Recap: The Good Wife ‘Dark Money’

Throughout the entire run of the show, Alicia Florrick has been known as “Saint Alicia.”  There have been many times in recent years where her halo has tilted, but last night she had a breakdown in the final moments of the show. Was she losing herself?  Is she a good person?

Alicia’s question stemmed from two things: her campaign for States Attorney and also the case of the week where her firm represented Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) for what seemed like the tenth time, this time on defamation charges and not murder… well almost murder again.

Throughout her political campaign Alicia has wrestled with the mudslinging, but last night she seemed to hit a wall with her PAC robocalling people and hinting that her opponent, Frank Prady, was a closet case.  Then she met with a handsy donor played by Ed Asner, who applauded her poking at her opponent’s sexuality. Asner called Prady a faggot, and stated that he did not agree with his “lifestyle.”  Before she could challenge his comments, their meeting was over.

As for the case of the week, it was the silly but it also emphasized Alicia’s slip from the high ground.  Sweeney is on trial for killing a wife, but is suing a TV show (one like The Good Wife) which used his last case/incident as a “ripped from the headlines” story.  While I love watching Baker chew scenery, this week’s case and his involvement was almost too silly and did not resonate with me as much.  Sometimes the cases of the week just fall flat, and this was one of those.

Silly as it was, the big takeaway from the case of the week was its impact on Alicia. At first she tried to help Sweeney by having him re-work the words he uses in court to build sympathy even though she knows he is guilty of murdering his wife. When she saw her character on the show-within-a-show stop short of being “bad,” however, you could see Alicia wishing that was her.  All of this built up to a breakdown at the end with Alicia questioning whether she is a good person.

Her daughter Grace had the best words for her: “no one is always good.”  I think these words ring true and show the complexity Alicia had to deal with throughout the episode.  Alicia has a gay brother who is one of her best friends, but she also has to deal with a homophobic campaign donor.  Watching Alicia wrestle with all of these things, and finally break in the end are what make this show, and this episode, great.

Finally, Grace tells Alicia she knows Alicia she is the best person she knows. Alicia was struck by this and I hope to see this moment push her to be the candidate she wants to be, rather than the one people expect to see.

Among this episode’s side stories, Kalinda was roped into driving Lemond Bishop’s son home from school.  This story is building to her leaving the show soon and, while there was some intensity between the two, and there was also a moment of understanding with a drink.  Bishop shared with Kalinda that his father ran out on him.  I think many assume or think this story is headed to a dark place, but my prediction is that Kalinda will just disappear into the night.

In the end, it was not the silly case of the week itself that mattered to the episode, it was the journey of Alicia and Kalinda, and the brilliant way the show deals with these two characters grappling with the actions that have gotten them to the places they’re in now.

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