opposite direction. But when Peter talks to Owen about his campaign troubles, Owen realizes that his bro-in-law may really have changed. Early in the episode, Owen urged Alicia to consider renewing her relationship with Will. Now he admits he may have been wrong about Peter.

You’re Under Oath

Only Veronica remains convinced that Peter’s bad news for her daughter, a fact she freely shares with Alicia. This has the opposite effect, of course. First, Alicia threatens to cut off Veronica’s contact with her grandkids if she keeps interfering in her daughter’s life. She then goes on The Charlie Rose Show and talks up her husband while dissing Kresteva (quite effectively, I might add). 

Despite the warnings, Veronica visits Will in his office. She bluntly asks him if he loves Alicia. Because if he does, she says, his window of opportunity is closing. If Alicia renews her vows with Peter, that’s it — game over. 

It might be too late anyway. Following Alicia’s TV appearance, Kresteva’s lead disappears completely. A jubilant Peter credits his wife for the campaign bump. After making him promise that he’ll never drag her through a mess again, Alicia declares that she’ll happily renew their vows. 

Oh, Will — see what happens when you make Alicia mad? 

Friends of the Court

Most of the highlights from this week’s new Good Wife revolve around couples, though not necessarily of the romantic variety:

  • Nancy Crozier and Alicia. I love watching Nancy try to pull her passive-aggressive act on Alicia. A returning Mamie Gummer (looking more and more like mom Meryl Streep every year) is by turns hilarious and frustrating. Now that her show, Emily Owens, M.D., has bitten the dust, maybe we’ll see more of her. 
  • Alicia and Owen. I really feel the sibling love between these two. Dallas Roberts may not look much like Julianna Margulies, but their relationship seems real — funny and close. I especially love when he tries to get her to admit her feelings for Will, but later admits that Peter may be right for her after all. 
  • Cary and Alicia. Watching them work together on the Blowtorch case reminds me of what we’ll lose if they end up on opposite sides of the courtroom again. They make such a great team. Does Cary have to start a new firm?

Summary Judgment

This solid episode did an excellent job of setting us up for next week’s season finale. Aside from the question of Diane’s possible Supreme Court job, most of the other important plot threads moved forward. The election’s next week (and Zach turned 18, if you can believe it, so he can vote). Cary’s still planning to start a new firm. While Robyn looks like she’ll be sticking aound L&G for now, Kalinda’s debating her future. And Alicia’s apparent dissatisfaction with her partners may have her rethinking her career as well. 

Most important, we might finally learn which man Alicia chooses. Don’t let this week’s episode fool you. Despite her decision to pledge herself to Peter again, we know she’s not really over Will. Based on the preview for next week, it looks like the election and her decision come down to the wire. 

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV