Happy New Year, Good Wife fans! I hope you’re having a better start to 2016 than Alicia. When we last saw Ms. Florrick, Eli had just dropped the bombshell that he erased an all-important voicemail from Will Gardner years ago. That’s one “auld acquaintance” she’ll never forget. 

Despite that life-changing news, there’s little time for “what-ifs.” In the winter premiere, “Iowa,” Peter’s campaign is hitting the road, tour bus and all. And Alicia’s back to playing the political wife, standing by her man. Sort of.

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Broken Plates Can’t Mend a Broken Heart

The episode opens exactly where we left off, with Eli confessing his misdeed. Years ago, he didn’t want Will and Alicia’s affair to derail Peter’s campaign for governor. Now, with even higher stakes, he doesn’t care about that anymore — he just wants Alicia to be happy, potentially with Jason.

But now we see the rest of what happened that night. Alicia orders Eli out of her apartment. When he hesitates (he keeps apologizing), she pulls dishes out of a cupboard and begins smashing them in fury. (But only the everyday ones — she spares the good stuff.) He runs out, sorrowful and scared. She goes into her bedroom. First, she collapses in tears then continues packing for the campaign trip.

There’s a knock on the door. It’s Jason, with some financial information about Howard Lyman. (Remember, he’s Mama Jackie’s new fiance.) Jason asks if she’s okay. Instead of taking the opportunity to invite him in, though, Alicia thanks him for the intel and sends him away. It’s too soon after learning the news about Will to act on whatever feelings she has for the handsome P.I.

First in the Nation

And … we’re off to the caucuses! In Iowa, to be exact, which is probably why this episode is named “Iowa.” Everyone is on the tricked-out bus, including Zach and Grace. Alicia’s holed-up in a corner reading Jane Eyre on her tablet, wearing dark glasses. (That’s my favorite book of all time, by the way. Love you, The Good Wife writers!)

Although the others on the bus disagree, Ruth wants Peter to do the “full Grassley” (named for Senator Chuck Grassley) and visit every county in the state. Alicia sides with Ruth and against Eli, so they decide to give it a try. That will mean eating a lot of loose meat sandwiches, but Peter’s up for it. 

To bolster the appearance that Peter’s campaign has momentum, Ruth brings along idiot newscaster Ted Willoughby (Mo Rocca) to file fawning reports. (Willoughby keeps asking about Peter doing “the fully Monty.”) The only person more fawning is a Florrick super-fan, dressed in colonial garb and chanting odd-ball raps about how great Peter is. 

Watching Peter connect with the (tiny) crowds, Ruth and Alicia have a heart to heart. Alicia admits that she doesn’t know what life is about. Ruth tells her it doesn’t matter — in the end, there are always choices and you end up where you end up, or somewhere like it. 

But Alicia isn’t so sure. She says that if she could go back to Georgetown Law School, she’d have said “yes” to a young man who was in love with her. Ruth knows she’s not talking about Peter.

Discord at the Office

Back in Chicago, the halls of Lockhart, Agos & Lee are buzzing. Someone has filed an employment discrimination complaint against the firm. It doesn’t take too much sleuthing to discover that it was new hire Monica. She’d pulled the complaint after they finally brought her on, but too late. 

In the midst of Jackie and Howard’s pre-nup discussions, David Lee must reveal a mild case of fraud to Diane and Cary. Back when Alicia was negotiating her departure from the firm, David deposited more than $2 million in a shell corporation under Howard’s name to hide company assets. Unfortunately, it now looks as though Howard was hiding something from Jackie, even though he knew nothing about it. Diane tells David to fix it. 

David tries to offer Howard a small bribe to forget the “clerical error,” but Howard’s not as dim as he seems. Maybe he should just keep all the money. Dim like a fox!

What Howard doesn’t realize is that by telling Jackie he “forgot” about all that money, she believes he might be losing his marbles. A savvy Jackie tells Lucca she doesn’t just want a pre-nup — she wants full power of attorney over Howard’s affairs.

When Howard tries to tell her the “forgotten money” was all a sham to hide assets, she won’t believe him. Worse, Jackie tells Lucca that Howard’s become delusional. 

Political Gaffes, Caught on Tape

Another stop, another crowd. This time, it’s larger but mostly because of protesters. Apparently, one of Ted Willoughby’s producers released video footage of Alicia dissing Iowa to Eli. But she was only complaining that she wanted to be home. Taken out of context, it looks really bad. Ruth asks Alicia to apologize. 

She also tells Alicia a story from her own life, about her own first love, to emphasize the point that “whatever you think you could have changed in your life — or in his — you couldn’t have.”

Alicia apologizes on camera, smiling sweetly. At the next campaign stop, they achieve the Full Grassley with five minutes to spare. Ruth is exulting in the successful day when a live feed catches Peter spitting out his loose meat sandwich. Um, oops?

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Can Peter Pull Out a Win?

It’s time for the caucuses. Did the “loose meat incident” cost them votes? Ruth, Zach, Grace and Alicia enter a school gymnasium with potential voters for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and Peter Florrick in four corners. But Peter’s “corner” is empty. It’s a disaster. Peter needs 29 people to stand for him or he’s out before he even begins.

The family fans out to convince people to join Peter’s group. They succeed, just barely. 

Lucca calls Jason (now in San Francisco) to investigate Howard’s hidden money. Meanwhile, the investigator from the Illinois employment commission announces that the firm has fostered a racist culture. Although Cary and Diane had agreed that Cary would take the hit for the “unfriendly atmosphere,” he turns the tables on his partner. He lays the blame on Howard instead (which, to my ears, seems exactly right). They’ll make Howard an emeritus partner, and the state drops its complaint. 

Diane is furious. She accuses Cary of using the complaint to get what he always wanted. Cary retorts, “I did what needed to be done to save the firm.”

At the caucus count, the mood in Peter’s group plummets when they learn they’re one vote short. Alicia argues with the chair to give them time to locate their missing voter. When they do, it’s bad news — she’s joined Hillary’s corner. 

All seems lost until Peter’s Number One Fan marches in, singing and drawing a crowd. They love him! Astoundingly, Peter wins Polk County by a huge margin. Who knew? 

But their joy is short-lived as the state’s results come in. Peter’s fourth. Not enough to continue the campaign. So much for the Full Grassley.

As Jackie watches the returns with Lucca, she mourns for her son’s poor showing. Lucca reveals that Howard isn’t losing it — David put the money in the account (info she learned from Jason). Jackie apologizes to Howard for doubting him. Let’s just drop this pre-nup business, she says. They cuddle. Let’s hope these two get some time together. 

Who’s Number One?

Back on the bus, Eli accuses Ruth of overreaching with Peter’s campaign. After all, the original idea was to position Peter for vice president, but now they’ve alienated Clinton, so that’s probably off the table.

You spent months with Peter and never really got it, did you? he asks her. “Peter Florrick isn’t number one, not nationally. She is.” Not Hillary — Alicia. Ruth stands stunned as the camera pans back through the bus. Did Alicia hear Eli?

Hard to tell. She rises from her seat and joins her despondent husband at the back of the bus. She cradles his head and looks off into the distance. 

Summary Judgment

Well, we can all stop wondering what a Peter Florrick presidency would look like. Instead, Eli’s got me wondering, what would an Alicia Florrick presidency look like? 

Many questions for the second half of season 7. Can Eli now use his belief in the power of Alicia to earn her forgiveness? Or are some things just too broken to repair? Will Alicia take Ruth’s advice and learn to accept the life she has now? Or will she use some frequent flyer miles to book a trip to San Francisco?

Speaking of forgiveness: Diane has plenty of reasons to be mad at both of her main partners. Cary maneuvered Howard into semi-retirement against her wishes, while David flat-out committed fraud. (Personally, I’d be a wee bit angrier at David, but then that’s me. And most of America.)

With the campaign over (presumably), Alicia can get back to the business of rebuilding her life and, well, her business. What’s done is done. Maybe Ruth wasn’t right about Peter, but she might be right about Alicia. Is she where she’s supposed to be, after all?

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS. However, because of football playoffs, the next episode (airing on January 17) is scheduled to start at 10pm.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV