You’ve got to admire Alicia Florrick. She’s survived a lot in the last couple of years: her lover’s death, the creation of a new law firm, a lost partnership, a successful run for office followed by unwarranted disgrace and a husband’s betrayal (again) — to name a few highlights. 

It’s amazing that she hasn’t checked herself into a secluded spa for a long (and well-earned) vacation. But then she wouldn’t be the Alicia we love. Once again, she faces a rebuilding year. The question is: what will she build and who will she build it with? Thanks to the season 7 premiere of The Good Wife, titled simply “Bond,” we begin to find out.

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Where We Left Off

Let’s quickly recount where we stand after a rollercoaster sixth season. Our gal Alicia ran for State’s Attorney and won, fair and square. But thanks to machinations on the part of the state Democratic Party (to cover up the elections of other politicians who didn’t win fair and square), she was forced to resign.

Normally, she’d be back at her law firm. But Diane’s big new partner, a conservative billionaire, threatened to pull his business if the now-tainted (though innocent) Ms. Florrick returned. Pushed out of her own firm, she’s a solo practitioner, unless she agrees to partner with Louis Canning, her old nemesis. He’s always admired her; plus, he’s out for revenge against her Lockhart, Agos & Lee for, ahem, canning his wife, a paralegal. (Sorry — couldn’t resist.)

Finally, fan fave Kalinda’s out of the picture as well, after walking away from a potentially lethal conflict with drug dealer Lemond Bishop. (We’ll miss you, Archie Panjabi!) And Peter wants to run for president, but Alicia’s not thrilled at the idea. (He’s really angling for a VP bid, but you have to pretend to run for the big job first.)

So, another new start for Alicia Florrick. Career in the pits, marriage on the rocks, reputation in ruins — no place to go but up, right? Right?

The Name’s Bond — Bond Attorney

Season 7’s first episode begins in bond court, where the bar attorneys wait to pick up cases from people with just enough money to hire lawyers instead of getting public defenders. Alicia is the newest member of the crew, but she’s not savvy about how things work. She introduces herself to the judge in the hopes of getting assignments, but he doesn’t believe she’s hungry enough to compete with the others.

The judge underestimates her drive, but she’s still not hungry enough to take a deal to partner with Canning. She thinks he’s the devil; he thinks she’s too meek, always apologizing. While talking with him, she suddenly has a moment of clarity. She doesn’t want to work for anyone else and she doesn’t want people making decisions for her. 

She calls an elated Eli to tell him she’s okay with Peter running for prez after all. She doesn’t want to make decisions for Peter, either. And she’ll help with the campaign now.

Eli’s all hot to hire the best campaign consultant around, Ruth Eastman. He tracks down Ruth (played by the amazing, Emmy-winning, everything-this-woman-touches-is-gold Margo Martindale) to persuade her to come on board the Peter train.

Back at home, Grace is cheerfully playing secretary for Alicia to impress her first new client, Ms. Smulders. The woman needs Alicia’s help to sort out an inheritance from her mother, specifically a signed print by Marc Chagall worth $8 million. It should be simple — her mom labeled everything with Post-it notes for her and her brother. But with such a valuable print, she needs a lawyer. 

The opposing attorney is none other than David Lee. When Alicia and David visit the late woman’s house, they discover to their dismay that all the Post-its have fallen to the floor. Now everything is in doubt.

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For Peter, What’s Gold Doesn’t Glitter

Ruth Eastman takes a shine to Peter, much to Eli’s delight. (Yay, more Margo Martindale!) Much to his dismay, however, Peter wants Ruth to be his campaign manager. (Boo! Disloyal Peter!) Eli’s devastated. He’s saved Peter’s bacon so many times. Where is the love?

Instead of staying on as chief of staff in the governor’s office, Eli stalks out in fury. He’s determined to find a candidate to run against his former bestie. Has Peter made a fatal mistake?

Despite gaining a “legit” client, Alicia’s back at bond court trolling for business. The judge still doesn’t take her seriously and refuses to assign her any of the (many, many) possible cases. But Lucca Quinn, one of the other bond attorneys (played by new-cast-member-with-an-awesome-name Cush Jumbo), admires Alicia’s gumption and tosses a few cases her way. 

Back at probate court, Alicia and her client offer a 50-50 split of the inheritance, but Diane and David call in an expert witness to prove that the fallen Post-it notes tell a different story. After court, Alicia asks Diane why they’re coming after her so hard on a fairly straightforward inheritance case. 

Diane asks her, “You think it’s happenstance that you have a case across from us?” Alicia’s baffled.

Can We Partner?

When Alicia meets Ruth, it’s her first time learning that Eli’s off the campaign. She’s angry about the switch, but Peter explains that Ruth has a much stronger national presence.

Alicia visits Eli to offer her sympathy. He tries to get rid of her, saying he needs to be done with the Florricks. Obviously, he was never a friend, just an operative. Before Alicia can disagree, he shuts the door.

Back in probate court, more expert witnesses trade scientific barbs. Meanwhile, Lucca calls Alicia and asks for her help in bond court. She agrees, as long as she’s back in bond court by 4pm.

At his home, a depressed Eli suddenly has an idea. He jumps up, gets dressed and goes to see Alicia. He apologizes for treating her so brusquely and offers to be her chief of staff for the campaign. She’ll need someone to coordinate with Peter’s team, and it would be better to have a friendly face when Ruth wants to “rehabilitate” her damaged reputation. 

Blame It on the Roomba

During the inheritance case, Alicia brings into evidence the dead mom’s Roomba, which may have dispersed the Post-its and sucked up a note, giving the print to her housekeeper. Yes, the automatic butler did it!

Ruth picks Alicia up and gives her a ride to bond court. It turns out Eli’s right — Ruth wants to hire a chief of staff for her to help with the “rehab.” But Alicia’s already got a chief of staff — Eli Gold. Ruth doesn’t like it, but Alicia won’t change her mind. She gets Eli, or Peter doesn’t get his wife on the campaign trail. So much for the meek Alicia!

In bond court, Alicia keeps things moving, just the way the judge likes. She catches on quickly, but maybe not quick enough. Nevertheless, when it’s nearly 4pm, the judge asks her to stay because no other bond attorneys have shown up. She asks Lucca for help.

Lucca can’t get back to bond court in time to help Alicia, so she goes to probate court and asks for a continuance. David and Diane don’t buy it; they have the housekeeper and an expert witness. Diane wants the inheritance to go to the housekeeper, but Lucca (an expert in Illinois law like you’ve never seen) points out that the caretaker to an invalid can’t inherit more than $20,000. The judge dismisses the case, and David agrees to a 50-50 split between the siblings just as Alicia arrives. 

Maybe David and Diane should have called in Cary. He’s trying to get Lockhart, Agos to adopt new ideas offered by their young associates. But all he gets for his trouble is a brush-off from the partners and a (politely refused) come-on from one of the associates he offers to mentor. Hmmm … Cary. Restless much?

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Sworn Enemies and New Friends

Ruth confronts Eli. She threatens to walk off the campaign unless she can hire Alicia’s chief of staff, but he won’t budge. Worse, he makes it clear that he plans to undercut her at every step, even it costs Peter his VP bid. And … game on!

At a bar, Alicia meets up with Lucca. (Two women drinking and chatting — classic Good Wife.) They start to talk, but Lucca heads off to dance. Louis Canning sits down next to her. She realizes he’s the one who gave her the Smulders case, to go after Lockhart, Agos. 

He still wants her to join his firm — as an independent woman. Think about it, he asks. Or do you want me to stop sending you cases? 

No, she says. They clink glasses.

Summary Judgment

In under an hour, what did we learn? Plenty. First, the work side. Alicia hasn’t taken Canning’s offer (yet). She’s still struggling to recover from the damaging end to her campaign for State’s Attorney. She’s willing to do what it takes to build up her practice, including learning the ins and outs of bond court. And she may have a new friend (and partner?) in Lucca. 

In her personal life, she and Peter still aren’t on the same page (or in the same bed). Peter’s got a lot to learn about loyalty. And Eli will make one heck of a chief of staff. 

And over at Lockhart, Agos & Lee, I see trouble brewing among the partners. Cary’s unhappy, the other partners don’t listen and the associates are disgruntled. Could this be a set-up for another Alicia-Cary alliance? Because those two are great together. Just sayin’.

So maybe it’s just me, but this felt like vintage Good Wife (minus Kalinda, of course). Who doesn’t love seeing Alicia face adversity, stumble a bit, then begin that climb back up? Plus, politics (office and national). Plus, Eli on the warpath, right where he should be. Plus, Grace calling her mom “Mrs. Florrick” so Alicia’s client would think she could afford a secretary. (So cute!)

Are you with me on this, folks? Are you looking forward to this season of The Good Wife? Not sure? What if I told you that Jeffrey Dean “He’ll always be Denny from Grey’s Anatomy to me but I could be persuaded” Morgan joins the cast in the next episode? 

Yeah, I thought so. 

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm (or later, depending on football overruns) on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV